Google 'digital nomad' and you'll get a lot of main-stream media articles about a select few who travel the world, leveraging new forms of technology to fund their travels. You'll also find numerous websites, courses, and YouTube videos about 'becoming a digital nomad'. Don't buy or believe these. You don't 'become' a digital nomad.
The term 'digital nomad' has become something of a buzzword, ripe with negative stigma of western (mainly white) dudes in Chiang Mai trying to sell products through Amazon or their own 'become a digital nomad and escape the 9-5' courses/pyramid schemes. You'll see more established people using replacement terms like 'location independent' (not a fan of this one) and 'remote worker' instead.
For me, the term digital nomad perfectly describes something I've been thinking about my whole life: how do I fund long-term global travel while also leading an interesting professional life?
There're people who say "Digital nomad! Pah. People have been doing this for years!" They're wrong. Yes, people have travelled the world since the dawn of time and in more recent history they've saved income from jobs in home countries or worked jobs in different places as they've travelled.
But what people haven't been doing for years upon years is taking their laptop to different countries, connecting to wifi, and doing the same thing they would in their own country to earn money. This is something new.
While I think 'digital nomad' is a good way to describe the idea of long-term travel sustained by online work, when people ask, I say I work remotely or from my laptop for a company and travel while I do. This is much easier for people to comprehend, no matter where I am. It's also exactly what I do.
Here's an article looking at the possible effects of long-term digital nomadism and a practical 'guide' for supporting yourself via online work to enable long-term travel.
As I've travelled more and integrated into the digital nomad community I've also come to associate other things with this life:
- A desire to be free from trading time for money, usually through financial independence
- Creativity and intellect across all sorts of disciplines, industries, schools of thought
- Fascination with the future and a distinct feeling of being a part of the future
All I know is that two years ago when I came across this term I finally had a way to verbalise what I have dreamed about since age five when I would pretend I was flying off to Neverland, never to return.