Make it work: 6 golden work rules for digital nomads

Digital nomadism is on the rise. Studies show that 4.8 million people describe themselves as digital nomads and 17 million others can’t wait to join them and plan to do so in the near future. But just because you’ve decided to travel the world with your laptop, doing what you love from anywhere on this glorious globe, doesn’t mean that all rules are out the airplane window. In fact, for this amazing arrangement to actually work, you need to be more focused than ever and make sure not to drop the ball when it comes to certain guidelines.

So, for those of you who are already combining business and pleasure, and to all of you aspiring nomads, this post contains a few golden rules to live, work and travel by.

Rule #1: Make sure there’s solid WiFi

Being a digital nomad doesn’t quite work without the “digital” part, now does it? Wherever you go, always check to see that a strong internet connection is waiting for you at your destination. This includes both developing destinations and Western ones, because sometimes a specific beach town in Europe can suffer from connectivity issues due to the way it was built.

Working remotely

When possible, ask your host, management team or even previous guests how their WiFi experience was. In addition, bring your own fallback options like a massive data package that will help your mobile help you. Locations that in addition for accommodation offer a co-working space, like the global ecosystem for nomads of Selina, are often a more solid bet, but it’s best to do your own research beforehand.

Rule #2: Plan your trip

Even though one of the magical aspects of the digital nomad lifestyle is being able to go wherever the wind takes you and your laptop, a little bit of planning comes in handy. It will contribute greatly to your ability to work and travel simultaneously and seamlessly. Failing to plan your route and neglecting to use advanced travel booking tools that help you get from A to B puts you at risk of being late to an important Skype meeting or missing out on a potential business deal. Just because you travel while working (or work while traveling) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best to come across as a serious professional. In fact, you should work harder to brand yourself as committed and reliable.  

Rule #3: Join the community 

In addition to being a lifestyle choice, digital nomadism is also a global community of people who support and guide one another. Places like Chiang Mai, Thailand and Hoi An, Vietnam have a flourishing community of nomads who enjoy spending time together, sharing tips for success and even collaborating on a business level. Believe it or not, but digital nomadism can get lonely sometimes. Surrounding yourself with a supportive and diverse community while you’re away from home can boost your mood and productivity, as well as expand your horizons. 

Rule #4: Manage your schedule 

This is a solid piece of advice for all of you freelancers out there, not just those who travel, but it becomes even more important when you carry both a laptop bag and a backpack at once. Managing your schedule instead of allowing it to manage you will help you enjoy your work and travel experience a lot better. Use daily planners and time management apps and don’t forget to carve up time for some well-deserved R&R. If you play your cards right, some colleagues or clients won’t even know that you’re working on your task while sipping on a coconut cocktail at the beach. 

Rule #5: Choose the right communication technology

In addition to a strong internet connection, nomads need a variety of technology tools that will make it possible to communicate with colleagues and clients from anywhere in the world. Do your research and find a few video chat options, preferably ones that have a mobile app as well, like Google Hangouts or Zoom. A very important tip is to only schedule video calls when the rest of your plans for the day do not contradict having to look professional on camera at a certain point. If possible, choose communication tools with opt-in video options, not opt-out. Remember: If your chat avatar is wearing a business suit, no one will know that you’re wearing a bathing suit right now.

Rule #6: Prepare for surprises

A digital nomad’s schedule must be well planned, meticulously executed, but most importantly – flexible and open to changes. Don’t be too rigid when creating your daily to-do list, because it will make it impossible to join a last-minute hike or deal with unplanned delays. The legendary John Lennon was right when he said that “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” and being on the road makes this quote twice as true.

Dropping laptop in swimming pool

Becoming a digital nomad sounds like a dream come true to many but is made possible thanks to hard work and strong planning skills. If you fantasize about combining your dream job with a dream vacation, the above rules should help you get started. Think we may have missed something? We’d love to hear some of your tips and share them with our readers.

Rotem Taitler

Rotem Taitler

A history buff, lover of art, and coffee addict who is filled with perpetual curiosity about everything in the world and is especially passionate about storytelling, traveling and wine.
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