When you travel for a very long period, it is often the best time to think about yourself and your future. What do you want to do professionally? How to adapt and lead our personal life? That is why taking your time, and discover new ways of thinking and behaving is essential. And if you need to work and save for your world trip, you can also think about working while you travel. What is the new digital nomadism? What are the professional activities that suit this lifestyle?
A new digital nomadism
First option, you can work remotely with your laptop, main tool to work abroad, in diverse locations. Indeed, the new disruptive technologies and the importance of cloud systems and big data possibilities in our urban lives bring more professional opportunities for the IT specialists, either freelance or working for a flexible company. What are the sectors, how to find them and what are the pros and cons of this new way of life, the digital nomadism?
- All jobs who don’t necessarily need a physical interaction with the customers potentially permit to consider this way of living. For example, possible if you are graphic designer, webmaster, IT programmer, database administrator, digital marketing specialist but also writer for a blog or a newspaper, translator, journalist or documentary & film maker.
- Many online platforms exist so that you can advertise your services and companies as well as entrepreneurs always look for technical specialits. Let’s quote Upwork, where more than 10 millions freelancers are in the database (Upwork charge a fee of 10% on services), but also Freelancer, around 20 millions people which is also a reference for independents where interesting missions are always proposed.
- Other specialist and well-know online platforms include Codeur.com ou Joomlancers for IT programmer, SEO clercks for digital marketing specialists, Design Crowd for web designers, or Great Content ou Edit Place for web content specialists.
In other words, the variety of missions proposed by many platforms are excellent and many freelancers can now develop their professional activities while travelling. But keep in mind it is always better to have a relevant and stable database of loyal customers before leaving. Even if you are very good at what you are doing, it is better to have references from your previous customers that can tell you serious and skilled you are.
Moreover, even if you can think a digital traveller always moves around and travel while he is working in a restaurant or a cafe, it is not always true. Indeed, it can become compulsory to stay at a specific place at some point of time in order to get a good internet connection and sometimes a quiet and professional atmosphere like co-working spaces, which emerge a little bit everywhere. They also permit to increase your well-filled address book and reconnect with professional world, and people sharing the same successes and challenges, difficulties. As every entrepreneur know it, being lonely is not the best way to be efficient! And you can have more opportunities to meet potential new customers. Lastly, very often, the startups can help each other: either on technical aspects or some tips to help you business grow (online visibility, Google SEO…). Best sites to find your nearer co-working space are the following ones: Desk Surfing, Desk Near Me or Share Desk. And don’t be reluctant to be part of local meetups that are very important in the local ecosystem, develop your network, know the tips of the country, and be informed of the potential customers around.
Besides, if you choose a location where you are going to spend some time to work, choose a location with very fast internet, where the cost of living is not too high and at the same time a very exotic environment which breaks your usual routine, so you have the real feeling you work while you are on holidays! For a European, it can cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Bali. The first thing is to enjoy life and amazing destinations that are very different from your original home town.
Pros and cons of digital nomadism
If this way of living can make normal employees dream about this total freedom, the challenges can also be high and it is worth noting that it is not always easy for the freelancers.
Flexibility or lack of security? A mindset first
=> Pros: You are free to live and work from anywhere you want as long as you have a computer and internet connection. Huge advantage! A physical freedom that is incredible according to many employees who need to report to their boss everyday. And between two projects, you can go diving, exploring old temples…You can also have a complete autonomy regarding your timetable, work at night if you want to save your day for recreational activities or to stick with the time difference of your customers abroad if you need or if you need to contact them directly. And if your customers live in “richer” countries that the one you currently live, and they pay you in dollars, euros, pounds…you immediately have a good salary advantage regarding the local cost of living.
=> Cons: Flexibility can also mean precariousness. It is highly recommended to have a important database of regular customers before leaving to be sure no to have to desperately look for them while you are travelling, if it is your main source of income or saving for your trip. Indeed, a freelancer also has difficulties to plan future incomes, without unemployment pension and as each entrepreneur, a freelancer has to a have a good resistance to stress and must have a financial safety net if anything happens. Furthermore, the lack of precise timetable can also have negative consequences: It can be difficult as one may find it hard to get the motivation while abroad or being in holiday mood. Some results from a psychological point of view as well: be far from family and close friends who are not here to support you, not enjoying the trip at 100% with professional worries, and a strong link between personal life and professional life. And this way of life of travelling-working is not the best one when having a family, children, as it creates instability.
Working from time to time to rest a bit and saving money
Even if you are not a professional with a strong database of customers, work in a very high-demand activity, you can still work from time to time while travelling in order to save a bit of money or to rest, staying in the same place for sometime. Be cautious not to work illegally while you are on touristic visa, keep informed on expats forums or contact your consulate/embassy as working while you are not allowed to can have strong consequences, even if controls are not regulars (even more when you receive cash directly). Just check how long you are allowed to stay in the country with your visa. Some business visas can be good and not too complicated to get if you don’t stay for ax extended period. Working holiday visas are an efficient solution if you are below 30 or 35 years old. And they exist for many countries: Australia, New-Zealand, Argentina, Japan…Most popular jobs? Fruit-picking, waitress, cook, English teacher, PADI diving professional or coach in any sport…Then, many choices and opportunities and some can be well-paid! Keep in mind word of mouth is excellent to find a job, ask people in your hotel or bar…
Wwoofing, fruit-picking, organic agriculture…
For those who want to experience a real long-time expatriation, with institutional visas, have a close look to visas, as many countries use the sponsorship principle. Understand that you have to get a written job offer from a company in order to be granted a temporary-working visa from the government. but generally, this visa will be granted with the restrictive condition you keep working for this company. Which may have a negative impact on you freedom, negotiation (for Professional evolution or salary). Of course, passports of some countries don’t require a visa to work in another specific countries (agreement inside European Union, Australia/New-Zealand reciprocal agreement…)
Working to get free accommodation
It is also possible to work in your guesthouse (cleaning, cooking…) and receive a free accommodation in exchange. For people in their twenties, in can definitely be a good solution if you think about staying at the same place for some time. This volunteering also permits to have stronger relationships with the locals and have a deeper thinking on the trip, this is very rewarding and enriching. And you can work for example in farm with organic cultures and learn the basis of a sustainable development! Below some ideas…
- Working in a guesthouse as a receptionist or do the cleaning. Go and spak to the manager of the hotel where you sleep and bring your CV.
- Do a dog-sitting or home-sitting when owners will leave your their dog/house while they are going on holidays. Get the information on the websitesTrustedhousesitters, Mindmyhouse, or House carers. You have to pay to register in their database but you can also fin excellent deals! Have a good and attactive profile, get previous recommendations, and be sure you look professional and speak fluent English (at least) when you are having a job interview.
- Work in farms specializing in organic agriculture. They often require more staff (as it is very manual, it is one of the characteristics), take a look at tge wwoofing website wwoofinternational. The organizations of each countries are independent are require a fee to register for the year (around €25 in average). Among the countries to focus on: Costa Rica and Nicaragua, but many projects are developing in Europe (France, Belgium).
- Building sites follow the same principle as wwoofing but for constructions works. More information available on the websites The Poosh, ou the French one Twiza. Very good for the ones interested in sustainable development!
- If you love sea and ocean, you can also be hired as a sailor or skipper on a cargo ship. As the famous writer Pierre Loti, back in XIXth century, you can sail for more or less extended time and you sleep on your cabin, which can be cheaper if you do some work aboard. A great experience, mainly to do the South Pacific cruise from Oceania to South America! But it requires a lot of time. Hard to find but here are some websites to help you in your researches, whether you look for skipper, sailor, cook, engineer…Find a crew, Desperate Sailors.
Volunteering, help NGOs
A world trip or a long-term trip can be an excellent opportunity to help NGOs or another association standing up for human and social rights, or tackling environmental and cultural issues. The aim is to improve daily lives of local communities. You will see you can be very useful even if you not doctor or nurse. Indeed, missions can be diversified and rewarding and in some poor regions, there is a real need. The only thing is to have to be here for a (relatively) extended period to really understand what is at stake and to better know the people. Remind that efforts are really appreciated if they are done on the long-term and making your contribution towards the development of the association will be highly appreciated. Keep informed online to find them and speak to people locally!