If you Google the term “Digital Nomad”, the result will be full of pictures of laptops on the beach & people posing on a hammock with laptops. If you ask a Digital Nomad about their ideal work environment, you will rarely hear anyone who mentions working on the beach or while lying on a hammock although it is nice to take such pictures.
There is no rule of thumb to develop and sustain a Digital Nomad lifestyle. Even long-term nomads are occasionally hassled by finding the best type of accommodation, developing and keeping productive habits, finding the ideal place to work from, or finding their favorite places to eat at.
Digital nomads come from different cultural backgrounds, professional backgrounds, have different career paths, and are on different stages of their careers. In addition, we are humans and we are different.
This travel and work lifestyle is suitable for nomads who aren’t comfortable with frequent location switches or first-time travelers. Long-term settling is helpful for new Digital Nomads who are trying to get accustomed to the new lifestyle and overcome the anxiety that may come with moving to a new place for the first time. Other nomads choose a place to settle long-term after feeling comfortable there or because of the presence of a Digital Nomad community, having local connections, or starting a local business.
Many of the long-term settling digital nomads are based in areas commonly known as Digital Nomad hubs like: Chiang Mai, Bali, Lisbon, Medellin and others. This is due to the presence of digital nomad communities in those places. Also, those are the areas that are mentioned online the most in articles, videos and DN travel guides.
Here is a quote by Sami Reed Cleaver (@samireedcleaver), a Digital Nomad who has a job in SEO marketing & prefers long-term settling:
Working online and settling somewhere long-term allows you to get to know the country and the people on a deeper level. You get to experience life and become a part of the community. The digital nomad life can be lonely at times so knowing you have family and community in different countries ensures that you’ll never be alone.Sami Reed Cleaver
Home base establisher
Either from a single home base or more worldwide, home base establishing digital nomads aim to find or have already decided which places around the world they prefer to temporarily live and work from.
Mostly, this style is preferred by long-term nomads who have already achieved success developing a sustainable nomadic lifestyle. It is perfect for everyone no matter which methods they generate income from. Many long-term nomads end up as home base establishers. However, It takes years of traveling, experiencing life in different locations, and working from those places to figure out which places suit you.
Fast traveling nomads spend more than a few days to a week in a single place, then move to another. This style is mostly adopted by Digital Nomads who are already successful at generating income from traveling such as Travel Bloggers and Vloggers.
Fast travelers are trying to visit as many places as they can, either because they wanna see more and experience more as Digital Nomads or because this is a part of their method of generating income. Bloggers and Vloggers creating content such as city guides and tips about the different destinations they visit are the most common examples of the fast traveling nomads. Others who prefer living this way are freelance videographers, photographers and remote working authors who earn a living by writing about the destinations they visit.
Fast traveling has its own downsides like frequent jetlags, continouos packing/unpacking, not having your own place, lack of long-term human connections, just to name a few. As a result, fast traveling nomads take breaks from traveling by often moving to their home country for a period of time to plan another trip or basing themselves near the region they are exploring to spend more time in one place.
The following is a quote from Shannone Controu (@sha_code), a former school teacher who has been a nomadic web developer for almost 2 years:
Before covid, I was on fast travel on my rollervan. Since covid, I’ve been going from airbnb to airbnb rather than slow travel (≈2month). Having lived both, I think I will stay on slow travel, because it allows me to really discover deeply where I am. I work most of the time from home ( and before from the camper). But I do occasionally go to work one day or two in co-working.Shannone Controu
Beach & sun seeker
For some nomads, being a Digital Nomad is all about living by the beach. This is ideal for nomads who like to surf or anyone who practices water sports. Other nomads enjoy having the feeling to be on vacation everyday by going to the beach before or after work.
On the other hand, some new nomads fall into the trap of following the common image of the Digital Nomad who lies down on a hammock near the beach with a laptop. Eventually, they start to realize that the beach isn’t a good environment to get things done. Such nomads start figuring out what being a digital nomad is all about, move away from the beach area or give up and make the decision of moving somewhere else.
Here is what Tiphaine Deraison (@weirdkidtravels) told us about her lifestyle. Tiphaine is a social media manager and a specialist writer in tourism:
I am more a beach and sun seeker as I am chasing tropical vibes. I started in Bali, then Portugal and last was Guadeloupe island because I feel connected to island life, waves and tropical nature. I start to work early in the morning and feels energetic and nature surround me, then I can easily go to the beach and manage to surf or dive as these are my hobbies too.Tiphaine Deraison
Big city explorer
Major cities, capital cities, business hubs are all different names for cities that a specific type of Digital Nomads seek. The type of nomads who prefer big cities are already established entrepreneurs and looking into expanding their professional network to grow their business or want to enjoy this lifestyle in more high-end or luxury places. Others prefer moving into major cities because there is more to do or because this is what they are used to.
This is one of the least common Digital Nomad lifestyles, simply because it contradicts with why most Digital Nomads decided to have this lifestyle. That goal of moving to a cheaper location where you can have a better lifestyle for less money while working on building your career or business remotely.
Fernando Kanarski (@nandokanarski) is a digital advertising consultant who has been to more than 40 countries & has been a digital nomad for six years. Here is what he told us:
I prefer big cities since it has better infrastructure for extended stay and offers a lot more options of cafes and entertainment. While it offers better infrastructure, big cities generally are better hubs for weekend escapes to beaches, mountains, and even another country.Fernando Kanarski
Working from a Camper Van or Sailboat
Living in a camper van or traveling the world on a sailboat is a cool thing to do. But is it a sustainable way to have a location independent life while remotely generating income? Many Digital Nomads have been doing this already. The number of Digital Nomads living this way have risen especially during the covid19 pandemic.
This style comes with challenges such as vehicle maintenance, generating power, having a stable internet connection and border crossing. As a result, Digital Nomads living in a camper van or a sailboat usually travel within their home countries or in regions where border crossing isn’t a big deal like the EU.
Here is a quote by digital Marketing and trading Digital Nomads who managed to travel and work from a sailboat for 2 years already, Greta and Michael (@whensailing):
We mainly work from our sailboat, where we produce our own energy with solar panels, but sometimes we love to take our work with us to the beach if we manage to do our work on our phones.Greta and Michael
Coworking spaces are more than just places for freelancers to work from and startups to be based at. A great advantage of working from a coworking space is having the opportunity to build connections and possibly get in touch with new clients. Some Digital Nomads change their working location between coworking spaces within different cities and different countries. This way enables them to expand their professional networks, helps explore more business ideas and connect with new clients.
Anymore Digital Nomad travel & work styles?
There must be and will be more and more different ways to live as a Digital Nomad. More people are willing to start their nomadic journeys and more companies around the world are getting into hiring remotely. So the answer is YES! The Digital Nomad global community is growing and more people are seeking this location independent lifestyle. It is all about time to see new trends and more variations.
I am the creator of Nomadic Memoir and the author of this article :D; Living as a Digital Nomad since 2016; Founder of the remote digital agency, Web Leap Garage. I share my experience as a Digital Nomad. Also tips, destination info, and travel stories.