The Ultimate To-Do List for Beginner Digital Nomads

We’re back with another post geared towards our baby nomads! If you’re in the midst of taking the leap into working remotely, you’ll probably be feeling a little overwhelmed right now with the sheer amount of things you need to sort out. That’s totally normal. Becoming a bona-fide digital nomad is a big deal - and that means a lot of responsibilities to organise and arrange before getting on the road.

Once again, WiFi Tribe is here to help you out! To match our packing list (for girls), we’ve put together the ultimate to-do list for ALL beginner digital nomads - have a read through here and make sure you haven’t missed anything out before you start enjoying your amazing new lifestyle.

Travel

  • Update Your Passport

First things first: if you’re going to be leaving the country, you need to make sure you actually can! Most countries advise that your passport should be valid for another six months after entering the country.

Even if you have another year left on your passport, it may be a good idea to renew yours now and save yourself an arduous task when you’re out the country.

  • Travel Insurance

While there are many things travellers may like to skimp on (accommodation, happy hours, side-of-the-road dinners..!), travel insurance certainly should not be one of them! You can never foresee incidents that may leave you stranded or in need of help - from reclaiming a stolen bag to getting urgent medical care in an emergency.

Don’t take the risk - take out travel insurance before you leave and make sure it covers you for everything you need and as long as you need it for.

  • Check Official Advice on Your Intended Destination

It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of frequently checking for official updates and advice on the countries you’re planning on visiting - you can find country specific information here. Political and cultural circumstances can change and won’t necessarily be reported in your own country, so preparing yourself and making where you’re going is indeed safe to visit is a sensible move.

Medical

  • Vaccinations

Some countries will have a heightened risk of diseases and certain illnesses, so be sure you consult your nurse for any vaccinations and medication you may need before you leave. You’re recommended to get some vaccinations as much as three months in advance to going abroad to some countries, so the sooner you book an appointment, the better. Check what vaccinations you may need in advance here.

It’s also wise to be mindful of diseases you can’t get vaccinated for, such as malaria. If you are entering an area with a high-risk of malaria for a limited amount of time, you can get pills to cover you for that time only.

  • Medical Check-Ups

Likewise, it’s wise to get a medical checkup before you leave the country for an extended period of time. Making sure you’re fit and healthy now will not only make you feel more comfortable about living in places you don’t know very well, but will also inform you of anything you need to watch out for (for example, not exerting yourself too much if you have asthma and don’t have an inhaler near by!).

For women, now would also be a good time to think about any birth control you may be using, and planning for the future. For example, if you’re on the contraceptive pill, you may need to ask your doctor for several month’s worth of prescription in advance.

  • Dentist

Scheduling a dentist appointment before you go abroad is another smart move. If you’ve had any tooth pain from wisdom teeth, suspected holes, old fillings etc, get them sorted now. Dealing with teeth issues is not only a nuisance when you’re in another country, but can also be very expensive if it’s related to pre-existing issues.

Admin

If you’re diving straight into the digital nomad lifestyle with no concrete plans to return home, you’ll need to treat this change as if you’re moving home. That means organising a lot of administrative details that come with a change of address - but the next few things are very important for anyone leaving the country to consider, particularly when you’re still working!

  • Redirect your Post

If you’ve given up your home, you’ll need to redirect your post and notify everyone (council, bank, phone provider etc) of your change of address. You can do this with USPS for up to one year - enough time to notify everyone of your move!

Don’t have a new address? Perhaps you can kindly ask your parents or a close friend to keep your post for you. Alternatively, a PO Box can be used in place of an address, but you may still need to ask someone to collect your post for you if you’re not in the country.

  • Put Things into Storage

Likewise, if you no longer have a permanent address, you may want to look up self-storage facilities to keep any possessions you can’t take on the road, but will want to come back to sometime.

If you only have a small number of choice possessions, those kind parents or close friend may let you use a square of their loft or basement, but self-storage facilities are often a cost-effective way to safely and securely store larger quantities of belongings.

  • Subscriptions

If you have several subscriptions to magazines, the gym, food boxes etc, be sure to cancel them now. Cancelling your subscriptions now will reduce the amount of junk mail you receive to your redirected address, and will also save you a lot of wasted money than if you realise you’re still paying for that local gym membership six months from now!

  • Notify Your Bank

Notify your bank that you will be living abroad for the foreseeable future before you set off. Even better, many banks now allow you to add when and where you will be when abroad to your account, avoiding the nasty surprise of finding your bank cards have all been frozen when you need them most!

If you only have one bank account, now may also be a good idea to consider opening another account without access to a debit card for it. This way, you can keep the majority money in this account and use your bank card safely without the risk of it being cloned and all your money being at risk.

  • Get a Travel Card

On the same note, consider getting a traveller’s money card for use in other countries. These cards often have far small fees on ATM withdrawals and foreign transactions, which can save you a lot of money in the long-run!

Work

Of course, no one can call themselves a digital nomad without having a job they do while on the road. Whether you’re keeping your existing job or becoming a freelancer, there are a few aspects of your job that you might want to clarify before setting off:

  • Payment Schedules

If you’re a freelancer with multiple clients, agreeing to a payment schedule is a wise idea. This will mean you always have a good idea of when you’ll be paid by each client, meaning you’re never caught short from clients missing deadlines when you’re on the road.

  • Time Differences

If you’re suddenly going to go from being in the same timezone as your clients to 8 hours ahead, you may want to give them a heads up! This just ensures you stay professional and courteous to your clients, and also won’t leave them wondering why exactly they’re receiving emails at 4am in the morning...

  • WiFi Availability

If you have a rough idea of where you’ll be headed on your digital nomad journey, do some quick research into the WiFi availability in that area. Generally, your hotel or apartment should say whether it includes internet, and travel websites and forums are a great place to find out about coworking spaces and comfortable cafes perfect for getting an afternoon of work done.

  • Contact

If you normally communicate with your clients via phone calls, now is the time to think about how you will maintain communication with them once you are out the country and not as easily contactable.

Many digital nomads use IM services such as Slack to communicate, whilst Google Hangouts can be extremely useful for conference calls. You might also want to consider investing in a Skype number to ensure you can keep the same number for clients to contact you on, rather than having to switch SIM cards and update your number for every country you visit!

  • Tax

If you’re moving into a freelance role, remember that being out of the country doesn’t necessarily mean you’re exempt from paying tax. Legislation differs for every country and depends on how long you are out the country, where and who you are working for etc, but it is always best to inform yourself of what income you will need to declare and how you will be paying tax before you leave the country. This article is a good overview for US digital nomads.

So that's it! A fantastic list to keep you organised and efficient as you transition into Diginomadism (is that a word? It is now...) Are you a beginner digital nomad? Did you forget anything listed above, or spot a must-do item that we’ve missed off? Let us know in the comments! Nomad oldies, if we’ve missed anything, you know what to do, please leave your expertise below!

Happy Travels!