There are many benefits to being a digital nomad. You can escape from the drudgery and routine of traveling to the same place every day for work. Once you’ve untethered yourself from your home and become location independent, as soon as one place bores you, you’re free to move on to another place. Taking that first step, however, requires some planning. If you’ve decided to take the plunge and become a location-independent digital nomad, here are seven steps you need to take before leaving your home country.
- Change your address
As a digital nomad, you likely won’t have a fixed permanent address. This is an important point for reasons you might not have previously thought about. For example, what happens if you lose your bank card while overseas? Most banks will require that a new card is mailed to the address they have on file for you.
It therefore makes sense to update your address to that of a close friend or family member. Beyond that, you could look into setting up a postal box service. You might be also interested in this new campaign: Mastercardpromotion. Whichever solution you opt for, it’s important to update any services that are registered to your old address.
- Get insured
Comprehensive travel insurance is relatively cheap, especially compared to the huge costs you may incur if you fall ill overseas. You can insure your possessions as well as your health, which might be a good idea if you’re moving around a lot.
It’s important to get the right kind of insurance. For digital nomads, this will typically be insurance that can be extended from outside your home country and has no minimum requirement on time that must be spent at home each year.
- Choose the right banking setup
There are a few things to think about when choosing the right bank account and cards for a location-independent lifestyle. You should check whether your bank and card company charge you for overseas withdrawals and payments. The costs for this can be stunningly high with some banks and cards, while others don’t even offer this service.
It’s important to have online banking, as this is the most practical way of monitoring your finances wherever you are in the world. You should also inform your bank that you’ll be going overseas, as many banks will block overseas transactions if they think your card may have been lost or stolen.
- Prepare your phone
As with all reoccurring payments, new digital nomads should cut their phone contract off before they leave. You should then ensure that your handset is unlocked, so that it will be possible to replace the sim card and obtain prepaid service in your destination country.
You should also consider setting up a Skype number. This will give you a permanent phone number that you can be reached on anywhere in the world. Many services require a phone number, so a Skype number is a solution for digital nomads whose number may change from country to country.
- Get rid of your stuff
If you have items you can’t bring with you, it may be tempting to keep them in storage. Unless they are especially valuable or important to you, however, this is most likely a waste of money. If you’re planning to become a long-term digital nomad, it’s best to get rid of unneeded possessions at the outset.
Anything of worth can be easily sold online, with Craigslist and eBay being the most popular options for offloading unwanted stuff. Giving stuff away is better than being stuck with it. Depending on where you live, there may be Facebook group dedicated to clearing out unwanted things in your area. If you have anything left over, you can take it to a Goodwill or charity store.
- Get an international driver’s license
If you’re planning to rely on public transport in your destination country, you can skip this part, but if you plan on driving, you’ll need to get a new kind of license. Your home country’s license may only be valid for a limited period overseas, if at all. To avoid fines or even prosecution, you should bring an international driver’s license with you.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to take another driving test. Switching from your home country’s driver’s license to an international license is usually a simple process, but it can take some time, so it’s important to start sorting this out as soon as you commit to going location independent.
- Plan around visa regulations
This may seem obvious to seasoned travelers, but visa regulations can often be bewilderingly complex. For example, tourists from most countries can visit some major Chinese cities for up to three days without a visa, provided they are stopping off on their way to a third country. This means an American could stay in Beijing for three days before flying on to Tokyo, but would be refused entry if they were returning directly from Beijing to another city in the USA, or if they were flying to a smaller Chinese city not covered by this visa exemption.
The above example is just one of the thousands of complex visa rules observed by countries around the world. As a location-independent digital nomad, it’s essential you research the visa rules for your destination country before leaving. If you’re working for an outside employer, you may be able to work in most countries on a tourist visa. But if you make a mistake with visa regulations, you might experience the inside of a foreign jail cell!
These seven steps are essential to a successful start in life as a digital nomad. Being location independent offers an amazing sense of freedom, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you’ll be free of all responsibility.