Are you getting antsy to start a journey? Thankfully, there’s plenty you can (and should) do to prepare before taking your work abroad. Here’s our list of important considerations and resources to get ready, so that living wherever your whims (and wallet) take you is a relatively stress-free experience.
Reduce Your Fixed Costs
Depending on your monthly budget and how long you’re planning to travel, it’s worth it to minimize your current running cost of living.
1. Sublet your apartment, rent out your home, or get a roommate.
Depending on your situation, you might be stuck in a lease and feel unable to travel, or only planning to travel and work remotely for a limited time. Subletting your living space allows you to get free of a housing contract. Additionally, if you choose to sublet a furnished space, you don’t have to find storage for all of your stuff. Of course, it’s advised that you tuck away items of value with a friend or family member until you return.
If you live in a particularly touristy area, it might be worth letting out your apartment to tourists through popular vacation rental sites like Airbnb. You can ask a trusted friend to manage the rental in exchange for splitting any income the property nets—just make sure doing so isn't’ against your rental contract.
2. Sell your car.
If you are considering traveling and working your way around the world for a longer period, selling your car as early as possible can help you save.
Brunhilde the jeep was my pride and joy, I thought of every possible reason not to sell her. Four years later, and I'm so happy it's not sitting in storage.
Not only will your savings benefit from the extra cash, but you'll also be free of monthly insurance and gas costs, as well. Plus, it’s pretty unlikely that your car will increase in value while you are away and it is a major valuable to be taken care of in your absence.
3. Comb through your recurring expenses.
Are you a member of a gym or paying monthly fees for anything you are unlikely to use for the next few months?
Cancel everything. And if you can’t cancel, ask to pause your contracts.
Not only is it difficult to do so while you’re traveling, recurring monthly or annual fees can sometimes sneak up and take a big chunk out of your budget.
(Maybe) Tell Your Clients
Clients can be delicate creatures, so it’s important to treat them as such. Always remember that they are the ones making it possible for you to work remotely—unless you have already created a passive income stream of some kind.
How to manage your clients’ expectations when you decide to take your virtual business around the world?
4. Give your clients plenty of advanced notice.
If you tell your clients two days before you leave, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll get cold feet about your ability to deliver on the road!
Instead, give them a couple of months notice regarding your plans and they’ll have time to get used to the idea, also giving you extra time to continue delivering the excellent level of service that they’ve come to expect from you.
Spend time volunteering while you travel and you’ll make some amazing friends.
5. Or, just don’t tell.
If you think your current roster of clients really won’t take kindly to you working while traveling, consider not telling them.
Advisable only if you’re absolutely positive that there won’t be any interruptions in your service along the way, not being truthful with your clients can still get you in some sticky situations. Questions often arise, such as why your old number isn’t working or why you’re no longer able to take physical checks mailed to your home address.
If you choose to go this route, take preventative measures and at least tell your clients that you’ll be going on holiday to cover your bum during those first few days of arriving at a new destination. Also, consider being upfront with any new clients you acquire on the road, as they’ve no reason to expect that the quality of your service will change.
Get Your Documents—and Everything Else— In Order
If you want to take your work around the world, it’s important that everything run smoothly. No matter what job you do, doing it while coping with the challenges of travel can make meeting deadlines feel impossible.
6. Make sure your passport is good to go.
It takes some weeks to get a new passport—if you don’t already have one, this should be the first thing to sort out once you’ve decided to travel. If you already have a passport, make sure it will still be valid for a while. Arriving at a new destination is a horrible time to realize that most countries won’t allow you entry if your passport has less than six months left!
7. Pre-apply for visas to countries that you know you’ll be visiting.
Some countries that regularly struggle with tourists overstaying their visas, working illegally, or border-hopping to re-up their visas-on-arrival will limit the length of visas you can apply for outside of your home country.
Thailand, for example, allows U.S. citizens to apply for a double-entry visa, which gives you up to six months—but only when applied for at one of Thailand’s embassies located in America. This is to discourage tourists who decide to work under the table, circumnavigating visa regulations with border-hops to Cambodia or Indonesia.
Completely avoiding this kind of unfortunate surprise involves contacting a country’s embassy. However, Wikipedia provides a list of visa policies by country and visa requirements by nationality to get you started.
You may also find that it’s worth using a passport and visa service to make the task of applying for various visas easier. While I haven’t used them personally, VisaHQ is highly recommended.
8. Scan and make copies of your important documents.
Losing your passport or credit cards can be a nightmare when traveling but things are a lot easier to sort out if you have spare copies stored online. Leave a spare set with a designated emergency contact, should things really head south.
9. Set up an online phone number before you go.
Skype and Google Voice are not only great communication tools for staying in touch with your clients, but they also provide telephone numbers for purchase that can be rerouted to any mobile phone—even a burner you pick up in a new country.
However, sometimes setting up an alternate number requires you to receive a text or call to validate your existing account. This is a lot easier to do before heading abroad.
10. Apply for a spare credit card.
The worst thing to happen on your travels is to suddenly lose access to your funds. Your bank card can break, get eaten by a foreign ATM, become lost, or be stolen, leaving you with little to no money for food and accommodation.
The solution? Have a backup plan that includes multiple backup cards—and don’t keep them all in one place.
Make sure that your backup cards are from different banks, so that if one account is considered compromised, your additional cards aren’t rendered useless. Additionally, link the accounts beforehand, so that transferring funds from one to the other doesn’t take the extra days most banks tack on to first-time transactions.
11. Set up data syncing.
The information on your computer is one of the most precious things that come with you—something it takes only one computer failure for most to realize.
To avoid learning the hard way, set up a Dropbox account to backup your most important data online. That way, you never need to worry about how to access your work if your laptop breaks or is stolen.
12. Reroute your mail.
While there are services everywhere that will forward mail, it helps to have at least one reliable person in your home country lined up to keep you posted on what’s happening in your mailbox. That way you’re immediately notified if something urgent or unexpected pops up.
13. Ensure your health with health insurance.
Despite being aimed at travelers, many around-the-world health insurance companies refuse to sell you coverage if you’re already traveling. Thus, it’s important to get set up before you hit the road.
The three companies that consistently receive positive reviews and accept most nationalities are Worldwide Insurance, World Nomads, and True Traveler Insurance. Bonus tip: True Traveler Insurance doesn’t require you to have a return ticket, unlike the alternatives.
What Should You Handle On The Fly?
When you’re preparing to travel for long periods, planning ahead with a ‘round the world (RTW) ticket is often considered. After all, pre-purchasing each leg does allow you to travel on great airlines while saving cash.
However, it can also feel oppressive, locking you into plans when you might want to stay longer—or head home sooner. While RTW tickets usually allow you to change dates (sometimes for a fee), consider that your goals might shift further to the side than simply wanting to spend an extra month at any given location.
Bottom line? Everyone who travels long-term changes their plans at some point!
Sure, you’re starting off mapping out each potential destination, but eventually, you’ll feel comfortable enough in your needs and ability to assess a location by research alone, that you’ll likely come to relish the opportunity to be more flexible with your plans.
After all, the greatest benefit of working remotely is the freedom to stay longer in the places you love—and leave the places you don’t.
Other articles in this series:
- Part 1: An Introduction to Working Remotely
- Part 2: Which Jobs Work Remotely
- Part 3: Your A–Z Resource Guide For Learning and Working Remotely
- Part 4: How To Choose a Destination, Estimate Cost of Living, & Find Accommodations When Working Remotely
- Part 6: How To Stave Off Stress & Enjoy Working Remotely Long-Term