What it means to be a digital nomad

Nowadays, it is quite common for young adults to take a so-called gap year between high school and starting a university course. Backpacking, be it organised or not, has been a phenomenon for a while now. But only recently, also the term “digital nomad” is becoming more and more famous. But what does it mean to be a digital nomad?

Being a digital nomad does not only encompass a certain way of working – online and remotely – but it actually describes an entire lifestyle. While being able to work from your laptop, facilitated through new and constantly improving means of technology, digital nomads make the conscious choice of living a location-independent life. For some people, this means moving to a new country or city every three or six or twelve months, but for others it means being on the road almost constantly.

Digital nomads are employees, employers, bloggers, freelancers, photographers – and the list of job categories that allow remote work is growing.

The digital nomad phenomenon is creating a culture of its own, with a steadily increasing number of co-working spaces, online platforms and communities, organised retreats, and group travel. Collaboration and a creating a community of sharing and exchanging ideas are usually in the main focus of all digital nomads.

Although to some people it may sound difficult and even scary to pursue the lifestyle of a digital nomad, it does not require much. The hardest part will most likely be finding a remote job, but many websites where this type of job is featured are popping up on the web. Once the first hurdle is overcome, and a job with a steady income has been found, the main requirement is to have a place in mind of where you would want to go to and live at for a certain period of time.

I hadn’t planned becoming a digital nomad myself, but I’m excited that somehow it happened. After working remotely for an online business, I realised that being an employee didn’t quite suit me – and I decided to pursue some of my own ideas while keeping to travel. By now, I have been to almost 40 countries, and I wouldn’t swap this lifestyle for anything. Unlike others, spending a day or two in a country just to “tick it off the list” has never appealed to me, and I try to spend at least one to three months (or often more) in a country at one time.

Although the digital nomad lifestyle has quite many advantages, it also involves moving away frequently, leaving friends behind, and a certain unsteadiness.

My friend Melanie and I founded Nomad Surfing to introduce others to this new phenomenon and culture, to help people get started in the world of digital nomads and to overcome difficulties. We want people to experience new cultures and countries, while at the same time continuing their job, and making meaningful interactions with fellow travellers. Nomad Surfing brings together 35 digital nomads, or people who are planning to work remotely, to travel, work and surf together for four months.

By Sarah, co-founder @ Nomad Surfing


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