This post is for The How-To Issue, a project by women writers showcasing what they can do. Inspired by the New York Times Book Review’s 2012 How-To Issue, which featured only two women writing about cooking and childcare, the women of the internet are banding together to show we can do much more than that. This is my contribution. 

So, how does one become a digital nomad?

1) Pick something you can do from home.

Whether it’s developing software, managing social networks, writing or becoming a virtual assistant, there are many jobs you can do “from home” nowadays. Anything you can do from a coffee shop is a digital nomad-worthy career.

2) Laptop, passport, backpack!

The tools of the trade. You don’t need anything else to take on the world. Though you may want to think about packing some underwear.

Globetrottergirls in Mexico

The GlobetrotterGirls digital nomad-ing on a beach in Mexico. (via The Wireless Generation Facebook page)

3) Get rid of everything else.

No house. No car. No bills. This is the philosophy of the digital nomad. No one will believe you at first, but being location-independent is a fantastically cheap way to live. We don’t have homes, cable bills, mortgages, car payments, or any of the other trappings of “normal” life. This frees up all our money to be spent doing what we love: traveling the world.

4) Book an apartment somewhere awesome.

Whether it’s an apartment in Paris or a room with a view in Panama, it’s time to decide where your first destination will be. What country have you always dreamed of visiting? Want to wake up every morning and take a dip in the Andaman Sea? Or spend each afternoon sipping sangria and watching the world go by in Barcelona? Throw a dart at a map and get thee to the internet to book your first stop! As long as it has high-speed internet and a comfortable place to work, it doesn’t matter if it’s in Mongolia or Marrakech.

Pro tip: Message the owner/host in advance to negotiate a cheap weekly or monthly rate.

Airbnb Italy

Dream digital nomad location in Florence. Only $51/night for the whole apartment on Airbnb.

5) GO!

Don’t be scared. This may be the path less traveled by, but you’re not the first. There’s a huge network of location-independent professionals that you can lean on for support (check out this post for a list of nomadic bloggers). We’re on Twitter, we blog, we run magazines and create documentaries. If you’ve dreamed of traveling the world without having to come back to a 9-to-5, join us and take the leap!

That’s it! Now you know the secrets of the glamorous nomad lifestyle. Do yourself a favor and check out the other How-To articles by clever ladies from around the internet. So far my personal favorites are “How to Rocket Launch Your Book into Publicity Heaven” and “HOW TO READ INFINITE JEST, IN SIX EASY STEPS!” I feel smarter already!

  • Dani

    Great post, Kit! If I wasn’t a digital nomad already, I’d be convinced now to become one after reading this post :)

    • Kit

      Thanks Dani! :-D

  • Waegook Tom

    Good post…it’s easy to become a digital nomad, but it begs the question on HOW to do it successfully and earn enough money to carry on travelling.

    • Kit

      Well, you can learn a skill that high-paying (like software development). Or you can stick to super-cheap travel (like SE Asia, South America, and 90% overland). Or you can work A LOT and travel very slowly. Or all three! It’s a learning process, really.

      Thanks for reading Tom!

  • Shivya

    Excellent post. I love how spirited just reading it makes me feel =) Loving my digitally nomadic life!

    • Kit

      Thanks Shivya! Though I sometimes wish I had more clothes, I can’t imagine trading in my digital nomad lifestyle. It’s the best! :)

  • Chris Schwarz

    Hey Kit,

    Great post – I can relate to all points!
    I left for my digital nomad journey last October and for now ive kept to Asia. Looking to get into Europe next year sometime.

    Im building an app that tracks digital nomads and their social media stats. Ive added you to the list here


    • Kit

      That’s awesome Chris! Your place in India sounds awesome, I hope you’re enjoying your time there! It’s one of the places I have yet to visit, though it’s near the top of my list. Thanks for adding me to the digital nomad tracker! :)

  • Jill

    It took me a lot of convincing myself to take the leap into being a digital nomad. And the biggest problem I had? Self doubt. Never money, never being robbed, nothing like that. It was all self-inflicted doubt. When I cast that doubt away, I’m perfectly happy and good at what I do!


    • Kit

      This is so, so true! I still have moments where I’m unsure, but this life is so great they pass pretty quickly! Thanks Jill :)

  • Britany Robinson

    I’ve got a one-way ticket to Bogota, Colombia in December to try to do just this. It’s a scary leap but I’m confident it will be worth while! Love how you make it sound so easy :)

    • Kit

      Congratulations!!! It’s so exciting, isn’t it? Scary too, but you’re not alone :)

      I haven’t been to Colombia yet but it sounds amazing. Can’t wait to read all about your adventures!

    • J

      I think you need proof of exit for Colombia. So you will need to book a return trip, that you can cancel later.

  • Travel Junkie Indonesia

    wow great post!

    • Kit Whelan

      Thank you!

  • Ian Clark

    i love your blog.

    60+(M) setting out soon, started traveling in my twenties, did 5 sail boat atlantic crossings, spent time in Caribbean, brazil, comoros islands as a dive charter capt., Grew up in Cape Town, married at 34, now divorced, spent past 20+ years in Maine working retail while boys completed school and college. Kids are now on there own…

    Time for me to head out once again. I was thinking of teaching English but it appears my age may be a hindrance?? I have a degree in geography/anthropology, I also have a diploma in small boat construction, although many years have past since, an outdated capt. licence and advanced underwater cert. years old. I am looking to hopefully regain my diving cert. and looking into my sea-time requirements for Capt. licence. Life is once again becoming an adventure full of possibilities, as opposed to the daily grind of work.

    I am planning to hike the Camino De Santiago next year.

    Looking to possibly “retire” either Ecuador or Thailand.

    • Kit Whelan

      Thanks Ian! I’m sure you could do a lot in either Ecuador or Thailand! I haven’t been to Ecuador, but I imagine there would be plenty of opportunities to teach English there. Expats in Thailand have a great quality of life. Have you thought about taking a vacation there first to see if you like it? There’s certainly a lot of diving! :)

      Good luck!

  • Dirty Feet

    Nice encouragement :)