For most, the term “digital nomad” conjures images of sun-kissed 20-somethings sipping margaritas on the beach, their laptops resting under the shade of a cabana.
An enticing picture, though not entirely accurate.
There are many myths about becoming a digital nomad. (Spoiler: It’s not all sun and sand). And these misconceptions can quickly sour your remote experience with false expectations—or prevent you from taking the leap in the first place.
Here are three of the most common myths debunked.
Myth #1: Traveling solo is dangerous.
Yes, traveling solo carries some risks. However, they aren’t as great and terrible as you might think.
The Reality: Solo travel is on the rise. In fact, almost one in four people plan to travel solo in 2018. And while many of the fears of solo travel are gendered (i.e., female solo travel is considered far riskier), women make up the majority of solo travelers.
Just like there are areas to avoid at home, there are areas to steer clear from abroad. The key is to research your destination and trust your instincts.
A few rules of thumb:
● Reserve lodging in a central, well-lit part of town.
● Don’t carry all your valuables on you.
● Register with the local embassy through the STEP program, which registers your trip information, makes it easier to contact you in an emergency, and provides valuable updates on local safety conditions so you can plan your trip accordingly.
By preparing ahead of time and making smart choices about the locations and situations you put yourself in, you’ll decrease potential risks.
Myth #2: It’s impossible to secure a steady income.
The digital nomad life can seem untenable from the outside. How can you travel and provide for yourself in the long run if you’re always working on short-term contracts? What if you get stranded with no money? What if you run through all your savings? What if, what if, what if.
The Reality: Some freelancers do work primarily on short-term contracts or rely on bringing in new clients regularly to support themselves. Though this can create some stress, it isn’t necessarily a roadblock to nomadic success.
Careful money management, sound business planning, and savvy networking can alleviate most of these pressures to ensure a consistent flow of income.
Additionally, the picture of the remote worker frantically jumping from one gig to another, never sure where the next source of income will be, isn’t always accurate. Today, many digital nomads are full-time employees.
As remote work becomes more mainstream and companies get better at accommodating remote employees, the nomadic lifestyle will become even more accessible and stable.
Myth #3: You have to be techy.
Because digital nomads work primarily from their computers, there is a lingering assumption that you have to be in a tech field to work remotely. Fortunately, this isn’t true.
The Reality: The remote industry is diverse and varied. While many remote workers are programmers, engineers, and other “techy” professionals, there are plenty of other non-technical fields that fit the nomadic lifestyle:
● Account management
● Graphic design
● Writing and editing
● Project management
Of course, not every profession will be a good fit. But as companies and technology advance to support remote work, you’ll be amazed at the wide variety of opportunities available.