With the advent of the pandemic, the travellers’ habits and priorities changed in every way. Much has been said about the impact the health crisis has had on tourism and how flexibility has become a priority for the traveler. As a result, it is not surprising to see that digital nomads are on the rise... and will continue to do so.
Since the start of Covid-19, the number of people combining work and travel using digital telecommunications technology has doubled in the United States. This 50% increase means that 10.2 million people fit in with this way of life, where responsibilities do not prevent them from enjoying a change of the landscape.
With this information in mind, the tourism sector will be able to better adapt its offer to the demands of those who feel that there are no longer barriers and that the remote has come to stay.
What Are Digital Nomads Like
The first thing we need to do is to understand what these people are like in general terms. A fairly large percentage decided to make the leap to remote work from different places in 2020. Approximately 20% of today's nomads are nomads as a result of what they experienced during the pandemic.
On top of that, 88% say that the decision to go nomadic has had a very positive impact on their lives. Perhaps this is why estimated 24 million Americans are expected to go nomad in the next 2 to 3 years.
What Is Their Demographic Profile
A demographic breakdown of these workers tells us that the majority of them (44%) are millennials. They are followed by Generation X digital nomads (23%), Generation Z (21%) and Baby Boomers (12%). The data is not surprising, as millennials are a working-age group, but perhaps less burdened with family responsibilities than older populations.
In fact, only 26% of working travelers have minor children. However, 59% of this percentage never travel with them. On the other hand, 61% are married. 31% of married nomads travel with their partner full time and 38% part-time.
With respect to gender, men are more likely than women (59% vs. 41%) to be digital nomads. The majority in both cases consider themselves to have progressive political views, 52% of men and 73% of women defining themselves that way.
What Do They Do for Living?
According to data, 71% of digital nomads are full-time workers. In addition, there is quite a split in who their bosses are: 36% are freelancers with multiple employers, 33% are business owners and 21% are permanent employees of a single company.
Sixty-four percent of these jobs require specialized training, education and/or experience. Perhaps this is why it is not so striking to discover that 72% of them have at least a bachelor's degree, while 33% have completed a master's degree.
As is to be expected, they are engaged in very diverse fields, although some predominate over the rest. Those involved in IT (19%), creative services (10%), education (9%), consulting or coaching (8%), sales and marketing (8%) and finance and accounting (8%) stand out.
Regardless of their occupation, about 77% use technology to gain a competitive advantage at work. In turn, most adopt it or are more likely to adopt it earlier than non-nomads.
Despite what we may believe, the majority (85%) are very satisfied with their work, they just have a more flexible approach, which allows them to enjoy moving from one place to another without the traditional constraints. Of course, their way of life does not mean that they work less, as they work an average of 46 hours a week.
What Types of Accommodation Do Digital Nomads Prefer?
As for the average salary of digital nomads, their monthly income is around 4,500 US dollars, which is equivalent to about 4,000 euros. There are some differences here, 21% earn less than 25,000 US dollars per year and 44% more than 75,000 US dollars per year. Regardless of salary, 79% say they are satisfied with what they receive.
With these salaries, they can afford to travel, although they only spend $211 on traveling, about $409 on food, and most of the expense goes to accommodation ($1,000). Once again, we can see what an opportunity this can be for the tourism sector.
Regarding the type of accommodation they prefer, 51% of the digital nomads said they prefer a hotel and 41% prefer to stay with friends or relatives, the rest prefer to stay in a rented apartment, a motorhome and hostels.
The reasons are that they pay attention to 5 factors: reliable internet, adequate space to work in, price, proximity to local attractions, and a quiet room for meetings.
What Are the Most Popular Destinations?
Based on a recent study, the key countries for digital nomads are Mexico and Colombia in the Americas, Portugal and Spain in Europe and Thailand and Indonesia in Asia. Of all of them, the latter is the most sought-after globally.
This represents a very interesting opportunity for tourist accommodations around the globe. Especially because digital nomads travel to an average of 3 or 4 countries per year. This is possible because stays tend to be short, while most nomads (65%) only travel while working between 1 and 3 months.
But what do they look for when making a decision? The main factor is the quality of the Internet connection. Then they value the good climate, the low cost of living, easy visas and the attractions of the destination.
With all this data, it is easy to get an idea of what digital nomads are like. However, it is also interesting to stop and think about what drives them to embrace this lifestyle. The main reasons are:
- To be able to travel constantly
- Experiencing different cultures
- Meeting the locals
- Visiting places with a lower cost of living.
- Having a simpler lifestyle.
- Meeting like-minded people
Nor can we ignore the fact that they face certain challenges. One of them is the problem of disconnecting from work, which harms the productivity of almost a third of digital nomads. In this line, they recognize that uncertainty and loneliness are other risks to take into account.
Similarly, they mention potential financial difficulties, because although more than half are saving for retirement, 65% are concerned about their future once they stop working. They also talk about the impossibility of effective collaboration or communication and the difficulty of maintaining motivation.
What Can We Expect in the Future?
Having seen all this, one can only wonder what the future holds for these workers. Considering that the percentage continues to grow, it is easy to imagine that it will become even more important in the years to come.
For example, the number of reviews on portals such as Airbnb that mention remote working has tripled. That's why it's important to pay attention to the main trends to know how to take advantage of them.
In that sense, it is striking that the percentage of self-employed nomadic workers grew by 15% or that the share of millennials and generation Z rose by two points each. This shows that this profile is getting younger, as at the same time the share of Baby Boomers has dropped, probably due to health-related concerns.
Despite the pandemic, half of Americans (54%) plan to continue the nomadic lifestyle for at least the next two years. In the case of independent contractors, that figure rises to 69%. Add to that the people who will be joining the lifestyle, and it looks like we'll have digital nomads for a while.