I’ll tell you, being a digital nomad is no walk in the park, especially for us laid-back Aussies in search of adventure outside our little corner of the world. When I finally launched my career working abroad, I never imagined the kind of challenges and seemingly insurmountable obstacles I would have to climb.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the path I chose and I wouldn’t change anything about those six months I spent working across Europe, but if I could do something differently, it would definitely be the way I planned and managed my finances. Let me take you on a little trip through some of my favorite cities, along with a few concrete tips that will help you make and save money as a DN.
Find good deals but be wary of bargains
Okay, the first piece of wisdom I can impart on you, especially if you’re coming from across the globe, is to plan your trip well in advance and book your flights as early as possible. Or at least be on the lookout for airfare deals and discounts. A great idea is to make like a tourist and sign up for money-saving travel websites.
Here you can find flight discounts, deals on accommodation and much more. Now, as great as this might sound, you do want to be wary of the “too good to be true” bargains out there. If you want to stay on the safe side, be sure to always read the terms and conditions detailing the accommodation or transportation. Hey, as a digital nomad, every buck you save will be worth it.
Look for cheap rent and Wi-Fi
If your dad is the King of Saudi Arabia, then by all means stay at the president’s suite at the Hilton, but if you’re a mere mortal like the rest of us, finding cheap rent deals is the name of the game. In fact, until you build up your revenue streams enough to be able to enjoy a more laid-back lifestyle while on the road, you do want to minimize your spending as much as possible.
Some of the most common ways to save money on housing include:
- Rent out houses and apartments on Airbnb.
- Find someone to stay with for free on CouchSurfing.com.
- Exchange work for free lodging on Workaway.info.
- Use credit card rewards to enjoy free hotel stays.
When I was staying in Bucharest, I actually stayed with a family who lived in a huge apartment in the Old Town, a neighborhood where it would have been impossible to pay the rent had I not had a deal with the parents to take care of their kids while they were at work. Not only did I make some money on the side, but I also had a free place to sleep. Speaking of making money on the side…
Diversify your income streams
I can’t stress this enough: as a digital nomad, you need to establish more than a single income stream if you are to survive in an unfamiliar setting! Your “steady” online gig is not going to cut it; you need at least one backup revenue stream to fall back on in case something goes awry.
This is exactly what happened when I was living in Lisbon (beautiful city, amazing people, total must-see), paying for my own apartment. My main client went on hold, and had I not developed a second income stream by taking paid surveys online, I’m not sure what would have happened. So, take my advice and get a backup job, just in case.
Stay on top of your finances
I’m not going say that back down under we don’t manage our finances, we do, but Europe is different and I have to say that I got a bit scared on several occasions that I won’t be able to pay my bills before the next payment comes through. Back home, I was able to do whatever I wanted when I needed some extra cash, but travelling from country to country made me learn the fine arts of financial planning very fast.
The simplest way you can keep track of your finances is to get a finance tracking app and note down every little thing you spend money on, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Next, plan your finances a month in advance, making sure you always have a backup plan, should plan A fall through.
Becoming a digital nomad was my life’s dream, as I do believe that there is nothing more freeing and satisfying than building a career unshackled from the office desk, not having to work a nine-to-infinity job. I urge you to follow your dreams as well, and maybe even stick to these tips when you find yourself approaching your first destination in Europe. And have a blast, will ya?
Claire is a personal and professional development expert, writer and frequent traveller from Perth, Australia. She loves cooking, enjoys music, and has a passion for protecting the environment. Currently exploring Europe with her travel partner in crime. Feel free to reach her on Facebook and Twitter.