It’s been four years since Lauren Juliff, 26, from London, became a digital nomad. She’s since been travelling the world working as a travel blogger and a freelance editor and writer. She’s also just published her first book, How not to travel the world.
Here, she tells List for Life what being a digital nomad is all about, and how she combines travelling with her career.
1. What is a digital nomad?
Anyone who doesn’t really have a home or a base but they make their living online. This means that they can go wherever they want with their laptop, as long as there’s an internet connection, and work from anywhere.
2. How did you become one?
I saw it was realistic to make money as I travelled and after six months of starting the blog I started receiving emails from advertisers who wanted to work with me. About a year or so later I was making enough money to travel pretty much anywhere, so I didn’t really see much reason for heading home once that happened.
3. What kind of careers do digital nomads have?
I meet more people who are bloggers and writers more than anything else, but I’ve met graphic designers, programmers, a translator… Pretty much anything that’s on a laptop.
4. What’s your day-to-day like?
No two days are the same for me. When I was writing my book for the past three months I didn’t really leave the house. I was just on my laptop for 12 hours a day writing and writing. It’s been miserable but before that there have been times when I’ve taken a month off and I haven’t worked at all. So it really does vary; I don’t have much of a routine. Sometimes I’ll work until lunchtime and then take the rest of the day off, or sometimes I’ll go and explore in the morning and then work after dinner and work in to the evening so there doesn’t really seem to be much of a routine to it.
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5. How do you decide where to go next?
I mostly make it up as I go along. I normally have some vague plan of where I want to go so I’ll say I want to spend this year in Europe and I’ll start in Spain. So then I move to Spain and then if after three months I want to go somewhere different, I’ll have a look at cheap flights. If there’s anywhere I want to go then I book a ticket. Normally I’ll have a plan for the region I want to spend the next few months in, or the year. But that’s it, I don’t really make plans until a week or two before I arrive somewhere.
6. How long do you usually stay?
About a month is what I’d like it to be, but I find myself travelling a lot faster than that just because I want to go everywhere all at once. Later on in the year I’ll be in Madrid for two months and then there’ll be some more fast paced travel but I think it averages out to about a month in each city.
7. Where do you work from?
I usually work in the apartment, or guest house, or hotel where I’m staying and that’s normally because I find co-working spaces to be a bit noisy and I like to have silence when I work.
8. Do you think more people will join the digital nomad way of living?
I definitely think more people will join and I only really have experience with travel blogging but I know that more and more people are starting to realise that they can make a living online. There are definitely more travel bloggers than when I first started out. I meet people as well who have a corporate job and realised that if they could work from home they could technically work from anywhere. They’re starting to travel as they’re still doing their normal job that they used to do at home.
9. Do you think it’s feasible for people with more ‘traditional jobs’ to become digital nomads?
I think it depends what your job is. If it’s a job you’re doing at home and you can just have conference calls over Skype… as long as it doesnt require you to be working 9 to 5 US time and you’re in Thailand which means you’re working in the middle of the night, which wouldn’t be very fun. But I think if it’s a job that you can do at home, there’s no reason why you can’t do it from anywhere.
10. Have you encountered prejudice along the way?
Some of my friends back home didn’t really understand what I was doing or why I wanted to do it. For the first year or so they were quite supportive and then it reached the point when I’d been gone for three or four years, where it was like when was I getting home and shouldn’t you be getting a real job and they didn’t think it was really realistic long term. There was a lot of people not understanding and also assuming that my life is one big holiday and that I’m really lazy and I don’t do any work, so there’s definitely been some judgement for that.
11. What’s the biggest challenge of being a digital nomad?
Visa policies. There isn’t really a digital nomad-type visa that you can get – everyone is working on a tourist visa. Technically you’re not working in the country, you’re not taking anyone’s jobs but it’s such a confusing thing to know how each country would view that. It’s not very clear at the moment but things should improve.
Words by Mariana Cerqueira