I had just arrived in Guatemala City at 10 p.m. and had an important Skype meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. the next day.
That meant that I had fewer than 12 hours to find a private location with fast Wi-Fi.
I opened up coworker.com on my phone’s browser and found a nearby coworking spot with a private room.
I took an Uber to the coworking station first thing in the morning, successfully fielded my Skype call, drank lots of free coffee and stayed there working on projects until they closed at 8 p.m.
This coworking space was a godsend, because I had needed to complete a lot of work. If I’d been in a traditional office setting, Wi-Fi, coffee and a desk would have been a given. But since I’m always traveling, I need to make sure I have all the resources I need to perform my job as a digital nomad.
What Do Digital Nomads Need?
Digital nomads are a select group of individuals who choose to work around the world, wherever they can access the internet.
Because it’s such a unique lifestyle, we need certain things to help us succeed as we work and travel around the world.
The internet is a precious commodity when working as a digital nomad. It’s almost as essential as water!
We need the internet to receive assignments, complete projects and submit our work. That’s why having a space with an abundance of Wi-Fi is so crucial to our livelihoods as digital workers.
Coworking spaces are places specifically designed to provide internet workers with an office-like environment. This way, you can work without being part of a physical company or renting an expensive office space.
Coworking spaces have blazing fast internet, and there are usually other perks like free coffee or tea while you’re working.
Entering a country and being able to speak the local language is immensely beneficial. You’ll be able to get around more easily, find where you’re going more quickly and, perhaps most importantly, communicate with the locals.
Locals are indispensable sources of information. They can explain to you how to easily get from Point A to Point B. Or they could even be valuable people to talk to for the big travel story you’re writing or photo series you’re creating.
You should always strive to learn at least a little bit of the language before visiting any country.
As digital nomads, we need to make sure we have the right equipment for the right job at the right time.
This includes hardware, software, applications and any other tools that make being a remote-based worker a little easier.
Legal Assistance and Advice
Being a remote worker is weird, and there aren’t many governments in the world that understand what it is that we do.
When we enter countries, we need to triple-check that we’re behaving legally and working within the bounds of the law. Certain countries require a work visa to be a remote worker while other countries won’t care, as long as you’re not working for a company in that country.
Even still, it can get confusing.
I recall being held up at the Malaysian border because I stayed in the country for three months. Even though my tourist visa was valid for three months, none of the border agents understood that I was working remotely for a company based in another country. All they heard was that I was working in their country.
Understanding the law in every place you go is an important part of the nomadic journey.
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Best Resources for Digital Nomads: Websites
Location Information and Community Interaction: Nomad List
Nomad List offers an exhaustive list of digital nomad places around the world.
The Nomad List community of digital nomads ranks each city in order of popularity based on metrics like average Wi-Fi speed, cost of living, overall safety levels, nightlife scene, friendliness of locals and English-speaking abilities.
The website also provides neighborhood maps, a series of reviews about each city from other nomads and a list of the various coworking spaces in the area.
When you visit the site, you’ll see an updated list of the top cities around the world that are most popular with the digital nomads using Nomad List.
All of these 1,000+ cities contain a number of digital nomads currently living and working there. As a paid member of Nomad List, you can join the community and connect with your fellow digital nomads in that area.
This community interaction adds a social networking aspect to remote working and traveling that isn’t found in most other digital nomad resources.
Nomad List is free for basic information about a location, but to join the worldwide NomadList community, you need to pay $8.25 per month or $149 for a lifetime membership.
Coworking Space Information: Coworker
When you’re a digital nomad, coworking spaces are lifesavers.
Coworking spaces allow people access to a clean, quiet and secure location with high-speed Wi-Fi. They also give way for natural conversations to spring up with fellow digital entrepreneurs.
Coworker gives you information about over 9,000 coworking spaces all over the world. Read reviews, learn about prices, hear about certain coworking events and find the contact information of various coworking spots. Many of these 9,000 places aren’t advertised anywhere else!
You can request free day passes for certain coworking spaces through Coworker.
You can even find coworking spaces based on activities you’d like to pursue, such as skiing or being near the beach.
Coworker is free to join.
Curated List and Job Portal: NODESK
As leaders in the digital nomad industry, the people behind NODESK have years of experience living and working remotely. They’ve curated a list of digital nomad resources that ranges from gear, to software, to health recommendations.
NODESK also gives you travel recommendations based on specific locations, as well as resources you might need for these trips.
NODESK features its own job portal, so you can look through some of the most current openings for remote workers.
My favorite thing about NODESK is that they tell you about companies who frequently hire remote workers. In many cases, these companies won’t necessarily post job openings on job hunting websites, so directly sending them a resume could secure a pretty awesome remote-based job.
NODESK is free.
Epic List of Various Resources: Nomad Stack
Nomad Stack is another curated list of resources, but it goes super deep into the digital nomad lifestyle and gives remote workers everything they need to be successful digital nomads.
It’s an epic list of helpful blogs, destination guides, notes on accommodations, banking information, tax and visa information, volunteer options and anything else you might need along your journey.
While Nomad Stack doesn’t host its own job portal, it lists lots of websites you can use to find remote-based work and even categorizes the types of digital nomad each job portal will benefit. This categorization helps writers save time by not looking through job portals designed for developers.
Nomad Stack also hosts its own digital nomad lifestyle blog that provides even more helpful information for working travelers.
Nomad Stack is free.
Best Resources for Digital Nomads: Apps
Languages and Local Culture: FluentU
Learning the local language is an important tool in the digital nomad’s toolkit.
FluentU helps people learn a language by watching videos taken directly from the culture where that language is spoken.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. You can watch all these fun videos while simultaneously learning how to talk like a native!
Perhaps the most interesting part of FluentU is its “quiz mode.” Quiz mode takes videos and turns them into language learning lessons. The lessons are fully personalized so that your learning history is taken into account when presenting questions. FluentU’s algorithm sets you up for success by teaching you based on what you know.
This both teaches you how to speak the language and gives you an appreciation for the country’s cultural media.
FluentU has content that ranges from absolute beginners to native speakers in nine different languages. And you only need one FluentU account to access all of these languages. So if you decide to live and work in China today and move to Germany tomorrow, you can learn Chinese and German with the same FluentU account.
You can also access the FluentU website from your computer, but the app is especially convenient for digital nomads who’re always on the go.
FluentU has a free 15-day trial, and after that it costs $15 per month or $30 per month depending on the plan.
Offline Maps: MAPS.ME
MAPS.ME is one of the best mapping applications out there.
It’s often a lot more detailed and accurate than Google Maps, and it works completely offline so there’s no need to connect to data to use it.
Simply download the map for your area and you’ll gain access to the most updated map for that region.
There are bus and train schedules. Driving, walking and biking directions. Even detailed information about the local businesses in the area.
I can’t tell you how many times Google Maps has led me to a wrong location. But MAPS.ME hasn’t let me down yet!
The biggest problem is that the mapping downloads can get quite large, so make sure you have enough storage available on your phone. But if storage isn’t a problem, this app is a must-have.
MAPS.ME is free.
Cloud Storage: Microsoft OneDrive
Cloud storage is essential for maintaining data security in today’s digital age.
While it would be nice to trust physical data storage products like hard drives and SD cards, these physical items can become damaged, get lost and experience malfunctions. When that happens, we lose all of our precious data.
And it would be truly awful if we lost all of our travel photos and important work information in one fell swoop.
OneDrive is a Microsoft product and one of the cheapest of all major cloud storage providers. There are more secure data storage clouds out there, but if your main concern is storing tons of information that isn’t super sensitive—travel photos, journal entries about your trips, work projects—Microsoft OneDrive is perfect for you.
Simply drag whatever you want to upload to the cloud to your OneDrive folder on your desktop or phone. OneDrive will continually sync this information with its cloud server.
This is a fast and easy way to work across various devices and instantly share information with other remote-based coworkers all over the world.
OneDrive offers 5GB for free and has pricing plans all the way up to 5TB for $99.99 per year. As an added bonus, if you opt for the 5TB option, you gain full access to the Microsoft Office 365 Suite.
Secure VPN: NordVPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is essential for maintaining internet privacy.
A VPN reroutes your internet traffic to a secure location based elsewhere in the world. This prevents people from hacking into your network and spying on your browsing habits based on your I.P. address.
When you’re using public Wi-Fi spots in international locations where internet privacy isn’t well-regulated, you need to use a VPN. This is particularly important when you’re transmitting work-related documents to another person via the internet.
VPNs also provide the added benefit of “spoofing” or pretending that you’re browsing from a location in another part of the world. This helps bypass government filters on certain websites and allows you to access content that’s only available in certain countries.
NordVPN is one of the most robust and versatile VPNs on the market. It offers I.P. locations all over the world. It’s fast, reliable, highly secure and markedly cheaper than a lot of other VPNs on the market.
NordVPN costs $3.99 per month to $11.99 per month depending on which plan you choose.
Best Resources for Digital Nomads: Services
Free Online Courses: edX
If you want to be a digital nomad, you need to have some kind of employable skill that can be performed over the internet.
There are all kinds of digital nomad jobs, from programmers, to photographers, to teachers, to videographers. But if you don’t have a skill that can translate to internet-based work, you can always learn one!
edX houses a large collection of online university courses. They offer training on just about every subject you can think of, from music theory to architectural engineering.
All of these courses are taught by industry professionals from top-rated colleges and universities around the world. The courses feature in-depth videos, interactive quizzes and detailed lesson plans.
It’s a lot like going to school, but the school exists online. And, unlike applying to and enrolling in a university, joining edX is free.
You’ll get a certificate of completion if you pass the course along with any special kind of certification associated with the training. You can even obtain advanced degrees from universities by taking their online courses on edX.
edX is free to join, and most of the courses are free. But getting a certificate may cost money.
Digital Nomad Trips: Remote Year
Remote Year is a one-of-a-kind company that organizes trips for digital nomads.
Sign up with Remote Year and pay a monthly fee for them to take care of everything—plane tickets, cultural excursions, coworking memberships and accommodations. For one year, you only have to worry about doing your job, being in a remote working community and exploring the world!
It’s a super fun and unique way to be a digital worker as you travel to various digital nomad hotspots around the world without worrying about any of the logistics of international travel.
Remote Year even offers to talk to your current employer to see if you could do your job remotely during the length of the Remote Year program.
Remote Year requires a $5,000 deposit for the first month and then $2,000 for each of the remaining 11 months.
Digital Nomad Insurance: World Nomads
You definitely shouldn’t be traveling the world without insurance. Medical emergencies, trip interruptions and unfortunate accidents can happen to anyone. It would horrible if these things happened and you didn’t have the proper insurance to help you overcome these situations.
But certain insurance companies are timid about providing insurance to digital nomads. Because the lifestyle is so unique, many insurance companies jack up their rates because they feel we’re taking unnecessary risks by continually traveling the world while we work.
That’s where World Nomads comes in.
The people who started the company are world travelers, and that’s why they’re dedicated to protecting their remote-working clientele as they journey around the world.
While there are probably cheaper travel insurance providers out there, World Nomads knows how to cater to the specific needs of digital nomads. If you want to work while alpine skiing in Switzerland, they know what kind of protection you need. If you want to work while trekking in Peru, they know what kind of protection you need.
They’ve been there and seen it all, and as a result, they know how to keep us protected.
World Nomads bases their costs on participants’ locations, ages and regions of travel.
Working as a digital nomad can be overwhelming.
But with the right digital nomad resources at your disposal, life becomes much easier. And traveling the world becomes much more thrilling!
Eric Michelson is a nomadic, philosophizing, peace-minded pluralist. He hopes to help bridge the divide between the diverse factions of the world by exploring various perspectives brought on by personal experience. You can follow him at Perspective Earth to learn more about his work.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.