With the advent of the web, computers, and technology, the world has become a much smaller place in recent years, affording opportunities to work from pretty much anywhere you can find an internet connection. In line with this new sense of freedom, more and more individuals are choosing to step out of the mainstream Monday-Friday, 9-5 rat race and opting to go it alone on the road, working in a freelance capacity – or, in other words, carving a life as a so-called digital nomad.
More than any other factor, technology has aided the nomadic lifestyle
Today’s technology and, in particular, cloud computing, has given rise to a new breed of professionals – those happiest carrying their work tools with them and working remotely. This trend has never been more prevalent than after the recent Coronavirus outbreak where employees were forced to work from home through the lockdown and isolation measures imposed by governments worldwide to try and curb the spread of the virus.
As employers rushed to implement networks capable of handling remote workers, an inspired few came to realize that these same networks could afford them the opportunity to work from anywhere. After all, if you’re working remotely online, it makes little difference if you’re at the end of the road or the other side of the world – the tools and processes involved remain the same.
Preparing for a life on the road
Where once the prospect of packing up your worldly goods and heading to far-flung destinations might have seemed slightly overwhelming, today’s tech makes it easier than ever to relocate and begin an entirely new life on the road. As a digital nomad, your home is everywhere and your office can be anywhere with a web connection – which, given we pretty much all have smartphones these days, means even the most remote beach or mountain top.
Essential digital nomad apps
The world today is massively different from that of even 20 years ago and, with the rise of handheld devices and smartphones, technology and the web have never been more accessible or useful. These days, there’s an app for pretty much every conceivable use that can augment even the most mundane of everyday tasks and help you while you travel.
Below are just a few of the most essential apps you should install before starting your path down the nomadic lifestyle:
- WhatsApp or similar messaging, calling, video conferencing tech: With around 2 billion users, WhatsApp is the world’s most popular messaging app – followed closely by Facebook Messenger with 1.2 billion subscribers. As a general rule (especially in Europe), you’ll find far more users on WhatsApp so it’s best you have it downloaded and installed already. Remember, too, if you’re making calls and video chats, it’s a good idea to invest in a set of noise-canceling headphones so you focus fully on your call.
- Google Translate: While it’s always a good idea to try and have at least a smattering of the language of the country you’re visiting, there’s no substitute for having an instant translation service in your pocket for times of emergency. Google Translate is one of the most popular online translation services that can even speak your translated text – and, vice versa, translate spoken words into your native language. If you have only one app in your travel arsenal, make it this one.
- XE currency converter: Working with different currencies can be a minefield so you should try to have a clear idea of how much you’re spending. Using the XE currency converter app, you’ll have instant access to live exchange rates so you can quickly work out prices.
- NUmbeo.com: Not an app as such but still a vital web service if you want a better idea of how much things should cost. When you first arrive at a new destination, try searching Numbeo’s extensive database which will give you realistic prices on everything from taxi cabs to meals out and typical shopping items.
- GoogleMaps (or similar): A mapping app is a travel essential for finding everything from new wi-fi-enabled work hotspots to logging your accommodation so you remember its location later.
- Rome2Rio (or similar): Mapping apps are essential for finding your way around a destination but, if you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to arriving in locations, you won’t do much better than Rome2Rio. The R2R service scours travel services to give you detailed travel options ranging from buses, trains, and taxis to flights or car rental.