The year was 2019. Your passport was full. You could rattle off the best cocktails in at least a dozen international airport lounges. You could pack a year's worth of necessities into the smallest TSA-approved carry-on. Then, 2020 happened. Now, in 2021, your airline miles have expired, your suitcase is buried in the back of your closet, and the furthest you've traveled is from your home office to the fridge.
So, you're a little rusty. No worries! Last year might have thrown most digital nomads for a loop, but the world is opening up, and it's time to get back in the game and start working while traveling once again.
The good news is you won't be alone. Even a global pandemic couldn't completely sideline the rise of the digital nomad. Since 2018, the ranks of wandering workers have doubled to nearly 11 million just in the U.S. In fact, the pandemic may have served as the catalyst for new growth, as suddenly remote workers realized they could work, travel, and have it all.
It's time to get back out there, and we've got the travel hacks to help you get back into the swing of things. But lest you think this is another "remote work 101" blog reminding you to pack an extra charger or make time for sightseeing, think again. Here, we're offering you some real talk on how to make a plan and live your best #WorkFromRoam life (again).
Travel Hacks for Digital Nomads
Hack #1: Roam If You Want To...But Only Where You're Wanted
After more than a year of closed borders, there are tentative signs of hope that the world is settling back into something resembling normalcy. But some countries are still off-limits to U.S. travelers and tourists. Other countries, however, are ready to rebuild their lagging economies, and they've realized that encouraging and enticing remote workers and digital nomads is a really effective way to do that.
Many nations are offering unprecedented incentives to attract those looking for a short- or long-term workcation, and the list is growing. Whether you want to lounge on a Caribbean beach or soak in rich European culture, there are plenty of places you can go to reignite your work-from-anywhere spark. Here's how to pick your perfect spot:
- Research countries actively seeking American nomads and remote workers. From Belize to the Maldives, the list is surprisingly diverse. These are the places that want to make it easier for you to transition back into the digital nomad life by offering extended visas, accessible Wi-Fi, and even reduced travel expenses.
- Understand travel restrictions before you go. You may be required to have a negative COVID test before you fly, show proof of vaccination, or quarantine for up to 14 days upon arrival. Do your research ahead of time and plan to comply with your destination's requirements for foreign travelers. Keep in mind that they're changing, sometimes by the day, so check back frequently.
- Contact the authorities. There are 168 foreign embassies, and even more consulates, in the U.S. Contact the embassy of your destination to inquire about travel restrictions and get the latest updates on visa requirements for digital nomads. It's also handy to have the contact information for the U.S. embassy in the country you'll be visiting.
Hack #2: Get Your Financials in Order
You probably already know where to find the lowest costs on travel, from airline tickets to accommodations. But now that you're getting back into the work-from-anywhere life, there are a few additional numbers you'll want to keep in mind:
- Check visa application fees. The countries in the article above are busy wooing U.S. remote workers, but it doesn't always come cheap. Most have instituted fees for long-term visa applications, and they can get pretty steep. Be sure of your plans before you apply, and know how much the fees will differ if you're traveling alone, with a partner, or with a family.
- Prepare to prove your worth. Countries want digital nomads, but they also want visitors who can support themselves and contribute to the local economy. Many will require you to show proof that your monthly income meets a certain threshold, while others will ask to see how much you've got saved in your bank account. Start saving now, and collect check stubs and bank statements to prepare for the application process.
Hack #3: Cover Your You-Know-What
Travel can be risky business, and at the tail end of a worldwide pandemic, it's sometimes a crapshoot. Flights can get canceled, and a new outbreak can close borders in the blink of an eye. Plus, even if you're vaccinated and healthy, you're still at risk for other illnesses and accidents. Here's what you need to know about insuring yourself for a safe trip:
- Health insurance is more important than ever. While some digital nomads work for companies that offer insurance benefits, many are freelancers or contractors who have to secure their own coverage. And when traveling to different countries with varying healthcare industries and services, it's best to make sure you're covered, wherever you are. There are numerous health insurance companies that cater to digital nomads, with low monthly rates and policies that protect you no matter where you wander.
- Travel insurance is critical. The good news is this: many of the nomad-centric health insurers also provide coverage for travel, including flexible cancellation policies, reimbursements for canceled flights, and COVID coverage. Look for an all-in-one policy that simplifies the process and offers the best coverage at the best rate.
- Don't leave it to chance. Many of the countries beckoning U.S. nomads will require proof of insurance to approve a visa application, so be sure you have coverage lined up before you start the process.
Hack #4: Build a Community Before You Go
There's always a bit of culture shock when traveling to an unfamiliar locale, but after more than a year at home, you may feel it even more. Luckily, you can work on strengthening your digital nomad network before you travel to connect with like-minded peers and helpful locals at your destination. Here's how to grow your community:
- Join social media groups. Whether you search by location, industry, or special interest, there are thousands of groups that will welcome you with open arms. Find a network of digital nomads on LinkedIn to share tips and best practices, or join a community group on Facebook or Reddit to get insider information on where to stay, eat, and experience your destination.
- Join a coworking space. Coworking spaces are cropping up all across the U.S., but there are plenty scattered around the globe, too. Coworking spaces give you the feel of a traditional office space; a built-in community of "colleagues;" and usually, lots of outlets, Wi-Fi, and coffee. Global coworking spaces are often catered to digital nomads and offer accommodations, tours, social activities, and much more. Read our founder's feature on traveling with an Unsettled remote work team.
Ready to roam? We hope these travel tips will get your digital nomad dreams back on the right track. Need more advice as you go back out into the great, wide world? Check out our #RemoteWork blog for more!