As the COVID-19 vaccine starts to roll-out in destinations around the world, many people will be yearning for a change of scenery and wondering when they can get out on the road again, particularly if they've been working remotely all this time.
There are myriad perks to being footloose and fancy-free and unbound by the ties of working for one employer in one location. Here are some of the top advantages to the digital nomad life.
Editor's note: during COVID-19 there are restrictions on travel. Check the latest guidance before departure, and always follow local health advice.
1. Choosing your own office
As a digital nomad, you choose where you work, whether that means a coffee shop, a co-working space, or a palm-thatched bungalow on a tropical beach. Numerous surveys have revealed that people feel happier with some variety in their working environment, rather than sitting every day doing the same thing in the exact same space.
2. Choosing your own hours
While it takes some discipline to set your own hours and stick to a routine, as a digital nomad, how you structure your time is completely down to you. If you want to start the day with a scuba dive and clock on at midday, you can. If you want to sleep all day and work through the night, there’s no-one stopping you.
3. Maximum variety
Nothing stifles creativity quite like doing the same thing over and over again. As a digital nomad, you’ll be working on something new for every contract, sometimes for completely new people, and often in a completely new location. Freelancing is the embodiment of the maxim that variety is the spice of life!
4. No more commuting
Numerous surveys have shown that the daily commute is the number one hate for most workers. More than 50% of people resent the daily commute and the number is even higher for people working in big cities. Of course, during 2021, many of us dropped the commute in exchange for staring at the walls of our own home. For digital nomads, that same walk to the laptop can be appreciated anywhere.
5. More time for leisure
Most digital nomads rate having more time for leisure as one of the top perks of the freelance life, and being somewhere interesting means maximum opportunities to do new and exciting things you’ve never done before. Keep play and work in balance and this could be a lifestyle that never needs to end.
6. Less stress
Around 20% of people cite long working hours as the main cause of stress in their lives, and some 10% are stressed by office politics. Being a digital nomad means being your own boss, setting your own hours, and spending time with the people you like being around – or spending time by yourself whenever the fancy takes you.
7. No dress code
Some people love wearing a suit; other people feel it’s like school uniform for grown-ups. As a digital nomad, you can wear what you like, when you like, whether that’s Gore-tex and snowshoes, board shorts and flip-flops or a made-to-measure three-piece suit from a Singaporean tailor.
8. Personal development
Being able to choose your own direction means plenty of opportunities for personal development. You’ll learn to be self-reliant and comfortable in your own company. You’ll become more organized and more confident in your ability to rise to a challenge. And you’ll learn what is really important in life, without other people’s ideas and preconceptions clouding your judgement.
9. Business skills 101
Working as a freelancer is a boot camp in the skills needed to run any business. You’ll learn to manage your time and financial affairs, scout for new clients, stay on top of invoices and build a growing brand. Plenty of business-starters made the jump to creating their own empires after learning the ropes as a freelance sole trader.
10. See the world
As they used to say in the navy: become a digital nomad, see the world. With the wireless lifestyle made possible by digital technology, you can set up almost anywhere, and move camp when you fancy a change of scenery. Work in one place all year, or move with the changing seasons? Spend the week on the beach and weekends in the mountains? The choice really is yours.
This extract is from Lonely Planet's Digital Nomad Handbook, available now at Lonely Planet Shop.