Goodbye boring, hello adventure — An interview with a veteran digital nomad
Nora Dunn is a Canadian who sold everything she owned in 2006 to embrace her dreams and travel the world. Since then she has been to 40+ countries and has never looked back. Welcome Nora! And thanks for taking the time to share your story with our community.
How can someone transition into digital nomad-land?
“Instead of trying to learn a new job entirely, I would suggest that people examine their existing careers and skill sets and see how it could translate into a career as a digital nomad…” So, taking traditional jobs and rethinking them to work as a virtual job (i.e., coaching and tutoring). Take advantage of the fact that we can connect with clients anywhere in the world using online software (Skype™, Google Hangouts’s™, etc.). These days it seems that if there’s a will, there’s an app.
Often times people think a digital nomad must be an entrepreneur, working independently. But it can also mean working for a company remotely and keeping your steady paycheck. For instance, an accountant or bookkeeper can live remotely sharing cloud-based software (Quickbooks Online™, Expensify™, etc.) with the corporate headquarters. So you can focus on bringing balance to your life beyond debits and credits.”
Describe the best jobs for digital nomads.
“Any job that is location independent such as writing, web design, online coaching, and marketing.” And that list could go on and on, right? Financial planners, investors, marketing, graphic designers, web designers, translators, online customer service, crowdsourcing producers/managers, etc. You’re only limited by the flexibility of your boss or customers in terms of when, or how, or if they need to see you. A fast, reliable internet connection with video-conferencing capabilities and you’re good to go.”
What is the main benefit of the digital nomad lifestyle?
“Complete freedom of location, working hours, and working style.” Sign me up!
“It’s a bit of a juggling act to ensure the vista of your destination is more than just a computer screen.” For sure! The balance between work and play is the main challenge every digital nomad faces. As you mention, when you are constantly landing in new cultures with new languages, even simple tasks such as grocery shopping or getting phone service can take longer than expected. So it may require time to tweak your schedule to maximize your fun, while working enough to pay the bills.”
You’ve lived in over 40 countries. How do you decide your destination?
“I tend to let my destinations choose me, in the form of a free accommodation gig like house-sitting or volunteering.” Free is good! Couchsurfing, WWOOFing, pet sitting, homesteading, etc. are all good options for the short-term budget-minded. If you’re thinking more longer-term, then other factors may drive your decision, such as: the social scene, cost of living, the weather, the language, visa requirements, etc.
When do you decide to move on?
“ 1. Research before you go. I like to travel slowly, so when I land somewhere I prefer to be there for at least a couple of months.” Yeah…in today’s environment of stricter border crossings, coordinating international travel logistics (visas, country exit-travel documents, lodging, etc.) can be time-consuming and tedious. If you’re moving around a lot, you may feel like all you are doing is packing and planning. For fast, seamless country-hopping, its best to do your research before you go and on-the-go with real-time information from other digital nomads.”
How much money do I need to be a digital nomad?
“Through my own career as a digital nomad, I’ve discovered that the cost of full-time travel can be less (way less) than the cost of living in one place. Although one of the main ways digital nomads can accomplish this is in earning income in strong currencies (like Dollars and Euros), and living in countries with weaker currencies (like Asia), I’ve also spent a good chunk of my 8+ years of living abroad in more expensive countries.” So anything is possible and we are only limited by our imaginations. You don’t necessarily have to have a six figure savings account to get started. Living in countries with a low cost of living index, while working digitally for customers that are living in high cost of living areas and paying high wages means less work, more play and/or less work but higher relative standard of living.
What resources did you rely upon for your digital nomad journey?
“When I started traveling full-time, I didn’t know anybody who was doing anything like this, nor were there any sort of community of digital nomads to commune with. And although it wasn’t the easiest process in the world, I survived…” Ah yes, at times our epoch journey across foreign lands may feel frustrating and lonely. So you chose to help others and wrote a series of books (which can be found at www.workingroad.com). Likewise, with the launch of Flying Yak, we are also helping to fill that void with an active community of digital nomads that can answer your questions, provide support and build friendships. With real-time articles and tips on everything from logistical planning to the local party scene, you can work anywhere — no desk attached.