Digital Nomads & Hand2Hand

What’s this “Digital Nomad” thing?

For many, the Internet is an opportunity to combine work and travelling the world. Though there are lots of different types, a common trait of digital nomads is that they spend at least a few months of the year abroad, changing destinations frequently (from every few weeks to up to 6 months) and earning a living while working remotely.

Often used interchangeably, “digital nomad” and “location independent” are, however, not one and the same thing. Truth is, not every digital nomad is able to afford living and working anywhere in the world.

Made popular by authors such as Tim Ferriss (“The 4-hour work week”) and others, it has been trending in the last few years, with an ecosystems starting to flourish around it – from work hubs to startup retreats, not to mention the numerous communities born so far (such as nomadlist.io).

What skills do I need to have?

At first, you might think you have no chance of joining this group of professionals working remotely, as your line of work isn’t exactly fit for the digital nomad. Then you might need to refocus/retrain on another field but if you work in engineering, legal sector, marketing – among others –  it’s pretty easy to go remote/distributed. In the end, it’s up to you to decide if this trade-off is worth it, when deciding to become a digital nomad.

Is it for everyone?

Probably not. Working remotely fits best with people with a more pro-active profile and quite autonomous.

Coordinating yourself with a client thousands of kilometers away is not trivial, even more so if native languages and cultures are different.

Communication is key, so if you are a hermit you can forget about it. You need to assert yourself to keep track of time and requirements, so you don’t end up burning out.

Working as a freelancer, you also need to take care of everything by yourself, from marketing to accounting. It’s may get exhausting, hence it’s best if you manage to build a reputation first and get people to come to you for projects, instead of the other way round.

Pros

  1. Escape the Winter

This point will definitely resonate with Northern Europeans. Long, cold winters with scarce sunlight and depressing moods can be avoided altogether by just moving to the other hemisphere throughout the winter months. You can, for sure, never get to see a chilling day ever again in your life and get almost 365 days a year of sunny weather. Granted, this will have a huge influence in your mood.

Save money

When you no longer have to worry about affording a rent, paying for utilities or commuting, suddenly a large chunk of your income can now be saved. Taking advantage from living in a country with a lower cost of life, you can leverage that difference and get more bang for your buck – from meals to lodging and other services. Why spend money on a washing machine if you only use it once a week, right? That also gets to stay in your pocket.

From many nomads’ experience, in many countries (namely, SE Asia), $1000 will get you a long way.

Do things you love

Why wait until you retire to do the things you’d like to do when you were younger. Being a digital nomad allows you to better manage your free time and just take a chance to do things you’d hardly do in your home town.

Embrace minimalism

A consequence of adopting this nomad lifestyle is reducing your luggage over time. You start realizing what is indeed useful and what is a burden on your shoulders (literally). Eventually, you reduce all your belongings to a backpack (and, possibly, a few boxes archived at someone’s storage, at home). It’s not really about not owning stuff, but rather about not becoming attached to it. You appreciate things for what they are.

Boost your creativity

Sometimes, changing your work environment can do wonders to get those creative juices flowing, just by stimulating your senses with colours, sounds and textures. Also, seeing first-hand how people in other countries cope with various situations will inspire you with new business ideas.

Make new friends

Introverts might struggle with this but, at some point, you’ll flick a switch and find out that you’ll need to mingle with others who you meet during your travels. No one’s an island and the sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be.

Discover new cultures

Trying to learn a new language at home will only take that far. Trying to learn it from locals, driven by need, will take you much farther. Seeing how people in other countries appreciate all facets of life will carve a dent on you, for sure. You’ll likely re-evaluate many things you considered a given.

Work less/smarter

The 9-5 paradigm is often a drain on the body and mind and a bad fit for many jobs. According to many studies, after 6 hours of work, your productivity drops sharply. So, you find yourself clicking through browser tabs and drifting away, for example. When you have the power to define your work methods, you might find that working less hours is not only possible but also more effective.

A trend also rising recently (and explained in Tim Ferriss’s book mentioned above) is outsourcing a lot of work to so-called virtual assistants. Even you don’t go this route, you can indeed delegate tasks to other people and focus on selling a product. Platforms such as freelancer.com and Upwork provide a way to reach out to freelancers worldwide – for a whole range of skills –  and build up a team.

Cons

You’ll want to settle down

Though you might think you could go on traveling for the rest of your days, it’s likely that a day will come where you’ll need to set up a home base, either on your country of origin or elsewhere. If you don’t get the machine rolling (either by establishing yourself as a reputed professional or by getting your own online business), you might get a hard time re-adapting. But then again, this too shall pass.

If your goal is just to travel, don’t go all-in

Working and traveling at the same time might be great if it fits your profile, otherwise it may be a somewhat stressful experience. If your main reason to want to become a digital nomad is to travel, maybe you’d be better off just taking your backpack and traveling for a year, living off savings or odd-jobs here and there than to dive straight into the digital nomad ecosystem.

How can I start?

  1. Organize your “exit strategy”. Plan how you intend to cover your expenses while traveling and make sure you have somewhat of a emergency fund.
  2. Get in touch with fellow nomads and show up at events! Network! In order to be successful, you really need to market yourself in an appropriate way! Don’t underestimate the human factor. Meetup is great for this.
  3. Create an online presence (Twitter, Linkedin, your own website) and, if applicable, a portfolio (Dribbble, if you’re into design; GitHub, if you’re into software development).
  4. Get a blog and share tidbits of your knowledge with other people. Build a reputation.
  5. Sign up on platforms such as freelancer.com, Upwork and many others.
  6. If possible, create a co-op with other fellow nomads who might complement each other’s skills. Divide weaknesses, multiply strengths.
  7. Above all, take action.

Think you got no skills? Don’t worry – try Hand2Hand!

Hand2Hand brings another way for digital nomads to set up shop and get another easy revenue source. One can take advantage of local products and gauge demand for them in Hand2Hand’s marketplace by submitting a sale offer. Then, use the immense power of haggling (Haggle your way to profit) to increase your margin. Or one can just take the lazy approach and bid for a specific product requested on one of your destinations.

Just pick it up somewhere and bring it with you. But first make sure you can cross the border with it!

Download the app (Hand2Hand) and spruce up your profile. Next, insert your next travels. Now, you’ll be able to check requests for your next destinations. What are you waiting for? It was never this easy to travel and profit at the same time!

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