Thursday August 14, 2014
Thinking of packing up your laptop and running your business from wherever you are in the world? After spending 6 months in South America this year as a digital nomad (3 in Ecuador and 3 in Peru), I have figured out a few things that worked, didn’t work and perhaps I could have done better.
Below is a list of 9 things you will want to address before you hit the road and say see you later to your old life (next week, I will have a ‘once you are there’ list on how to run your business digitally).
1. Get Travel Medical Insurance
Don’t leave home without it. You don’t want to break a leg, get an infection or literally fall off a cliff and not have medical insurance. Statistically, nothing major will probably happen to you, but you never know and having medical insurance for your trip will give you peace of mind.
Most insurers recommend at least $5Million in coverage in case something really goes wrong and you need planes, people by your side and/or serious surgeries. Personally, this wasn’t an area I was willing to ‘cut corners’ on to save money. Especially if your work is dependent on you actually working, as in you trade time for money, which a lot of digital nomads do. You want to know you’ll be safe and sound should something happen.
You can get medical insurance with a number of providers including your credit card companies, flight companies, etc. Check around for a good deal. I used Lonely Planets recommendation, World Nomads.
2. Check With Your Local Medical Care Provider
Here in Canada we have to let our provincial medicare know if we are going on any long-term vacations. I wrote into MCP (the Newfoundland medicare) and filled out special forms so that they would cover anything my expenses should something happen and my insurance didn’t cover it or it went above and beyond, etc. So, always let your current medical care provider know and find out what you have to do to ensure you are covered.
3. Leave Important Documentation/Things With People You Trust
When you are traveling the possibilities of things getting lost, stolen or misplaced becomes much higher than when you are at home. As well, when you are traveling to developing countries, your chances shoot up. Luckily, I had nothing lost, stolen or misplaced however I was prepared just in case.
Before I left I gave two of my siblings (who live in different households), copies of the following:
- My passport (in full colour).
- Information on the Canadian consulates in the areas/countries that I was going to be in.
- Any flight, train or bus itineraries I had booked already.
- Information from any providers I had booked already (ie accommodation).
- My medical insurance and access to the numbers they needed should they get a call from me.
- My MCP (local medical provider) information.
- My GPs information.
- Copy of my credit cards & bank account information
You never know what you are going to need and you want to make sure that information is in the hands of people you trust and who are reliable and will take swift action should you need help.
There were a few ‘things’ I wanted access to while I was gone. So, my awesome sister kept them at her house. For me, I had some business letters that had to go out in the future so I prepped them (stamped and all) and asked her to send them when I emailed her. I had the dates marked in my calendar and when they came up, I emailed her and she popped them in the mail (awesome!).
Also, I gave her extra glasses and contacts because I wear both and had they gotten broken, lost or stolen, I would have been in a lot of trouble. Well, it would have been really annoying and difficult to get that problem fixed, especially if I can’t see in a country where I don’t know where I am going or speak the language! You get the drift…
This way, if that happened, she could have mailed them down to me immediately and I would have only been blind for a few days or so (I really do have a high prescription!). :)
So, think about things of that nature that you might want access to should you lose them and how you would handle it.
4. Pack Less Than You Think
I have to say that I did a pretty good job of this BUT I could have done better. Because I was going for 6 months and I had no idea what kind of product options were going to be available I had brought a whole lot of ‘extras’. Extra hand cream, face cream, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair elastics, insect repellant… well the list goes on and on. Unless you have a serious allergy and can really only use 1 particular brand of something, don’t do this! It ended up costing me extra money in baggage because of weight and then you have to actually physically carry it.
As well, a lot countries usually have ‘local’ product where you can get all natural, chemical free products that are usually better priced than what you would buy in your local store.
For the ladies out there: you know yourself you love to have choice when you are picking out what you are going to wear. But let me ask you this: how many times have you been on vacation and realized that you wore pretty much the same 2-3 outfits the whole time even though you had a suit case full of clothes? I thought so. Don’t do this while you are on a digital nomad trip. Lugging stuff around is exhausting, plus you want to have room for things you pick up along the way.
Do yourself a favour and stick with the essentials only. Think about where you are going, what you will need (not want) and only take that. Actually, take away half of it and then only take that. Nice work!
5. Have Enough Money In The Bank
Depending on how long you are going for, you will want to have a good amount of money easily available for you. If you are going to be taking time off and your income is dependent on you working, then plan for it. Budget what you think you will need and the double it.
It is a great way to create piece of mind and be in a state of enjoyment rather than overwhelm and worry while you are on your trip. And who knows, you might get to where you go and wonder why you ever imagined only taking two weeks off... you are going to need at least a month!
6. Get Some Local Currency Before You Leave
Make sure you get some local currency before you leave. It’s always good to walk into a country with their currency, just in case. The equivalent to a few hundred dollars should be fine. You don’t want to travel with too much money in case of it getting lost or stolen.
7. Invest In The Right Technology.
While you are gone you are going to be working, so you want to make sure you have everything you need to work properly. What you need is going to be dependent on your business however here are a few things to help you create your list:
- iPad /tablet
- iPhone / Smart phone
- Video camera & small microphone if you are doing videos.
- Camera/Video Camera stand
- Computer back up system (you might want a real physical one and an online one just in case). The physical one will help when you don’t have access to the internet.
- An extra charger that doesn’t need to be plugged in (mine charged through my computer and I could pop in my purse or bag if I left for a long time and then need to charge my phone but wasn’t around a plugin).
8. Bring Your ‘Mini-Pharmacy’.
Go prepared with whatever you think you might need. This can be both modern medicine (aka prescription drugs) to alternative medicine like tinctures, supplements, etc. I went prepared with a few different things ‘just in case’. Talk to your GP or ND, but go prepared. It’s easier to have things on hand and in your native language then have to deal with a doctor who may or may not speak your language and not be really sure about what you are getting. Don’t forget a small first aid kid and extra bandaids.
9. Keep Your Books Digital
While I love real books, I wish all of my books had been digital. I ended up bringing 3 big books (two of them were the Lonely Planet Travel books) that I had to bring on my carry on because they caused too much weight in my luggage. So, keep all of your books digital and you will have a much lighter load.
Lastly, these are a few odd items that I found to be useful on my trip. I was glad that I had them.
- Duct Tape (great for closing up shampoo bottles and things to ensure they don’t spill)
- Computer wipes for your screen.
- Travel sized glasses cleaner (if you wear glasses).
- Ear plugs
- Safety Pins
- Ziploc bags
- Travel towel
- Travel sized hand-wash and laundry wash. I used Trek & Travels Pocket Laundry Wash & Hand Wash.
- Pictures of friends and family (as in, real, printed out pictures… not just from my phone or computer).
- A ‘travel purse’. It had wired mesh so it couldn’t be slashed, locks at the end of the zip and RFID technology to stop any sneaky scanners from getting my credit card details. Pacsafe has a great selection.
I Wish I had brought:
- A rain jacket.
- Hat/mitts (dependent on your country of course).
- Closed toe shoes for walking (aside from my sneakers) that looked nice to go out to a restaurant/bar.
That’s it for prepping for your trip. Next week I will cover running your business from a remote location. We will talk about things like:
- Internet Connection
- Tools for running your business
- Dealing with currency
- Delivery your products/services,
Is there something you want to know about? If so, let me know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to find you the answer!
P.S. The other thing you'll need for your trip is to ensure you are scheduled with your business. It's really hard to stay focused when there are constantly new shiny objects around you.
If you really want to stay focused be sure you have a marketing calendar that you stick to. That will help you stay consistent and committed. If you need help with creating one, grab my popular, Marketing Calendar Masterlcass here. You'll love it like expat Jenn does!