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A complete digital nomad glossary: +100 words and terms explained

Last updated on May 10th, 2024

Rosie Bell digital nomad and travel writer

From buzzwords that zip through co-working spaces to acronyms that dominate online forums, navigating the digital nomad lifestyle can often feel like mastering a new language. This digital nomad glossary unpacks more than 80 essential terms that every traveling remote worker should know, whether you’re a veteran or just heading out on the road.

 

An A-Z digital nomad glossary

 

#

4-Hour Workweek: A concept and book by Tim Ferriss promoting remote work and automation.

 

A

Adventurepreneur: An entrepreneur who builds a business around travel and adventure, often turning their passion for exploration into a profitable venture.

 

Affiliate Marketing: Earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. Digital nomads often use blogs or social media to generate passive income through affiliate links.

 

Airbnb: An online marketplace for lodging, primarily homestays.

 

Asynchronous Communication: Communication that doesn’t require real-time interaction; participants can engage according to their own schedule and don’t need to respond immediately. This is vital for nomads in different time zones.

 

Automation Tools: These software solutions streamline repetitive tasks and enable digital nomads to focus on more critical, creative work. From scheduling to client management, automation tools help maintain productivity no matter the time zone. This software operates without human intervention.

 

B

Bleisure: A blend of business and leisure where professionals extend business trips for personal enjoyment.

 

Blockchain: A system in which a record of transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency is maintained across several computers.

 

Bootstrap: Bootstrapping is all about starting a business withou external capital and leveraging minimal resources for maximum impact.

 

Burnout: Physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. Burnout is a real challenge for digital nomads who have to balance work and adventure without the support of a stationary home base.

 

C

Cloud Storage: Essential for nomads, cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox allow you to access and back up digital files from anywhere. Secure, scalable, and convenient, cloud storage is a digital nomad’s virtual file cabinet.

 

Co-living: A shared housing living arrangement. Digital nomads often use co-living spaces to find affordable accommodation and build community while traveling.

 

Collaborative Tools: Tools like Slack, Asana, and Trello transform how digital nomads collaborate with teams across the globe. These platforms enable seamless communication and project management, making remote work more efficient and connected.

 

Couplepreneurs: Couples who run a business together, combining their professional and personal lives.

 

Coworkation: A combination of work and vacation where digital nomads work remotely while exploring new destinations.

 

Coworking Space: A shared working environment where individuals who are self-employed or working for different employers share an office. These spaces offer amenities such as desks, meeting rooms, internet access, and sometimes networking events.

 

Crowdfunding: Funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people.

 

Cryptocurrency: Digital currency in which transactions are verified and records maintained by a decentralized system. Part of the attraction for digital nomads is its potential for providing a simpler, universal form of money without national boundaries.

 

Currency Arbitrage: Taking advantage of different currency rates in different countries.

 

D

Decentralized Workforce: Employees working in various locations outside of a central office.

 

Digital Detox: Temporarily disconnecting from digital devices to reduce stress and focus on real-life interactions.

 

Digital Footprint: The record of one’s interactions and presence online.

 

Digital Nomad Retreat: An organized gathering designed to offer both work and relaxation opportunities for digital nomads. Companies like Hacker Paradise, Remote Year, and Nomad Cruise organize digital nomad retreats.

 

Digital Nomad: Someone who works remotely and travels frequently. Find out how to earn a living online and live nomadically here

 

Distributed Team: A team that works remotely across various geographical locations, often internationally.

 

Dropshipping: A retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when a store sells a product, it purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer.

 

E

E-commerce: The buying and selling of goods and services over the Internet. E-commerce operations are ideal for digital nomads, as they can manage a retail operation from anywhere in the world.

 

E-Residency: A digital identity issued by a country to non-residents, allowing access to online services. Estonia was at the forefront of this.

 

Ergonomic Gear: Equipment designed to increase comfort and efficiency in the workplace. Many nomads swear by NexStand products.

 

eSIM: An eSIM (embedded SIM) is a digital SIM that allows you to activate a cellular plan from a carrier like Airalo without the need for a physical SIM card.

 

F

Fintech (Financial Technology): New tech that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. Digital banks like Revolut are examples of fintech companies.

 

FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early): A movement focused on saving and investing with the goal of gaining sufficient personal capital to retire much earlier than traditional budgets and retirement plans would permit.

 

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event is happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.

 

Freedompreneur: An entrepreneur who prioritizes freedom, fulfilment, and flexibility over traditional business metrics, often pursuing businesses that allow them to work remotely.

 

Freelancer: An individual who works as a self-employed person and is not committed to a particular employer long-term. Many digital nomads choose freelancing for its flexibility and exposure to a broad range of projects and global opportunities.

 

Fully Remote Company: A company that operates without a central office, with all employees working remotely.

 

G

Geoarbitrage: A financial strategy that involves relocating in order to take advantage of lower costs of living. Digital nomads often use geoarbitrage to stretch their earnings while while earning from higher-wage areas.

 

Gig Economy: A labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. Digital nomads often work in the gig economy, taking on temporary jobs as they travel.

 

H

Home Base: A location a digital nomad might frequently return to or hold legal residence in, despite spending significant time traveling.

 

Home Exchange: Swapping homes with someone else for a temporary period for travel.

 

Hot Desking: Utilizing any available desk in a shared office environment on an ad-hoc basis.

 

House Sitting: Staying in someone’s home while they are away in exchange for keeping an eye on it. This can be a cost-effective accommodation option for long-term travelers.

 

Hustle Culture: A societal norm that values excessive work over leisure.

 

I

Influencer: Someone who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience. Influencers often collaborate with brands to offer authentic insights into products and lifestyles.

 

J

JOMO (Joy of Missing Out): The pleasure of taking a break from social activity—especially social media—to enjoy personal time.

 

K

Knowledge Worker: Someone employed primarily for their knowledge (technical or business), such as a programmer, accountant, or scientist.

 

L

Laptop Lifestyle: A way of life that allows individuals to work from anywhere with just their laptop, often embraced by digital nomads.

 

Lifestyle Design: The practice of designing one’s life to accommodate passions, personal goals, desires, and values. The life design philosophy is particularly resonant with digital nomads who strive to balance work with adventure and personal growth.

 

Location Independence: The ability to work from any location in the world thanks to digital tools. This is the cornerstone of the digital nomad lifestyle, emphasizing freedom over the constraints of a fixed office environment. All digital nomads are location-independent but not all location-independent workers are digital nomads. Learn more about location independence here.

 

M

Mentorship: Guidance provided by an experienced person in a company or educational institution. You can hire a digital nomad mentor to help you design your life for freedom.

 

Minimalism: The practice of simplifying one’s lifestyle by reducing dependence on unnecessary possessions. For digital nomads, minimalism isn’t just a design aesthetic but a practical necessity that makes frequent moves more manageable. It is a means of optimizing life for flexibility and freedom. 

 

Mobile Office: A work setup that allows someone to operate from anywhere, often using tools like smartphones, laptops, and cloud-based applications.

 

Mobile Workforce: Mobile workforce defines employees who are equipped to work from anywhere through mobile devices and cloud services.

 

N

Nomad Visa: Digital nomad visas are special visas designed for remote workers allowing them to live in a foreign country while working remotely for a business that’s based in a different country. These visas are a recent development in response to the increasing population of digital nomads worldwide.

 

O

Offline Mode: Functionality of a device or application that allows continued use without an internet connection. This is essential for nomads who travel to remote areas but need continuous access to information stored on their devices.

 

Offshoring: Moving business processes to a lower-cost foreign location.

 

Online Course: Educational or training courses conducted over the internet. Many digital nomads either teach or enroll in online courses to further their skills and advance their careers remotely. Get on the waiting list for Discovery Sessions’ on-demand digital nomad course, “Fire Your Office“.

 

Outsourcing: Hiring organizations or individuals outside of the company to perform tasks.

 

P

Passive Income: Earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership, or other enterprise in which a person is not actively involved. Popular among digital nomads, passive income streams allow for a financially sustainable lifestyle while traveling.

 

Perpetual Traveler (PT): Someone who lives in various countries and rarely stays in one place long enough to be considered a resident.

 

Podcasting: A digital medium consisting of an episodic series of spoken words with content ranging from personal life to business topics. Podcasting can be a fruitful way for nomads to share experiences or expertise with a global audience.

 

Productivity Apps: Applications designed to help manage work tasks and improve efficiency. These apps help keep track of projects, schedules, and deadlines across different time zones and they are popular among digital nomads.

 

Q

Quantified Self: Self-tracking through technology to collect data on various aspects of one’s personal life, like steps walked, sleep quality, or heart rate.

 

Quarter-Life Crisis: A period of life ranging from twenties to thirties, where individuals feel doubts about their personal and professional paths, often leading to a major life reassessment.

 

R

Remote Job: Employment that does not require the worker to be present in a traditional office environment. This is the most common type of work for digital nomads, who use technology to perform their jobs from anywhere in the world.

 

Remote Year: A service that enables professionals to travel the world in groups while working remotely.

 

Residency Permit: Official documentation allowing a foreign national to reside in a particular country for a fixed or indefinite length of time.

 

S

Sabbatical: An extended break from work for travel, study, or rest.

 

Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI): A digital movement that allows individuals to own, control, and present their identity data without intermediary authorities.

 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Techniques used to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to a website. For digital nomads who run blogs or manage online businesses, SEO skills are crucial for increasing visibility and traffic.

 

Shared Economy: An economic model that involves sharing access to goods and services via a community-based online platform. Digital nomads often rely on shared economy services like Airbnb and Uber for accommodation and transportation.

 

Side Hustle: A secondary business or job that brings in extra income without requiring full-time hours. Many digital nomads have side hustles to support their lifestyle or fund their travels.

 

Skill Sharing: Exchanging skills with others without monetary transactions. This could be in a communal living situation or at a coworking space.

 

Slack: A messaging app for teams that makes communication easier. It’s used extensively by remote teams and digital nomads for daily communication.

 

Slow Travel: Slow travel is the act of traveling to fewer places and staying longer to immerse oneself in the local culture.

 

Solopreneur: An entrepreneur who operates a business single-handedly, without founding partners or payroll staff.

 

Synchronous Communication: Real-time communication, often via video calls or meetings.

 

T

Tax Residency: Legal status defining in which country an individual must pay taxes.

 

Telecommuting: Working from a location outside the traditional office by using the Internet, email, and telephone. Essentially synonymous with remote work, telecommuting is a fundamental aspect of many digital nomads’ careers.

 

Third Space: Social surroundings separate from home (first space) and work (second space).

 

Time Zone Independence: The ability to work flexibly across different time zones, not being restricted to the traditional 9-5 schedule of any single zone.

 

Tourist Visa: A document that allows the bearer to enter or leave the territory for which it was issued. Digital nomads often start with tourist visas before finding other longer-term visa arrangements.

 

Travel Hacking: Strategies used to optimize travel, such as earning frequent flyer miles.

 

Travel Insurance: Insurance that covers unexpected losses incurred while traveling, such as medical expenses, lost luggage, and trip cancellations. Sign up for Nomad Insurance from SafetyWing HERE.

 

U

Uberisation: Adapting the business model of Uber, where services are provided on-demand through direct transactions between providers and customers via a digital platform.

 

Unplugging: The act of disconnecting from electronic devices and digital platforms for a period to focus on offline life activities.

 

V

Vanlife: A lifestyle choice involving living in a van, which has been converted for full-time living and travel.

 

Virtual Assistant (VA): VAs are remote employees who manage administrative tasks for clients from a remote location. Digital nomads often work as virtual assistants or hire them to help manage their businesses while they focus on travel.

 

Virtual Office: A service that provides a business mailing address, telephone answering, and videoconferencing services without a dedicated office space.

 

Visa Run: Traveling from one country to another to renew a visa permit without returning to one’s home country.

 

VPN (Virtual Private Network): A service that encrypts your internet connection and hides your online identity. This makes it difficult for third parties to track your activities online and steal data. This is essential for digital nomads who are handling sensitive information or accessing the internet from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

 

W

Webinar: A seminar conducted over the internet.

 

Wi-Fi Booster: A device that enhances the strength and range of a Wi-Fi signal. This is useful for digital nomads who rely on strong, stable internet connections to work remotely.

 

Work From Anywhere (WFA): A working arrangement that allows employees to perform their duties from any location worldwide.

 

Work Permit: Official permission granted by a government to a foreigner that allows them to take a job within its borders.

 

Workation: A vacation that combines both work and leisure activities.

 

Worldschooling: Educating children through travel and exposing them to different cultures and environments.

 

Y

YOLO (You Only Live Once): A phrase used to express the idea that one should enjoy life, even if that entails taking risks.

 

YOYO (You’re On Your Own): Used to describe situations where individuals are given the freedom or burden to manage by themselves without support.

 

Z

Zone Busting: Breaking out of one’s customary routine or comfort zones, often in the context of travel or living arrangements.

 

Zone Hopping: Moving across different time zones frequently, often as a lifestyle or work style among global digital nomads.

 

Zoom Meeting: An online meeting conducted via Zoom, one of the leading video conferencing software apps. It has become synonymous with virtual business meetings, essential for nomads who need to communicate with clients and colleagues worldwide.

 

   

Did we miss any terms in this digital nomad glossary?

Sign up for Freedom Friday, the Discovery Sessions newsletter for more useful digital nomad resources. 

 

 

DIGITAL NOMAD RESOURCES

 

Want to become a digital nomad?

If you wish to start your own location-independent business, find a remote job, learn about special digital nomad visas, or dive head-first into the world of digital nomads, book a 1:1 session with me here and ask me anything.

 

Where can I take courses about location independence?

Skillshare is essentially an all-you-can-learn education platform. For a set monthly fee, you can watch every single class that your heart desires whether you want to know about travel hacks, digital businesses, or working online. Best of all, you can test it all out with a free trial. New members normally get seven days to try it out but with this link, you can quadruple that time, and quadruple the learning.

 

What is the best travel insurance for digital nomads?

Safety Wing is the ultimate made-for-nomads-by-nomads travel insurance provider. Protect yourself while in Panama with their flexible nomad insurance.

 

How can I find accommodation as a digital nomad?

There are great deals to be found for short and longer stays (of up to 30 days) anywhere in the world on Booking.com. You can search for accommodations and filter according to criteria like desks, air conditioning, private bathrooms, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

 

Where can I find useful travel resources for digital nomads?

You can find all my travel resources right here on this page. These will help you out whether you’re looking for the best flight search tools or digital sim cards. [/vc_cta]

Hi, I'm Rosie Bell, a location-independent writer, editor and lifestyle entrepreneur. If you want inspiration and support to live, travel and work anywhere, look no further. Let's talk right here.