If you’re new to the life of location independence you may wonder what digital nomad essentials you need to prepare before you make your move abroad. Or even if you’re a seasoned traveller, there could still be things you’re missing or you can improve on your remote work journeys.
Being a digital nomad usually requires a different type of preparation for your trips in comparison to the usual holiday-makers and short-term travellers. It’s normal to feel a bit lost at first.
Being prepared in advance will help you have an easier time transitioning to being a digital nomad and avoid running into unnecessary issues.
In this Digital Nomads Essential guide you’ll find a list of the most important things you need to prepare for a smooth trip!
Digital Nomad Essentials
International Banking for Digital Nomads
Banking is one of the most important things to sort out before you start your digital nomad journey.
A lot of people underestimate international charges and currency exchange fees and end up unnecessarily wasting a lot of money that adds up over time. Don’t let that be you!
Be prepared and get your travel cards as soon as possible. The best ones out there are Revolut and Monzo (if you’re UK or EU-based) and Wise (available worldwide). These give you the best exchange rates, free ATM withdrawals (with limitations) and flexibility when travelling abroad.
Since the above-mentioned banks all have free account options I would suggest you open an account and get a card with each one of them. This way even if you only use one card for your day-to-day transactions you’ll always have backup cards in case you lose one or it gets stolen.
With that said, make sure to keep the cards you don’t use in different places to your day-to-day card as well as some emergency cash. Having your cards linked to your phone is always handy too in case for whatever reason you don’t have access to your physical card.
Digital Nomad Insurance – SafetyWing Nomad Insurance
When you live abroad for a prolonged time, or even if you’re away for a short trip, literally anything can happen. For peace of mind, after doing tons of research for the best digital nomad insurance I signed up for Safety Wing’s Nomad Insurance
Travel insurance just makes travels a lot more stress-free, knowing that you’re covered for accidents and don’t have to worry about getting attacked by a bear while hiking in the mountains of Kosovo (that’s a real story 😂).
I forgot to get my travel insurance before we left for our Balkan trip, so I ended up going to a restaurant at the start of our hike in Kosovo to renew my SafetyWing insurance – we didn’t encounter a bear on that day but we saw some bear 💩 which was close enough for me haha.
This is why I love SafetyWing – It literally takes 5 minutes to get yourself insured and you can do it both before you begin your trip or once you’re already in your destination country.
It’s a medical and travel insurance in one, covering emergency treatment up to $250,000, emergency dental and hospitalisation, as well as lost luggage, trip delays and emergency evacuations, and a lot more.
And best of all, it’s super affordable at around $40 per month which covers you worldwide. It’s perfect for digital nomads and gives you that peace of mind knowing that you’re covered wherever you go. Check SafetyWing Nomad Insurance for yourself here.
Get an e-Sim before you arrive to your destination
One of the best ways to ensure you have a smooth arrival at your new destination is by getting an e-sim (and activating it!) before your trip.
Especially if you’re arriving late at night and you’re unsure whether there will be somewhere to purchase a local sim card. Or if you’re travelling by bus or car to your new destination rather than through an airport, so again being able to buy a local sim card on arrival isn’t guaranteed.
I always get an e-sim from AirAlo even if it’s a package valid only for a couple of days or a week. The packages are usually super affordable and it gives you great peace of mind knowing that you won’t have troubles getting to your accommodation at any time of day.
Get US $3 credit on your AirAlo with code MEL4414.
By having an e-sim in advance I’ve been able to order myself an Uber or look up the best transportation options upon arrival which has saved me lots of time and headaches in the past. So it’s always paid off being prepared. Which takes me to my next tip..
Download the local taxi app in advance (if available) or look up the public transportation options
There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving in a new place and having no idea how you’re getting to your accommodation. Especially if it’s a country without a well-developed public transport system or the airport is milesss away from your apartment.
Look up your destination beforehand. Are there any local taxi apps like Uber, Bolt, Didi or any other type?
Are they relatively easy to use and do they have good reviews? Sometimes local taxi apps aren’t as commonly used in the area so upon arrival you might not actually be able to get a car.
It’s always a good idea to check blog posts about the best transport options within the city. It’s worth also asking in local Digital Nomads or travellers Facebook groups for advice and recommendations, and average prices for the transport.
These are the people that probably do the journey most often and are pros at getting around the area.
Being prepared pays off. You don’t waste your time trying to figure things out on the spot and you’re also less susceptible to scams from local taxis.
Set up a VPN app on your devices
As a digital nomad you’re most likely going to be working from all sorts of places – from beachside cafes and co-working spaces to hotels, hostels and anywhere you might find yourself with good internet connection.
Which means you’ll be connecting your devices to a number of different networks during your trip. While most of the time that should cause no issues, in this current day and age cyber security is super important and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), such as ExpressVPN, on your devices provides you with an encrypted server and hides your IP address from potential hackers. A VPN ultimately protects your identity when using public or shared Wi-Fi networks and it keeps your data private and secure from any potential hacks.
VPN for access to work networks and entertainment
Aside from the cyber security and data protection purposes, VPN is also useful when it comes to accessing websites for work or entertainment that may be blocked in different countries.
For instance, a lot of remote workers in Egypt had to use a VPN network to actually be able to connect to their company’s website and carry out their day-to-day tasks. Some countries, like Egypt, don’t allow you to download a VPN once you’re in the country.
That’s why it’s important to download and install your VPN pre-arrival to make sure you’re covered for these situations.
It also comes in handy for accessing shows and movies on Netflix or Disney+ that are not available in your region but can be watched in a different country.
You simply have to connect your network to that location and you can watch your favourite shows without a problem!
I’ve been using ExpressVPN for the last 2+ years and have been very happy with it! Use this link to get 30 days of VPN for free and the best thing about it is that you can connect multiple devices which means you can share your access with friends and family and spread the cost, making it a very viable investment.
Essential Digital Nomad Gear
Before setting off on your new life abroad it’s very important to have all the essential gear your life as a digital nomad requires.
Laptop, phone, chargers, adapters, camera – make sure you’re prepared and have everything you need before your departure. Very often even the smallest gear item on your list may be hard to find or a lot more expensive abroad.
Save yourself the trouble and try to make your purchases while you’re still in your home country. Some of the essential gear for digital nomads includes:
- International adapter
- Power bank
- Hard Drives
- Camera – for fun or if your job requires it. You can check my photography equipment as a content creator here
Valid passport and documents
This may seem like an obvious one but making sure your passport validity meets the requirements of your destination as well as being fully informed about visa requirements and other documents is SO important.
Another thing with your passport is making sure it’s intact and isn’t damaged in any way. While I personally haven’t had issues with my passport, I’ve heard enough horror stories to make me always check and ensure it’s good for travelling.
It’s the same when it comes to visas – especially with visas on arrival. Make sure that your passport meets the requirements for being issued a visa on arrival including any potential red flags such as having visited countries in the past few months that are not in good relationships with your destination country.
This happened to me very unexpectedly a few years ago in Asia and I was denied entry into the country I was meant to get a visa on arrival for.
It was a very scary and stressful experience especially since at the time I had no idea about e-sims and therefore was completely cut off from the world. Another reason why being prepared can make a massive difference.
Becoming a digital nomad can be one of the best things you do for yourself if you’re seeking the life of location independence, freedom and a variety of new experiences.
Preparing for your first trip is super exciting but can also feel a bit scary as with anything new.
Using the information in this Digital Nomad Essentials guide and doing some research on your destination in advance will help you feel confident and prepared and you’ll get used to the digital nomad lifestyle quicker.
Enjoy your travels and let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to help!