What is a digital nomad?

The BBC has called digital nomads “professionals who work online and therefore don’t need to tie themselves to one particular office, city, or even country.”

Reddit’s r/digitalnomad subreddit says “Digital Nomads are individuals that leverage technology in order to work remotely and live an independent and nomadic lifestyle.”

Wired has a slightly longer definition:

Digital Nomads can be defined as people who shun nine-to-five, office-based work routines and decide to go “location independent”. Some of them – the Instagram-dwelling type – are just young globetrotters eager to spend a couple of years working remotely from a tropical beach; more seriously, though, digital nomads are high-value freelancers and consultants, mobile entrepreneurs and company employees that decide to embrace mobility and work from outside the office – from their homes, in other cities or countries, or in cosy coworking spaces.

In the book, I define a digital nomad as a person who lives nomadically (or travels at will) and works digitally while traveling.

It is, in many ways, a rewiring of the fabric of how life is for people. Since this is still such a new way of working and living, there’s more than one term that tries to address it:

  • ‘Telecommuting’ and ‘teleworking’ were commonly used during the 1980’s and 1990’s, but today they feel like relics from those eras.
  • ‘Lifestyle design’ addresses how one might live, but it says nothing how one works.
  • ‘Remote work’ addresses how one might work while traveling, but it says nothing about how one lives.
  • ‘Location Independent’, a term coined by Lea Jovy (née Woodward), works for some people since it implies they travel and work.

While I acknowledge the term ‘digital nomad’ is a cliché to some, it best encompasses both sides of how one lives and works.

A digital nomad lives nomadically — traveling as they like, where they like, for an unfixed amount of time. Some nomads will choose to travel for a part of the year, then use an apartment or house as a base for the rest of the year. They need not be constantly traveling to be nevertheless thinking about and planning their next stop, their next trip, and so on.

A digital nomad works digitally — meaning your work and money-making endeavors are typically done on your computer or smartphone and through an internet connection. They’re not usually tied to your physical location, though some gigs might be.

This is just getting good.

Hey, I'm Chris. That's my book to the right, Becoming a Digital Nomad. It's a step-by-step guide that helps you test and transition into the digital nomad lifestyle. It comes with 12 worksheets and access to a Facebook group to connect with other digital nomads.