Do you wonder if there are certain digital nomad skills that are necessary to travel the world for months and years and make money online as you go? Short answer: Yes, there are. And while I`m convinced that you can learn many of these skills, I also strongly believe that you simply have to be born with some of the characteristics. Not everyone can enjoy such a lifestyle and be successful with it. So check out the following list and see if you have what it takes to become a nomad.
Table of Contents
Important Digital Nomad Skills
I know the remote life sounds like the perfect easy life. But if you want to travel AND work along the way, you definitely need a good portion of discipline. To me, this is one of the most important and necessary digital nomad skills.
Trust me, it is not that easy to live right next to a beautiful beach in Thailand with 35 degrees outside and you have to get up early and work all day. But you need the money, right?
Even though you don’t feel like it, you still have to work and you have a responsibility towards your boss or your clients. Without self-discipline, you might enjoy an amazingly relaxed life at the other end of the world. But, unless you have a massive amount of savings which you can live from, you will end up broke sooner than you think.
That goes along with discipline. You need to be able to get things done, preferably as soon as possible. When you arrive in a new country you probably have to organize a few things like a place to live, internet or a coworking space (if you prefer working from there). Don’t waste too much of your precious time on it. Get it all done quickly so you can hit the beach or start that epic hike. Of course, you can easily spend a few hours comparing the best mobile broadband providers in your new country. But you can also try to be a bit more efficient.
Stop being busy and start being productive! The more work you get done in a certain time frame, the more time you have for things you enjoy.
I have dedicated an entire blog post to techniques that help you be more productive. Check it out and learn how to improve your productivity during work.
You need to be good at organizing things! As already mentioned, a new environment means there is plenty to organize: accommodation, internet, phone, transport, food, etc. If you are the type of person who keeps forgetting things or who is always late paying the bills, learn to work with to-do-lists and schedules! The more you travel, the more you have to organize and keep in mind. That’s, by the way, another good reason why you should take your time and don’t move places too often.
But still, the more organized you are, the easier it is for you to get your job done and to explore your surroundings.
Having said that you need to be organized, you should also be able to live with constant changes of plans. An Airbnb might not work out the last minute, you may miss your flight, or your main client suddenly doesn’t need your help anymore and you have to find a new one.
Get used to the thought that you can’t plan anything and that you might have to be a bit more flexible with pretty much everything in your life. Don’t panic if things don’t work out the way you planned them but stay cool. Learn to deal with these kinds of situations, how to accept sudden changes, and how to find rational solutions.
5. Decision Making
Being good at making decisions is another necessary digital nomad skill. This lifestyle is so diversified, there are tons of decisions you have to make on a regular basis. What city to go to next, what district, where to stay, where to eat, which coworking space to go to, when to work and when to explore the region, what activity to spend money on, how long to stay before moving on,… The list is endless.
Although you can and should implement daily routines, there are still plenty of different options to choose from every day.
Learn how to make decisions quickly and efficiently, without worrying for ages afterward if it was the right thing to do. That also means that you have to trust your intuition more than ever before and be content with what you have decided on.
6. Knowing Yourself
When you travel around the world and work at the same time you have to face completely new challenges, which you haven’t even considered before. Can you do that super steep 3-hour hike at 3 in the morning? Are you ok with not seeing your friends and family in months and missing out on important events with them? Can you do that senior remote job position although you only have little experience in it? Are you able to live frugal enough to get by with a $10 hourly rate you are about to accept?
It is important that you know what you are capable of, what you can do and where your limits are.
The nomadic life is fun and gives you so many opportunities to see and experience new things. Be curious! Soak up all those new influences. Don’t just sit in your apartment or coworking space in front of your laptop. Go out and explore the place and get to know the culture! After all, that’s what you are here for.
If you don’t feel like exploring the city or region on your own, find like-minded people to go with them. There are plenty of ways to meet new people when traveling. My favorites are Meetup groups, Facebook groups, or connecting with people in coworking spaces.
Want to find more way to meet fellow digital nomads and make friends while traveling? Check out the linked post to get more inspirations!
Communication is always important, no matter what type of lifestyle you have. But when you are a digital nomad, it is absolutely essential. You have to constantly find new places to live and make new friends. Being in countries that don’t speak your language, doesn’t make it easier.
On top of that, you want to stay in touch with your family and friends back home. And let’s not forget the communication with your coworkers, your boss or clients. You need to deal with different time zones, different cultural backgrounds in international remote teams, and different ways of working. Hello, challenges!
If your communication is 100% online, it needs to be much more straight and to the point. Irony and humor don’t translate too well when texting.
If you want to work as a freelancer, you will usually have to find news clients on a regular basis (unless you have long-term contracts). Especially freelancer platforms, such as Upwork, have much competition. That means you need to be good at selling your expertise and skills. And again, selling it online! You normally don’t have the chance to meet potential clients or customers personally, shake hands and twist them around your finger.
It’s not only jobs but also accommodation. Some apartments, housesitting places, or Airbnb rooms have many applicants. Why should they pick you? You need to be able to prove that you are the right applicant.
Learn more about how you can successfully find and apply for jobs on freelance platforms, like Upwork.
Of course, you will meet new people and make new friends wherever you go. But there will also be places where you will find it harder to meet new people or you struggle to really bond with someone. Unfortunately, this disadvantage is part of the nomadic lifestyle, too.
Some people are ok with being a bit lonely every once in a while, others are terrible at it. Prepare yourself to not always have a social cycle around you and learn how to be happy when alone.
Some people struggle a lot with letting go of things. When you live a digital nomad life, this happens to you all the time. It all starts with letting go of your “old life”: Selling furniture, renting out your house, saying goodbye to friends and family, etc.
Once you are on the road, it often doesn’t get much easier: Since you are changing places every few weeks or months, your short-term routine changes again and again. In every place, you will meet new people and make friends that you have to leave behind.
This can be very hard. We all have our difficulties with it. But it’s part of the lifestyle and the price we pay.
12. Failure and Disappointment
You will experience failure. No way around it. We all do. When you are a digital nomad it might happen even more often than in “normal life”.
Maybe your client suddenly ends the collaboration because he or she is not happy with your performance anymore. Maybe your new online business isn’t as successful as you were hoping for. Maybe you will feel lonelier than you expected to. Maybe you hate the place where you wanted to stay for a few months and now you have to find a new place.
That, too, is part of the game. It is one of the necessary digital nomad skills to learn how to deal with it and not take anything too personally or seriously. Life goes on.
Plus, remember the quote: “Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” by Robert T. Kiyosaki. It is up to you how you define success for your life.
Especially when you don’t have a lot of savings you can live from, you need to be able to look after your money. Going out partying every night in Thailand is surely fun and drinks are cheap. But after a while, it might cut down your budget more than you would have expected. You never know how expensive the next place will be or how your business will develop. Use your money wisely and learn how to not waste it.
And yes, I know that goes for every lifestyle but the digital nomad life is even more unstable and unpredictable. That’s why you should be even more careful and always have an emergency fund.
Do you want to know how much money you need when you start a digital nomad life? Check out the linked article!
Very important! A negative attitude won’t get you far as a digital nomad. As I said, there will be many failures, you will be alone sometimes, or struggle to make an income. But trust me, it is worth it! There will be better times for sure and they are totally worth the negative experiences. Learn from them, grow and stay positive!
A positive mindset will get you more friends along the way and you will be able to find better jobs. Traveling and working all around the world is an amazing experience and you get so much out of it. You only have to be able to see it and trust in good things to come.
Ready to kick off your digital nomad life?
What do you think: Out of the 14 mentioned digital nomad skills, how many do you have? Do you think you could live a happy nomadic lifestyle? If so, great! Now you can move on to the next step and find out, what kind of remote job you could do, and how to leave your “old life” behind you.
If you don’t have all of the mentioned characteristics, don’t worry too much! As long as you know what to expect, are willing to learn, grow and be open to new situations, you will be able to get along doing it your way.