One consequence of the pandemic was the need to shift a considerable portion of business activities and services online, leading to an unprecedented expansion of jobs that require no physical presence.
Today, digital nomads are no longer all bohemian artists on secluded beaches but could be business people, designers, or software engineers in Bangkok, Berlin, or Bogota.
The talent pool is bigger than ever, and the right person for the right position doesn’t have to show up in person anymore to do their job. At Skuad, we have the expertise to recruit, hire, onboard, and pay employees in over 160 countries, making it easier for companies to find the best candidate for a job, even if they happen to be traveling around the world.
This article will cover everything you need to know about how to travel while working remotely — the legal ramifications of remote work, the jobs and opportunities that allow you to do it, and our top tips for making your travel-work life a success.
What is a digital nomad?
The term digital nomad wasn’t coined until 1997 as the title of a book by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. They argued that evolving technologies would soon let people work from anywhere in the world, allowing humans to experience a nomadic lifestyle once again.
Today, the term applies to anyone traveling to different countries while working remotely. The population of digital nomads has exploded in recent years, and all manner of new companies and support services have accompanied the fast-growing trend.
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What are the legal considerations for travel while working remotely?
As adventurous and freeing as it may be, remote work doesn’t absolve anyone of legal responsibility. Thus, it’s critical to be aware of, and abide by, a country’s immigration, employment, and tax laws; this goes for both countries where employer and employee (or contractor) are based.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Each country’s visa requirements are different, and it’s one of the first things to be aware of when looking to travel and work remotely.
You might get a tourist visa upon entry or have to apply for it in advance. Some visas explicitly forbid you from being employed and require a separate application; others have provisions allowing work.
Many countries ask for association with an employer of record before granting a work or resident visa, each with different renewal processes. Online Visa offers a comprehensive database of all visa requirements for most nationalities.
In recent years, some places have even introduced digital nomad visas aimed explicitly at attracting remote workers, thus growing the pool of talent in locations previously less known. There are currently 24 regions where you can apply for this visa to make your digital nomad status official.
Unless you’ve changed citizenship, you’ll likely continue to pay taxes to your home country, regardless of where you’re working.
However, some remote tax laws are nuanced. Understanding the differences in how they work and which country you’re obligated to report taxes to is crucial to travel and work full-time legally.
A common headache digital nomads create for employers is their official classification as workers. Are they employees or contractors? Being misclassified can lead to fines depending on where a person is employed.
Again, these change from country to country. Some places may allow you to work for an international company; others may prohibit it without an employer of record in the country in question.
Also, if you’re currently working online and are considering traveling, make sure to contact your company’s HR department to find out about their remote work policies. Regional employment laws can affect this, and just because you work online doesn’t always mean you can work remotely.
An easy way to navigate the legal requirements of remote work is with Skuad. As an employer of record in more than 160 countries, Skuad takes care of the various administrative and legal requirements, making remote work possible and free of legal concerns.
Book a demo today to find out more.
Remote work and travel programs
One way to begin your work travel life is through a remote work and travel program. These are specifically created to support different types of digital nomad lifestyles and typically provide the following:
- Housing and utilities
- Planned activities
- Access to a coworking space
- A chance to meet a network of professionals
Here are our choices for the top three programs that let you travel while working remotely:
1. Remote Year gives you a choice to travel for four or 12 months, offering exciting itineraries in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Lisbon, Cape Town, and Mexico City.
2. Hacker Paradise offers many of the same things but more flexibility regarding length of stay. Itineraries for this program have included Tel Aviv, Medellin, and Marrakech.
3. Coworkstations offers monthly itineraries in different cities, allowing you to travel worldwide and work alongside entrepreneurs from various sectors.
If you already have a place in mind, check out Skuad’s remote hiring guide to get more information about remote hiring in hundreds of international destinations.
What jobs can I do remotely?
There are tons of jobs you can do remotely while traveling. While the complete list would be too many to mention, most remote jobs generally fall into three broad categories:
Jobs with no formal training
Jobs you can easily do remotely while traveling can be things like transcribing, translating, copywriting, and tutoring.
Jobs with a low barrier to entry
These jobs require a slight learning curve, usually involving supplemental education, training, or self-learning. Examples include language teaching, online marketing, search engine optimization, or any creative work related to writing, editing, photography, design, and animation.
Jobs with a high barrier to entry
Many jobs allow working remotely but usually require formal education, degrees, and higher levels of training. High-barrier jobs vary but may be in computer science, architecture, software engineering, and accounting.
Tips for traveling and working remotely
Plan and flexible
If you want to maintain a long-term work-travel life that is both effective and efficient, you’ll need to do some planning. Whether researching destinations, preparing documents, or arranging your travel, planning will always be essential to living a successful digital nomad life.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that working from new destinations can result in things you couldn’t plan for in advance. In these cases, it’s also good to have flexibility built into your plans. For instance, if you intend to move and live somewhere for a year, you don’t necessarily need to plan for an entire year’s accommodation straight away. Unforeseen circumstances could force you to leave early — or make you want to extend your time — and allowing room for these possibilities makes for a smoother experience.
Find coworking and co-living spaces
More widespread temporary housing options like Airbnb and Vrbo will always be there, but co-living spaces can offer alternatives and provide a more community feel:
- Selina: Selina offers a space designed to work and live. You can choose from dorm rooms to private ensuites, with several packages.
- Anyplace: The fancier of the two, Anyplace lets you find private, shared, or communal living accommodations in hundreds of cities worldwide.
At the same time, there are dozens of coworking spaces in major cities, allowing you to travel to a new destination but still enjoy being able to head to an office with ergonomic chairs and workstations, reliable internet, and (coworking) colleagues. Here are two of our favorites:
- WeWork: The more expensive of the two, but also nicer. WeWork has hundreds of offices in cities worldwide, offering all the luxuries of a modern office.
- Croissant: More for the budget-minded, Croissant operates coworking spaces in 42 countries with all the modern amenities you need to work remotely comfortably.
Develop a work schedule
A consistent work schedule will become essential if you’re frequently traveling. Meeting times and deadlines don’t change, but time zones do, and so does the schedule you’ll need to work around. It usually takes a few days to fall into a routine when getting to a new place, but this should be first on your list if you intend to sustain long-term travel while working remotely.
Get travel medical insurance
Staying healthy is always important, but it becomes crucial when traveling. An employer of record like Skuad offers benefits packages that can cover health and dental insurance.
Keep up your social life
Being on the road can get lonely, and a key to sustaining work productivity is maintaining a social life. The first thing is to remember to keep in touch with friends and family through text and video chats. Apps like Couchsurfing and Meetup are also excellent options for finding local communities in hundreds of cities worldwide.
Read user reviews
Other people have gone where you want to go, stayed in the same hotels, eaten in the same restaurants, and spent time in the coworking spaces you may now be considering. Before you head to an unfamiliar place, read their reviews! A company’s official pictures or description may sometimes not match the real deal, but user reviews will usually give you a more accurate picture of what you’ll get.
Skuad — Your employer of record on the road
Skuad is a global employment and payroll platform that enables organizations to hire remote employees, onboard, and manage payroll in over 160 countries without the organization setting up a subsidiary.
Skuad takes care of the legwork, allowing companies to focus on scaling and productivity while ensuring employees can travel freely while working remotely and legally. If you're looking to make the next crucial international hire for your company, contact Skuad to get started.