This is a guest post by Wendi Williams.

The love affair with the digital nomad lifestyle has reached fever pitch in recent years, with wanderers, explorers and free spirits around the world ditching their desks, pulling up roots and embracing the unknown. These virtual globetrotters have grown their ranks to nearly 5 million over the course of the last decade. And while most digital nomads are known for their ability to go with the flow, many found themselves — and their careers — at the mercy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nomads No More?

As the virus brought the travel industry to a standstill, many digital nomads were forced to do some serious soul-searching and decide whether the transient life was still sustainable. Some digital nomads found themselves without a home base to safely quarantine, while others were stranded in foreign countries as borders closed and flights were canceled. Some say their mental health suffered, feeling confined and trapped by stay-at-home orders. Could this signal the end of the romance with digital nomadism?

The Nomad Boom

The short answer is, “no.” Digital nomads are already getting back to business as usual (if you call working from the base of a volcano “normal”). Research shows that around 40 percent of freelancers, including digital nomads, say their workload has remained the same or increased throughout the pandemic. Over half believe that demand will grow once the crisis is behind us. In fact, in a survey of digital nomads, nearly 60 percent say that the virus hasnt impacted their travel plans or goals at all. Some experts predict a boom in the nomad lifestyle in the coming months, as the pandemic has greatly increased the number of employees working remotely around the world.

If you think a life without borders sounds like your speed, find out if working as a digital nomad is right for you. And if you’ve already broken those corporate chains, read on for some tips to help your career thrive.

How to Thrive as a Digital Nomad

Diversify Your Portfolio

While many freelancers, independent contractors and nomadic workers maintained or grew their workload through the pandemic, 60 percent saw at least some decline. Those whose income took a direct hit had to adapt quickly and make some major pivots to sustain their career. And while it’s not ideal to be scrambling for new work in the midst of a crisis, there are lessons to be learned.

If most of your work comes from only a handful of clients, or if you only offer one or two services, you might be at greater risk during disasters or economic hardship. Now is the time to seek out potential new clients, build relationships and add skills to your repertoire. If you’re wondering where to find nomad-friendly jobs, check out some of these sites:

  • Upwork:
    This service matches businesses to freelancers and contractors who can provide the skills they need. While some jobs are location-specific, many can be completed from anywhere.
  • We Work Remotely:
    It’s all in the name. WWR is dedicated to finding remote workers and digital nomads jobs that align with their values, work ethic and availability.
  • Freelancer:
    From copywriting and design to finance and marketing, Freelancer has a large database of employers seeking one-off projects or contract work, most of which can be done remotely.
  • Guru:
    Guru aims to match businesses with remote experts to provide the services they need. Guru’s platform is easy to use and provides a secure way for clients to pay their contractors.

Get Your Telecommuting in Order

As mentioned above, the quarantine of 2020 opened the eyes of many to the joys and sorrows of working remotely — something digital nomads are already familiar with. But in order for remote work to actually work, you need the right tech, reliable connectivity and the retargets to reach your clients and access projects. Here are some tech tips to keep in mind:

  • Prepare for a worst-case scenario.
    If you get stuck during your travels, you’ll need to have access to power, Wi-Fi and phone services. Always pack multiple power adapters, unlock your phone for international service and purchase a mobile hotspot device.
  • Set yourself up for success with your clients.
    Before you travel, be sure you have access to any programs or platforms you’ll need while abroad. Keep a secure document with log-in information, and make sure the sites you’ll be using are accessible from your destination country.
  • If you havent already, familiarize yourself with a variety of video conferencing and calling platforms.
    Again, you’ll need to be sure you can use them from your location and that you have the bandwidth for video services.

Have a Safety Plan

The pandemic caught many digital nomads by surprise, forcing them back to their home countries, or stranding them in faraway lands. Many nomads sought shelter with like-minded colleagues overseas, while others without a permanent home turned to family and friends for temporary housing. Should a scenario like this arise again, you’ll need to be prepared in advance:

  • Be able to be found.
    Make sure your loved ones in your home country know where you’re going, how long you’ll be there and when you’re coming back. Send updates as you travel, including flight information, lodging addresses and other pertinent details.
  • Create a backup plan.
    Have a list of friends and family who are open to having you couch surf or crash at their place if you need to be in your home country longer than expected.
  • Cohabitate safely.
    Look into co-living services like Outsite that provide housing and office space to traveling professionals.
  • Build your network.
    Join a digital nomad community like Nomad List to connect with other international remote workers, and make sure you have a safety net wherever you go.

Be Financially Savvy

They say you have to spend money to make money, but as many digital nomads already know, saving is the key to success. Nomadic professionals are known for frugality and living on shoestring budgets, and never has that been more important than in the present situation. Prepare for the unexpected by making sure your finances are in order.

  • Travel with a light bag and a full bank account.
    Careful budgeting is the cornerstone of most digital nomads’ careers, but when a crisis or disaster occurs, you may need emergency funds to get you back home or to a safe location. Be sure you can always access quick cash when you need it — at least enough for a return flight and corresponding expenses.
  • Live simpler.
    If you’re dipping your toe into the digital nomad waters, you might find it difficult to cut out “luxury” expenses like Netflix, fast-food delivery or your weekend Target run. But in the nomad community, minimalism is key. Go through your monthly budget and take a hard look at what you could live without.
  • Insure to ensure your security.
    Traveling on a budget often means forgoing pricey insurance policies, but if you’re committed to the nomad lifestyle, it’s a necessity. As COVID-19 taught us, flights and lodging can be canceled in the blink of an eye, and if you aren’t properly insured, you might be hung out to dry. This guide will help you determine what coverage you need to protect your assets.

Roam If You Want To

The impact of 2020 is and will be felt around the world, in every industry, and digital nomads are no exception. However, recovery is underway, and freelancers and independent contractors remain optimistic that the pendulum will swing back in their direction soon. Research seems to back the hope that nomadic workers will bounce back, and with the tips outlined above, we hope you’ll be able to prepare for the unknown and take your career to the next level.


About the Guest Post Author:

Wendi Williams is a freelance writer for Incfile, which seeks to provide a fast and easy way for entrepreneurs to form and manage a new business. She is based in Indianapolis, IN, with over a decade of experience writing for a variety of industries from healthcare to manufacturing to nonprofit. When she isn’t working on solutions for her clients, she can be found spending time with her kids and husband, working in the garden or doing more writing (of the fiction variety).

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