Ever felt sick of working in the same office, with the same people, day after day after day? Where your productivity just plummets to an all-time low?
Apparently, I do.
I’ve even tried escaping to dozens of coffeeshops to get my energy moving and creative juices flowing. But to be honest, everything feels exactly the same too — the beverages, the people working there, the interaction (which is basically sit down and mind your own business). At least in Silicon Valley, US.
And it secretly kills me inside, because interaction is what helps me work my best. But what hurts even more is the lack (and loss) of a deep connection, caused by the shifting mindset from working at a startup.
That’s why I’ve decided to take a trip to Southeast Asia, to mingle with like-minded people who work just as hard as I do to successfully ship their product, in hopes of making it big.
But as exciting as working remotely on foreign land sounds, it takes serious preparation to go on a real nomad trip. Not to worry, I got exactly what you need — a detailed guide that outlines what you need to do and bring before settling in a new place.
Keep this for future travels.
Before you book your flight
1. Check if your passport is expired
If it is, renew your passport ASAP. It takes roughly 3–4 weeks before you receive your new passport in the mail.
2. List a few destinations you want to go to
Nomad list has some great recommendations, especially for those who want a cheap place with fast wifi and fun activities.
3. Calculate the cost of living
Never commit to a place until you know how much it costs for a meal or a taxi ride.
I normally use Numbeo to give me a good estimate on the monthly apartment rents, transportation, and the average cost of food/drinks.
Quick note: Change to your home currency if it displays the local currency.
4. Bookmark places you want to live in
Choose a place you think would feel like home — ideally one with fast wifi, a desk, a private bathroom, a window with a nice scenery.
You should also get a place that’s within walking distance to convenience stores, supermarkets, coffeeshops, shops, restaurants, and public transportation.
5. Reserve a seat at a co-working space
Co-working spaces are becoming more of the new office trend. And what’s unique about them are the people working there. You’ll meet some of the most brilliant minds, thinkers and doers, who might be in the same industry as you. Work won’t feel like work, because you’ll be interacting with people constantly.
With that said, find a co-working space with spacious rooms, good wifi, plenty of outlets, and a bright atmosphere that puts you to focus.
Pro-tip: Ask the managers if there’s available seats during the time you plan to book there. Sometimes, seats get filled up quickly.
How about coffeeshops or cafes?
If you prefer to work at coffeeshops or cafes, Workhard Anywhere is the best tool to use! It gives a map view of all the popular coffeeshops/cafes around the city.
One thing I love about it is are the many options they have for every country. So wherever you are, you’ll have a coffeeshop or cafe nearby to work at.
Pro-tip: Download the app on your phone, so you can search for coffeeshops on the go!
6. Check if you need a visa
Some countries require a visa for you to visit. Some don’t, if you’re staying for x days/months.
For example, Taiwan lets you stay for 3 months without a visa. Malaysia, 1 month. Mexico, 180 days.
How to check?
Google “the country you want to visit + visa requirements.”
7. Book your flight
Now that you got a good idea of where you’ll be staying, it’s time to book your flight. Usually, this is the most expensive part of your budget. But luckily, there’re some nice sites that offer a ridiculously cheap price for flights:
Make sure all the information you fill in is accurate. Because one tiny mistake will cost you a couple weeks (or months) if you want a full refund on your ticket. It’s not a guarantee though.
Preparing for your trip
8. Check if your phone works overseas
Your phone is your savior if you get lost, get sick, or feel lonely. That’s why it’s important to check if your phone carrier allows you to make calls, text, and access data when traveling abroad.
Note: Your phone needs to be unlocked to work overseas.
If your phone carrier doesn’t support an international plan, there’s a few options you can do:
- Ask your family or friends if they can add you to their phone carrier’s international plan and get you a SIM card (of course, pay them back) 😉
- Buy an international SIM card
- Buy a local SIM card
- Rent a phone (from airports or local phone shops)
How much data should I get for my trip?
2 GB — this is enough for most people to use for a month. But if you want to know exactly how much data you use, go to your phone’s settings and check data usage/cellular data.
Iphone users — Use My Data Manager to track how much data you use in a month. Apparently, Iphone doesn’t record your monthly data usage.
9. Get your traveler’s shots
To avoid getting seriously ill, research what shots travelers get at the country you’re planning to work in.
I’d recommend checking CDC for your recommended vaccines and medications.
10. Check airline baggage rules
Some airlines don’t handle your checked baggage for free. I learned that the hard way — a $268 mistake.
But regardless, it’s good to:
1) Check how many carry-ons and checked baggages you can carry
2) Check the maximum lbs/kgs for carry-ons and checked baggage
How to check baggage rules?
Google “your airline + baggage fees.”
11. Understand the weather & prepare accordingly
If it’s hot and humid, bring tank tops, shorts, maybe a hat. If it’s rainy, bring an umbrella and rain boots (or any water-resistant shoes). If it’s cold, bring warm puffy jackets and gloves.
Must-bring items for every traveler
1. Travel adaptor
If you’re bringing your laptop, phone, electric toothbrush, or anything that needs charging, get a travel adaptor. Every country uses a specific voltage for electrical devices, so check this complete list of all the countries’ voltage standard.
2. Extra outlet
A travel adaptor only supports one electronic device, which sucks if you need to charge both your laptop and cell phone. Bring a multi-outlet power strip or if you’re keeping things minimalistic, get another travel adaptor.
For iPhone users: Plugbug is quite handy if you’re bringing just your iPhone/iPad and Macbook around.
Bring Ibuprofen for headaches and pain. Imodium for traveler’s diarrhea. You never know when the worst happens, so better bring these than get impaired by a bad experience.
4. Portable battery charger
If your phone sinks below 50% battery life during the day or you use your phone heavily, it’s a good idea to bring a portable battery charger.
Because once your phone dies, your access to internet dies too. And there’s nothing much you can do except to ask people for help or pay for a cab to go back home.
So save yourself a day’s trouble and get a portable battery charger.
5. Bug repellent
It doesn’t matter where you go, bugs always welcome themselves into local homes and outside people’s shops — mosquitos (most common), ticks, biting flies, you name it!
Find an insect repellent with at least 20% DEET (this is the main ingredient for protection). Of course, a higher concentration of DEET is more potent and lasts longer. However, it is slightly toxic so after you return indoors, wash it off your skin immediately.
Pens may not sound too essential to take along, but it’s actually a huge time saver when you need to fill out those arrival and departure forms. You can fill out those forms as you wait in line instead of waiting behind people to finish signing them.
7. Extra $
I always bring extra cash for reasons like a refreshment, a quick snack, or a meal on the plane (some airlines don’t give complimentary food).
Pro-tip: If you need money, withdraw from an ATM inside the airport or from an outside bank/convenience store. You’ll pay less fees than converting your money at the foreign currency exchange.
That’s it! Ready for your trip?
I hope you are, because I’d love to hear about your experience. 😉
Lastly, I’ll love to send you a downloadable checklist that outlines everything you need to prepare for your nomad trip (it’s free!).
Just enter your email below.
Otherwise, happy traveling! ✈️