Are you joining the digital nomad revolution? First of all, congratulations! You have made a life-changing decision and one that will be as rewarding as it is challenging (in a good way!) When you are switching lifestyles from having a home to traveling and working remotely, you have some preparation to do. Luckily, we are experts in this area and offer you this wonderful guide.
You don’t want to get caught with your pants down (metaphorically speaking) and being unprepared for this next chapter in your life, so use this handy dandy checklist and you’ll be more than ready for your new adventures abroad.
Wrapping Up Stuff at Home
You never really know how much crap you have until you have to move or downsize. This is the perfect opportunity to take stock of all those needless material possessions (yes, that even means saying ‘adios’ to your obscure collection of refrigerator magnets.)
If you will be traveling for months or years on end and you don’t want to give up your house or apartment, consider renting it out, or listing it with a vacation rental service (Vrbo or Airbnb, just to name a couple). Have a big garage sale to get rid of furniture and other household items you no longer want or need.
Then there’s what to do with all your belongings that for some reason you cannot part with?
· Put it in storage
· Give it to a trusted friend or family member
When you’re on the road, minimalism is crucial when packing. But we’ll get to that later.
Take a hard look at your bills. What goods and services do you need to cancel or postpone? Memberships? Think Netflix, gym memberships, etc. What about your mail? If you still receive snail mail from the post office, arrange to put it on hold or have it forwarded to someone who is willing to receive it and send you the important stuff on the road.
The All-Important Paperwork (Yawn-worthy, yet Necessary)
Make sure your passport has at least two years left on it before it expires. Many countries require this. If you have not yet planned in some detail which countries you will be visiting, do so now! And make sure you have enough pages in your passport for all of the visas and stamps. If you plan on doing a lot of country-hopping, consider getting a 52-page passport.
If you go hog wild on your trip and find yourself running out visa pages or passport validity, you can renew your passport in your home country’s embassy or consulate while you’re abroad. Just remember that this may take longer, so be prepared. Speaking of visas…
Don’t forget to check the visa requirements of your destinations. Do this before you leave home! Remember that “getting caught with your pants down” reference? Yeah, it applies here. A great online resource is iVisa. U.S. and Canadian citizens can enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival options to most of the countries WiFi Artist members visit. We also offer free consulting on visa requirements, as well. And always keep track of how much time you have left on your visa. It’s easier to forget than you realize. You don’t want to be at the departing airport only for officials to inform you that you’ve overstayed your welcome – you may end up like Tom Hanks in The Terminal.
These days, many countries will require proof that you’ve been vaccinated. You can check this website to find out if your destination(s) require any mandatory vaccinations.
Golden Rule: Make copies of ALL travel documents, and keep them in a safe place while you’re traveling. When you’re going through customs, be prepared to give information about lodging, future travel, etc. if passport officials ask for this information. Because they can certainly keep you in a holding pattern if you don’t.
As far as finances are concerned, make sure you get an international debit and/or credit card; one that does not charge any international fees. There are lots of travel credit cards out there, really good ones. Research which one is best for you. Always travel with more than one card, so you have a back-up. And NEVER keep your cards together. Keep one in your wallet, another in a bag or backpack (in a secret place). And notify your bank that you will be traveling abroad.
In every country you go to, be sure to carry around a small amount of the local currency in case you make purchases in places that do not take credit cards.
As a digital nomad, when you earn a living away from your home country, there are things to consider. Check with your country of residence about their tax laws; you may be looking at a tax savings if you are out of the country for a significant period of time. Regardless, be sure everything is on the up and up and you won’t get caught with tax evasion! Check with a tax professional or your accountant, if necessary. A good one is Troy Accounting, which is a trusted partner of WiFi Artists. Hit them up for additional information!
Make Sure You’re in Tip Top Shape
Have your annual doctor’s, dentist, and optometrist appointments, and any other regular checkups under your belt so you don’t have to worry about it for at least a year. Get all of your shots up-to-date – this requires checking which vaccinations you will need for the countries you plan to visit.
Get Long-Term Medical Travel Insurance
It doesn’t matter if you’re as heathy as a shiny 20-year-old. Chances are you won’t need travel insurance, but look what 2020 taught all of us? What if you get injured or sick through no fault of your own? Having travel health insurance can literally mean life or death, and it doesn’t cost that much. Coverage can also help you with things like auto accidents, lost luggage, pickpocketing (hello, Rome!), falling off a horseback ride, or any sort of bad luck. WiFi Artists works with an amazing travel insurance company, so we can help you out in that area.
As Nike says, just do it.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
While you’re out there in the world living the jet-set life (and why shouldn’t you?); get peace of mind knowing you are covered in the event something goes awry. Having travel insurance is just one aspect. You will also want to have contact information of your local embassy, no matter where in the world you are. Keep the info on your phone AND write it down and keep it close to you. Also, have at least one friend or family member (preferably 2-3) know where you are at all times. When you join WiFi Artists for your travels, you will have a team leader assigned to your group who will be with you every day. Go to our FAQ page for more details!
This is especially helpful if you are traveling in certain countries where bribing officials is not uncommon. Not to say you will ever fall victim to a bribe, but having consulate back up is key. Register with your local embassy while you are in the country and let them know you are there. TripWhistle is a great app to have on your phone. It maps your location and lets you send GPS coordinates to interested parties. It also gives you emergency numbers for local police, the fire department, and medical services in over 200 countries.
It Can Be Lonely Out There on the Road
Speaking of emergency friend/family member contacts, be sure to stay grounded by keeping in touch with loved ones on the regular. It does wonders for your outlook, even if you are traveling the world with others. Everyone needs some sort of anchor, and often times this means calling home. Be sure to do it often. Having said that, when you travel with WiFi Artists, you are traveling with a community of like-minded people. While you may miss your family and close friends, you will never be lonely with WiFi Artists.
Make sure your cell phone situation is covered for international travel. Contact your cell carrier to find out what their policies are. Many carriers these days have great international plans you can take advantage of. Google Fi is a good one.
Other travelers simply purchase a SIM card at their destination, and then pop it into their phone. And hey! We can provide you with local SIM cards, as well. If you go this route, make sure your phone is unlocked and able to take international SIM cards. And if you will not be using your local cell phone plan while traveling abroad, be sure to cancel it to avoid being charged another monthly fee you won’t be using.
Your Digital Nomad Packing List
If you are a light packer, you’ve already discovered the holy grail of traveling. The less stuff you have to lug around, the better. And if you haven’t quite got there yet – you will be surprised at how little you can get by on.
Backpackers know how to do it. Typically, they have their main larger backpack, their work backpack and a smaller, lighter backpack for day trips. The latter should easily fit into the big one when empty.
The basic rule of thumb is; if you have to stop to think about if you need it, you don’t. If you do find you need something on the road, just buy it. If you are a long-term traveler, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re at. Here’s your packing essentials:
A good roller suitcase for hauling your stuff in between destinations
Reusable water bottle with filter
First aid kit: with band aids, antibacterial ointment, stomach illness tablets, ibuprofen or Tylenol, and any other must-haves you use on a daily basis
Any prescription medications you have, of course! Also, be sure you have enough of your medications on hand, or have a plan for refilling your prescription during your travels
Hand sanitizer and a roll of good toilet paper
Small flashlight (your phone is also good for this)
A good travel adapter (many universal ones are questionable, so get one that is high-quality)
Ear plugs and eye mask if you are a light sleeper
Portable charger for all of your devices
A good ol’ fashioned journal or notebook, and pens/pencils
Protein bars or other healthy snack of choice – ya never know when you are going to be on that long bus ride that never seems to stop
A compact light jacket that you can roll up tightly
Thread and needle to mend that inevitable rip in your clothing
The digital nomad will also have their do-or-die laptop. Make sure you have all of the cords, and international adapter cords and chargers. Take a backup cord and charger for all of your devices. As part of the WiFi Artists program, you will have access to our arsenal of technology (laptops, chargers, adapters, etc.) so if you need a temporary replacement, just ask.
And unless you are traveling to outer Mongolia or the outback somewhere, know that you can get most anything you need on the road.
The Bottom Line
Yes, this may seem like A LOT of preparation. But trust us, it is well worth the effort. Then you can depart on the trip of a lifetime (dare we say, for a lifetime?) with no worries. Sure, there may be the occasional hiccup on the road; that’s the beauty of nomadic travel, but at least you will be well-prepared beforehand.