Just recently, 2020 was being called the worst year for travel, and right now, 2021 isn’t looking much better. Or is it? With so many countries still in lockdown or requiring countless PCR tests, quarantine, and other restrictions, international travel is still questionable. However, nomading and traveling isn’t the same thing: digital moto nomads travel much slower and work on the road, and it may take 2-3 months to cover just one country – which, in the current conditions, is just about perfect. Moving slowly, setting up a basecamp every few weeks or months, and exploring one area in more depth while you also get work done can be a new way to travel in 2021, especially if you’re planning to stay on the road indefinitely.
Here’s how to get started.
Work-at-home has grown by 173% since 2005, and the trend is more than likely to continue in the times of COVID. And if you can work from home, why not work from abroad? Not all jobs can be transferred online, and not all employers will agree to your new digital nomad set up, but with a little research, skill training (which can also be done online), and gig hunting, online work is now more accessible than ever. From managing projects, accounting, and fitness training to consulting, marketing, or creating content, there’s no shortage of work online as long as you’re willing to put the hours and energy in.
The most interesting part is, now that so much focus is shifting online, companies, including the motorcycle industry, are looking to freelancers to help out. In spring 2020, as companies were scrambling to cut their expenses, my income dropped by 50% – a scary time indeed; now, however, as companies begin to realize the value of online content and digital tools for sales and marketing, I have more work than ever before with big SEO projects and e-commerce sites rushing to maximize their online impact. Once again, the trend is likely to continue, even with things you’d think are only feasible in the real world: motorcycle shows are moving online, and even off-road skills coaches are now setting up shop on YouTube – just look at Chris Birch’s massively successful Say No to Slow Online Academy.
That’s not to say transitioning to being a digital nomad is easy or quick; nothing worth doing ever is, but it definitely is becoming more and more accessible across more and more fields. If you’re thinking of a long-distance RTW journey with, possibly, no defined return date and want to have some income while on the road, looking into online work now is a great option. It can start as a side hustle and grow into something more permanent, or it can simply be intermittent work for whenever you need more income; but the beauty of it is, it gives you more freedom and flexibility.
Setting Up Basecamp
How does it all look like in a real-life scenario, especially with the pandemic, however? There are more ways than one to skin a cat, but what works for me is arriving in a new country, finding a town I like, locating a cheap AirBnB with excellent WiFi, secure bike parking, and a kitchen, and start exploring. I put in several days of work, then jump on the bike and ride some local trails; the bonus point is, you can leave your luggage in the AirBnB and ride more off-road with an unloaded bike. When renting for more than 2 weeks, most AirBnB’s offer better deals. This jungle lodge in Ecuador, for example, charged $12 instead of $18 a night for a long term stay:
After a few weeks, I’ll pack up and move to another region or country, COVID restrictions permitting. These days, it involves regular PCR tests and following the restriction policies closely, but other than that, it’s still achievable and once the vaccines are widely available, I imagine it’ll just take a vaccination passport or something similar to move about freely again.
Digital Nomad Visas
This digital nomad thing is now firmly a thing: what started as a new movement has become a norm for many, and some countries are already offering digital nomad visas, often costing around $200 or less. Estonia, Georgia, and some Caribbean and South American countries are now offering digital nomad visas allowing you to stay in the country for up to 6 months or more, making it easier and easier to travel slower, set up basecamps wherever you feel like, and exploring as much as you like. Chances are, more countries will follow in the next few years, and the world will open up for long-term travelers in ways we haven’t seen before.
So what’s the bottom line? If you’re looking into ways to become a moto nomad in 2021 with enough freedom to travel as much as you want to for as long as you want to, now is the time. It won’t happen overnight, nor will the transition come easily, but with a little creativity and persistence, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Yay or nay to moto nomading in 2021? Share your views in the comments below!