Working remotely and traveling can give you the freedom and independence you need to do all the things you’ve ever wanted without having to give up your career. With stable Internet access and the right information, anyone can pursue their dreams of becoming a digital nomad.
You’ve probably heard about ”digital nomads.” These are people who work full-time or part-time while traveling the world. The digital nomad population in the US rose massively from about 4.8 million in 2018 to more than 11 million after the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic altered the world in many ways. One of these is the number of people who switched to remote work. Only 6% of American workers were fully remote before the pandemic, but by the end of 2021, 26.7% of workers had become fully remote.
The uptick in the number of remote employees has also enabled opportunities for a lot of people to pursue their dream of exploring the world. Employees are now discovering that if they can work from home, they can work from anywhere.
Learn how to work remotely and travel with this guide from Remote Year.
Being a digital nomad allows you to work from any location while traveling the world.
There are several options for working and traveling remotely, and you only need to select which suits you best.
You can work full-time or part-time as a remote employee, freelancer, or business owner.
Set yourself up for remote work success with a clear plan for a visa, insurance, and taxes.
Different ways to work remotely and travel
There are many ways to work remotely and travel. Whether you are a freelancer, remote-working employee, or business owner, there’s more than one way to become a digital nomad. For many aspiring nomads, remote work and travel programs are about finding a comfortable starting point and seeing how remote working works for them. Here are the most common ways of traveling while working remotely:
Location-independent vs. Home-based Nomads
Location-independent nomads want to travel without being attached to a specific location. They are often minimalists who gladly give up their car, apartment, and almost any other possessions for a life on the road. For location-independent nomads, home is wherever they make it. If you long for a life of adventure, a location-independent nomadic lifestyle could be perfect for you.
Home-based nomads have a permanent or semi-permanent location they return to between their many adventures. Unlike location-independent nomads, home-based nomads want a familiar place where they feel secure and know they can always return. Consider being a home-based nomad If you don’t mind renting your home out sometimes for your adventures, or if your lease just ended and you’d like to travel between leases, or even if you can leave it every now and then without renting it out.
Classic Digital Nomads vs. “Slo-mads”
The classic digital nomad has a long list of dream locations they want to visit, and they spend only a few days, weeks, or months in one destination before moving on to the next place on their bucket list.
In a recent survey by Fiverrworkspace, 24% of respondents who worked remotely considered themselves digital nomads, while 17% said they traveled to no less than five countries every year.
Others, especially seasoned nomads, tend to take their travels slowly, spending longer in one place before traveling again. The “slo-mad” lifestyle is ideal for digital nomads who like to immerse themselves in the culture of a region before moving on.
Traveling solo vs. in a group
Working remotely and traveling solo is a thrilling experience that allows you to learn about yourself. It also boosts your confidence and allows you to take on your deepest fears. You don’t wait for anyone when traveling solo; you can simply hit the road and explore any way you want.
On the flip side, working remotely while traveling in a group offers companionship and a community that you may not have when traveling solo. We are social beings, after all, and having people to interact with makes for an enriching experience.
Best Locations to Work Remotely and Travel
One of the best parts about working remotely while traveling is the ability to work from anywhere in the world once you can get a stable Internet connection.
For most digital nomads, the two most pressing concerns regarding travel while working remotely are accommodations and reliable Wi-Fi access. While there are plenty of great destinations to work remotely from around the world, not all locations have the technological infrastructure that enables easy access to high-speed Internet, so it is important to do your research when selecting a place to set up shop.
Here at Remote Year, we help set remote workers up for success by taking care of logistics like accommodations and workspaces so you can stay productive on the road and connect with our community. We also vet locations and workspaces to ensure the right infrastructure is in place for you to get your work done.
Some of the best places to work remotely and travel include:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot offering access to a diverse community of inspiring employees, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and cultures. You’ll also get the amenities you need for smooth work and travel experiences, like fast Wi-Fi, a good road network and plenty of opportunities for exploration.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai fuses culture and innovation, perfect for workers who need help maintaining a work-life balance. The amazing cuisine, fast and reliable internet, low cost of living and hospitality Chiang Mai has to offer makes it an adventurer’s delight.
Hanoi is a vibrant city with sights and sounds that delight all of your senses. With an affordable quality of life, friendly coworking spaces, and enchanting natural surroundings, Hanoi is a remote worker’s dream. Its culture is an irresistible draw for adventurers, tourists, and digital nomads.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
The white beaches and turquoise waters of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, will do wonders for your creativity if you work and travel in this city. With plenty of places to work from, fast and reliable WIFI, and an open and welcoming culture. Playa del Carmen is a beautiful vacation paradise that will certainly bring the best out of you.
Chile’s cosmopolitan capital offers unending inspiration and magic sprinkled with Latin American flair. The city’s greenspaces, picturesque mountains, decent internet connection, choice of coworking spaces and vibrant art scene make it the ideal nomad destination.
Canggu’s laid-back atmosphere, scenic beaches, and yoga studios have seen it become a choice getaway destination in recent times. Digital nomads will find the inspiration and creative spark they seek in this little paradise on Bali’s southwest coast.
Medellin has evolved from its challenging past to become a hub for creative professionals, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads. This lively city is home to friendly people, mouth-watering food, and vibrant nightlife. It is a perfect destination for nomads who want to revive themselves in a green environment with year-round spring-like weather.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City is loved by visitors for its energy, creativity, and diversity. It’s a great location for remote workers because of the welcoming locals, the delicious food, and the thriving digital nomad community. No matter the type of work and travel lifestyle you adopt, you’ll find something inspiring in this iconic location.
Lisbon offers year-round sunshine that fills you with unbridled energy and positivity. A hilly city with beautiful architecture and plenty of coworking spaces. Lisbon offers a perfect balance of work, leisure, and culture, which makes it a haven for remote workers and digital nomads.
Valencia has a thriving digital nomad community, so there are plenty of opportunities to socialize and connect. Valencia’s quality of life makes it an ideal nomad destination. A trip to the beach or just strolling through the streets of the Old Town at sunset evokes feelings that may be all you need to find your creative spark.
How to Plan for Working Remotely While Traveling
When you’ve decided on the best way to travel and work remotely, the next thing to do is to map out practical steps to help you accomplish your goals. While your specific plans will depend on your work schedule and travel goals, here are general considerations for every aspiring digital nomad:
Passport and Visas
Some countries with the best places to work remotely require a passport valid for at least six months, so you want to ensure your passport is valid before starting your journey. It’s also vital to check and meet the visa requirements of any country you wish to enter so you don’t get denied entry at the airport. Depending on your nationality and the length of time you intend to spend in your host country, you may only need a visa waiver to be allowed into the country.
Tax and Health Insurance
Since you’ll be earning while in your host country, you may have to fulfill some tax obligations. Your country of origin, the company you work for, and how long you’ll be staying in your host country are some factors that determine whether you’ll be paying taxes and how much you’ll need to pay.
You should also consider getting international travel or health insurance to cover your costs should you need medical treatment while abroad. Also, research your host county’s vaccination regulations to know whether you need specific vaccine shots before gaining entry. Remember to include your vaccination cards in your digital nomad packing list.
After you’ve got the basics of your trip covered, here are steps to help you plan for travel and remote work:
Ensure Wi-Fi Availability
Reliable Wi-Fi is vital to a successful work and travel experience, so you must plan for a stable Internet connection. Before you visit any destination, it is smart to research the minimum speed and cost of Wi-Fi access there. Consider packing a backup router in your suitcase for moments when you have to deal with unreliable Internet.
You’ll find many accommodation options when you want to start your work and travel adventure. But the right type depends on you and what makes you comfortable. If you cherish your privacy or squirm at the thought of sharing a room with others, you may need to consider private rooms in hotels, hostels, or Airbnb. If you don’t mind sharing your space with others, you can save on accommodation by booking hostel dorms.
Find a Good Work Environment
If your hotel or hostel is not designed with remote work in mind, you may need to find a suitable place to work. Explore nearby cafés, hubs, or coworking spaces that suit your needs. Ask locals about places that could be convenient for remote work or do a local online search for remote work locations nearby.
Join a Community
As a digital nomad, you’ll be away from your home and social circle for some time. For many digital nomads, loneliness is one of the most common challenges. You can work around this by connecting with like-minded digital nomads on Facebook and other social networks.
Is Remote Working Sustainable?
One of the big questions on the minds of people who consider leaving their regular jobs for a remote alternative or a life on the road is, “are remote jobs here for the long haul?” The short answer to this important question about the future of remote work is a resounding “Yes!” While some businesses prefer their employees to work in person in an office setting, the figures point to a sustainable, upward trajectory for remote jobs.
According to Ladders, one-quarter of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by 2023, with opportunities for remote work increasing all through 2023. The company noted that these figures “represented a sea change in the attitudes of hiring managers across remote work.” The pandemic has brought an irreversible shift in how we work, making remote work sustainable enough to bet your future on.
Finding Location-independent Jobs
One of the first things to do before deciding on a nomadic lifestyle is to find a job that allows you to work without interfering with your need for exploration. Knowing how to find remote jobs is as easy as looking up available opportunities on the Internet. There are hundreds of remote job boards and platforms offering full-time remote jobs across all industries. Where you’ll need to search for a remote job largely depends on the kind of job you want and your skillset.
If you are new in the remote job space, you can start with freelance sites like Upwork and Fiverr for gigs to see how well you can handle working remotely. These platforms are not niche-specific and offer opportunities to every kind of remote worker. Employees with experience may want to explore field-specific platforms like Flexjobs or Problogger.
Pros and Cons of Working Remotely and Traveling
Traveling the world while working remotely is life-altering in many ways. Here, we examine the pros and cons of working remotely while traveling:
Pros of Working Remotely and Traveling
Freedom and Independence
For most people, the ability to take their job anywhere and explore while still maintaining their job is the primary appeal of a remote work and travel lifestyle. Working remotely and traveling puts you in control of your affairs, so you can work and make decisions as you please. You get to decide where and how you work without interference.
The ability to work while traveling can be a great bonus to your résumé. It tells employers that you are independent and can work with minimal supervision. Traveling introduces you to new ways of approaching issues, including those related to your work, ultimately making you more creative and productive.
Research reveals that changing locations and exploring new places positively impact your emotional and mental well-being. You enjoy the feelings that come with exploring new places, improving your overall health, and enhancing your creativity.
Exploring New Cultures
The world is a vast place, and most people never get to experience its diversity. Traveling while working remotely offers you plenty of opportunities to explore new cultures, meet new people, and learn about other ways of doing things. It also improves your understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion, helping you become a better global citizen.
Many people travel to rediscover themselves, find new passions, and embrace new worldviews. Traveling while working allows you to learn about yourself; you get to see the world from a different perspective, and by self-reflection, you can unlock latent potentials you never knew you had.
An Improved Overall Quality of Life
Traveling while working gives you the freedom to choose what should and shouldn’t be a part of your life. You get to pick the environment that offers healthy food, an active lifestyle, like-minded folks, and everything else you need to improve your quality of life.
Traveling while working also offers an opportunity to network with people from around the world across industries; you get to make new connections and share ideas with potential business partners.
Cons of Working Remotely and Traveling
Working remotely while traveling means spending significant periods away from your friends and loved ones. You may miss birthdays, anniversaries, and other significant milestones. However, you can mitigate this challenge by scheduling regular times for video chats with your loved ones. Digital nomad communities like ours here at Remote Year also offer the opportunity to meet and interact with like-minded individuals from all walks of life, offering a home away from home.
Difficulty in Maintaining Work-life Balance
Maintaining a work-life balance when working and traveling can be challenging, especially for newbies. The excitement of your new way of life can make you eager to seize every opportunity to explore and experience. However, this comes with a risk that you may no longer be able to balance your career and other activities. The key to avoiding a disrupted work-life balance is taking things slowly and realizing that your new way of life lets you have the time to do everything you’ve ever wanted.
Increased Burnout Risk
Working while traveling means you may go for long periods without adequate rest, increasing the risk of work-related burnout. Constantly moving and trying to adapt to new living conditions and cultures can also be a risk factor for stress and burnout. You can reduce burnout risk by setting specific times to relax and get away from work when you get to a new destination.
Important Things to Consider When Traveling While Working Remotely
Before you hop on a plane for your work and travel adventure, you may need to consider a few important things so you don’t get overwhelmed when you arrive at your new destination.
Your Work Schedule
It’s crucial to factor in your work schedule and its demands before taking your job on the road. If you still have to maintain a 9-5 routine when working remotely, you may need to adjust your time for sightseeing and exploration. It’s best to ask your employer in advance for slight tweaks to your work schedule.
Your Work Space Needs
For most remote workers, a laptop and Wi-Fi are all they need to do their jobs. However, some jobs require a more reliable connection than others. If your job requires you to upload large files frequently or use digital nomad tools like Zoom for regular meetings, you may need stronger Wi-Fi access than a traveler who works mainly with word documents.
10 Tips for Working Remotely While Traveling
Here are 10 tips to make your remote work and travel experience a breeze:
1. Join a Community
Joining a community of like-minded nomads allows you to network and find new opportunities for work and travel. You’ll find many work and travel communities on Facebook and other social media platforms
2. Create and Adhere to a Work Schedule
You are here to work and travel, and it’s important not to let your adventures affect your efficiency on the job. Visiting new places while working remotely means you’ll probably have to adjust to many distractions. A work schedule means that you’ll get the job done no matter what.
3. Set Limits to Your Work Hours and Know When to Shut Down
While a good work ethic is fantastic, you want to be careful not to overexert yourself as you work and travel. Do your best not to go beyond your work hours – unless you have to beat a deadline – and create time to relax and just enjoy your new surroundings. You wouldn’t want to miss Machu Picchu because you’re stuck in meetings!
4. Take Steps to Maintain your Long-distance Relationships
While on the road, it’s important to maintain your relationships and friendships. You may need to set out time for video calls and messages with friends and loved ones you’ve left at home, especially if you’re in a different time zone. It’s not the real deal, but it’s a great way to keep in touch.
5. Pack Appropriately
It is important to travel light when traveling and working remotely. But there are a few essentials you may need for your portable office, including:
Laptop and protective case
Mobile device and protective case
External mouse and keyboard
6. Sign Up for a Remote Work and Travel Program
If you’re looking to try remote working and traveling for the first time, a group work and travel program like ours here at Remote Year might be the perfect fit for you! Let us take care of the details – like accommodations, workspace, and transportation, so you can focus on working remotely and connecting with other remote workers. Start out with a 1-month trip or dive into a life-changing 4 or 12-month Journey!
7. Be Patient When Explaining Your Situation
Working while traveling is still a relatively new idea, and not everyone in your circle may understand your choices. Learn how to patiently explain your decision and how it helps you to become a better person.
8. Pay Attention to Time Zone Differences
If you’re traveling to a different time zone, always be aware of the difference between your destination and where your job is so you can be on time for meetings, meet deadlines, and fulfill other work engagements. Consider permanently setting one of your devices to office time so you don’t ever mix things up.
9. Create and stick to your budget
Though some work and travel destinations may have a lower cost of living than your home country, it’s still a financially wise decision to have a budget and stick to it. The cost of tours, sightseeing, shopping, and other fun activities in a foreign country can quickly add up, and it’s wiser to spend less money than you’re earning as a remote worker.
10. Enjoy the journey
Remember, you’re here to see the world and broaden your horizon. Take the time to enjoy every moment of your adventure. Slowing down and immersing yourself in your new surroundings can inspire and help unlock your hidden potential, giving you a creative boost and increasing your overall productivity.
Working remotely and traveling offers an opportunity for anyone with a heart for adventure to fulfill their dreams without sacrificing their careers. With a well-coordinated plan, remote work and traveling lets you see the world while remaining productive.
Is it legal to work in one country and live in another?
Yes. It is legal to work in many countries, even if you’re not a resident. But you will have to comply with the tax and immigration requirements to be able to stay there legally. Many countries now offer digital nomad visas to people who want to work in their country as non-residents.
How long can I work remotely outside the US?
You should consider the laws of your host country if you’re a remote worker outside the US. In most countries, you can work remotely outside for 90 or 180 days, depending on the country. You will not need additional documentation provided you don’t overstay your visa.
Where do I pay my taxes if I work remotely?
You’ll have to file your taxes in your tax residence country, i.e., your principal abode. Digital nomads may also be subject to the local taxation laws of their host country if they are physically present there during the fiscal year.
Do I need a visa if I work remotely?
You may need a digital nomad visa to work remotely in many countries. Digital nomad visas vary by country in terms of duration and eligibility requirements, and they allow you to work remotely from the issuing country.
Can my employer see where I am working from?
Your employer may be able to see where you’re working from if you log in to your system using the company’s virtual private network (VPN). However, you can mask your location by using a private VPN when working.
How do I become a digital nomad?
Becoming a digital nomad is relatively easy with the right preparation, which includes creating a portfolio of your work and gathering relevant certifications. You can start freelancing either online or through contract-based positions to gain the experience necessary to succeed as a digital nomad.
Where can I travel and work remotely?
Many remote work opportunities are available in places like Bali, Thailand, and other countries around the world. High-speed internet connection, a wide variety of accommodation options, and plenty of co-working spaces make it possible for remote workers to take their laptops with them and get to work in exciting new cities.