How to Become a Digital Nomad

Molly Steckler
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The digital nomad space has grown rapidly since the normalization of remote work that came about following the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, there are 35 million digital nomads worldwide! This is exciting news for anyone considering converting their hobby of traveling into a lifestyle.

Living an adventurous lifestyle can be a dream come true if you are properly prepared. WorldTrips can be your travel partner to provide you with coverage for unanticipated trip expenses and assistance when you face the unexpected. Will your home country’s health insurance cover you when you travel abroad? This is often not the case, and it’s important to consider your health and safety when traveling somewhere new.

WorldTrips’ digital nomad travel medical insurance can provide the coverage you need to travel in and out of multiple countries away from home. But travel health insurance isn’t the only thing you should consider when becoming a digital nomad. Our guide highlights all the other important details to consider to make your travel dreams a reality.

What Is a Digital Nomad?

A digital nomad is essentially a remote worker who regularly travels and works from various locations. “Digital nomad” isn’t a job title but is instead a way of living and working. Digital nomads tend to appreciate the freedom this lifestyle gives them and the opportunity to spend long stretches of time in cities where they’ve always wanted to visit or live.

With any lifestyle change, there can be some challenges too. These sometimes include feeling a lack of stability in one’s life, trouble building a support group while away from family and friends, and issues securing fast and reliable internet service.    

Benefits of Becoming a Digital Nomad

Digital nomads reap the benefits from working from interesting and exciting cities around the world while still making an income. They can set up their workstation on the beach in Mexico, in a café in Japan, or from an Airbnb in Portugal.

Here a few quick facts about digital nomads:

  • 70% of digital nomads work 40 hours or less per week.
  • Top destinations for nomads include Bangkok, Lisbon, and Mexico.
  • Over 45 countries offer digital nomad or short-term visas.
  • Most digital nomads earn between $50,000 and $250,000 annually.
  • 49% of digital nomads are employed full-time (and others are startup founders, freelancers, contractors, or agency workers).

This might feel a bit daunting, but learning how to become a digital nomad will help ensure you have everything in place to start (and enjoy) your nomadic lifestyle.

How to Become a Digital Nomad

Becoming a digital nomad isn’t as easy as packing your bags and taking off. It’s smart to do your research first to find a job that supports your digital nomad lifestyle, narrow down the best destinations, and collect all the necessary travel documents.

Be sure to also plan for fun! Look into ways to connect with new people, create a list of sites to visit and things to do in your downtime, and visit with friends and relatives in the area.

Which Countries Allow Digital Nomads?

The early stages of planning to become a digital nomad can be a little overwhelming if you don’t have a dream destination in mind already. How much travel you want to do is important to consider too.

On average, digital nomads tend to stay in one location for seven months, so it’s important to consider a variety of factors and ask yourself important questions before deciding were to travel.

According to CNBC, the fastest-growing digital nomad destinations include:

  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Da Nang, Vietnam
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Penang, Malaysia
  • Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Manila, Philippines
  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia

Tips for Choosing a Digital Nomad Destination

When choosing your next country to work in, consider some other important details like:

  • Is Wi-Fi Access Reliable? Reliable Wi-Fi access is a big deal for digital nomads, so make sure you do your research to find a city with reliable internet access. If you don’t have access to good Wi-Fi, then you can’t work.

  • Where Will You Live and Work? Finding a good living space is essential. Whether you’re searching for a long-term rental with a home office or are planning to change hostels on a regular basis, having a plan for your living and working space is essential. Many people prefer two different spaces to separate work from living, so if you need to find a co-working space or a coffee shop to work from, make sure that they’re a close distance from each other.

  • Can I Afford to Travel? Budgeting is essential to help you decide where you can afford to travel and how much you need to save to do that. Besides paying for lodging and food, you also should consider your taxes as a digital nomad and fees from your bank or credit card. All these little things can add up quickly and you may find that your money runs out sooner than expected.

  • Is There a Language Barrier? While you don’t need to be perfectly fluent in the language most widely spoken in your destination, it’s important to consider what language barriers you might experience and what you may or may not be comfortable with.

  • Would You Feel Safe in Your Destination City? Striking a balance between affordability and safety is important. When researching destinations, consider the access to hospitals and health centers, treatment of women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ communities, your freedom of speech, and the ruling political system.


What Are Some Digital Nomad Jobs?

Before taking the leap and becoming a digital nomad, it’s important to make sure your work situation is sorted out. This might mean reaching out to your current employer to get permission to work remotely or seeking out a job better suited for a digital nomad lifestyle. If you’re a freelancer or business owner, make sure you can do your job remotely too!

If You Plan to Stay With Your Current Employer...

You’ll want to consult your employee handbook for information regarding a flexible work location. Many companies completely abandoned their physical office spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic with no intention of returning. Other companies have a long-standing policy for allowing remote work.

No matter what type of company you work for, you’ll need to consider any limitations you might have to work with. For example, some employers may require you to work during certain hours for a particular time zone. This might limit your destination options to those within a couple time zones. Other companies may require employees to work within a certain city or state.

Bring all these questions to your employer’s human resources team to understand what limitations you may have as a digital nomad.

If You Plan to Seek Out Other Job Opportunities...

Those with limited travel flexibility in their current job will want to consider seeking out other job opportunities. Many employees are pushing for more flexibility in working locations, so finding employers who provide the level of flexibility you need is easier than ever before.

When reviewing job descriptions, look for jobs described as “fully remote,” and make sure to ask questions during your interview process about the company’s policies regarding working remotely from a different country.

If You Plan to Continue Working for Yourself...

The digital nomad lifestyle often appeals to freelancers and business owners due to the flexibility that often goes hand in hand with their jobs. This can be easier said than done for some individuals depending on what kind of work you do.

Obviously, a coffee shop owner will be less likely to become a digital nomad than a blogger, video editor, or content creator. If you work for yourself, consider what changes you would need to make to your lifestyle if you posted up in a different country for a few months at a time.

Digital Nomad Visas and Other Important Travel Documents You’ll Need

Now that you’ve narrowed down your ideal destination and solidified your employment, it’s time to focus on necessary travel documents. To get you started, here are some important travel documents you may need to acquire:  

  • Digital Nomad Visa Nearly 50 countries offer digital nomad visas, which are visas that allow someone to work remotely while residing away from their country of permanent residence. Since many digital nomads don’t need a long-term visa, investigate which governments offer resident permits for temporary residents.

    Make sure you understand your limitations regarding how long you can stay in a particular country by verifying details regarding that country’s visa and travel requirements. The last thing you need is to scramble to find a new country at the last minute.
  • Passport – This might be a no brainer, but make sure you have your passport secured before you travel. Make sure your current passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date – or make plans to come home sooner. If you need a new passport, note that some can take up to 3 months to acquire.

  • Health Insurance Card – If your primary health insurance plan offers little to no coverage once you leave your country’s borders, consider a digital nomad insurance plan like Atlas Nomads from WorldTrips. A travel medical insurance plan like this is designed specifically for digital nomads wanting coverage for unexpected medical emergencies, supplemental travel benefits, and emergency travel benefits. Atlas Nomads also offers a monthly payment option.

  • ID – It’s always good to travel with a second form of ID in case you lose your passport. This will also ensure you don’t have to pull out your passport everywhere you go.

WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW: Some digital nomads choose to book accommodations for just the first week or two in a new destination. This allows them time to figure out where exactly they would like to live and gives them time to tour places if they plan to stay for an extended period of time (i.e., a month or longer).


Get a Quote for Nomad Travel Medical Insurance Before You Begin

Wherever life or work has you traveling, it’s always smart to be ready for the unexpected. When you’re planning to start your digital nomad career, do your homework and be prepared with all the right travel documents and travel medical insurance.

WorldTrips offers travel medical insurance coverage for digital nomads who are non-U.S. citizens venturing outside of their home country for work. Payments can be made upfront or monthly based on where your adventures take you.

Whether you plan on staying in one country or traversing a whole continent, consider purchasing WorldTrips Atlas Nomads insurance before you take off. Getting a quote from WorldTrips is quick, simple, and free – get started today!

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WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel Series, Atlas Nomads, and StudentSecure international travel medical insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. WorldTrips has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency, Ltd.