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How the startup world is bringing digital nomadism closer to reality

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Traveling the globe used to be relegated to gap years and retirement fantasies, but thanks to tech innovation and some forward-thinking startups, you can now see the world while you take the professional realm by storm.

Digital nomads are free-spirited freelance and tech workers who need little more than an internet connection and a passport. They’ve taken the concept of remote work out of the home office and made the big, wide world their workplace.

With half of the American workforce spending some time each week working remotely, it’s only a matter of time before they jump on the digital nomad bandwagon. What was once a dream is now a very tangible reality — and these groundbreaking startups are making it easier than ever to climb the career ladder while trotting the globe.

A place to rest your head

One of the biggest hurdles to traveling the world is finding a place to stay that is affordable and meets your workspace needs. Fortunately, there are several startups working to cover the digital nomad’s lodging needs.

Nomad House is one of the co-living spaces facilitating the digital nomad lifestyle. The housing network matches digital nomads with co-living arrangements that are safe, comfortable and equipped with all the amenities a traveling worker needs. The company’s 10-day retreats offer an option for potential digital nomads to get their feet wet before jumping right into the lifestyle.

Nomad House was founded in 2015. The company is headquartered in Montreal, Canada. Funding and employment information has yet to be publicly disclosed; reports show minimal growth from August 2015 to present.

Roam is another digitally minded collection of communal living spaces that make working from anywhere in the world possible. The company was founded in 2015 and has since raised $3 million in funding. Travelers sign one lease with Roam and gain access to a number of fully equipped houses worldwide. Roam ensures a private room, a bathroom, a “battle-tested” Wi-Fi connection and a vibrant community of like-minded people with whom to engage.

Most digital nomads still have ties to a permanent office or residence.

The commitment that goes along with signing an actual lease with Roam means its customers can fully emerge themselves in the digital nomad lifestyle after signing up.

WeWork is also getting into this sector in a big way. The service provides access to working spaces around the world with your WeWork membership. Depending on the amount of space you need, you can rent out a “hot desk,” a dedicated desk or a private office. This is perfect for remote workers and remote teams looking to stay connected during regular trips outside of the country or maintain daily operations while traveling to meet with international teams.

The company was founded in 2010 and has raised $1 billion in total funding. WeWork has hired 1,243 employees, and reports show major growth taking place at the startup since in March 2016.

While a hotel room — or even an Airbnb setup — can cost upwards of $100 per night, these nomadic startups are designed to make sure travel isn’t cost-prohibitive. Roam offers co-living arrangements for around $500 per week. Nomad House also offers 10-day retreats at around $550. Nomad House, Roam and WeWork also offer long- and short-term rentals that let workers spend anywhere from two nights to two months in their location of choice.

A way to stay connected

One drawback of working from anywhere is that it’s harder for the office or your needy client to get ahold of you when you’re halfway around the world. Many remote workers need to keep close connections and respond in real time to requests or crises. YouRoam is a mobile app created in 2013 that lets you make and receive calls no matter where you are. Best of all, YouRoam makes all those international calls virtually free.

You don’t need to change your number, rely on a signal from your carrier or pay astronomical roaming charges. YouRoam lets you call and text anyone anywhere using Wi-Fi and 3G. The app is currently set up for call-forwarding in 36 countries, but users can still reach out to someone in countries without call-forwarding; it will just count against plan minutes.

The company hasn’t disclosed funding information and shows a slow growth pattern in reports, but has certainly created a buzz in the startup sphere.

The digital nomad lifestyle is now even more attainable.

If instant messaging is more your thing, Telegram lets you connect and collaborate no matter where you are. This messaging startup uses the cloud to help you communicate safely, securely and quickly. Messages are encrypted and can be set to self-destruct, which means your trade secrets will be protected even when you’re working on public Wi-Fi in a cafe in Paris.

Telegram was founded in 2013. The company has decided not to disclose funding information and has showed signs of exceptionally high growth in the past year.

A link to the life you left behind

Most digital nomads still have ties to a permanent office or residence, but managing the daily details of life is hard when you’re on a different continent. Thankfully, startups like Earth Class Mail and World Time Buddy (WTB) have created an app for that.

No matter how electronic we go, plenty of things are still delivered via snail mail every day. Earth Class Mail is a mail scanning service that will digitally deliver letters and other mail to you and follow your instructions about what to keep, what to recycle and what to destroy. Whether you receive mail at your home or the office, Earth Class Mail will take care of it for you — and you never need to worry about missing something important while you travel.

The company was founded in 2004 and currently employees a staff of 32. To date, Earth Class Mail has received $21 million in funding.

One of the trickiest things about travel is dealing with different time zones. WTB is a world clock converter and meeting scheduler that lets you schedule personal and professional events at a glance over multiple time zones. With a number of useful features, like Google Calendar integration, WTB is a great newer tool for working away from home.

WTB has not disclosed funding information. According to reports, growth took a dive around November 2015, but shot back up in December 2015, and has maintained steady growth through 2016.

As remote work continues to grow and more people refuse to compromise lifestyle for professional success, the digital nomad lifestyle is now even more attainable. If you’ve ever dreamed of leaving the cubicle behind and hitting the road, these startups provide the insider help you need to make it happen.

Funding, growth and employee data provided by Mattermark.

Featured Image: Paul McGee/Getty Images