Top Tips for Surviving as a Digital Nomad

30th January 2023

Thinking about taking up the life of a digital nomad? Already one of those hallowed few but find yourself in need of helpful survival tips for working and living on the road, away from home and with no permanent base?

Thanks to all-important reliable internet connections and web-based careers that can be worked remotely, the digital nomad lifestyle is accessible to a growing number of people. But it’s not quite so simple as buying a one-way air ticket and touching down to a new life in the sun.

Learn how to become a successful digital nomad with our survival tips below!

Every digital nomad should be using a VPN – Virtual Private Network. We’ve tried dozens of VPNs but found NordVPN to be the most reliable in terms of speed, ease of use, customer service and value for money.

Find a workable workspace

Digital Nomads working in a Bali co-working space
Digital Nomads working in a Bali co-working space

It may be somewhere completely different every day, but to work effectively and efficiently you’re going to need a suitable workspace – somewhere you feel comfortable and relaxed but where you can also concentrate on the task in hand.

It’s, therefore, best not to set up shop in a place you visit for leisure, since it’s all too easy for the line between work and play to become blurred.

And though lying on a sun lounger on a beach may seem like a great idea at the time, you’ll soon discover the mix of heat, sand, salt water (and temptation) soon gets the better of any work ethic you’re trying to instill in yourself as the boss.

Likewise, you won’t be able to spend much time in a hotel room, however comfortable, before cabin fever breaks out.

The answer to the suitable workspace conundrum lies somewhere in between – a laid-back coffee shop, study space, or specifically designed coworking space. You know what suits your working style.

Some people can work with a radio blaring heavy metal all day, others can’t. So pick a workspace that best fits your personal needs, and don’t be tempted to settle for second best.

A great way to find a suitable place is simply to ask around!

And if like most digital nomads you cannot be productive without some regular coffee intake, there are some awesome travel-friendly espresso makers out there for those destinations short on coffee shops. 

Get suitable insurance

finding beyond working
Working from the Philippines

You’re away from home so unlikely to be covered by your home country’s national health schemes, but as a worker and resident (however temporary) you’re not covered by standard travel insurance either.

This means if things go wrong, like you end up needing hospitalisation, or your laptop becomes damaged and unusable, you could find yourself in serious difficulty. That’s where insurance specifically tailored to digital nomads comes in.

It’s not easy to find, but Safety Wing has stepped in to save the day and any potential raid on your bank balance that comes as a result of an unforeseen incident.

Not only does cover with Safety Wing include very competitively-priced travel medical insurance, with a very useful auto-extend function and home country coverage, but it also includes coverage for travel delays, lost checked in luggage, and personal liability.

Identify your most productive time to work

finding beyond working
Working from a hotel pool in central Bali

Are you an early-riser or a night owl?

Working remotely as your own boss means you get to choose when you work and when you play, so you can work when you’re at your most productive and focussed, whatever time of day (or night) that might be.

You might be best in the early morning, when all is quiet, or in the evenings when you’ve had some time to explore and the temperature has dropped again.

A set routine helps cement the difference between work and leisure time, though it’s not essential. Who wants to be working when the sea’s sparkling, and then free when there’s a tropical downpour in progress?

Also be aware of how your present time zone might alter to that of your clients. If a piece of work is expected at Friday midday, who’s midday is that exactly? If this is clear from the beginning it will save an awful lot of headaches in the long run, and might help you decide when the best time for you to work is too.

Go steady

penestanan village digital nomads
Working by our Penestanan villa pool

Finally, it pays to go steady. Of course, you want to travel – that’s why you became a digital nomad in the first place in all likelihood – but don’t go too far too fast.

Getting the right balance between work and leisure can be difficult, with many people taking three months to get there, so though travel is a key part of why you are opting to live a digital nomad lifestyle, you also need to allow enough time for work.

In reality, this means staying in one town or city for at least a couple of weeks, while most digital nomads stay an average of two to three months in one destination. With backpacking you can cover six countries in six weeks; as a working digital nomad, you can’t.

The upside is that you have plenty of time to see everything the destination has to offer, make friends, and get to feel at home, without rushing around as if you’re on a day trip.

Should you be lucky enough to be in an industry which allows the digital nomad lifestyle you’ll soon discover its an incredibly freeing way to earn a living. Just follow our easy tips to not just survive, but truly live!