Before You Go
Planning to leave your passport country to travel the world naturally involves a certain amount of uncertainty and stress. Luckily there are a lot of great resources to help you plan your trip, and we cover the major areas here.
Most of the families we've met had a home to sell, belongings to purge, and in many cases, a long-time career they weren't sure they wanted to leave behind. Our best advice is to give yourself plenty of runway. Tying up lose ends can take a few months, but even if 50% of your preparation goes well, you'll be fine.
Here are the resources we've collected for each major area of consideration before you go.
Purging your Belongings
While long-term storage costs are relatively low, we find that most families choose to downsize significantly before they leave. There are a number of benefits to doing this - you earn money to fund your travels, and avoid spending money storing things you won't miss.
Still need to be convinced? Read Selling Everything to Become Digital Nomads
1. Start early. As soon as you've decided to travel, get started. Putting things up for sale is one of the easy and gratifying things you can do at the very beginning. Your pricey items will take longer to sell than others, so the more time you give yourself, the more money you'll earn.
2. Be ruthless. After selling everything we owned, we've not missed a single thing. We kept only a few mementos, and some clothing we wore all the time but which didn't match the weather of our next destination.
3. Have a system. Ours was to go through the house taking pictures of batches of things we wanted to sell, and getting all of those pictures posted on Craigslist and Facebook that night. We repeated this process over six months until everything was gone.
4. Price aggressively. Check your facebook ForSale community to see what items like yours are going for, and then set a fair but very good price. Giving someone a good deal is worth it: the money is in your hand more quickly, and you don't waste the back-and-forth haggling time.
5. Give a discount to people who buy several things at once. They're saving you a lot of time, and when you have a ton of things to sell, time is a rare commodity.
6. Don't agree to meet anyone anywhere. When you're selling a household, you simply don't have time. Also, people are jerks and will stand you up. Reduce the number of emails by stating in your ad which times you're available for pick up, or, if you're willing to meet people at your work, the neighborhood your office is in.
Want more step-by-step advice on purging? Read How to Sell Everything You Own and Travel the World
Choosing Your Destination
The key to a successful transition is what we call a landing plan. Decide what factors will be most important to you for the first few days or months of your life as a nomad, whether that's a low cost of living, a big network of nomads, etc. You may want to save some of your bucket list destinations for after you're used to the traveling lifestyle, so you're not trying to absorb them at the same time that you're adjusting to travel.
Nomadlist is a site that allows you to filter cities based on a long list of variables, from weather, to cost of living, internet speed, safety for women, you name it.
Finding Accommodation and Community
If you're a long term traveler, you're probably avoiding hotels. They can be needlessly expensive and less homey than other options. Depending on your personality and your work needs, you might think about choosing between hostels and apartments.
Hostels provide a sense of community and an easy way to get to know other travelers. If you're traveling alone and prone to homesickness, staying in a hostel for the first few weeks can help you land on your feet with the invaluable camaraderie and advice you'll get from fellow residents. If you need to work during the day, look for hostels near coffee shops with decent wifi.
If you're traveling with a partner or your family, or if you need a quiet workspace, an apartment may be a better option. There are a lot of ways to find reasonably priced apartments. Airbnb is often the most expensive option, but is a good bridge for the first few days in a destination while you explore other options on the ground.
It's worth noting that Airbnb apartments often have three pricing tiers - weekly, monthly, and offline. The first two rates can be found by adjusting the length of your stay. The last one, offline, is the rate you can often negotiate if you message the host before booking or after you've landed. We've ended up staying in our "landing house" for more than the initial stay because the host was open to extending at a more reasonable, localized rate.
Here are some ways to plug into the traveling community at your destination. This community will help you learn about the different neighborhoods and their personalities, as well as point you to affordable housing options that may not be easy to find online.
- Search for "Digital Nomads [your city]" on Facebook, and join the community. Then search for posts on accommodation, or post to ask for advice.
- Sign up for HashtagNomads. They currently charge $65/year, but the quality of the advice you will receive on EVERYTHING is worth it ten times over. The largest online community of nomads in the world will tell you where to eat, how to set up your phone and internet, which cafes are the best spots to work, everything you want to know about your new destination.
Ah, yes. Budgeting. There is so much to say about budgeting, and so many people have already said it well. Start with Shannon O'Donnell's comprehensive page on Budgeting and Saving for Travel, and you won't regret it.
Visas and Immigration
This step is incredibly important - you must research your visa status before you go! Depending on your destination a short term visa will likely be little hassle, but check out our page on Immigration and Visas to be sure you're prepared.