The life of a digital nomad: the best tips & tricks to earn money while discovering the world

Millions of people are currently enjoying the digital nomad life: a lifestyle that offers you the opportunity to earn money wherever you want, as long as you have a laptop and a good internet connection. GoStudent online tutor Isa Witteveen is such a digital nomad. She is currently in Southeast Asia, where she provides online tutoring to students in the Netherlands during her travels.

After making her first trip to Central America in 2021, Isa got the hang of it and decided to trade her gap year for a full-time nomadic existence. And Isa is not the only one: more and more professionals are exchanging their permanent job or place of residence for a more independent, often temporary option. This trend that has been on the rise since the outbreak of the pandemic, because permanent employers are now also allowing remote working, making travelling and working at the same time possible for many employees.

Isa has now settled in Southeast Asia. For how long, she doesn’t know yet. Isa has bought a one-way ticket. And as long as she has income, she will stick around in Asia.

But what exactly is a digital nomad? And can everyone become one? A digital nomad is someone who mainly works online and regularly changes residence. This does not have to mean that you change places every day; some digital nomads sometimes stay in one location for a longer period of time. The lifestyle is mainly about having the freedom to do what makes you happy, in a location where this is possible. From her hostel in Bangkok, a few days before travelling to Cambodia, Isa is happy to share some tips that will enable her to live this idyllic lifestyle.

1.Make a global plan and set an associated budget
Making an overall plan and setting an initial budget is essential before you start your journey. Of course you will have to deal with both fixed and variable costs while travelling, just like at home. Some people like to have a daily budget, others prefer to think per week or month. You can divide the budget into, for example, accommodation, food and drinks, tours, travel expenses, insurance, clothing and unforeseen costs. Find out more about the country or part of the world you are going to and look especially at the local culture, prices and exchange rate. This will help you determine approximately how much money you will need and how much you will have to work. A buffer is of course always a good idea! If something unexpected happens, you can be sure that you can at least deal with it financially. And when you finally travel, give yourself some time to get used to the customs of the country and the prices.

2. Provide a good basis for income
In your search for the ideal online job, you will discover that there are endless options. The ten most popular jobs for digital nomads are: programmer, copy editor, online coaching, virtual assistant, photographer, videographer, content creator, consultant, recruiter and website developer. But of course there are many more options. Just like Isa, you can do online tutoring and at the same time share your experiences with the world via a blog or vlog. To help yourself on your way, gather information from an experienced digital nomad, Facebook group or travel blog. It may be a good idea to become familiar with the work you will be doing prior to your trip. This way you know what to expect in terms of time needed and you will not be faced with surprises or disappointments during your trip.

3. Get a fast and stable internet connection
For the digital nomad life, a good internet connection is crucial. A bad or unstable connection is definitely the biggest obstacle for anyone doing online work. Once you know where you will be working, it is advisable to test the speed of the internet there. You don’t want the line to be delayed and your customers confused during live sessions. It is also smart to always have an internet cable with you, in case the wireless network does not work. Another option to ensure good internet is to use the mobile hotspot on your phone. Make sure that you have enough data so you don’t end up with an unexpectedly high bill. If you are staying in one country for a longer period of time, buy a local SIM card.

4. Use a VPN for safe internet
The biggest cyber threat for digital nomads is the use of unsecured internet connections. In order to prevent malware attacks and guarantee security for yourself, but also for your clients or students, the best solution in the specific case of online tutors is to install a VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts all data that you send and receive and prevents monitoring of location and online activity, thus ensuring privacy, anonymity and security.

5. Prevent stress
Espe when you are traveling, the last thing you want is stress from work. Therefore, it may be useful to determine in advance how much time you think you will spend on your work and during which part of the day you want to do work, and to stick to it. Please take into account possible time differences when you work with others. By making such agreements with yourself, you can better manage your expectations in terms of managing your schedule and prevent stress or disappointments.

6. Get the right equipment and accessories
As a digital nomad you will often work in places where other people are also present. They may be working just like you, or you may be surrounded by people enjoying their free time. To ensure that you can do your work somewhat quietly and that you are not too distracted by ambient noise, it is advisable to purchase good headphones with a microphone.That way you can also communicate discreetly with your customers or coworkers. It is also useful to always have a full power bank with you, so that you can always charge your mobile devices if there is no socket.

7. Good preparation…
Is really half the work and ensures that you can spend more time on the beach, the terrace or on that mountain. Isa’s advice is therefore to look for a nice workplace as soon as possible upon arrival in every new place. This could be a coffee bar, library, lunch café, co-working space or hostel, for example. A pleasant and quiet working environment ensures that you can do your work better and as efficiently as possible. And if, like Isa, you give tutoring lessons, it definitely pays off to prepare lessons well in advance. Perhaps you can even use the country where you are at that moment, the language or the culture for your tutoring. Create fun for your students too!

8. Don’t be too hard on yourself about your budget
Sometimes your plans don’t turn out the way you planned, that’s the beauty of being a nomad after all. Changing your plans can have an effect on your budget, both negatively and positively. Don’t be too hard on yourself in this; eventually you will find that balance. And if you notice that you are still short of money, you may also be able to discuss this with your client. Who knows what is possible!

9. Book that one-way ticket and enjoy!

Written by GoStudent