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Digital Nomad Revolution-Solo Travelers Natural Fit:
The growing solo travel community worldwide of at least twenty-seven million has been in the lead as “digital nomads”. From younger travelers eighteen to thirty years old to mid-life executives and seniors pursuing second careers, solo travelers have found informal ways to combine global journeys while pursuing a career or at least generating necessary revenue. As the world is adjusting to the pandemic, lifestyle changes are making it easier to work apart from a fixed location. Options range from freelancing and part-time positions to corporate employment and those entrepreneurs looking for their next business venture.
How the Digital Nomad Revolution Has Evolved:
In the early days of the 21st century, younger travelers took advantage of working online to create blogs and ecommerce sites. As their social media followings grew, the most successful were able to be self-employed, if not permanently, for extended periods. This made it possible to explore multiple countries independent of a set office location. Although this new lifestyle received notice, it was not widely recognized as an evolving shift in traditional business practices. With the advent of the pandemic, the concept of a “digital nomad” has gone mainstream.
When I flew back from the Czech Republic on Christmas Eve 2019, like most of the world, I did not know that routine foreign travel would very soon come to a halt. Just three months earlier, in Sept. 2020, we had launched our free solo travel search tool (Solo Travel Pricing Tracker) to connect those traveling alone with best prices. By March 2020, virtually every country in the world had issued its own travel restrictions. Having rescheduled my own upcoming six country holiday, I found the best substitute was watching endless videos of worldwide travel. With my new daily ritual of virtual tours with morning coffee, I became acquainted with a whole new world of travelers juggling work while continuously pursuing new destinations to explore from tropical Noosa, Australia to fabled Chiang Mai, Thailand. This growing wave ranged from single artists moving to the jungles of Bali to an entrepreneur looking to build a wellness retreat in Tulum, Mexico. What they had in common beyond the love of seeing new places was that most were looking to find work or create a business to make it possible to live abroad.
When The Digital Nomad Revolution Met the Pandemic:
As the 2021 holidays approach, travel has begun an uneven restart. This Thanksgiving, typically the busiest US travel season of the year, American airports nearly hit their pre-pandemic levels. However, COVID-19 health concerns continue to combine with international travel restrictions to push leisure travel plans into a still uncertain future date. Domestic travel, especially road trips to national parks, have largely replaced past care-free international vacations crossing borders at will. What has become clearer is that we have adapted to a “new normal”.
At the same time, as the coronavirus pandemic approaches the two year mark, an apparently lasting change has occurred in how we work and most importantly where we work. Made possible by the burgeoning digital revolution, the labor force at all levels has found that work for many can be divorced from bricks and mortar.
Prior to the pandemic, a small, but resilient, part of the job market carved out a work and travel life as “digital nomads”. Many were lifestyle bloggers who had creatively found a way to earn a living online, primarily backed by social media. They were able to move at will from place to place. Digital nomads may now encompass a vast proportion of the global workforce. That includes freelance, part-time, self-employed, entrepreneurs and full-time employees of independent corporations.
Digital Nomad Revolution-Solo Travelers Natural Fit: The Way Ahead 2022:
As a global female solo traveler since my teenage years, I have been a small business owner for twenty-one years. While I would not describe myself as a digital nomad, as a small business owner I have found a way to work online with freedom to travel from my fixed base in Washington, DC. This work and lifestyle balance may more aptly describe many in the work force today since the continuing COVID-19 virus has resulted in employees’ being divorced from a set brick and mortar physical work site.
What does this mean for job seekers and for employers? How does this sea change impact what it means to have a “home base”?
One very exciting avenue has opened up recently. Especially in light of reduced tourist revenues, numerous countries worldwide are seeking new revenues and/or new residents by creating digital nomad visas and other special residence entry waivers. Although each country’s rules vary the primary requirements fall into the following categories:
- Having a current passport.
- Having proof of adequate financial means. That could be based on independent income or asset level whether as a retiree, self-employed person or those employed by an independent company. The dollar level required varies from country to country. However, the highest income requirement we identified was $100,000 for an individual or $150,000 for couples in the Cayman Islands.
- Having health insurance.
- Passing a background check.
- Meeting local tax obligations.
- Paying of visa fees.
- Being limited to set time limits. Residence in-country is restricted from one year in most countries to Portugal’s five year program with an opportunity for permanent residency.
In light of this growing opportunity for solos to join the digital nomad community by combining work and travel, Solo Trekker will provide frequent updates to keep you informed. So be sure to check back often.