The 18-Step Digital Nomad Checklist for 2018

Take the Complete Travel Developer Course to learn all the digital nomad essentials.

Becoming a digital nomad seems like a big process - it doesn't have to be with this digital nomad checklist.  Follow the guide and you'll be on your way...​​​​​

The 18-Step Digital Nomad Checklist for 2018

  • Get Financially Stable - First things first - Before you try to learn new skills, better yourself, or really plan an escape from your normal 9-5 you need to be financially stable.  This doesn't mean wealthy or save up for a year long trip around the world - it just means bringing in more than you're putting out.  Begin to cancel those pesky bills that you don't need in your life.  Sell your tv, cancel your subscriptions, and begin to organize your life.
  • Create a Budget - Once you have yourself in a comfortable situation - now's the time to create a budget.  Use the document I've provided for you in the Travel Developer Course.   Try to think of every little thing you spend money on and nothing will come as a surprise.
  • Learn a Digital Nomad Skill -  While you may be a craftsman at a certain trade, it's extremely important you gain a skill that has high employability in the digital nomad world.  As we described in the top Digital Nomad Jobs, the top 3 jobs include developers, designers and SEO specialists.  That's why in the Complete Travel Developer Course you'll learn ALL 3 of these skills and how to become a full-stack freelancer.
  • Choose a Market Niche - Once you feel confident in having a skill to help pay your bills you'll need to then think about who your target market will be.  If you're unsure who to try and market towards - think about your hobbies, or search what's trending on Quora or Google Trends.  Then think about your exact customer and create some 'buyer personas' to put a name and face to these potential clients.
  • Create a Website - So you have your skills and market niche selected.  Now's the time to put your business out there.  The quickest and easiest way is to put together a simple landing page website.  You can get started on Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly. Keep it simple with the goal of getting customers intrigued and collecting leads.
  • Pick a Location - OK so this is the fun part :)  Browse the internet and research those dreamy destinations you've always wished about living and working from.  To help use Nomadlist and filter based on your preferences.
  • Create a Client List - To help with finding business in your newly found home - you'll want to create a potential Client List.  Use services like Yelp, Foursquare, Google, or Tripadvisor to find the potential clients in your area.  Then use Google Sheets or Buzzstream to keep tabs on businesses in your industry.
  • Start Your Outreach - Usually 2-4 weeks before arrival you'll want to start sending emails to your potential clients.  This is because normally people won't buy your services immediately it will take a solid few weeks to convert them into customers (this doesn't mean you have to tell them you're halfway around the world ;).  And don't take no answer as a 'No'. Keep emailing until you get a definitive answer.
  • Create a Marketing Plan - You won't ever have the time or energy to research all of your potential clients - you simply don't have the digital nomad resources to do so.  But that's ok.  That's where Facebook Ads come into play.  You can select geographic areas, target businesses, people who like certain sports, or who read particular books.  Take our Facebook Ads course if you're looking for more guidance.
  • Get a Backup Project Before Leaving - You never know how easy it's going to be to get work in your new hometown.  Also, you're probably going to be unsure about the business climate - maybe things move very slowly (#latinamerica ;)  That's why you should always, always have a project wherever you're currently at to spill into your new location.  This will help keep your bills paid and stress level low if things don't go according to plan.
  • Create a Digital Nomad Packing List - It's important to have a list of your digital nomad essentials.   I personally use a packing list that I've always carry with me.  Yours may be different - the key is to keep it as lean as possible.
  • Create a Process for Onboarding Clients - Create a streamlined process for communication with potential clients.  Sales can be a rather annoying part of freelancing - especially if you're working all by yourself.  This is where automation and organization will be a lifesaver.  Set up a process for Email Sequences, Proposals, Contracts, Scope of Work documents.  This way once someone shows interest you don't have to create a system all over again - you simply push play and get the ball rolling.
  • Book Homes or Rentals - One of the most entertaining but often time consuming tasks on the digital nomad checklist is finding a place to stay.  Each country has it's own websites and communities for finding good deals on rentals.  If you can't find a community Facebook group or website with fair prices, book an Airbnb for 1-2 weeks while you scope out the location. While it's usually more expensive and not ideal to be in and out of Airbnb's - know they're always available.
  • Set Flight Alerts - I think the biggest time when reality sets in for me is when I start searching for flights :) Yewwww!  I use Skyscanner to create flight alerts for a date range when I'm planning to go somewhere.  This is soooo huge.  Because just by being flexible with your dates you can save $500 - $1000 before even getting to your new home.
  • Get Travel Insurance - Next to button up your last things at home - you should pick up or update your Travel Insurance.  By far the best plan I've come across is with World Nomads.  You can even purchase and adjust your plan while on the road.  I use them mostly because they have the best plan for gear...which protects all my digital nomad essentials.
  • Have a Backup Plan - Always have a plan for when shit hits the fan...because inevitably it does.  The people who have a plan it doesn't affect as much - the people who didn't have a plan...well it seems like their entire lives get affected.  Keep in touch with a friend or parent  you know you could crash with if things go bad.  Keep an emergency contact close to wherever you go.  It doesn't mean you have to become a doomsday prepper, just prepare for a bad occasion.
  • Settle Up Responsibilities - You're all set.  Your things are packed and you're ready to go.  Now's time to think about the other people in your life.  Your friends, parents, dog, garden, apartment, whatever it may be.  Make sure you're not leaving responsibilities behind.  Even the smallest things from back home can stress you out while traveling so make settle up how any responsibilities you may have back home should run.
  • Get a Global Skype Number - While it's easy enough to get SIM cards in every country you'll travel to - sometimes your phone may decide a dip in the Dead Sea or you'll hit an area with no coverage in Sri Lanka.  Get a Skype number so you'll be able to call clients oversees and you'll always have a number to give to them.  It'll make you seem a little more organized than calling from a new phone number every month ranging from 8 to 14 numbers.

Once you've completed the digital nomad checklist - you're pretty much ready to start living and working remotely.

Get a Google Sheet version of this checklist.

You can also use all the other digital nomad resources found in our course and on our blog to get you on your way.

PJ Manning

PJ is the creator and CEO of TravelDeveloper.com. A digital nomad since 2012 - he's constantly looking for where to work and surf next.