The Tools You Need to Become a Digital Nomad


From 2010 through 2011, for 14 months, journalist and social media celebrity Julia Allison didn’t have a home. During that time she bounced from city to city traveling with just her suitcase, laptop, and iPhone.

What tools would you use if you were a “digital nomad?” Do you even want to be one? Let us know in the comment section below.  

Allison became a famous digital nomad by working her social network as much as possible to couch surf at friends’ places and friends’ of friends’ places. She admits that she spent little to no money on housing and instead spent most of her money on airfare to afford her digital nomadic lifestyle. The details of which are supposed to be played out on the site Zen Digital Nomad, but the site is currently devoid of content.

I asked Allison what technologies she relied on to be able to pull off her high-tech homelessness. Here’s a list of her favorite tools:

  • Yelp: Anywhere you go you can be a native of that city.
  • Kayak: Booked all her flights.
  • Padmapper: Used it to find longer term places to stay. The site takes Craigslist listings and integrates them onto a map so you can isolate locations by just a few blocks.
  • Facebook City Search: She would search friends in specific cities and work their networks to find places to stay.

Allison wasn’t concerned about her safety. She claims she’s a combination of an “adventurist” and idiot who maybe should be more scared, but simply isn’t. It’s been in her nature to take risks with herself and her career.

7 Responses to “The Tools You Need to Become a Digital Nomad”

  1. As you pointed out, her site is content-less so what was she doing with her time? Working? Finding places to crash? Travelling? I should think a digital-nomad would have blogged her big adventure on a regular basis.

  2. That blog appeared to be something published after the fact (just recently actually), to brand the whole concept of the digital nomad. Julia is no longer doing it now. Julia has a lot of visibility online and I’m sure you tweeted plenty about her experience. I don’t know if she saw it as something to write about specifically or just a lifestyle to lead at the time.

  3. Steve Titterton

    David, do you think a journalist has an obligation to do some background checking or fact checking when posting an interview like this? Just ten minutes of time on the internet would have demonstrated that every single thing Ms. Allison references here is a lie. Its not that she embellished, which we all do from time to time. She has created a 100% false narrative backed by 100% lies. Her own blogging site and tweets alone would have shown you what she was doing during her “nomadic period” and you would have seen that that none of this is even close to true.

    Ms. Allison’s years of lying and grifting is unimportant in the big picture. But things like this chip away at the integrity of the journalism professionalism. At some point, people can no longer place any faith in anything they read or see, knowing that anyone, anywhere can craft any false narrative they want and inject it with made up “facts.”

    I’m admittedly new to Dice. Is this what what it was founded to do?

    • Steve Titterton

      Let me add, that if the answer is that yes, and if you’re role is more that of a consultant/PR professional, i suggest you lose the reference to “journalist” in your bio, or at least make it clear you are no longer engaging in that pursuit.

      As a “veteran journalist,” I’m sure you recognize the importance of making that distinction.

      • Steve, after 16 years in the business and actually now more than 40 media outlets in print, radio, TV, and online I will continue to call myself a journalist. Much of my work I refer to as brand journalism. If you don’t want me to call me a journalist, that’s your choice.

        Julia Allison is a known controversial figure and there are many people who love to hate her.

        As for the facts in this article, the only thing that you can dispute is the 14 months that Julia Allison says she was a “digital nomad.” All that means is she didn’t have a permanent residence. Are you claiming that you have evidence that proves that she was not bouncing from city to city during that time and that she actually had a permanent residence? If you do, I would love to see it and I will happily make the correction and cite you in it as well.

        The rest of the information in the article is advice and I thought it was good so that’s why included it in the article and kept her video as well.

      • Steve Titterton

        Well Dave, it seems like the one fact you concede I could dispute is the entire premise of the article and interview. Ms. Allison was never a “digital nomad.” She had no less than two “permanent residences,” as she referenced hundreds of time during the period in question. And the travel she did, by her own explanations, were nothing like what she or you have described. Second, the site she and you reference never existed as anything more than a place holder to allow her to speak at SXSW. Finally, the tools she references? She, according to her own tweets and blog entries, never used any of them. Not one. So what else do I need to dispute? There isn’t a single true thing in that article. Nothing.

        But this isn’t about Julia Allison. Its about what you consider “journalism.” None of what you’ve reported is true. None of it. So it takes me back to my original question, which is does a journalist have any obligation to do even the most cursory level of fact checking before presenting something as fact or providing someone a platform to speak on a field in which they have no experience? Irrespective of this piece or Ms. Allison, what do you think?

      • Steve:

        I’m sorry, the only fact in question in this short article/video for which I’m trying to understand why you’re getting so upset about is that she was a digital nomad. The site in question was published after the interview and the she and another woman said they were going to add content to it. I can’t force them to do actually do that.

        If you can prove to me that she only had one residence (two or more will make her a nomad) during the time in question then I will happily amend this article and cite you as a reference for correcting me. Everything else in this article is Julia Allison’s opinion. She’s not required to blog about tools and services she uses during that time.