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Digital Nomad: 3 Ways To Work and Play

Microsoft365 for Business
Microsoft for Business

When most people think of digital nomad they envision young couples roaming the highways of America in a converted Mercedes work van, sharing their stories on YouTube, and living the good life. Or an ExPat wandering the cluttered urban streets of Singapore or Kuala Lumpur enjoying cheap food and retail markets while constantly working an angle to stay in-country a little while longer. But what you see on YouTube isn’t always the truth . . .

If you’re interested in becoming a digital nomad, there’s no need to roam to far – unless you want to. And constant roaming is not necessarily how you define the experience either. Truth is, experiencing the lifestyle of a digital nomad can start right at home . . .

Remote work means more than staying at home

Thanks to the increasing affordability and functionality of mobile devices, combined with pervasive internet connectivity, remote work is now all around us. Most of us have ventured out of our bland little cubicle or dank, somber home office for a cup of coffe, laptop in hand. But I’ve found most of you return to the darkness. My question is . . . Why?

Why are you still working in an office . . . or in your converted basement . . . or some other boring soul-sapping box? Why aren’t you getting out and exploring the world around you as you work?

How to be a digital nomad

I currently work in the tech industry and they like to talk about virtual and submersive environments. I’d much rather have reality, and all the beauty of Creation, quirky personalities, and unexpected accidents that come along with it. That means I pick up my laptop, exit my home, and engage reality. Every day.

Becoming a digital nomad is relatively easy. Having the right technology is key, but I find that a bigger hurdle for most folks is psychological – the simple act of leaving their home. That’s why I feel it is important that the definition of a digital nomad grow beyond what you see on YouTube. You should realize that if you choose to be a digital nomad you can do so while traveling the world – or exploring your own community. There is no predefined limit to where or when you can go.

Thanks to technology you gain the freedom to experience a variety of cultures and build friendships that last a lifetime. You are empowered to contribute to local economies, including those in-need, financially and through volunteering. In the end, you become an integral part of the fabric of the community. But only if you want to. I’m glad I did. And I did most of it within 30 minutes of my own home.

Over the years I’ve explored a number of places as I worked. While much of it was local, I also explored my home country. International experiences have also been a part of my work/travel lifestyle. So if you’re interested in getting a taste of the digital nomad lifestyle, I’d suggest taking one of three paths.

Be a digital nomad by joining the “locals”

Local digital nomads are the most common. You see them every day and don’t even know. It’s one of my daily roles in my community. I think it is beacuse, as a child, I was stuck at home alot. I always wanted to explore but there was no where to go. The small stream and woods in our subdivision became my “Hundred Acre Wood“, to borrow from A. A. Milne. But it was barely an acre, linear and limited.

So when work opportunities allow me access to the outdoors, I do it. Every day I wake up and think of which part of my city I’ll explore while working remote. Sometimes coffee shops, other times bookstores. And very often, parks. Any place with a patio zooms to the top of the list.

Being a local digital nomad also provides a benefit the other two paths cannot: friendships that are constant and very long-term. So I encourage you to leave your cubicle or basement behind and explore your community every day. Oh, and don’t be afraid to talk to strangers. I’ve made many a friend that way during my nomadic work-a-day wanderings.

Explore your country as a digital nomad

Experiencing work as a national digital nomad is also rewarding. I’ve done so in the past while on journeys to visit my parents in my hometown and on extended business trips. Conferences provide a great opportunity to do so.

If you’re still unsure where to put down roots long-term, becoming a temporary digital nomad can give you the best perspective on which communities may be the best for you. My travels as such have always been surprising. Places I thought I’d like, I didn’t. And those that were on my no-go list often became my favorite. That’s one of the best things about the digital nomad lifestyle – it breaks down misperceptions you may have about a place and its peoples.

Become an international adventurer

But I must admit my favorite way to explore is on the international stage. Experiencing the lifestyle of an international digital nomad is extremely rewarding because it lets you engage in such a diverse range of things at a high level, including being a foodie, exploring new cultures, and making friends.

International nomadic life let’s you contribute financially to local economies (often on a neighborhood scale) that are very low-income. So you’ll be helping eateries and retailers that are family operated, often out of their own meager homes that double as shops. More often out of a cart or tent shaded streeside stall.

The international approach can be a 25/7 experience. Some of the best food is available via the local market scene is most countries, and they usually open at 5am. This is a great way to start your work. Then, during luch, explore the local streets for an hour. And after work, cast a wider net. Just plan your work location near that day’s adventure to save travel time and get a feel for the neighborhood and its people.

Become a digital nomad today

While I’ve found the most interesting and fulfilling experiences during my international work/travel, experiencing the digital nomad lifestyle in my home country and community has also rewarding. From the foods and cultures to the customs and landscapes you’ll encounter, you’ll be glad you left the cubicle and home office behind. I enourage you to become a digital nomad today. And if it’s already past closing time at your local coffee shop – start first thing tomorrow.

Learn more: Get up to speed on the technologies powering digital nomads.

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