It’s actually a really interesting time to be entering the world of full-time freelancing. Whether you’ve monetized your writing skills, or are providing web design services, the current digital landscape has enabled you to have access to potential clients from around the planet. More widespread access to portable technology also means that it is practical to take your freelance gig anywhere you happen to be in the world.
This has prompted the rise of the digital nomad lifestyle. Freelancers are upping sticks in droves to work in parts of the world that they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to see if they were stuck in an office 9-5. You can write blogs from a beach, design websites in a different city each week — if you have access to the internet, you can make it your office.
That’s not to say there aren’t challenges involved with this way of working. Aside from the usual freelance concerns such as finding new clients and getting paid on time, digital nomads face difficulties specific to their new lifestyle. We’ll take a look at how you can best prepare for your freelance adventures and some tools that can help you avert disaster.
Working and Living Spaces
The existence of the digital nomad is one of freedom. You are not constrained by many of the trappings found in a traditional 9-5 job. That said, it can certainly be beneficial to plan your working and living spaces intelligently. Even if you’re planning on being on the road 90% of the time, your working life can be more pleasant and practical by making arrangements that support your productivity.
It has become something of a trend for freelancers to take the #VanLife approach to their travels. This provides transportation, a place to sleep, and a portable office all in one fell swoop. There are, of course, RVs for extended living on the market that are already suited for the purpose. However, it can be rewarding to spend time tailoring a van or truck to your personal needs. There are many tutorials online that can guide you through the required conversions, including building a dedicated office space and installing solar panels to keep your tech alive.
Perhaps you prefer apartment living while on your travels, but want to separate your working and living spaces? Many cities have become host to co-working spaces, which have become hubs for visiting freelancers. Most are simply banks of desks with computer terminals, but many are beginning to offer conference rooms and cozy relaxation areas for you to mingle and possibly network with your fellow nomads.
Handling the Unexpected
Adventure is an exciting prospect, but with any expedition, you can almost guarantee that at some point something is going to go awry. Yes, it would be nice to think that your new career as a globally-wandering WordPress freelancer will go off without a hitch, but that’s not a realistic or useful mindset. This is why you must audit your plans and identify all the ways in which you could face setbacks, and attempt to plan accordingly.
If your digital nomadic lifestyle involves driving long distances, the most frustrating and costly setbacks will probably involve your vehicle. If you’re also living inside your vehicle, a sufficiently damaging problem with your vehicle could mean that you become separated from your traveling and living spaces while repairs are being undertaken. Get into the habit of regularly performing checks on your vehicle, including vigilance on fluid levels. It may even be worth looking into roadside assistance options.
Some traveling emergencies can become costly. While it’s certainly smart to set aside cash for such issues, it may be the case that your problem is greater than your resources. Before embarking upon your trip, dig into possibilities for emergency auto repair loans, or services which provide payment plans. Keep a physical and digital file of telephone numbers, websites, and email addresses of companies that can help you if things really do become dire. It’s certainly a better alternative to being stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Traveling to distant areas, living in unfamiliar spaces all while working remotely can be a rewarding experience. That said, this kind of nomadic lifestyle is best sustained if you’re able to remain healthy. Between your traveling, working, and sightseeing, it is vital to make time for some self-care.
Particularly if you spend a lot of time on the road, it can be tempting to rely on fast and convenient foods. Even if you can’t always guarantee your evening meal will be a nutritious one, you can keep your vehicle stocked with healthy snacks — dried fruit, nuts, protein bars. Visiting new places is also a great opportunity to take advantage of local seasonal fruits and vegetables. You should also avoid long periods of isolation, make concerted efforts to connect with people who live in the area. You may even find opportunities to collaborate on projects with fellow Digital Nomads.
Keep vigilant regarding your mental and physical health. If you’re traveling solo, a regular practice of mindfulness can help you check in with your body and mind, and remain aware of any early symptoms that arise. If you need a doctor’s appointment while on the road, telemedicine can be an option. Just as your work has been improved by greater technological connectivity, your relationship with your primary care provider may be adapted to suit your traveling lifestyle.
Improvements to technology have made remote working a practical option for many people. It has also opened up the potential for undertaking employment while exploring distant locations. However, the digital nomad lifestyle is best undertaken following stringent preparation. By exploring local, online, and personal resources, working life on the road can be a safe, comfortable, and rewarding experience.
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