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Become A Digital Nomad In 7 Easy Steps

Michelle Dale - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I had a message this week from a lady on Facebook - she's a strong, independent Mum, who wants to earn a living doing something similar to what I do, and travel with her children while doing it. She asked me some of the most pressing concerns that new expats and nomads have, and I hope to answer these to the best of my ability in today's post.

So this is what I'd like to talk about today... Nomadic life, (mostly without rose coloured glasses), becoming a digital nomad, and more specifically, answering the points in this excellent message, which was:

"I'm having a tough time coming to terms on what I need or should do. What I do know is I want to travel abroad as you are doing so with your family...but I just do not know where to begin. Wherever I go... the top 2 things I'm thinking of is cost of living and safety, but I'm also trying to get my affairs in order here. I want to realize this dream and quit talking about it."

I could literally write a novel or two on the answer to this question, having been travelling now full time since 2005, starting an Internet based business, meeting my husband and having 2 kids along the way, and handling all the challenges that come with it, but I'm going to try and condense the novel inside my head into one post, point-by-point :-)

Point 1:

"I'm having a tough time coming to terms on what I need or should do. What I do know is I want to travel abroad as you are doing so with your family... but I just do not know where to begin."

So many people go through life, until the day they leave this earth believing they know what they want and not knowing where to begin, a lot of the time I think it's because they aren't just looking for the beginning, but they want solid concrete proof that the end is going to be as they imagined it, before they begin. You see the beginning part of what to do is so easy, what the difficult part is in the beginning, tends to be overcoming the fear of the unknown, not knowing how the end will turn out.

The beginning is the decision that you're going to do it, once you've made that decision, you're already on your way. Now if I said step two was booking those plane tickets, or selling all your belongings, or packing the car up, quitting your job, telling your kids teacher they won't be coming back to school next year... That's when those action steps start to make the whole process more of a reality, and both excitement and fear step in. Most people know what they need to do to begin, but many have to come to terms first of all with their fear and desire, the desire to do what they've always dreamed of, and the fear of actually taking the action to do it.

Where I began, was to always focus on the end result, knowing what I needed to do was simple, it could actually be listed in 7 things:

Step 1: Hand in resignation at work.

Step 2: Sell/give away belongings and put house on the market, engage lawyer with POA to handle sale (my lawyer paid herself from the money left over from the sale).

Step 3: Book a one way plane ticket (I booked the tickets for 3 months later, from the day I quit my job, giving me 1 month left of work, and 2 months preparing to go, closing off my affairs, accounts etc... and saying my goodbyes)

This was the point of no return...

Step 4: Find some temporary accommodation at your destination, if you have kids get a minimum of 3 months (we usually book 6-12 months depending on the cost, holiday rental places are usually willing to negotiate long term stays for a reduced price) this will give you time to find your way around when you get there, make contacts and locate new accommodation at a cheaper local price if you want to.

Step 5: Pack clothes, essential items only, and an excellent laptop.

Step 6: Say the goodbyes and board the plane.

Step 7: Well when you get to step 7, there's a quote that sums this up nicely, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Step 7 is where you stop looking for the whole staircase and just see where life takes you...

It was really that simple, it took 3 months - Because the timeframe was relatively short for leaving my whole life behind, I overcame the fear, and did it all without hesitation, like there was no other option, if I didn't think of it that way I would likely have bailed on myself, and that's the real key to beginning, overcoming the fear of what you're leaving behind (known) to follow what you desire (unknown). Then there's only one way to go, and that's forward, bravely, feeling at peace with the fact that it is unknown, and always will be, until you arrive.

Point 2:

"Wherever I go...the top 2 things I'm thinking of is cost of living and safety"

Unless someone is independently wealthy cost of living will always be a deciding factor on where to go. You basically have to choose the country to match your budget, 1st world countries tend to be considered expensive by the masses, let's put it this way, when my husband and I were in Paris, France in 2007, a kilo of cherries was 28 Euro, per kilo, in a little grocery store just by the Eiffel tower. In Egypt (where we were living just before we went to Paris), 28 Euro equated to about 260 Egyptian pounds, myself and my husband would have been able to easily feed ourselves for a whole week for the price of a kilo of cherries in Paris.

That's an extreme example of course but very valid to the question. Now if you're looking for a first world lifestyle you have to pay 1st world prices. If you're looking for 3rd world prices, be prepared to consider countries in the 3rd world where you get a lot more bang for your buck.

There enters the issue of Safety... The cost ticks the box, but you've seen on the news that people are using open gun fire, Tsunamis are happening, malaria outbreaks are occurring etc... etc... But is your current location really any safer? Let's explore this for a while...

I've just got back from spending Christmas in my mums very quaint, pretty Cornish town of Bude, where, the day after we arrived, the Candy store was robbed by a man with a machete and a knife. What if my kids had been in that Candy store at the time, would it have been considered safe still, simply because it happens to be in the UK? While we're on the subject of "mad people with Machetes," this week a 25 year old man in Surrey, England was also found hacked and slashed with one several times, for some unknown reason.

So moving on from Machete's, this week I was having a conversation with an English woman in Egypt who had been watching her local news back home in England, let's call her Anne, this is how it went:

Anne: "Isn't it terrible what happened to that 3 year old, they arrested the mother you know."
Me: "What 3 year old?"
Anne: "You know the one who went missing, and they found him dead, don't you watch the news?"
Me: "No, I stopped watching it 9 years ago."
Anne: "Why!"
Me: "It's depressing, often frightening. I don't want to be in that frame of mind on a daily basis."

Let's take a look at the news from countries most people would consider safe, in comparison to unsafe countries, this is where perspective can often come from... 


A Florida Cinema, Afternoon Movie.

In horrifying news, a couple in a Florida movie theatre were shot (one of them fatally) for texting during a matinee of ‘Lone Survivor.’

Read More: Man Shot to Death at 'Lone Survivor' Movie Screening | http://popcrush.com/man-shot-lone-survivor-movie-screening/?trackback=tsmclip

Animal Feed Factory, Omaha, Nebraska.

London V's Paris Act of Violence.

According to the Metropolitan Police's website, there were 148,088 acts of violence against a person reported to the police in London in 2013.

Meanwhile, according to the most recent statistics available for Paris, recorded in 2011, there were just 35,000 assaults reported.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2542523/London-uglier-dangerous-suburb-Paris-claims-French-politician.html#ixzz2r16lUSCX

Did you feel it?

That knot in your stomach after reading those headlines or the furrowed brow you just had... It's that knot that tends to stop us. But I bet you'd still go to the cinema in Florida, I bet you'd still take a job at an animal feed factory in Omaha if you needed the money, and I bet you'd still visit London or Paris.

My point is - no matter where you go, nowhere is safe... The crimes simply take on a more alien form, because certain crimes or devastation in one country tends to be different from another... Or what we are used to, but that doesn't make one worse than the other, it's still crime/destruction etc...

I feel 100% safer walking around the streets of Luxor, Egypt at night, on my own, with my kids, than I would walking around London at night. That's a fact.

The very best thing that you can do, is find communities of expats or people online in forums who have been to, or are living in the places you would like to go to, and get "first-hand information and opinions, and experiences from them directly" on what they thought/think of the place. If you intend to take kids, speak to someone with kids, but don't.... Please don't.... Watch the news (or listen to what other people tell you, who got their information from the news) and believe that's the truth about what life is like in that country, because you could end up missing out on so much on what the world has to offer.

People would generally never say to themselves, "I would never go to London, did you hear 148,088 acts of violence were reported there last year? I could get mugged, assaulted or raped!"

But they can watch the news and see protests on the streets in Cairo where it's visible (and not hidden under a statistic, or never revealed to the public) and consider that place 'unsafe' because a news reporter is sounding dramatic to beef up the story some more, to help their ratings.

Bad stuff happens, everywhere, all over the world, but some people will ignore it and live their life and go to these countries which could be considered unsafe, and they are the ones who really know what's going on, they are the ones, who will really be able to tell you whether it would be safe or not for you to go there.

I was actually concerned coming back to Luxor this time, it's been 7 years since my last visit to Egypt, and 3 years since the political turmoil the country has been through, I had heard from friends of protests, fires, famine, violence in the streets (these people had heard these things on the news by the way), and I'm not denying they happened... BUT - When I called my friend who lives in Luxor to ask what's happening now, is it safe, she said, "Nothings happening, it's just really quiet."

I arrived here on January 11th of this year (2014), she was right.

Point 3:

"I want to realize this dream and quit talking about it."

Ahh this is the best part... Let me be frank. All you have to do is those 7 steps I outlined in the first part of this article. Actually do them... That's it. But of course I know it's easier said than done. Well, at least the first time you do it. After the first time, country hopping is actually a bit like having a baby, you worry all about it first time round, thinking there's a right and wrong way to be pregnant (when in actual fact your body know instinctually exactly what it needs to do to grow a baby, we've been having babies successfully for years without instruction books, scans or doctors), but the second time around you know what to expect, you'll trust your instincts on what needs to be done and you just relax into it.

Here are a few final thoughts on this subject based on my own experience.

Thought #1.

There will never be a right time, emotionally or financially to start the journey. You just have to make the decision and take the action. You may have seen my income reports on achieving $30k a month in my business, but that took me 6 years to build to that point. I left with no money, (and when I did sell my house, what money I had left went into a very bad investment which left me with nothing) no job, no way of earning an income, but I did have a vision, a belief that I could make this work, and a whole heap of faith in myself and the universe. Things just worked out in one way or another, even when we were down to our last 5 Euros in our wallet with 2 kids to feed - we made it.

Thought #2.

There will be a whole heap of highs, excitement, thrills, wonder, and also a whole heaps of downs, stress, sometimes isolation, missing your old life in some ways, it's only natural, but I found it doesn't last long when you start shifting your mind to all the things you have to feel grateful for about your new life.

Thought #3.

I always thought to myself, "What's the worst that could happen if I up sticks and go?" Generally there are only 3 possible outcomes, and none are really that scary, or worth not taking the risk for.

Outcome 1 - You love the place, you realise it's the best decision you've ever made, and you get on as best you can.

Outcome 2 - You realise you made a mistake, or you run out of money, income hasn't presented itself, and you don't find yourself willing to go to a cheaper country, you really do miss your home, and you now realise how much you loved it there, the Wanderlust subsides, you're pleased you did it, or you would never have discovered you were truly happy in the first place, you go back to your old life, you make the best of it, it's a fraction of time out of your life, you start over back home. (Don't forget you left in the first place so it can't have been that great that you'd want everything exactly as it was before).

Outcome 3 - You love the travel, you don't love the location, or it's not quite right. So you repeat the process, you try somewhere new.

If you have doubts, fear, worry or concerns, this is only natural, but it will hold you back, and more importantly I've found, the more you fear, the more the universe will give you something to fear... 

So, my advice is don't worry, be happy, you are alive (YAY!) and you have the right to live life your way, if you're unhappy, or desperately desire to change things, then it's worth the effort to discover your own little piece of heaven on earth, you'll be one of those rare people who take the leap and break the mould, you might just find your haven in the unlikeliest of places, you might find it exactly where you have in mind, you might even find it back where you started. That's all part of the adventure, you should enjoy it!

It took living in 7 countries over the span of 9 years to discover my perfect place, with my perfect lifestyle, for myself and my family. We knew we would get there, we just didn't know when. We had many, many ups and downs, it wasn't easy at times, and at other times, it was phenomenal, I have so many stories, and I wouldn't have changed anything. 


I remember one day in Crete, we dropped the kids off at school, and we decided to drive to the beach and have a frappe, we often did this to start our day, I sat there, with my coffee, overlooking the sun shining on the crystal clear water, the sand was white, the sky was a clear brilliant blue, it was warm, I have my own business, so I could go back when I felt ready to start my day, no traffic, no clock watching, no boss - I looked over at my husband and I said, "I feel like I'm the luckiest person alive." - and I really meant it. (I then realised after I didn't get a response he was laying on his sunbed asleep lol)


Where shall I go from here?

I would love to be able to share my journey over the last 9 years (and beyond) with anyone looking to do what we've done. There is so much information out there on travel and country hopping but not very much on doing it with 2 (soon to be 3!) children. Obviously with the kiddiewinks in tow, it would be something that doesn't include picking apples for a living and sleeping in hostels - there's loads of existing information out there that cover these areas of travel ;-) We've been living what I would call a more typical family existence, but with many twists!

I'd like to know if you think learning more from me about this would be useful, and if so what would you find most helpful?

A - Write a book on my experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly.

B - Create a course, like the ones I've done in The VA Roadmap, but not for business this time, for living a nomadic lifestyle with a family. How to's, practical info and more...

Thanks so much for your help, please leave a comment below if either of the above would be useful to you, or if you have any questions I can answer for you.

Thanks Peeps :-)

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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