Digital Nomads: The New Breed of Professional Travelers

This view could be yours!

The concept of becoming a digital nomad––traveling the world and working remotely from anywhere your heart desires without being tethered to a desk, or even an office––sounds pretty tempting. Most of us have probably fantasized more than once about responding to emails while sipping coconut water at a beachside cafe. For digital nomads, this existence isn't a fantasy; it's reality. But is it really all it's cracked up to be? Are these global butterflies living the dream, or is there a catch to this idealized life?

How to know if your motivations are pure

You need to have a serious case of wanderlust. Vacationing and living in another country are two entirely different situations. Vacations are meant to be stress-free breaks from real life during which you leave your daily struggles behind and indulge yourself. Living in another country can be an incredible experience, but it's not a constant vacation.

If you're dead set on unshackling yourself from your 9-5 job (or at least committed to doing it remotely, possibly on the beach), keep in mind that many of the anxieties weighing you down in your current life will travel with you. If your main motivation for becoming such a nomad is to travel to as many exotic places as you possibly can, then being one may suit you just fine. But if you're simply dreaming of a life where you can tap out some emails for a half hour and spend the rest of the day parasailing, then you'd be better off buying a lottery ticket than a plane ticket.

You'll never make your own coffee again.Photo by Nathan Dumlao

What does it take to be a successful digital nomad?

You need street smarts, a cool head, and a gregarious personality. If your passport or bag gets stolen or you get injured while on vacation, it can be complicated and frustrating to get back to your regular life. But at least in this situation you have a stable "real life" to get back to. If you're living in a foreign country with no real home base to head back to, it can be significantly scarier.

You have to be able to stay calm in any situation because the help you could rely on back home may not be available. Depending on where you're living, medical care can be less impressive than what you're used to, and telling a medical professional what's wrong when you don't speak the language can be, er, challenging. Time to brush up on your pantomime.

If you're the shy and retiring type, making friends may also be intimidating. Unless you're working a local gig (which generally pay less than what you'd need to live comfortably), you most likely won't have the opportunity to meet people in ways you normally would. Committing to the digital nomad life means meeting people through other means, like local Meetups or community activities. One nice thing about being a foreigner: you immediately feel a kinship with other non-indigenous folks. It doesn't matter if you're a Canadian living in South America, or a Vietnamese holed up in Iceland; non-locals immediately have something in common to bond over.

Wrapping another day at the office.Photo by Felix Russell-Saw

What's life really like for a digital nomad?

For one thing, it's not all play and no work. Oftentimes digital nomads find themselves working longer hours than they would back home, depending on the lifestyle they want and where they live. If you're making a living as a freelancer, be prepared for times of feast and famine. Sometimes you'll be so busy you won't have time to breathe. Other times you'll be in between projects, trying to drum up business.

But the flip side to this uncertainty is that you have unlimited vacation time. Play your cards right, save copiously, and you can spend a lot more time traveling than you ever would with a traditional 9-5 (at least working in the US).

If you're trying to do your 9-5 from afar, you may be in for some late nights/early mornings, depending on the time difference. You may also find it difficult to motivate yourself to work when there's so much cool stuff to explore just outside your door. It's a bit easier to pound out that financial report when you know that you'll only encounter a Subway and Starbucks outside, instead of a street food hawker selling som tam off the back of her bike.

Financial stability abroad

Depending on what type of work you secure and your cost of living, you could be saving a lot of money or be living hand-to-mouth. It depends what your goals are. If you're dying to do as little work as possible while traveling the world, it will behoove you to choose places with exceptionally low cost of living. Save your pennies for flights (or hack the frequent flier programs) and steel your stomach for street food. If your dream is simply to live in a tropical locale and still save a decent sum, look for side gigs to supplement your income. Being an Uber driver, package deliverer, or performing any number of small tasks from sites like Fiverr can help you earn cash on the side.

That log is her desk. Photo by Nathan Dumlao

The highs are higher...but the lows are lower

You'll have some of the best times of your life...but sometimes all you want to do is go grocery shopping at Target and drive home on autopilot. Living a nomadic life can be exhausting because you're always blazing your own trail. Depending on how nomadic you want to be, you may be living out of a backpack and traveling to 2-3 cities per week. Heck, in Southeast Asia you could visit 2-3 countries a week! In every place you touch down you'll have to sniff out a few of the same things (safe/cheap lodging, food, a place to work), which can get tiresome over time.

However, traveling the world means you'll never have the same experience twice. Yes, you'll be consistently looking for a place to crash, but at least you won't be staring at the same ceiling, night after night. Your view outside the window will never be static. You'll be constantly exposed to new situations, experiences, and people. For some people this is a dream come true. For others, it can be stressful.

Your life fits in a bag

Perhaps one of the most liberating aspects of a nomadic life is letting go of possessions. It's amazing how much money you save when you can only buy things that will fit in your pack. And what's even better: you'll realize how you don't really need that much stuff to be happy.

To sum up: this lifestyle isn't for everyone. And it may not be right forever, even for those who love to travel. But you only get one life. If you feel like your spirit is being crushed by the grind and you're happiest when you're not at home, becoming a digital nomad could be one of the best decisions you'll ever make.

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Three Things to Consider When Planning Your Vacation

There are plenty of things to consider when planning your vacation. Make sure you have all your bases covered by the time you buy your plane ticket!

Going on vacation is wonderful after months of stress and work. There's just one last hurdle before hopping on that plane: planning.

There can be an overwhelming number of things to consider when planning your vacation (COVID-19 not least), but putting them in an itemized list helps. Here's a quick cheat-sheet for you to get a jump-start on that.

Vacation VacationUniversity of Kentucky

Remember Your Budget

If you make a budget, which you definitely should, stick to it. Don't spend more than what you can afford when you start vacationing. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, so saddling yourself with debt will only dampen the fun of your trip. How much are you spending on living accommodations, food, activities, travel? How much are you setting aside in emergency funds in case something happens?

Plan for the Length of the Trip

Are you going out of town for a few months, or do you only have a week off? How much time you have can affect where you can go and how much you can enjoy it. If you only have a week and a half for a trip, then it's best not to go somewhere that's a 16-hour flight away. Half the trip is going to be spent on planes, and the other half will be spent being jet-lagged.

Trip length can also affect how you have to deal with your home while you're away. If you're away for long periods of time, do you need to hire people to cut your grass? Do you need to hire house sitters or babysitters? There are even things to know if you need to board your dog. Keep all these in mind for extended vacations.

Consider the Weather

You never want to ruin your vacation by heading somewhere beautiful in its offseason. Depending on the time of year, most activities could be canceled due to weather restrictions. Some places are ideal for winter trips, and other destinations are made to be enjoyed during the summer heat. Plan accordingly, and don't show up in a swimsuit when it's 50 degrees outside.

That rounds up the basics, but there are plenty more things to consider when planning your vacation. Give yourself wiggle room if any unique considerations pop up in your planning process.

There has never been a better time to learn a language than right now. While we can't really travel, we can still get ready to explore the world and other cultures through film, music, and food. But the key to all of this is language. It can be hard getting started on your own and so we found the perfect solution: Rosetta Stone.

We've been loving hunkering down and digging into Rosetta Stone, a language learning app with many different languages, the best lessons, and an affordable subscription. It's flexible and made to work for you, no matter what level you're starting at. Jump back into French without dusting off your highschool books or pick up Mandarin with a clean slate.

Thinking about Rosetta Stone for your language lessons? Here are the answers to your most pressing questions:

What languages do they offer?

With Rosetta Stone, you can choose from 25 different languages including Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese. When you get the Unlimited Languages subscription you gain access to all 25 and can switch between languages. While you may be intensely learning German, you can take a break and pick up some conversational Korean — all in one app.

What are the features?

What makes Rosetta Stone's lessons really work are the incredible learning features.

Phrasebook will teach you short, useful expressions that are sure to come in handy during your travels, letting you see the practical application of what you're learning. Seek & Speak brings the fun back into learning by having you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and taking photos of them to get the translated name. Even in an app, Rosetta Stone turns any environment into a classroom.

TruAccent is a speech engine within the program that provides instant feedback on your pronunciation so you know if you're on the right track. You'll grow more confident about speaking aloud and it's like having an accent coach in the room with you.

How long does it take every day?

Rosetta Stone's lessons are bite-sized, so all you need is 5 -10 minutes a day to sneak in some practice and work towards your language goals. Of course, you can do more if you want but there's no regimented schedule or pressure to speed ahead.

How does it compare to in-person classes?

With the Rosetta Stone app, your learning is within your control and designed to move at your pace. The app will tailor to your particular interests, strengths, and weaknesses! Plus, with the recent explosion of online classes, most people have fallen away from in-person instruction anyway.

Rosetta Stone brings you expert teaching, fun engaging lessons, and a multitude of language options all on-the-go. Take your classes whenever and wherever works best for you, conveniently on the app.

Is it suitable for all levels?

Absolutely. When you first start, the app allows you to choose a study plan based on your experience level. So, if you're a beginner you can start from scratch and those with some proficiency can advance to where they're comfortable.

How much does it cost?

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month and grants access to all 25 languages, cheaper than Netflix. You get an education at a great value and the best part is no ads while you learn!

We look forward to our Rosetta Stone lessons and highly recommend it to anyone eager to learn a new language or even brush up on an old one. This program makes learning fun, practical, convenient, and most importantly affordable.

Say bonjour, to the go-to language learning app and have the world right at your fingertips!

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!

Like so many out there I haven't been traveling. With everything going on these days I've been staying home, which I love, but it does have me itching to travel. The international section of Netflix just isn't satisfying my travel bug like it used to (trust me, if it's been recommended I've watched it).

I was looking for another way I could travel without leaving home so I did the rounds of take-out food: Chinese, German, Italian, and Mexican. This was fun and tasty but a pricey way to explore the world.

A friend of mine suggested taking a prepping approach to travel and try Rosetta Stone: a language learning program that offers an annual plan with access to 24+ languages.

I've always wanted to learn a new language but have had trouble committing. I was a bit wary about starting Rosetta Stone but ultimately decided to give it a shot.

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month for 12 months (what a deal). While I was determined to learn Spanish in anticipation of my dream trip to Spain, this plan allows me to switch to any of the other 24+ languages.

I was excited to get started and use the app. I figured with all of the extra time I had until I could actually go on my trip, I'd aspire to be near fluent by the time it happened.

Jumping right in, I took a ton of lessons through their app and really binged the language. I loved the focus on conversational language, phrases, and vocabulary but after about a week I had burned myself out a bit.

I ended up pulling back and doing 10-minute lessons a day. This was manageable and easy to incorporate into my schedule whether it was by doing a lesson over my morning coffee or winding down right before bed. Learning in bite-sized amounts helped me digest the information and really process what I was being taught.

After a couple of weeks, I was getting really comfortable with Rosetta Stone and was actually enjoying the learning process… even though I wasn't a big fan of language when I was in school. What really set this experience apart for me was the Phrasebook and Seek & SpeakⓇ features.

Phrasebook teaches short, useful expressions that I know will come in handy on my trip. Seek & SpeakⓇ definitely brought the fun back into learning for me, as it has you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and take photos of them. Once you do this it gives you a translation of each item (I've never enjoyed looking for cucumbers in my fridge before).

Watching so many telenovelas I knew how important the accent is (in any language) but difficult without an in-person instructor. Rosetta Stone realizes that too and uses TruAccentⓇ. The speech engine within the program gave me instant feedback so I knew that my pronunciation was on the right track and it made me more comfortable speaking aloud.

Rosetta Stone turned out to be a great choice for me. Now I'm daydreaming about traveling and feel like when the time comes I'll be ready to. I'm so confident in my learning that I've branched out and have done some lessons in Italian and French! I'm thinking, after Spain… maybe Rome and Paris? My destinations list is endless now!

Honestly, with Rosetta Stone, I feel more inspired than ever to travel and all this inspiration is happening right in my home. I can't wait to take what I've learned on the road but until then the preparation is still incredibly fun and useful.

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!