Location-independent digital nomads run the gamut from people who sneak off to Starbucks to get some focused work done to hard-core adventure travelers who sell their house, leave the country and travel the world for years. In between, there are all kinds of people and reasons to take advantage of the flexible-work opportunities that mobile devices, social networks and the Internet make possible. Here's my best attempt at the creation of a meaningful taxonomy of digital nomads.
Some people just enjoy living in, not just visiting, foreign countries. I did this myself last year, when my wife and I "emigrated" to Greece for four months. We lived in an apartment in Athens, shopped at the local grocery store, participated in Easter celebrations and generally became temporary Greeks.
Seasonal escape artist
Sometimes it's just too darn cold in winter, or too hot in summer where you normally live. Some location independent professionals can simple migrate twice per year, like geese.
Long-term business traveler
Some business travelers hit the road because the home office is in another country, or because they work on year-long projects. If you can bring your significant other and children if you've got them, it turns lonely business travel into a life-changing family adventure.
Working on a book? Research travel might be for you. Our trip to Greece alluded to earlier functioned as a research trip for my wife to study the Mediterranean diet for an upcoming book.
Full-time adventure traveler
Maybe you just love to travel. Once you've arranged an extreme telecommuting career, you're now free to travel the world constantly, staying for weeks or months in each location, then moving on when horizons beckon.
Off season opportunist
One cool technique is to choose a temporary seasonal home someplace where it's "off season." For example, rent a ski chalet in the summer, or a beach house in the Winter. Costs for airfare, hotels, food and more drop to a fraction of what they are in the busy season.
It's possible to live in a mobile home that's truly mobile — as in an RV. Most RV parks have electrical hookups, and many have Wi-Fi. Tow a car, and you can always find a place to connect and work.
Social media experts, book authors and others benefit greatly by being everywhere — tradeshows and other events, and on promotional tours. The digital nomad lifestyle lets you spend all your time on the road while benefiting from the power of ubiquitous face-to-face connections.
Coffee-house cubicle worker
Some people like working in public spaces as an alternative to a home office or cubicle. Most of us to this at least some of the time. But others might do this more or less full time.
Traveling tour guide
My next-door neighbor has an interesting job. He guides adventure travelers on wild trips far away from civilization — deep into the Alaskan wilderness, for example.
Others lead tours of Americans to foreign countries. Tools of the digital nomad lifestyle help you run the business as if you were back home, even while you lead the tours.
Schools aren't the only place to learn, and home isn't the only place with schools. My own son wanted to augment his Arabic-language study at university, so he spend last summer in Cairo, Egypt, studying the language at an Egyptian-run program.
There is literally a world of educational opportunities out there, especially for foreign language training.
I first learned about the digital nomad lifestyle when I lived in Silicon Valley during the last bubble-burst. With VC funding limited, some startups were dispensing with needless baggage — like offices, for example. Entire companies are sometimes founded, staffed and run from public coffee joints.
That's a start. Can you think of other types of location independent digital nomads that I missed? Let's hear your ideas.