For newbies to the remote workspace, “how to become a digital nomad with no experience” is the right place for you to start. Of course, becoming a digital nomad is a trend that has been around for a while. But in recent years, the demand for remote work has exploded!
As a traveling remote social worker, I became a digital nomad with minimal experience in many ways. While I possess specific skills that make it easier to pivot, being a remote social worker is rare. My field is not generally attributed to a remote work lifestyle, meaning I learned a lot on the job.
I firmly believe in finding freedom and flexibility outside the office, so let’s kickstart your remote work journey. You will be surprised at what skills you already possess! Here is how to become a digital nomad with no experience.
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is a remote worker who earns a living online and is not bound by a specific business location, meaning they often travel and work simultaneously. Digital nomads spend one month or more in a place and can be 9-to-5ers, freelancers, or entrepreneurs. They also often earn money working for a company outside the countries and cities they visit.
What you need to be a digital nomad
Remote work is one of the most popular travel methods while you have a full-time job. To be a digital nomad, you need to have a job that you can do remotely. Some digital nomads work their regular nine-to-five jobs remotely. Other digital nomads become entrepreneurs, consultants, or freelancers full-time but require a laptop to do their work.
Unless you have a trust fund, you need to get a job! Even full-time travel bloggers, influencers, and writers are making money as they travel. It is rare to meet someone who does not have a job while traveling and working remotely. Websites to look for remote jobs include Dynamite Jobs, Otta, Remote Leaf, We Work Remotely, and Remote OK.
Passport and visa (for abroad adventures)
You will need a passport if you want to go abroad and be a digital nomad. Visas vary depending on your passport and the countries you want to visit. Remember, the more countries you can visit visa-free, the more passport privilege you have compared to other travelers.
However, do not always limit yourself to adventures abroad. I began my digital nomad experience in the U.S because there were cities I had never visited. We often forget how big our home country can be because we were born and raised there. If you are hesitant, you can also test out the digital nomad life closer to home first.
Love of traveling long-term
Unlike regular vacations, digital nomad life means you are traveling long-term. Most digital nomads are often slow travelers, meaning they spend a month or more in one city or country. Some may take a few weeks to be in a town or country. However, you want to be proactive and prevent burnout, so taking it slow is the better option.
Flexibility and adaptability
Moving from country to country as a digital nomad means being adaptable and flexible. You never know what can happen when you are on the road. From flight cancellations to buses breaking down to your accommodations not being what you anticipated – you have to be prepared to go with the flow sometimes. But, unfortunately, traveling requires you to relinquish some of that control!
One of the benefits of being a digital nomad is learning from the world. To embrace this learning, you must reject ethnocentrism and lead with an open mind. You will be experiencing new cultures, customs, and traditions, so be prepared to embrace new things!
Job considerations for your digital nomad journey
If you want to become a digital nomad without experience, you must know what skills you currently possess. A skills analysis based on your professional experiences will help you figure out the easiest path to remote work.
The skills you need for a job depend on the role. Some valuable skills include project management, program management, data analytics, customer service, written communication, and many more. Remember to align your skills with the job description.
The type of remote company
The popularity of remote work has changed what it means to be a “remote worker.” Nowadays, “remote” can refer to a hybrid model of work where you are required to work in the office one to a few days a week. Other times remote work is an actual “work from anywhere” environment or working for a remote opportunity where you can only live in the company’s country.
If you want to be able to work from anywhere, you need to make sure the company you work for also has that mindset. Sometimes a company says they are remote when in reality, they are not. Asking the right questions during your research and interview process will help you set expectations with your employer.
Compare location time zones with your work hours
Working from anywhere still requires some coordination. Unless you are a freelancer or entrepreneur who makes your schedule, you will need to align your digital nomad journey with your work schedule. Resources such as World Time Buddy makes it easy to understand time zones abroad.
Technology and wi-fi needs
Connecting with people has become easier over the years. A huge part of being a digital nomad is an internet connection. And due to the popularity of remote work, many Airbnbs and hostels are now increasing their Wi-Fi speed and capacity to accommodate digital nomads. You will also need to bring additional charging cables, adapters, etc.
Additional technology needs for digital nomads include a VPN to protect your information. As a digital nomad, you will connect to many types of wi-fi. A VPN such as Surfshark can help you browse privately and prevent cyber attacks. It’s a must for digital nomads.
Jobs for digital nomads with no or minimal experience
Writing is one of the most straightforward remote work jobs for digital nomads. You can become a copywriter, freelance writer, content writer, grant writer, curriculum writer, etc. It is also a universal skill that most people already possess. The following skills are ideal for an aspiring writer who wants to become a digital nomad:
- Written communication
- Wordpress, Squarespace, etc.
- Content management
If you become a content writer, think about the topics you are capable of writing about. Do you have any specialties? Is there a particular topic you are familiar with? Asking those questions can lead you to figure out what kind of writer you want to become.
For aspiring digital nomads with good organizational skills, this role is for you! Becoming a virtual assistant is an ideal opportunity for those who are good at planning and organizing. In addition, if you have any background in operations management, a virtual assistant job is a possible pivot. The following skills are ideal for an aspiring virtual assistant who wants to become a digital nomad:
- Calendar management
- Client relations
- Email management
- Google Workspace
- Social media management
Social Media Manager
Social media manager jobs have increased exponentially in recent years. Instead of managing your account, you will manage someone else’s. So if you love social media and want to learn how to market it, this role is calling your name. The following skills are ideal for an aspiring social media manager who wants to become a digital nomad:
- Hashtag research
- Content creation
- Content marketing
- Social media
Though this job is to become a digital nomad with no experience, I think teaching should get a bit more credit. As someone who taught English abroad for a year, I believe it is good to have some background in education. Even if you speak English, teaching it as a native speaker is hard. I recommend getting a TEFL to help you be more marketable and knowledgeable. The following skills are ideal for an aspiring English teacher who wants to become a digital nomad:
- Classroom management
- Curriculum development
- Youth development
- Facilitation and public speaking
- Class scheduling
- TEFL certification
Specialized jobs for digital nomads with traditional jobs
Some digital nomads have traditional jobs. For example, I work in research and evaluation consulting as a remote social worker You can download my remote social work 101 guide here to learn more about that. It is not a job that most people think of for digital nomads. However, it is a job I originally had that went remote. So for those who want to take their traditional jobs remotely, here are some additional job title ideas to look for in education, social services, and health.
- Curriculum Writer (education)
- Proposal or Grant Writer (nonprofit)
- Digital Advocacy/Organizing (nonprofit)
- Social Impact Strategist (social work)
- Public Health Writer (health)
- Research Associate (health or social work)
Non-tech jobs are not often in the larger remote work databases. Therefore when looking for remote roles with traditional jobs such as social services, health, and education, you need different search engines. If you are looking for a remote job in these areas check out Idealist, Net Impact, No Desk, Work for Good, and LinkedIn.
How to build up your skills to be a digital nomad
Align current and new skills
Starting small can help you build up new skills. Once you align your current skills with the jobs you are applying for, you can better see the gaps in other skills you need. The more skills for a specific position you have, the more marketable you are for that role.
Take advantage of YouTube
YouTube is one of the best resources for learning new skills. Not only is it free, but there are hours of content to watch. You can learn a new set of skills with one YouTube channel. If you are a self-starter who can quickly motivate yourself, check out what YouTube offers.
Enroll in online skills-based classes
You can’t float through the world with no experience forever! And you will find that in these roles, you will need more skills to excel. You do not want to lose that cushy digital nomad job. So here are some websites to consider for learning new skills:
Travel considerations for your digital nomad journey
Digital nomad visas
Digital nomad visas are becoming increasingly popular. Dubai, Namibia, Estonia, the Cayman Islands, and Bermuda are a few of the locations that have launched digital nomad visas. Most have a minimum income requirement for applying to work in these countries.
Decide what to do with your belongings
When you become a digital nomad, you often travel with less. Being a digital nomad does not mean you must give up all your clothes and other items. However, if you don’t, you need to figure out where it will stay while you are out traveling.
Some digital nomads leave their belongings in their parent’s houses as they travel. Other digital nomads sell their belongings, and some even put their items in storage. When creating your digital nomad exit plan budget, you will need to add how much it costs to put your stuff in storage long-term.
Purchase travel insurance
Health insurance is not the only type of insurance you need as a digital nomad. Sometimes the health insurance at your job does not work internationally. Travel insurance helps cover cancellations, lost or stolen personal belongings, and emergency medical attention and treatment abroad. Safety Wing is an excellent option for travel insurance geared towards digital nomads.
Determine what type of housing you need
Knowing your work style as a remote worker can make your digital nomad transition smoother. One aspect is knowing what environment you need to thrive. You can choose from Airbnbs, hotels, and even hostels which are now becoming more digital nomad friendly. If you are more social, a hostel is a good choice. On the other hand, renting an Airbnb is the better choice if you want more seclusion and privacy.
Travel planning process
Even as a digital nomad, do not underestimate the travel planning process. While most people are accustomed to traveling for shorter periods, becoming a digital nomad requires more effort. You have to plan where you’ll stay, how long, what technology you need to do your work, what health and travel insurance you will have, and much more. So while you can go with the flow on your digital nomad journey, some parts may need to be planned out a bit more.
What kind of life do you want to live abroad? Do you need a location with lots of outdoor activities to do in your free time? Do you want to live near a beach? Are you more of a city person? These are questions to ask yourself when picking locations. Think about the life you want to create for yourself and how you will get there.
My best advice for aspiring digital nomads
I unexpectedly became a digital nomad. My plan or intention was not to live this flexible, location-independent lifestyle. However, I would not change this freedom and flexibility for anything right now. I can travel, visit family in various cities and states for an extended period, and live a more abundant life outside the office.
If you are contemplating how to become a digital nomad with no experience, you need to know why. While traveling can be a top priority, you should consider other reasons. Making travel part of your life as a digital nomad is incredible. Yet it can also lead to deep sadness when you are not living off the adrenaline of traveling.
There are disadvantages and advantages of digital nomad life. And knowing what kind of traveler you are will help you figure out what kind of digital nomad you hope to become. You will be with you no matter where you go. Being at peace with who you are will improve your digital nomad experience.
Good luck and safe travels!
Curious about how I became a digital nomad as a social worker? Check out my story here.