Why becoming a digital nomad is more achievable than you might think

May 10th 2022 – Written By Stephanie Sheargold

When I started Timpi 5 years ago, one of the main reasons for doing so was to build a business that allowed me to become a digital nomad. I love travel and being limited to a few short weeks each year wasn’t enough for me. Having a business that was flexible enough to run from anywhere was too good an opportunity to miss!

Not only would Timpi give me the opportunity to work as a digital nomad, but it would allow me to help others who wanted to do something similar. I built Timpi to support people wherever and whenever they work – the ultimate in flexibility.

What is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad is a remote worker who typically travels to a variety of locations. Instead of relying on an office, they work from cafés, libraries and Airbnbs using various internet connections, such as their mobile phone hotspots.

The phrase digital nomad was popularised back in 1997 by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. If you can think back that far, you’ll realise just how incredible this fact is. It was a time when the only internet connection you could get was through a modem, using an email seemed unnecessary (why wouldn’t you just call someone?), and online supermarket shopping was just an idea – Tesco.com didn’t launch until 2000.

Makimoto and Manners hypothesised that one day, an all-powerful communication device would exist that would allow employees to work anywhere.

Fast forward to 2022 and we can cheerfully confirm that they were absolutely correct. Advances in tech have meant it’s been possible to work from anywhere for some time, but it’s only since the Covid lockdowns that many people have realised the true potential at their fingertips.

Meet the digital nomads

There’s definitely a stereotype of the digital nomad – someone in their twenties, who works in tech from a beach bar and who dips into the sea for a spot of surfing between Zoom calls.

But that’s not really the case. With the average age of a digital nomad at 35, there’s an enormous spread of ages and lifestyles that can take advantage of this uber-flexible working pattern. For example,

– The 50+ workforce who aren’t ready to retire but want to see more of the world.

– Couples who come from different countries. Moving between several places is certainly more interesting than settling in one.

Families who want to make the most of school holidays. Why stay at home when you can travel?

– Entrepreneurs who collaborate with people from across the world.

– Individuals who work for organisations that allow/encourage flexible working, such as Buffer or Timpi!

How to be a digital nomad

If being a digital nomad appeals to you, where do you begin? With planning… that’s where! Because although some people can wing it and work from anywhere, you’ll find it easier to do so if you’ve done your homework first. Here are a few things to think about:

1. Get the right tech

This is so important. A solid laptop and mobile phone are essential, as are power banks. You can’t rely on finding a plug socket when you need one, so prioritise hardworking tech with a good battery life. Without these, you won’t make it far. But as well as the hardware, you need the right software and the right subscriptions. Ultimately, you need reliability, so coughing up for software options that include support are invaluable.

2. Build a schedule

Being permanently on the road needs a bit of planning, especially (for British travellers) since Brexit. So it’s important to build a rough schedule that helps you and the people you work with know where you’ll be and when. As well as preventing delays by ensuring you have the right travel documents, it will be easier to attend conferences, give pitches and support your clients, because you’ll know when you need access to a reliable internet connection and power source.

A schedule is also very important for ensuring your safety and will ensure that others know when to expect you and when reach out if they’re concerned about not hearing from you.

3. Join a network

There are so many digital nomad networks out there and they’re a great way of learning more about the opportunities that exist as well as finding other likeminded people to connect with when you’re travelling. One of my favourite networks is WifiTribe.

4. Get support

Working from anywhere is a great deal easier if you have the right support. Working with a VA is a great example. Your Timpi VA can help you source items, run background checks on clients or suppliers and look after your books by logging your expenses. They can even help you find accommodation, book travel and sort out visas. What’s more, by having a reliable source of support in the background, your clients will be assured of great customer service – even if you hit a wifi blackspot or have a problem with your phone.

5. Enjoy yourself

Being a digital nomad is the epitome of living for the moment. I don’t work from far flung locations all the time, but I love having the flexibility to do so and want to be able to empower others to do the same. So, make the most of the freedom that modern technology gives you and visit the beautiful places this world has to offer. 

What do you have to lose? If you’re self-employed or have a flexible employer, how about trying out the life of a digital nomad – even if just for a week. And in case you were wondering just what a virtual assistant could help you with, take a look at one of our previous posts – which shares some of the more outrageous and unusual tasks your VA can handle.