The pandemic upended a lot of digital nomads’ plans overnight. Travel restrictions, social distancing measures, and uncertainty have, of course, disrupted the plans of many. And though it may be some time before nomads can return to their traveling lifestyle, that doesn’t mean you have to completely give up nomad life.
Sidelined digital nomads can use this time to pivot their careers and discover new opportunities that they might not have had time for when they were living on the road. Instead of thinking of this period as time in the penalty box, think of it as a time to grow professionally and expand your career horizons.
What Happened and Where We Are Now?
Once it became clear that the best way to stop COVID-19 from spreading was to lock everything down, countries closed their borders and transportation options became limited (or eliminated). In some cases, nomads received warning that closures were coming and were able to move wherever they needed to. But, in other cases, the closures happened quickly, and nomads had to make a choice: should they stay where they are or try to go somewhere else?
Of course, both choices came with risks. If you stayed, when would you be allowed to leave? What would happen if the country enforced a strict lockdown and limited travel, but your visa expired? What if your rental expired and you got kicked out? If you left, would you be allowed back in? If so, when? And, once you got back in, would you have to quarantine for 14 days or risk a fine?
Now, restrictions are loosening in some places (but tightening in others). For example, as of June 30, 2020, the European Union started lifting some travel bans but is not allowing U.S. citizens into their countries due to the rise of COVID-19 cases.
And though travel is unrestricted in the U.S., some states are requiring visitors from hot spots to quarantine for 14 days. And, of course, with cases on the rise in some areas, travel to those locations may be inadvisable for some time.
How Digital Nomads Can Pivot
Part of the draw of a digital nomad’s lifestyle is that you can work from anywhere as long as you have a solid internet connection. And, for many nomads, all or part of their income comes from discussing their nomadic lifestyle. For example, travel bloggers talk about the places they go, their tips for flying, how to maximize travel points, and the luggage they use in exchange for sponsorships or selling ad space on their website.
While not all nomads are travel bloggers, many rely on freelance work in other industries (like writing or programming) as their main source of income. Of course, some nomads have full-time jobs that let them work from anywhere as long as they get the work done.
Unfortunately, many industries that nomads rely on have taken a financial hit from the pandemic. Travel bloggers can’t travel, freelancers may have lost work or been asked to accept delayed or reduced payments, and many full-time employees have been furloughed or laid off (though recent numbers point to improvements)
Fortunately, the current situation doesn’t mean you have to abandon your nomadic lifestyle. You might be benched for right now, but it’s the perfect time to plan your nomadic future by pivoting your career in the present.
Here’s how to do pivot as a digital nomad during the pandemic.
Start by building up and expanding your professional network. Plenty of nomads are in the same boat as you, so connect with them and see what their professional plans are for now. They might have tips, tricks, and even contacts who you can talk to about finding work now or in the future.
For many digital nomads, their area of expertise is their primary source of income. But, right now, being a travel expert doesn’t help much. And though you can still share productivity hacks or tips on packing, you may find that you aren’t at the same income level as you were pre-pandemic.
However, you still have plenty of skills you can offer a potential employer or client. If you’re a travel blogger, you can still travel, only it might be by car. Offer tips and tricks for the best ways to pack, eat lunch on the road, and find safe accommodations.
Likewise, if you’re a writer, you can work in a number of fields, creating blog articles for others or developing copy for marketing campaigns. Programmers can offer their skills to other companies that have pivoted to the digital space but aren’t sure how to get the bugs out of their website.
Up Your Skills
Now might also be the perfect time for you to level up your skills. Look at all the jobs you might like to do now or in the future. Compare those job listings to your resume and identify the gaps that might keep you from getting the positions. Then, take any relevant classes or certification courses to help fill in the gaps.
Likewise, now may also be the perfect time to plan your jump to entrepreneurship. For example, if you’ve been planning on writing a book or selling products, start outlining that manuscript or setting up your online storefront.
Stay Put While You Work
Part-time, temporary, or even full-time, you may decide it’s best to get a non-nomadic job. And though unemployment is at an all-time high right now, there are companies that are hiring for a variety of virtual roles.
Fortunately, as a digital nomad, you’ve got plenty of experience working remotely. Make sure you play up this aspect on your resume, and you could be a shoo-in for the role. And, who knows? A job you get now may be open to letting you continue your nomad lifestyle once you can get back on the road.
Plan Your Next Trip
Now is the perfect time to plan your next nomadic adventure. But, instead of figuring out your destinations and deciding what sites you’re going to see, do some contingency planning, just in case.
Create an emergency plan in case you need to leave a country or return to your home base quickly. Research visa rules in your intended destinations and figure out how to stay legal when you work in other countries, and what would happen if you overstayed your visa in an emergency.
Also, consider becoming a slow nomad. Instead of picking up and leaving every few days, change up your plans to spend more time in one destination. Not only will this help you avoid COVID-19 hot spots, you can immerse yourself in the local culture and engage with the people on a deeper level.
Benched, but Only for Now
Hopefully, travel restrictions will eventually lift, and you’ll be able to wander the world the way you want. But, in the meantime, find ways to diversify and expand your skills. Then, once you’re back on the road, you’ll have an easier time finding work wherever you go.
For more advice on remote work, check out our blog. And, if you’re looking for fully remote jobs, we can help. We post fully remote jobs in more than 15 career categories. Browse our offerings today!
By Rachel Pelta | July 8, 2020 | Categories: Work Remotely
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