Tips and Tricks for the Digital Nomad
Thanks in part to a flood of Instagram photos showcasing beautiful nomad lifestyles, more and more people are packing up their lives and hitting the road. Some outlets even predict that by 2027, the workforce will be filled with mostly freelancers, versus traditional employees. No office cubicle and no dress code—hello, working in leggings. This “gig” phenomenon—fueled by the high prices in the housing market and extreme amounts of office hours—have people questioning the traditional view of success. A new study found more than a million Americans choose to live in an RV full time, and the numbers continue to climb. Enter the world of the freelance lifestyle.
After I spent four years moving from office to office, my family’s business closed in May of 2017. At the time, I didn’t have a backup plan; I had to make quick decisions about my future. Should I go back to school? Should I look for another office job? I looked around at the house we were renting and our two sets of living expenses thinking, This is an opportunity to do something different and bet on myself for a change.” I made the decision to go on the road with my husband and pursue a freelance lifestyle. It’s been a year and half now that we’ve been #camperliving, and I’ve learned a few important tips about traveling full time. Whether you live in an RV or bounce between Airbnbs, there’s something here that will help you on your journey.
Take care of your stuff
Most of us have a life, a home and “things” we have to attend to before hitting the road. What will you do with your living room furniture, your ski equipment or all the photos on the walls of your apartment? Before leaving, find a suitable storage building for the personal items you won’t take with you—one that’s climate-controlled, well-lit at night and gated. Security is very important since this storage building will hold a lot of your valuables. If you have friends or family nearby (who you trust with your belongings), ask them to check in on your building once a month to make sure everything is intact.
Consider the logistics of nomadic travel
Regardless of how you’re traveling, the amount of space you have will be drastically reduced. Even the biggest RVs are smaller than most homes and apartments. That means you’ll have to make some tough decisions about what you plan to bring with you. In addition to less storage space, you might be looking at less water usage (if you’re living in a camper). The average hot water heater in a camper is six gallons. To put a little perspective on the amount of water you might be using currently, the average shower uses 17.2 gallons.
Working on the road
One of the most important aspects of working on the road is having access to reliable Wi-Fi. Since we live in a camper, my husband and I opted for a hotspot from our wireless provider. This allows me to work in our camper, versus having to hunt down a connection. To mix it up, I frequently take my work to local coffee shops and restaurants, which double as backup Wi-Fi connection if I can’t get good service in the camper.
If you’re new to the freelance lifestyle, once of the most exciting aspects is the freedom you have to create your own work schedule. While you can spend your days on the beach or exploring the community, it’s important to remember you still have deadlines to meet for your clients. It’s been said that working freelance takes more discipline and drive than a traditional office job. Enjoy the adventure, but remember your income helps fuel it.
Since you’ll be traveling to new places, you’ll have ample opportunities to meet new people, which could translate to potential clients. Whether you’re a social media manager for small businesses or a graphic designer, you have the chance to introduce yourself and offer up your expertise. Always carry business cards with you, and learn as much about the business and area as you can before pitching your services. Each city you visit is not only a new adventure, but a chance to win new clients.
Tried and true tips for the freelance lifestyle
Keep an eye on weather in your area, especially if you’re in a camper. Unfortunately, a lot of campgrounds don’t have a storm shelter. If severe weather threatens your area, you’ll want to locate a safe place to go.
Utilize Google Maps and the “location” tab of Instagram to find local coffee shops and hangouts. Sometimes businesses aren’t found on traditional search engines, and Instagram has yet to fail me.
Find Wi-Fi as soon as possible, or invest in a hotspot you can take with you. You won’t be able to submit your work if you don’t have a solid connection.
Set your work schedule. Even though you aren’t in a traditional job setting, it’s important to set normal (whatever that means for you) work hours. Don’t fall into the trap of working every hour of every day because you have access to it—and don’t fall into the trap of never working at all.
While there’s a lot to think about and important decisions to make, traveling to a new place every few weeks is a wonderful adventure. You’ll meet new people, see things you haven’t seen before and see the world from a different perspective. Do your research, pack light—and enjoy the ride!
Ashleigh is currently traveling the U.S. with her husband, Jake, while finishing her B.B.A. at Southeastern Oklahoma State University (cue grad cap toss in May 2019). She’s a content creator, social media manager, and blogger on all things business. When she’s not working, you can find her out exploring new cities with her husband or wandering around the office supply aisles of Target. Connect with her on the ‘gram @ashleighkluck.