Learn how to work and see the world the way digital nomads do – and figure out if it’s something you could do.
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Digital nomads have it easy – that’s at least what most people think – but is it really so? Find out what you need to do to work from anywhere and see the world while you’re at it.
Angela Ash is an expert content writer and editor, and she works with Flow SEO. She writes on a multitude of topics but places a special importance on SEO, productivity, motivation, time management and wellness.
The truth is that being a digital nomad can be rewarding, but it takes lots of hard work, discipline and mental agility. For starters, novice digital nomads often make the mistake of not planning enough.
Traveling the world is fun, but it’s costly and unpredictable, nonetheless. So, it pays to be prepared.
Let’s see which things you should keep in mind in order to transition to the digital nomad lifestyle more seamlessly.
Digital nomads plan before relocating
So, you’ve decided to join the ranks of digital nomads around the world. You’re going to work from anywhere and see what’s out there (current global situation notwithstanding).
You’re ready. What’s your first step?
Gather All the Necessary Paperwork
Obviously, you won’t be able to reach even your first destination without acquiring the necessary paperwork, but there are additional documents you might wish to obtain.
Your birth certificate, for example, may not be required by the target country’s embassy, but you may need it anyway, should you decide that you enjoy the high life and that you’re going to settle abroad.
Make plenty of copies and keep them handy. Also, make certain to leave additional copies with a family member or a friend back at home. While you’re at it, you should also set forwarding for your snail mail, to make sure no delivery goes missing while you’re away.
As for the paperwork you’ll need, make sure to check visa requirements. On that note, you should also renew your passport if its validity is less than one year, just in case.
Coming back before it expires would be too expensive (not to mention – reckless), and doing it from abroad is all but impossible. Plus, you might be denied entry in some cases so better safe than sorry.
If you’re planning to travel to EU countries, check out the EU travel laws, which may specify some additional documents.
Finally, in some countries you’ll discover that renting a car is cheaper than other means of transportation (of course, this depends on your needs), so it’s also recommended to obtain an International Driving License, where applicable.
Contact a Bank Agent
First, when planning to go abroad, you should do your research about debit and credit cards. The majority of cards you use in the U.S. will have foreign transaction fees, which can reach up to 5% per transaction.
It’s a huge expense (mildly put) and a necessary one. So, you’ll need to find a suitable card with no foreign transaction fees.
Second, let your bank know that you’ll be outside the country for a while. Cancel all cards you may not need and keep an eye on your obligations. You may want to change your deal after all.
Lastly, it’s an absolute must to keep a stash of money. You’ll be living abroad, without a relative or close friends (at least initially) to help you if something goes amiss, so have a care.
Taxes Won’t Disappear Just Because You’re Away
Another thing to keep in mind is taxes. Not sexy but there it is.
Regardless of your place of residence, you’re still due to pay federal and state taxes. In addition, there are taxes of your country of residence to factor in, so be very very careful with them.
It’s highly recommended to look up the expat community when arriving, as these people can help you learn the ropes faster.
Some digital nomads also hire a professional for this purpose, whose services in some countries aren’t costly.
Stock up On the Products You Need and Won’t Be Able to Buy Abroad
This is one thing that many novice digital nomads tend to overlook. True, it won’t make your life abroad impossible, but it may make it more expensive, especially if you fail to find a satisfactory replacement once abroad.
Many digital nomads restock when visiting home, so don’t overdo it. Make a list of necessities and go shopping prior to your trip.
Choose wisely. You might want to look at prices of items you need but don’t expire and compare how much it will cost you to get a replacement in your target country. If it’s too expensive, bring some to spare when you go.
Cancel the Subscriptions You Won’t Need
Not all subscriptions need necessarily be cancelled (e.g., Netflix), but gym memberships and magazine subscriptions are a complete waste of money if you’re not at home.
To make sure you won’t overlook anything, make a list and double-check it. Choose the subscriptions you won’t need while abroad and cancel them.
Further out, don’t forget to cancel your phone plan. Paying for roaming services is never a good idea, especially since there are numerous online communication tools. It’s always recommended to either get a local phone plan once you settle or obtain a local SIM card.
Find the Best Insurance Plan
If you’re planning to relocate for a while, you should familiarize yourself with the types and costs of insurance you can get. Obviously, you’ll need a health insurance policy (in fact, this is usually required before you’re even allowed to enter the country) but, depending on your needs, you may also need additional coverage.
As for your insurance policy back home (if any), calculate the option that you think would be best. There’s really no one-size-fits-all solution in this matter.
Digital nomads also plan after relocating
Unfortunately, real life is nothing like the movies. You can’t just waltz off into the sunset and every single day afterwards is your happy-ever-after.
Life goes on and if you don’t plan for these, you might find yourself watching your fairytale story go down the drain. Nobody wants to live a nightmare, especially in a foreign country.
So, what do you do?
Plan Well Ahead
Novice digital nomads often imagine once they arrive at their first destination, their long holiday is just about to begin. Get rid of this misconception instantly!
Yes, you’ll have the chance to travel but don’t forget that you’ll actually be working while you’re there, continuing your education and broadening your horizons.
You’ll need to keep in mind that simply traveling from one place to another in a matter of days or weeks simply isn’t sustainable. Most digital nomads establish a base in one place, get to know the expat community, set up a business or find reliable clients/partners and work their way up from there.
But just because digital nomads set a routine doesn’t mean you have to focus on the 9-5. You’re there because you wanted to go beyond the 9-5, right?
So, forget about your 9-5 habits. Digital nomads do irregular shifts, depending on the projects that come up.
Also, lower your standards of living in the beginning. Rather than spending money on expensive restaurants and accommodation, save some money for future travels.
Meet the Expats and the Locals
No matter how well-informed you are, there’s always a tip to learn from people who have lived in the country you just moved to far longer than you.
Look up the local expat community on social media platforms and get in touch. They’ll teach you how to adapt faster and recommend services and places that are good and affordable.
Also, get to know the locals. On top of them being potentially helpful, they’re also your new neighbors. There’s no point in sitting in a foreign country without really experiencing it, is there?
Digital nomads final tips
The digital nomad lifestyle is thrilling and fun, but it can also be difficult, especially at first. While there’s no template for everyone out there, it’s certainly recommended to keep a stash of money, find reliable contacts, lower your standards of living in the beginning, and learn on the go.
Last but not least – enjoy yourself. The whole point of digital nomadism is expanding the views!