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Working and Traveling the World: 9 Tips for Aspiring Digital Nomads

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According to recent predictions by Ladders, 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by 2025. As it becomes easier than ever to work from anywhere, many Americans may be inspired to try the digital nomad lifestyle on for size. If you're interested in becoming a digital nomad, here are nine things you’ll want to keep in mind.

In This Article:
  1. Find a Consistent Source of Income 
  2. Decide What to Do With Your Belongings
  3. Figure Out Which Bank to Use
  4. Purchase Travel Insurance
  5. Create a Contingency Plan in Case of an Emergency
  6. Make Sure You Have Access to Good WiFi 
  7. Figure Out Your Phone Plan
  8. Prepare for the Loneliness of Traveling 
  9. Be Patient With Yourself

1. Find a Consistent Source of Income 

It may be tempting to throw caution to the wind and quit your day job so you can travel freely around the world. But having a consistent source of income can reduce your day-to-day stress and allow you to afford nicer excursions and experiences along the way. With an increasing number of employers allowing employees to work remotely, you might be able to keep your current job. You can also look at sites like FlexJobs to find other remote-friendly alternatives or try to build up your own freelance business. If you’re working for a U.S.-based employer, you might want to travel to locations with similar time zones so you can be on any needed team and client calls.

2. Decide What to Do With Your Belongings

To avoid paying rent and travel costs at the same time, try to finish out your apartment lease before you embark on your journey. If you own your place, you might want to rent it out or look into home-sharing options like Airbnb. You can then move your belongings into a self-storage unit so that everything is safely stored in one location until you’re ready to come home.

3. Figure Out Which Bank to Use

It’s important to have ready access to your money when you’re traveling, so choosing the right bank is a prime decision. Many U.S.-based banks charge a fee when you use your credit card (or another bank’s ATM) internationally. These expenses can quickly add up, so it’s helpful to open an account at a bank that reimburses ATM fees. Many travelers use Charles Schwab because it offers unlimited worldwide ATM fee rebates. However, there are plenty of other banks that can also be a good fit for digital nomads, so do your research beforehand to figure out which bank is right for your needs. It’s also helpful to get a travel credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees so you can use it for day-to-day expenses.

4. Purchase Travel Insurance

From getting sick to having luggage stolen, there will inevitably be challenges and setbacks you have to deal with as a digital nomad. To ensure you have the most seamless and enjoyable experience possible, make sure to get travel insurance. This can cover many unexpected expenses, from hospital stays to missed flights. Having travel insurance can save you thousands of dollars in unexpected costs, and it will also provide some much-needed peace of mind.

Tip: Learn everything you need to do before you travel — down to the weeks, days and hours — by reading our blog post on pre-travel tips. You can also download our checklist here.

5. Create a Contingency Plan in Case of an Emergency

Whenever you go to a new country, look up the country code (the number you need to enter before dialing a local phone number). You’ll also want to look up emergency phone numbers and the closest police stations and hospitals in case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to give your family or a trusted friend back home the address of where you’re staying so they know where you are in case of an emergency. You can also sign up for your local embassy on the U.S. Department of State website, which will keep you informed of any volatile political situations or natural disasters.

6. Make Sure You Have Access to Good WiFi 

When you’re working remotely, it’s important to have access to good internet so you can complete your daily tasks without any issues. Whether that means booking accommodations with solid WiFi capabilities or going to a local Internet cafe, it’s essential to make sure that you have a strong connection when you’re trying to work internationally. You might also want to consider purchasing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) so you can easily log into U.S.-based websites and access steaming platforms like Hulu that might not be available in your current country. A VPN also enables you to work securely via data encryption, which is especially important if you’re in a public space like an airport or coffee shop. 

Tip: Want more travel accessories and gadgets to make traveling stress-free? Check out our guide on the 12 Best Travel Gadgets.

7. Figure Out Your Phone Plan

If you currently use a U.S. phone provider, look into getting a local SIM card with a prepaid data plan. A SIM card can give you access to data and local calling capabilities for a fraction of the cost that you would pay for an international plan. When you’re living and working internationally, it’s important to be able to access your data and make calls, without having to rely on local WiFi.

8. Prepare for the Loneliness of Traveling 

Living the digital nomad lifestyle looks fun from the outside, but it’s easy to feel lonely when you’re far away from your family and friends. Whether you miss spending time with your best friends on the weekends or wish you could sleep in your own bed for a night, it’s natural to feel a little disconnected when you’re far from home. Schedule regular check-ins with your loved ones to help you feel less isolated when you’re on the road. 

You might also want to work in places with a large digital nomad community, like Bali or Mexico. Look into digital nomad blogs and Facebook groups in your chosen destination so you can meet new friends there. You can also join a coworking or co-living space in your new country or city so you can meet other young professionals who are also working remotely. If you click with some of the people, consider going out to dinner or on weekend trips with them.

9. Be Patient With Yourself

The idea of being a digital nomad can sound glamorous and romantic, but the reality is that there will also be days when you feel frustrated or down in the dumps. Rather than expecting every day to be lifted from the pages of a bestselling travel memoir, it’s important to acknowledge that there will be good and bad parts of the trip, as with anything in life. 

If you go to a city and don’t feel an instant love connection, give yourself time to acclimate and try to go into the experience with an open mind. If some of your travel plans get canceled or fall through, be willing to roll with the punches instead of falling into despair. And remember that you can always go home again whenever it feels right.

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