The world is changing. Travel is now a large part of our work and personal lives. Leading the charge on the travel-work front are digital nomads. Armed with just a laptop and good wi-fi connection, these mobile workers are blazing a trail across the globe.
According to the European Forum of Independent Professionals, there are currently 9 million digital nomads in Europe and 53 million in the US. The legitimacy of this way of life has been further strengthened with the success of the DNX Global Conference for digital nomads in 2015. Thousands of attendees from 62 countries came together, with the 2016 edition in Lisbon set to grow.
While the appeal of a nomadic lifestyle is real (who doesn’t like working from affordable, warm places such as Thailand and South America?), being constantly on the move has its challenges. Worry not though because there are some secrets to make you a better digital nomad.
1. Pack better and lighter.
Can you fit everything onto a carry on? If you’re working remotely, you want to be able to be nimble and traveling light helps. Working in warmer, milder climates means you won’t have to lug around seasonal gear such as winter coats.
If you can fit everything into a carry-on backpack or small suitcase, do that. This way, you’ll easily breeze through airports while everyone else is waiting for their luggage at baggage claim. While packing, a good rule of thumb would be: if you even hesitate over packing an item, odds are you won’t need it. Even if you do realize you need something later, you can always buy it or borrow it from fellow digital nomads.
2. Get a travel app that helps record and remember.
Many digital nomads spend no longer than a couple of weeks in a place before moving on. While part of appeal of this lifestyle is working in new places and engaging with new people, after a year or two on the road, your trips might end up being one big blurry collage of memories…but there are digital tools to help you record and remember those moments.
Travel apps such as Firef.ly help you record your journeys, creating a map-based journal of all the places you’ve visited and moments you’ve captured in the form of photos, notes, videos and more. These apps ensure that you can easily review and re-live important moments. WINNING!
3. Look up interesting programs and spaces.
Part of the appeal of working remotely is that new places and new people spark fresh ideas. If you’re getting into a (digital) rut, it might be worth sniffing out interesting programmes. Remote Year organize a 12-month programme that takes cohort of 75 people to a new city each month. People seem to like the idea so much that the company recently raised $12 million Series A round.
While there are also tons of co-working spaces, not all are equal. In Berlin, Blogfabrik lets influencers use its co-working space for free in exchange for two pieces of content a month. Sign up WAY in advance.
4. Look up. Not down at your smartphone.
This is a simple one. While we are so bound to our digital devices for work and play, it’s sometimes a good thing to put the phone and laptop away This way, you’re actually engaging with new places and people.
When navigating a city, why not put away Google Maps and instead wander with only your innate sense of direction to guide the way? Even if you do get lost, it’s part of the adventure. Another tip. Create a phone stack at meal times (the first person who uses the mobile during a meal picks up the tab) and choose to engage in ‘actual’ conversation instead of being on email and Instagramming food pics.
5. Learn the language.
Folks appreciate when you take the time and effort to learn their language and attempt to converse with them. Even if you mangle a few words here and there, it’ll often serve as a great icebreaker. Also, how many times have you had a great laugh meeting new people and learning new ways to swear from them?
Further, with tons of online resources and apps such as Duolingo, there’s no reason why you can’t build a routine where you spend 30 minutes a day learning a new language.
Got any other tips for being a better digital nomad? Tell us!
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.