How industries are adapting to the rise of digital nomads
The digital nomad tribe is growing, and it’s growing fast. With the increasing popularity of self and remote employment, the call to international adventure has become hard to resist – and industries around the globe are beginning to adapt.
What is a digital nomad?
The term “digital nomad” describes those who work from outside their office, often freelance and often for multiple companies at a time. In doing so, they’re free to operate from almost anywhere in the world with a high-speed internet connection.
Modern technology is directly responsible for this relatively new phenomenon, only first described in 2006. Smartphones, tablets and laptops bridge most every gap, save for time zone differences. We’ve broken down the lifestyle in more detail previously, including the banking hurdles that many digital nomads face – but here’s a quick review.
The jobs that make a digital nomad
Whilst extensive, the career paths of most digital nomads can be boiled down to a core:
- content creators (YouTubers, graphic designers, photographers);
- consultants (accountants, teachers, therapists);
- remote workers.
So long as one can at least partially fulfil their duties in absentia, they qualify, and the market around such workers is taking notice. For a digital nomad to operate successfully, potentially from multiple countries, they require more than a few essentials beyond room and board. In short: data, insurance and banking.
How roaming data fuels the nomad lifestyle
Café wi-fi is all well and good, but for many digital nomads, high-speed, flexible internet connections are a must (i.e. data). For a video-maker in rural Japan, for example, upload rates are tantamount to hitting deadlines. For a graphic designer sending and receiving high detail images from Brazil, time is money.
Catering to the needs of international workers has become a competitive market overnight
Cue international data plans for smartphones, tablets and even laptops. Services like Google Fi and even basic SIM card contracts are beginning to accommodate international travellers. Virgin has no extra cost for using data throughout Europe, for example. The US company Sprint sells a service known as Sprint Global Roaming, offering total coverage around the globe at a price of $30 per GB of data. Certainly not cheap, but it’s an option.
Indeed, catering to the needs of international workers has seemingly become a competitive market overnight, data or otherwise – which is good news for digital nomads in general as average prices should go down as time goes on.
How travel insurance has evolved to suit nomad needs
When your laptop is your whole world, life, especially the nomadic, changing kind, comes with a certain degree of risk. Warranties only last for so long, and for a digital nomad, a replacement may be required urgently in the case of a breakdown or accident.
Travel insurance is nothing new. Gadget insurance, however, has evolved over the past few years to suit nomad needs. What started out just over a decade ago with the dawn of smartphones has now evolved into a subsect of the industry in and of itself. Full coverage insurance plans for everything from tablets to MacBooks are now available on short notice, both online and off.
A digital nomad photographer can’t work without their camera. A digital nomad therapist can’t video call their clients if their smartphone screen won’t turn on. The future of travel insurance doesn’t just include health coverage, but tech coverage too. After all, almost everyone on holiday has a smartphone these days.
However, where health coverage is concerned, international health plans can be found for those who lead “unusual lives”, and its coverage is specific to you and your chosen regions. Combined with gadget insurance, a digital nomad can live almost anywhere in the world with peace of mind.
Banking and taxes from around the world
Traditional banking simply isn’t suited to the digital nomad lifestyle. Static taxes and deposits are almost impossible to regulate if you’re spending the working year in three different countries, or potentially more. Then there’s the problem of exchange rates, transfer charges and so on.
And yet for a digital nomad, someone potentially receiving invoices from clients the whole world over, going bank-less is not an option. However, services such as Curve are perhaps one of the most popular international solutions to a digital nomad’s money troubles. It collates all of one’s credit cards onto a single account, charging a 1% exchange rate – potentially the best available, flat. This card can then be used in 18 individual countries without additional charges.
Then, of course, there’s cryptocurrency, which is less reliable than traditional pay, but certainly popular due to its lack of charges and international red tape.
Living as a digital nomad certainly has its perks. In fact, the myriad options available to a newcomer to the lifestyle since industries have begun to adapt may be overwhelming.
By Dean Pickering