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5 Characteristics of Digital Nomads and Traveling Remote Workers

Updated: Jan 19

Becoming a digital nomad is truly an act of resiliency and strength of character. This lifestyle choice goes beyond working and traveling across the globe - it comes with its own unique twists and turns. Life, in general, can be quite unpredictable, but choosing this particular lifestyle can test your character emotionally and mentally. These 5 key characteristics can be found among most digital nomads who have decided to choose this unconventional and wild experience.

1. Organization

Everyone has their own way of organizing their lifestyle. Packing, unpacking, budgeting, traveling, and exploring a new city will be a few of the many opportunities you will have to test your organization skills.

As a Digital nomad, your life will become more minimal. To save on baggage costs and travel expenses, you are likely going to pack your life into 1-2 suitcases. There are some handy tips for organizing as a traveler such as packing cubes, multiple bags for different purposes (day bags, gym bags, shower bags, etc), and even some people who label everything with those cute stickers from label printers.

You must also make sure to organize your travel plans according to your lifestyle and career. Have you considered which days of the week you are able to travel? Are you planning to move to a new city soon? Have you booked your accommodations, flights, and transfers? Have you checked your visa requirements? These are all checks that need to be organized to ensure a smooth transition.

2. Discipline

Being a Digital Nomad clearly has its perks: traveling, exploring new destinations, incredible food, new culture, and the list goes on. However, we must remind ourselves that we are able to maintain this lifestyle BECAUSE we are remote workers first. Therefore, our careers must take higher priority over our desire to run around our new city and explore during working hours.

Disciplined workers are desirable for obvious reasons. Managers with team members who have this trait will likely possess other positive qualities such as timeliness, attention to detail, and enthusiasm to work. Maintaining discipline is key, because without it we may end up in a new country with no financial security and a painful story about needing to call our parents, friends or family to book us a flight back home. Not ideal. So work first, travel second.

3. Adaptability

Remaining adaptable is key to becoming a successful digital nomad. You may hear nomads describing such problems as incorrect visa expectations, problems with internet connectivity and speed, housing difficulties, finding a quiet place to work, or last-minute cancellations on flights, accommodations, transportation, etc. Global policies can change in a day (we saw that happen in March 2020 across the globe). Electricity blackouts can happen across entire cities; which are clearly unavoidable. Your baggage can go missing for days or even weeks - thank you TSA for keeping us safe, but I need clothes. It is crucial to remain adaptable in these situations and not let the stress of minor travel hiccups get the best of you.

Therefore, take a step back, breathe, and understand that this is fixable.

What is one thing I can do to alleviate this problem?

Who can I call that might be able to help me?

Where can I find the closest seat to relax and rationally think this over before taking action?

These errors can turn into the absolute best travel stories - ask any nomad to share their personal tales. You might get a good laugh like a $200 USD fine for kissing on a balcony in Laos. Not my story, unfortunately, but listening to the tale was hilarious.

Life happens, but we can only plan for the worst and expect the best outcome. Hence, remain adaptable and you will prevail.

4. Communication

Communication is key in all interpersonal relationships. Since all communication will be virtual, maintaining effective communication with your company, manager(s), and team members will be crucial. It is necessary to not assume that your company will be completely comfortable with you changing your hours, workload, timezone, etc. Therefore a formal conversation with your company and/or manager to negotiate your workload and hours to fit your new lifestyle, will take confidence and reassurance. Be clear and honest in your communication about what you can offer in this new lifestyle and the conditions that you expect from your company. Remember your time and value is important too.

Effective communication will also be imperative when speaking to individuals from different countries and cultures. There are some major cities across the globe that have a strong presence of English speakers, but this is definitely not the case in all countries. Therefore, a basic understanding of the native language would be helpful. Understanding ‘hello,’ ‘how are you,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘how much’ will really go a long way. I would personally suggest downloading Google translate; you can also use this application offline in case you don’t have internet service when you arrive.

Communicate well and communicate often!

5. Passion

Life is filled with stressful situations, add to this mixture the traveler’s journey and you might think - “how do these digital nomads not surrender to anxiety?”

Because the passion for travel will make it all worth it.

This passion will always supersede the travel errors. Once you embark on this journey you will meet the other nomads who equally are willing to take the sacrifices in order to maintain a life worth suffering for. This lifestyle can become extremely chaotic. We get it.

You are choosing a way of life that is unconventional. You chose this lifestyle because you love to travel. You love to meet new people and experience new cultures. You love everything about being nomadic. You love the idea of location freedom. We use this passion to drive us through the most harrowing challenges that this way of life throws at us.

It is all in the name of ‘Being a Digital Nomad.’

Other notable characteristics of digital nomads include open-mindedness, frugality, confidence, and flexibility, but as you take this journey, you will notice these other parts of you come alive through experiences, adventures, relationships, and most importantly time.

Do you think you have what it takes to become a digital nomad?

Comments are encouraged below!

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