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How to Be a Digital Nomad with No Skills

When I quite my job 6 years ago to go travelling, I didn’t expect it to be forever.  However, after the taste of freedom that backpacking gave me, I knew that I could never go back to an office job.  And while I didn’t have any specific IT skills that would allow me to work online while I was travelling, I still managed to be a digital nomad!  Here are all my tips for how to become a digital nomad with no skills and no degree, just plenty of determination!

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Is Nomad Life for You?

Do you find yourself bored stupid at work?  Have you lost your job and need a new career?  Do you want the freedom to work and travel as you please?  If any of these sound like your situation, then nomad life could be just what you are looking for. 

Life as a digital nomad offers freedom and independence like nothing else, however, there are downsides such as a lack of security, missing your friends and family and the challenge of keeping yourself motivated to work.  Check out this post about the pros and cons of nomad life to see if you are ready to take the plunge!

Do You Need Any Skills to Be a Digital Nomad?

There are lots of digital nomad jobs that are highly skilled, from computer programmer to professional photographer or digital marketer.  However, not all digital nomad jobs require a degree, or any experience whatsoever.  If you have the motivation and dedication to give it a try, you could turn your hand to any number of digital nomad jobs for beginners.

However, don’t expect it to be an overnight success.  Being a digital nomad is hard work, especially in the beginning when you are just starting out.  There may be times when money is very tight, times when the internet just won’t work, and times when you feel like giving it all up for a job in McDonalds. 

That said, if I can become a digital nomad, then I truly believe that anyone can do it too!  Here are my top 5 tips for how to be a digital nomad with no skills.

Laptop on a desk with an image of a London street at night open with photo editing software on the screen - Some Digital Nomad Jobs are Highly Skilled
Some Digital Nomad Jobs are Highly Skilled

Tip1: Use Work Exchange Programs

When I was looking for how to work and travel at the same time, a real game changer for me was when I discovered work exchanges.  Doing a work exchange means that you work for a few hours in exchange for accommodation, food and other benefits. 

When you don’t have to pay for your accommodation, your outgoings drastically reduce, and you don’t need to earn much money in order to keep travelling.  However, you won’t be able to dedicate as much time to your new online business as you will be working part time.  I loved working in hostels as when it was quiet, I could do some work on my laptop and could spend my free time exploring!

Popular work exchange programs include Workaway, Worldpackers and WOOFF, although there are several work exchange websites where you can find placements.  Hostel work is a popular choice, although there are fewer opportunities right now, I’m sure that when travel opens up you will be able to find a good match for you.

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If you’d like more information about how work exchanges and Worldpackers works, read my honest Worldpackers review here, and check out this video:

Tip 2: Think About What Skills You Do Have

Everyone has some sort of skills that they can use – or learn – to be a digital nomad.  Are you great with people?   Do you speak another language?  Can you explain things really well to others?  These are all excellent transferable skills which you could use to become a digital nomad. 

Virtual assistant, translation work or online teacher are all excellent digital nomad jobs for beginners and may not require any formal training.  Some jobs, such as teaching English as a Foreign Language usually require a teaching certificate, but they can also be done online and aren’t very expensive.  

Using the skills you already have will give you a head start when you are looking for suitable online jobs that will allow you to become a digital nomad.

Various language learning and phrase books for different languages - If You Speak Another Language then Use Those Skills
If You Speak Another Language then Use Those Skills

Tip 3: Do You Need to Go Digital?

The other thing to consider is do you really need to be a “digital” nomad at all?  Could you be a nomad and do other jobs while you travel?  Some people work the summer season in hotels or other tourist businesses by the beach, then head to the mountains for a ski season in the winter. 

If you love the outdoors, why even force yourself to work at a computer when there are lots of other jobs that allow you to work and travel?  I spent a summer as a student working on a ranch in Wisconsin, and another summer working on a campsite in the South of France and I spent three years working in Barcelona as a personal assistant. 

None of this work would be classed digital nomad jobs, however, I still managed to work abroad, travel in my time off and enjoy the experience of being in a different country to my own.  If you really don’t have any digital skills that you can use to work online, then perhaps you don’t need to go digital at all – if you have the appropriate visas to allow you to work in another country – or travel in your own country.

Tip 4: Save Up Some Money

Travelling can be expensive.  While there are lots of ways to save money while travelling, having a stash of cash in the bank to fall back on will give you some reassurance that you’re doing the right thing, and a back-up plan if things do go wrong. 

I realise that this might not be an option for everyone, so don’t stress if you don’t have a big bank balance, but if you have a way of making some extra cash before you travel, then do it!  I worked two jobs before I quite to go travelling, and I sold a lot of my stuff before I went. 

If you prioritize your travel plans, you might be surprised at how much money you can save when you cut out all of the non-essential items you were buying before.  Just keep focussing on your dream of travel, and keep those pennies in your pocket!

READ MORE: How to Save Money For Travel

Pink piggy bank on a white background with some coins dotted around its feet
Saving Money before you Set Off Definitely Helps!

Tip 5: Be Flexible

Don’t expect everything to go swimmingly for you right from the start.  You’ve heard about all the entrepreneurs that failed so many times before they hit on their big idea, right?  Well, if things don’t go right for you the first time, don’t worry.  It takes time, and sometimes trying lots of different things before you find what fits for you.

I was blogging for 4 years before I felt like I was making a decent living (and then COVID happened!!) so keep working at it and you will find your rhythm.  I also think it’s a good idea to not put all your eggs in one basket.  That is to say, don’t set your heart on one thing – you could maybe teach some English classes online and work in a hostel at the same time.  Or start a blog but take on some freelance writing work until your business takes off.

The key thing to remember is that there are opportunities for everyone.  I believe that everyone could work and travel the world, so don’t worry – you will figure out how to become a nomad, skills or no skills! 

Looking for Digital Nomad Insurance?  Check out SafetyWing

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Just to let you know, this post may contain paid or affiliate links, which help to maintain Tales of a Backpacker and give me the chance to keep travelling, and to keep creating awesome content for you!  I only recommend goods and services I believe are useful and reliable.

Last updated: September 9, 2021

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