There are a number of attributes that are important for a successful digital nomad to have. One is figuring out an income stream. Most of the digital nomads we know make it work by having numerous different income streams from tiny to large. These tend to build up over time. For example, you get a freelance gig that pays $300 every two months. After awhile all the little gigs start to ad up. Once you’ve earned money, you’ll need to understand how to manage it and make it grow – the old making your money work for you rather than working for your money idea.
Containing your expenses is another skill most digital nomads need, since paying tourist prices constantly isn’t an option for most people. Some people house sit, other people find housing via Air BnB or Craigslist. Other people travel slower and rent places on 6 months leases, furnishing them with second hand furniture. To contain your expenses, usually involves knowing how to find internet deals. However for other people, their skills might be more in befriending and negotiating with locals.
A third set of skills is being a jack of all trades. You’ll need tech skills, like figuring out how hotels troubleshoot their internet (yes, we’ve had to do this multiple times) or figuring out your way around Google maps. You may also need to learn what your tax situation is depending on where in the world you are working. You’ll also need to confidence to ask questions, and to question information that seems incorrect to you.
Whether it’s finding a free outlet at an airport in New York, dealing with international tax issues, or researching the best roaming internet solutions, being a successful digital nomad is a lot about mindset. You need to be tenacious and show self confidence (that you may not always feel) e.g when you’re searching for an answer but find yourself being given incomplete or flat out wrong answers by customer service people. This is par for the course of being a digital nomad.
Although there are some digital nomad skills that aren’t internet related (such as face to face negotiating and making friends on the road), much of the skill set is internet based for many people, hence the term digital nomad. However, the basis of these skills is mostly about ability to do research rather than technical skills per se. A priority for most people hoping to become digital nomads is to start getting any kind of location independent income stream going. Over time, these will build up. You’ll also find what’s working, and then be able to refine or scale that up into something substantial.