The ‘New Nomad’ and over 20 sub-niches of the digital nomad today
This article will explore over twenty sub-niches of what I describe as the ‘new nomad’. I share and discuss the concept and the opportunity for both individuals, businesses and countries to boost and build better economies through innovative ways of working from anywhere. During this read you will journey with me; you will contemplate and have your own ideas of what the ‘new nomad’ is. In which I invite discussion in the comments.
This idea of the ‘new nomad’ came from some research we did with our Startup while in an accelerator program with Startup Madeira last year in 2021 and trying to discover who we were talking to and all the different subsets. What did they stand for?
Why do they travel?
Who identifies as a digital nomad who doesn’t like being put into this box? Who are these people?
Who travels and works on the road full-time other than our own subset which we identify with?
What do other people identify with?
The intimate goal is to identify these travellers who choose a full-time nomadic travel lifestyle. So many questions, to try to fully understand this niche. Having launched this business to solve our own problem our primary focus in the business was to solve the problem of helping this niche to find affordable Stays around the world; faster, smarter and easier.
Now that most of the world has experienced working from home now since the global disruption, I am seeing and hearing more and more people talking about stretching their wings to the digital nomadic life. This is what I describe as the ‘new nomad’ and all the different subsets that make up a digital nomad.
These ‘New Nomads’ are not the quintessential 20-year-old tech-savvy traveller working from the beach in a hammock as we would see on social media. The ‘New Nomads come in all shapes, and sizes and they are 35-55 years of age professionals who have done exceptionally well in their careers and looking for a deeper meaning in life. The experience of exploring the world while working from anywhere has a gravitational pull. Or they are planning their great escape from the corporate world because it makes no sense to them anymore to spend so much time in a sterile office environment.
These people identify with a life of exploring the world and understanding life from many perspectives.
Some are van lifers, full-time travellers working and travelling around the world, and some choose to co-live around the world or do workation retreats. Some even have a WiFi Tribe. This is the new normal travelling and working as a location independent heading off into the world and rediscovering themselves working from anywhere.
The ‘new nomad’ values freedom most to experience life more and explore the world. After Freedom was taken away abruptly from us, it shifted our core beliefs and brought to the surface what was most important to us.
We realised a decade ago that for me travel and work needed to be a bigger part of life So we tested it. We started with a small two-man tent around Australia we graduated to a rooftop tent now we live in Nomad Stays around the world.
The ‘New Nomad’ has created a new normal of travel and work from lovely locations. But what is classified as normal? It all depends on your perspective and
The new nomad?
Is it the new normal?
What is ‘normal’ these days anyway?
Who was to know the world would lock down and the ease of travelling the world stop.
The reality of maybe never seeing Paris or the ancient cities of Peru became very real, those dreams locked down and lost for a brief moment. Not being able to experience travel was a shock to the system. Having these freedoms so quickly and easily taken away from us was all too real with the global disruption. And so the revenge traveller begins to spread his wings. Looking further abroad more than ever before. Living and working while exploring the world was a far-fetched dream now it’s the ‘new normal.’
During this time of lockdown, business travellers were testing the borders because they changed so rapidly, finding ways to cross borders. Nomads were still travelling they were also testing their own boundaries and seeking a digital nomad lifestyle. Searching to find out if travelling and remote working is really a viable option with all its challenges and its benefits.
Of course, then, as a result of lockdowns and working from home changed people’s minds about what was important to them now, which created the great resignation.
All these limitations on personal freedom and liberties caused people to reassess and redirect their personal values, and nobody wanted to go back to what was normal and was ready to resign if they didn’t have any other option but to go back to the office. Because now there was proof that most of the work could be done from home or somewhere else in the world.
The life of a digital nomad is an interruption to the normal patterns of life, from what is deemed ‘normal’ and experiencing work-life exploration and questioning “the meaning of life” (no, this is not a Monty Python skit! But sometimes it might feel like it). The disruption created the ability to take in a new perspective on the role we play in life.
But also living and working as a new nomad there is a need to ensure there is a seamless connection; between work rest and play. Because the excuse of “the wifi here is not good enough here” is not a valid excuse anymore. Right! It just doesn’t cut it! You have to make it so that there is no disruption in the workflow and trust me there are many. When you travel, you quickly learn, you have to have a plan B,C,D and have backups batteries, and well your own Wifi router, extra phone sims to a hotspot or hey just jump on the phone and have a chat “keep it simple” it seems everyone is so mad about video calls. Just pick up the phone man, it’s OK!
A digital nomad travels the world virtually full time ( speaking from experience) and works from anywhere. And as I have mentioned before, it’s not a new concept, it’s just played out differently. Thanks to technology enabling us to be more mobile and the recent experience of global disruption, being forced to work from home, this concept of the digital Nomad is becoming the new normal.
The global disruption forced us to remote work creating new policies and discoveries for individuals, companies and countries opening up for the tax grab, and trying to attract new talent and innovation to boost economies. Personally, I am happy to see this change because why wouldn’t you try to capture smart minds to help rebuild. Some are quick to change others are slow and miss the opportunity.
From my personal perspective; having experienced a life of travel living and working as an ex-pat in other countries life and now full-time travel while building a startup simultaneously, it can challenge you to the core, but what I learn on the journey is far more valuable.
PAST NOMADIC LIVES
In the past, people lived nomadic lifestyles naturally to find food and business hundreds if not thousands of years ago travel was the normal way of life. They used to forage for food and follow the seasons, for basic survival, for good clean air, water, rest and food. And I think; for me, that subconsciously still travel to places with quality air & water (mostly off the beaten track, mountains, oceans in small villages) places that are close to nature and well in Europe there is always a farmers market bustling. Good clean water and quality of environment and people.
Think about the past with the Silk Road merchants who travelled for years at a time, trading and living a nomadic lifestyle, trying to build relationships with their suppliers and customers. Building trusted relationships in business has not changed, it’s all about building relationships.
Once Spurned by Governments, They Now Want Nomads
The opportunity for governments and digital nomads is to enhance and add value to small communities and villages and boost the economies suffering from “brain drain” bringing money in for longer periods of time. With each nomad digital being worth at least USD$1,000 per person per month to the local economy the benefits vastly outweigh restricting us.
Then on a personal level, you have the new nomad who says …
“OK, I am out of here my world is unrecognisable as it was, and I am not waiting for the world to go back to normal. I am going to discover it for myself, I need to go and get a new perspective”.
Everything we use to know as “normal” has changed; technology is enabling and is changing behaviours. Expectations and people’s behaviours are changing, and belief systems on every level and shifting which causes a reassessment of “what is important to us now?” as individuals.
Global disruption has proved beyond any doubt that we can work from home or anywhere with a good internet speed. Small businesses and large corporations are being forced to do business differently, and we all become zoom Zombies. Well almost!
Digital Nomads to strengthen economies as brain drain affects villages and towns and countries.
Countries are trying to attract digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and startups more than ever. This group brings innovative minds to help strengthen economies. To be leaders in technology and innovation, bring new ideas. They are giving out Visas of all styles, and digital nomad visas particularly, to attract more innovative ideas, entrepreneurs, remote workers and businesses.
Governments are clamouring for what to do next, how to rebuild broken economies following the pandemic let alone prepare for the after-war devastation and rebuilding.
Some countries have been bleating about decentralising government for too long, and now they can see how it can occur. To optimise change, shifting gears to try to restabilise, but innovation is not moving quick enough in my eyes.
At the same time, people are chattering about wanting life to go back to normal. When what we could be doing is taking advantage of the new normal and finding opportunities to create a better way to move forward.
The disruption that crippled industries such as tourism has now made way for new innovations to take the lead.
Those entrepreneurs who moved fast enough have turned incredible small businesses into multi-million-dollar e-commerce enterprises. And for those who didn’t move fast enough to take advantage of the opportunity of disruption and find new markets closed their doors. In some places, innovation hubs closed down, which we saw happening throughout our native rural Australia. This is plain crazy because now is a prime opportunity to encourage innovation.
Other factors are playing out to create uncertainty to cause questioning of a new way of lifestyle. And well… dare I say, the W-word War! Which has bought another complexity to factor into the mix of global disruption. No, it’s just and mad military operation apparently! (don’t mind the elephant in the room). There is a lot to take into account, that is for sure.
My point here for you is to get a glimpse of what is causing this ‘new nomad’ and adapt to the ‘new normal’, whatever that is for you. It’s different for everyone.
I say keep asking questions, keep finding ways to see new perspectives and keep innovating. Because travel helps build intelligence by gaining new perspectives.
THE NEW NORMAL
With disruption comes opportunity and massive shifts in all areas of life and business. ‘Change is the new normal, so why wait for things to go back to the way they were? Opportunity is ripe, all you need is the desire to help others solve problems.
Why not try something new? It is as simple as packing the basics; a smartphone (which is really a full-blown computer in your pocket, whether we use it for that is beside the point) and your laptop, drone, all the charging cords and extension cords. Some people might take a router and antenna to ensure we have Wi-Fi…
Why not book a flight and accommodation; check visas and restrictions; pack a bag (one bag because, after all, it’s pretty likely there are shops where you going). Grab your passport and jump on a plane, train, or hitch a ride in a Blabla car, motorbike, or van, however, they prefer to travel. And GO… off into the wilderness to explore more about how you want to experience life now because you can work from anywhere. Embrace the change.
The Revenge Traveller
These people are travelling and crossing borders and seeing the world as much as possible. They were crossing borders during the pandemic and revenge travel whenever the opportunity arrives, some have made it a lifestyle.
We ourselves also took every opportunity possible to revenge travel. After being locked in France for 16 months as soon as we got our vaccine passports and we were able to travel internationally we took off and worked our way through fourteen countries over 10 months. Ours was not an uncommon story as many nomads continued to travel right through the pandemic restrictions.
People like to hang out with like-minded communities with the same passions, interest and they like to build trust, find familiar ground and we all identify with something that we relate to. And it’s all about things we value and hold dear to us. One of these things that have been bought to the forefront of the global disruptions is FREEDOM. How to create more of it and that “maybe it won’t always be accessible like I thought” so I want to explore more and we are seeing more people realise more what is important to them and actively seeking it out.
So more than ever before we are seeking a better way, a new way, a different way. It is a massive shift on a global scale but everything is changing and if you’re waiting for things to go back to normal, stop waiting and start doing what is important to you.
The Identity of the ‘New nomad’ Comes in Many Forms
Everyone has their own version of the new nomad lifestyle and identifies with some niche and not others; here are just some I am aware of:
- Location Independent Workers – They don’t identify as being a digital nomad and identify more with just Location-independent travellers
- Full-Time Traveller– someone who lives on the road full time and spends their life travelling
- Slowmad – generally stays up to 6 months in each place depending on visas
- Family Nomads – remote working, maybe an entrepreneur or both
- Nomad Couples – Couple working and living as nomads.
- Solo Entrepreneur Nomad Or Solopreneur – A single full-time traveller.
- Female Solo Entrepreneur Nomad – a female solo Entrepreneur who travels and works from anywhere
- Mumpreneur Nomad – Solo mum or mum travelling with her family as the sole breadwinner
- Van Lifer– Live and work in a van full time. Normally a surfer or someone who is passionate about their sport and follows the waves for example.
- Remote Worker nomad- a freelancer, someone who works for a large company. The word remote worker is also used for flying fly-out workers in mines in Australia and other places.
- Nomad Entrepreneurs– startup or online business, e-commerce, coach etc.
- Global Citizen – Someone who considers themselves a citizen of the world. Not identifying with just one nationality but multiple, non of us a pure breeds! we are from all parts of the world from our lineage is mixed.
- Corporate Nomad or Executive Remote Worker– executive worker travelling and working for a large corporation.
- Workationer– has a home base but travels 3 – 6 months a year then goes home again.
- Coliving Nomad– Nomads who prefer only to live in coliving spaces because they love the community.
- The adventure nomad – travels the world for his/her passion for an adventure sport and chooses places that support their sport like; motorcycling, rock climbing, Hiking, and Paragliding.
- Work for Accommodation Nomad – People who travel for free accommodation offering skills as a tradeoff, Carpenters, digital marketing, cleaning and reception work in hostels, BnB’s using Stay for free apps like World Packers. House sitting, pet sitting. But generally have a way of earning money online too.
18. Grey Nomad – popular in Australia, someone who worked hard all their lives and now travels like a nomad in a caravan or van or truck, but generally doesn’t work, is retired but generally uses technology while they travel. They only travel for part of the year and generally return home. Some stay on the road but not often.
- The Refugee Digital Nomad – Making the most of a bad situation, sadly now we are seeing people fleeing their countries under attack, shopping for a new country. This is a tragic situation, These nomads a looking for a home and roll soon roll into the ex-pat status generally. However, some might choose to take advantage of DN Visas too.
- The Startup Nomad- Someone who moves to a country for the Talent Visa to grow their business where the market is the biggest. This is what Nomad Stays Founders did to come to Europe and grow the business because the tourism in France at the time of accepting the visa was and still is the biggest in the world.
- The Political Nomad- Leaving their country until things settle in their country politically. They may or may not go back but do not believe in the country’s current political status.
- Crypto Nomad – Focused on Crypto Currency
- Adventure Moto Digital Nomad – Traveling the world or countries on a motorbike generally as a remote worker.
- Sailing Nomads – Live and sail around the world on a Yacht.”WANNABE NOMAD“Then there is the “Wannabe Nomad” that has not figured out how to do their life on the road yet but just trying it to explore what is possible. That’s OK; because that’s how we started. You have to give it a go-to to understand the pros and cons, and you never know you might discover a problem you want to solve and build a global business from it. As did the Founders of Nomad Stays. When you begin your journey as a digital nomad you don’t know what it looks like, the problems you will encounter, and you don’t know how your family and friends will react; because remember it affects their life not having you around anymore. You may challenge people’s beliefs. You will get ‘push back’ from friends, family and colleagues, clients and even strangers and you will find it great and hard all at the same time; maybe even for a few years. And you will evolve, discover new opportunities and maybe new cultures. But remember it’s not for everyone and that is OK.
You’ll notice I don’t talk about other non-nomad travellers like:
- Leisure Travelers
- Short-Term Business Travelers
- Gap Years
- Couch Surfers
- Road Warriors
This list of how Nomad identifies themselves is normal really, we are human after all, and we all like to identify in tribes or individuals, it’s not new it’s human nature. But it is just an example and not exact, but it gives you an idea of some of the ways that digital nomads identify, and I am sure I have missed some. These are all the new nomads living the new normal but doing it in their own style, they all have a different version of life and how it should look for them
As the co-founder of a global startup and travelling full-time for seven years and previously as an international flight attendant I was travelling all the time around the world so it’s come naturally for me to be nomadic. Because of the world in my classroom.
Being a travel tech industry startup and a digital nomad has helped us grow our business and see first-hand the issues from suppliers and customers, and it is highly valuable to be able to build relationships with our suppliers first-hand.
If you have another variety of nomads that you can add to the list, then I would love you to add it to the comments and share your wisdom.
Stay Awesome & Adventure on!
Come over and check out our blog and stories of the new nomads on our Meet the Nomads series of live interviews with the nomads we have all types of inspiring stories to help you on your journey. If you are thinking about stretching your home office to reach the world, working from anywhere, then check us out over at Nomad Stays. While you are there make sure you grab yourself a free membership.
As I like to always say Stay awesome and adventure on!
Linda McCall – Cofounder Nomad Stays,
Digital Nomad, not Mad just my normal! Just experiencing what’s possible in the world.
Written by Linda McCall, Co-Founder & CMO of Nomad Stays
Tea-sipping, global motorcycling, flying and map-loving travel junkie!
Oh yes, and if you are wondering, we still travel as digital nomads with a car and motorbike and our dog Dakar Dingo. We’re usually in Europe these days.
We are into year eight year of full-time digital nomad travel life. We love to travel, particularly going off the beaten track as a ‘new nomad’ or perhaps (Old) Nomad because we are in our 50s and have visited over 100 countries to date!
If you are not a member yet, then jump on in and become a nomad member and check out some fantastic options you have available to you.
What have you discovered on your travels that you went out and built a business around it?