FUN FACT: living on a tropical island is definitely as cool as they say it is.

Except…

When there’s a cyclone.

Or the power goes out on a super hot day.

Or they don’t stock almond milk when you’re allergic to the cow variety (yes, total first world problems right there).

So while there might not be a lot of almond milk lattes in my immediate future, there ARE a lot of really great lifestyle and business lessons to be had when I finally release my desire to fly to the nearest Starbucks and devour all things #pumpkinspice.

Today I’m taking a break from the regular business building blog post and sharing a few surprising business lessons learned while living the digital nomad life.

With over 13 years experience living and working from seven countries and four continents, today’s tips come from my personal experience living a successful digital nomad life.

If you’ve ever wanted to work from the beach while drinking Mai Tais, this week’s article is for you! Let’s dive in.

Digital Nomad

Is the Digital Nomad Life the New American Dream?

I have to admit, the digital nomad lifestyle is intoxicating.

The idea of packing a small bag with only the essentials and jetting off to a super cool location to plot your next million dollar idea seems to be the new American dream.

And while sipping pina-coladas by the pool or trekking through remote rain-forests is a pretty awesome way to live, it can make working from these locations more of a challenge.

THE 5 MOST COMMON CHALLENGES OF A DIGITAL NOMAD

  1. Finding WiFi that works
  2. Balancing work and play abroad
  3. Juggling time zone differences
  4. Funding travel vs. funding the business 
  5. Automating your systems so you can work less, not more

Talk to any digital nomad and my bet is, they’ve had a rough time getting around these five common challenges. (I know I did!)

Which is why today, I’m sharing the 3 top tips I’ve learned while living in seven countries in the last 13+ years so you can better prepare for your own successful digital nomad adventure.

NOMAD TIP #1: GIVE YOUR BUSINESS A HOME BASE

While it might be easy to do the work from anywhere, the administration of your business requires a solid home base. Without one, you can’t apply for business loans, credit cards or bank accounts. (This is especially true for those in the U.S.)

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT:

  • Do maintain a business address in your home country 
  • Do not use a mail forwarding or commercial mail receiving agency if you plan on applying for a business bank account, business line of credit or business loan while abroad
  • Do maintain a utility or phone bill at your business address if identity verification is needed while away
  • Do not close your accounts and assume you’ll be gone forever
  • Do apply for any business loans or line of credit before saying sayonara 

NOMAD TIP #2: JUST BECAUSE THERE IS WIFI DOESN’T MEAN IT WORKS

I cannot stress this enough: a strong internet connection is essential to a successful digital nomad business. Without WiFi, you’re left doing little work and potentially creating a negative reputation among clients. The greatest lesson I’ve learned while working from five different countries in the last seven years is always have a WiFi back-up!

HERE’S HOW TO ENSURE YOUR WIFI IS UP TO SPEED:

  • Research where you’ll be working and double-check your hotel/hostel/airbnb host about their internet options
  • If needed, have your cell company unlock your phone and add international data to your account (prices vary depending on network provider) and then use your phone as a ‘hotspot’ or tether to access the internet on your laptop
  • Research and buy an affordable SIM card upon arrival for data and local calling capabilities
  • Avoid using Skype (notoriously bad abroad) and opt for Zoom calls instead
  • Work offline as much as possible (enable Google docs for offline editing for example) and upload content when access returns
  • Consider a cell booster but remember most only work with a cellphone and require a weak WiFi signal first in order to boost it to a moderate or even strong signal 

NOMAD TIP#3: NOT ALL WEBSITES CAN BE ACCESSED ABROAD

Did you know videos hosted on Vimeo can’t be viewed in Bali? Or that you can’t use WhatsApp when visiting the Great Wall of China? For many of us, having immediate access to any website we want has become the new norm but for many countries, access to some websites are completely banned. While it might not be easy to know which website will work in whatever country you plan to travel to, you can guarantee access by downloading a trusted VPN software before leaving your home country.

HERE’S MY TOP VPN TIPS WHILE WORKING ABROAD:

  • Do download at least two VPN services in case one isn’t working 
  • Do ask for their mirror urls before departing on your trip in case you need to update the software while in a country with banned access (a mirror url is a ‘backdoor’ to the normal url you would type in Google or Bing and used when that normal url is banned in any particular country)
  • Do download the VPN software to both your phone and laptop 
  • Do keep your authentication key in an easily accessible place (not Google Drive if Google is banned)
  • Do use a VPN if accessing sensitive documents or client information for added protection (especially if working from a local cafe or other public WiFi place)

FINAL THOUGHTS ON GOING NOMAD…

One of the most rewarding decisions I’ve made in my professional life was taking my business on the road. If you’re considering the digital nomad life, do your research first and then buy that ticket! Success, as they say, favors the bold.

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