What You Need To Know To Avoid Digital Nomad Scams

Hey, I get it. You want to get in on the digital nomad life. Who doesn’t? Travel the world, see some beautiful places, wake up to the sound of waves and make money all the while. It’s living the dream (and yes, that’s still true even if you disregard the myths or the disconnect). But that can soon turn into a nightmare if you can’t avoid digital nomad scams.

I even get why that happens. People get so excited they lead with their heart instead of their head and end up leaping before they’ve looked. That’s dangerous. There are sharks in these waters.

I talked to Pieter Levels from Nomad List about this. “Getting a digital skill is ruthlessly hard,” he told me, while “building a business takes years.” In our instant gratification society, many don’t want to wait that long. “So they try to find a shortcut.” And that’s where the scammers come in.

In effect, it’s another version of the get rich quick scheme, but this time with swaying palm trees in the background.
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How to Easily Save Money For Your Vagabond Existence

I can’t count how often I’ve heard people say they can’t become digital nomads because they don’t have the money. They seem to think they need a wad of cash before they can hit the open road. The truth is, you don’t actually need that much. I switched over to being a full-time digital nomad with only a few thousand in the bank.

Of course, I’ll immediately admit that it would have been nice to have had a bit more. It’s a useful buffer in case things go wrong and sure makes things less stressful.

The thing is, for most people the money isn’t a goal. It’s an excuse. They say, ‘how can I ever live that way when I don’t have any money saved up?’ And then don’t take any steps to actually save up.

Quite frankly, it’s ridiculous to let yourself be held back from a dream because of money – especially when you need so little! As you’ll be making money on the road, six months or a year of dedicated saving will give you enough seed money for this lifestyle.
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How to Find a Great Apartment When You’re on the Road

Now I know how an ant under a magnifying loop feels. I look at the others. Their faces bathed in sweat that reflects harsh light of the mid-day Caribbean sun. None of us had expected it to be this hot. “I need a break,” Somebody – maybe it was me – mutters. Nobody disagrees. Finding a place to stay can be hard work sometimes.

Yeah, sure, you can do a lot of it from the comfort of your couch – but often you should still hit the pavement, ask around and shake hands. The reason is pretty straightforward. When a place is easier to find, that means more people are going to find it. And as economics 101 taught us when demand goes up so do prices.

So we’re out here on the Colombian coast looking for a place where to stay. It’s not fun, exactly, but it sure beats working from a crappy hotel room and it’s vital to be productive as a digital nomad. And since we’re looking for a place to rent for several months, it’s well worth it. Even five bucks less per day adds up. What’s more, by taking to the pavement we’re getting a good feeling for the town and where we want to stay.

In fact, we’ve gotten quite experienced at this whole deal over the years we’ve been out here. And, since many people seem to struggle in this regard, I thought that while we take a break from the hammering sun, I’d run some tips by you. (Note, this article was written after apartment hunting in Santa Marta, Colombia and so is extra applicable to that area).
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Are Digital Nomads Exploiting The Locals?

I keep running into some incarnation of this question in nomad circles. Only this week it reared up again in a Facebook group dedicated to digital nomads. In this case, the question was, ‘when digital nomads outsource their work over the internet to low-paying countries are they exploiting them? Isn’t that damaging the digital nomad image?’ The discussion got heated. Nasty things were said.

To be fair, the original poster didn’t frame the question quite like that. Sure, they used a question mark, but it wasn’t actually a question. For them, the issue was already resolved. Now it was just time for everybody to agree. Low wages weren’t fair. They were exploitive. The digital nomad movement was betraying its roots. Anybody that disagreed with them was a small-minded greedy capitalist.

As you can expect, many people – particularly those who outsourced work to low-paying countries – weren’t happy. Who likes to get judged, right? Some of retorted with well-reasoned arguments. Others were nasty, brutish and small-minded – thereby proving the original poster right about that part.
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How to Fly for Less

Of course, you want to fly for less! Who doesn’t? Flying is already expensive as it is – we’d rather not spend more than we have to. I mean, we’re not here to pad the airlines pockets, are we? Hell no! We’d rather spend that money on seeing places, living the life and having adventures. And yet we can’t always slow travel, so sometimes we need to fly for less. How can we do that?

Two pieces of good news. You can and it isn’t that hard. Today I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned talking to other nomads as well as what I’ve picked up myself after my many years on the road (slow traveling or otherwise). There are a lot of ways to circumvent the system so that you’re left with more for the other things in life that matter.
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