What is a Digital Nomad?

Three years ago today I left my home in LA to set out on my first RTW trip. Little did I know I’d begun my life as a digital nomad, and wouldn’t be going home again anytime soon. 1,095 days later Nick & I are still on the road and still can’t imagine leaving this lifestyle behind.

Laptop in grass

For anyone who wished their trips never had an end, the digital nomad lifestyle is a dream come true. So what exactly does being a modern nomad entail?

You Have No Home

You’d be amazed how far your money can take you around the world when you don’t have to worry about bills. No rent or mortgage, no utilities, no car payments or insurance. Thousands of dollars a month immediately become available when you become a nomad.

People never believe me when I tell them constant travel is almost always cheaper than living a standard life in a major American city. But without the costs of ordinary life travel suddenly becomes affordable.

You Probably Have Very Little Stuff

For the first year, before we knew we were digital nomads, we kept a storage unit in LA. But we soon cleared that out, gave things away and decluttered our life into nothing but two backpacks and some winter gear to keep at our family homes when we visit during the frigid Washington, DC holidays.

Having so little is actually quite liberating, and it really cuts down on your shopping budget when you only have a small space to put stuff in. A minimalist lifestyle is your new best friend.

All your clothes fit into two compression sacks!

You Work While You Travel

I like to say that if you can work from the coffee shop down the street you can probably work from Thailand, too. Programmers, social media consultants, web developers, writers, virtual assistants – all these professions are well-suited to the digital nomad lifestyle.

You have to be very disciplined, it’s hard to work when there’s a white sand beach or thrilling city right outside your door. But when you do stop working, all the delights of the world are waiting for you. It’s quite impossible to be bored.

You Join a Great Community

This all sounds extremely daunting, but the logistics are all easier than they seem. And when the going gets rough and you need to vent or share a story, there’s a wonderful group of fellow location-independent people with blogs and Twitter chats to prop you up and give you ideas for what’s next. I got my housesitting idea from the amazing Hecktic Travels couple Dalene & Peter. I’m constantly inspired to work harder by Nellie of Wild Junket and the always-busy Roni Weiss.

The travel blogging community is enormous and there are thousands of people exploring the world and living unusual lifestyles while doing it. You know how they say if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room? Well you’d be hard-pressed gain more travel knowledge and experience than these amazing people. They are my biggest source of inspiration. The best way to find active nomads & other long-term travelers is to get on Twitter and participate in some weekly travel chats. There are many, but I usually do #TTOT, #NUTS and sometimes #TNI. Join in and start building your network!

Atlas Mountains Morocco

Freedom!

If you’ve ever wished you could travel without end, there is an option other than saving up thousands of dollars and quitting your 9-5 job. Work while you travel, and it could be endless! Whether for a year or thirty, you’ll have amazing stories, new friends and a greater appreciation of what life can be besides work, a mortgage and two weeks of vacation a year. Break out & live your life!

It’s been three years, and the travel still isn’t out of my system. It may never be. And being a digital nomad means I can keep going until I decide otherwise. If you’re interested in giving it a try, too, here are some blogs by people who are or have recently been digital nomads, location-independent or long-term travelers. Every person has a different travel style, so read on and grab some inspiration:

Legal Nomads
Ex-lawyer turned digital nomad.

Wild Junket
The travel writer putting out her own magazine with her partner Alberto.

The Aussie Nomad
This one is sorta self-explanatory.

Never Ending Voyage
Digital nomad couple exploring the globe.

Nomadic Notes
Location-independent entrepreneur since 2003.

Soultravelers3
Couple traveling for years with their young daughter.

Roni Weiss
The jack-of-all-trades.

Adventurous Kate
Girl who quit her job to travel the world endlessly.

Twenty-Something Travel
A 20-something woman owning the digital nomad experience.

Family On Bikes
Family that cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina.

1 Dad, 1 Kid
A father taking his young son around the world on an endless adventure.

Fox Nomad
Digital nomad with a goal of visiting every country in the world.

Vagabond Journey
Great resource run by a 13-year veteran of digital nomad life.

Nomadic Matt
He may be a celebrity now, but he’s still traveling & got lots of great tips for beginners!

Hecktic Travels
Digital nomads housesitting around the world.

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  • http://www.theaussienomad.com Chris

    Thanks for the mention Kit. This whole living/travelling abroad sure is an addictive. It’s great to be able to say hey I’m going to stop and live here for 1month/6months a year or more and then move on to see something new. And while my parents continue to temp me to come home and be “normal” I can’t see that happening anytime soon.

    • Kit

      Exactly! I feel my parents have finally gotten used to my lifestyle. At least they’ve stopped calling me “professionally homeless” :)

  • http://www.hecktictravels.com Pete

    Cheers for the mention Kit! House sitting really is catching on. We see so many different opportunities pop up every day. Great list of blogs and sites here!

    • Kit

      I’m doing my first housesit now in London, and so far it’s pretty great! Thanks once again for the inspiration Pete :)

  • http://www.nomadproject.com Lucas

    Once you start, you can never go back ;-)

    • Kit

      SO true :)

  • http://www.senyorita.net Micamyx|Senyorita

    I find it hard to go back to the corporate world! I just had a realization a few days ago on why this digital nomad thing works perfectly for me. Most of my friends are now busy with their corporate jobs yet some of them don’t save enough money like they were expected to. I think the minimalist approach is very beneficial to us financially & even emotionally. I also love the fact that I can choose my own workplace and just do task when I feel like doing so :D

    • Kit Whelan

      Minimalism FTW! I can’t imagine going back to a regular 9-5 and not traveling. At least not at this point in my life when flexibility is so important to me.