Remote working has increased in popularity and is increasingly common. After the pandemic, many people realized the large changes in lifestyle that they were able to make. Living in the city to be close to work did not matter anymore, and many moved to the countryside while doing the same work. Some people took this further and embraced the digital nomad lifestyle, taking their remote work anywhere they wanted, as they traveled full-time or for long stretches of time. Maybe this applies to you.
If you have the courage to take action today, and the resolve to persevere, tomorrow’s world can be a vibrant place for you. You can change your life only through action, and the digital nomad lifestyle lets you choose where in the world your ‘office’ is on any particular day. It’s an exciting life full of opportunities, but you need to prepare well before embarking and make the right choices before you’re in a hard situation.
We have experience as digital nomads since before the pandemic which has helped us easily prepare when leaving the country. Here are some tips we’ve used in our years of traveling to help you prepare for any trip, whether long or short, that you might take in your digital nomad life.
1. Carry-on or Checked Baggage
You need to evaluate how you pack and be as honest as possible so that you can make the right choices. Look at your normal suitcase when you go on a trip. Is it bursting at the seams? Or can you get by with just the essentials and buy whatever else you require at your destination? When you’re away from home, the comforts you come to rely on will not always be available. You don’t have the same shops around the corner, and you don’t have your full wardrobe ready for any weather. This leads many people to bring checked baggage on all their trips so that they can pack for any eventuality.
For some, a large, high-quality backpack is preferable so that they can keep all their items with them on the plane. You avoid any checked baggage fees and waiting before taking off to check your baggage, and after landing to retrieve it. Another advantage is never having to worry about your luggage getting lost or delayed. However, there are some drawbacks to using a backpack.
Firstly, when you pack more, the weight is all carried on your back. A good travel backpack will provide some straps to help take the weight off your shoulders and put it onto your legs, but it can still be hard to walk around the airport with a heavy bag. Checked baggage means that weight is taken care of when you arrive at the airport. Secondly, your capacity is limited by overhead locker size and weight restrictions. These can be very limiting when traveling on small planes.
Another option to consider is a small suitcase that can be classified as a handheld. This can help you avoid the issue of carrying all the weight on your back, and small luggage usually comes in standard sizes that fit overhead lockers. You have to be careful about your airline’s allowances, however, as some do not allow 2 items of handheld luggage.
In the end, this is a choice you have to make according to your own needs. Depending on what you need and what is most valuable to you, you will have to make this choice.
2. Prepare for All Weather
Being ready for any kind of weather is a sign of a seasoned traveler. Make sure to research what kind of climate your destination has, depending upon the season and the current predictions. However, do not rely on this research entirely, as many countries can surprise you with a sudden change in temperature.
If your trip includes various countries or even different climates within a single country, make sure that you have appropriate clothing for all of these, or else ensure that you have a reliable way to access the correct clothing before leaving for your next destination. We recommend packing for the temperature you expect to spend the most time in, but don’t forget to prepare for other possibilities. Here are some items we would recommend packing for any trip:
Foldable Jacket: Find yourself a good, thin jacket that can be packed easily and taken everywhere. It should be light enough to wear in any climate while providing protection from the rain, wind, or even sun. Long-term travel usually means seeing different seasons in one place, so having something versatile always helps.
Swimming Costume: You never know when you might have the chance to swim, whether at the beach or a hotel pool, but you don’t want to be stuck without anything to wear for it.
Thin, Quick-dry towel: This is an essential item for any trips around water, but also helps make sure you’re prepared in case your accommodation does not provide towels.
Flip Flops: Our most recommended travel item, they work perfectly in hot weather, and are waterproof for any eventual pool or beachside time. Even without any water or hot weather around, they are perfect for wearing at home wherever you’re staying so you don’t have to go barefoot.
Make sure you’re prepared with your prescriptions for the length of time you will be away. Talk to your doctor about your travel plans, not only can they recommend any necessary vaccines for travel, but they can also provide you with refills for your drugs that may not be accessible overseas. If you plan on leaving for an extended period of time, ask your doctor what alternatives you might be able to find in other countries, but be aware of costs, most insurance companies will not include coverage internationally.
Some important items for basic care are ibuprofen, antacids, cold medicine, and acetaminophen. You will likely have access to these items wherever you are, but being able to quickly access them when necessary can be essential. When feeling unwell, you won’t want to go searching a foreign country’s drugstore. Always keep travel-sized quantities of these essentials.
4. Outlet/Appliance Compatibility
Most countries in the Americas and Japan use a lower voltage around 100-130 V, whereas other countries use higher voltages from 200-240 V. Having an outlet adapter is not always sufficient, depending upon the appliance you wish to use. Make sure you research the voltage requirements of the items you have with you, to avoid carrying around a heavy electric brick that serves you no purpose.
Take particular care when it comes to high-powered appliances such as hairdryers or curling irons. Some of these items have dual voltage capabilities, often with a switch that allows you to go between 110 V and 220 V. Make sure to consider any item you wish to plug in such as your phone or laptop charger, razor, or electric toothbrush. If you are not careful you may damage your items or even trip a fuse.
Having your money in a domestic bank is of no use if you can’t access it abroad. Find a bank that offers a debit card that lets you refund your international ATM fees. This will let you withdraw cash which can be useful in many countries when cards are not accepted. Many services such as taxis may not accept your card, so you don’t want to be stuck without any way to pay.
Wherever cards are accepted, make sure you have credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. You don’t want to be charged an extra 3% on every purchase you make. If you look carefully there are many cards that have no annual fee or foreign transaction fees and can provide some benefits while traveling too.
There are four main credit card networks; Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted internationally so make sure you have at least one of these cards with you. American Express is accepted at many places, but Discover is still not widely established worldwide. Visa and MasterCard have different cards that include benefits for traveling including travel insurance or concierge services.
If you want more benefits from traveling, invest in a premium travel credit card. These usually charge a high annual fee but give you a whole range of rewards that benefit frequent travelers. These include earning miles, lounge access, or airline partnerships.
Many debit and credit card issuers require you to announce any travel plans you may have beforehand, otherwise, your cards may get blocked when trying to perform a transaction so make sure to inform them of your plans.
6. Travel Insurance
Travel insurance can be a lifesaver, and finding a good long-term one may be the best thing you can do for your travel. Good international medical insurance will be hard to find but worth it so that you can feel safe while traveling. Be aware of limits imposed upon your time outside of the country. Even the insurance provided by premium travel cards often has limits on your days out of the country. Travel insurance can be purchased separately, but make sure to check the benefits of your credit cards, which may offer insurance on your travel if you pay the whole sum on your credit card. This can include protection against any accidents that may befall you, your family, or your luggage during travel.
Now you should be better prepared for a life of long-term travel, whether you intend to live entirely as a digital nomad, or just want to return home occasionally. If you follow these six tips, you will be able to avoid some of the worst pitfalls of the lifestyle.