I have been traveling the world with my boyfriend Austin for about 4 and a half years now. So today, based on things I have seen and learned while traveling as a digital nomad, I will give you 25 of my best travel tips!
Learn basic words of the language of the country you are traveling to
Why is learning some basic words of the country language so important?
Well, believe it or not, not everyone knows a minimal amount of English in foreign countries. In Brazil, where I lived for 6 months, you will hardly find anyone who speaks any English, unless they are a foreigner as well.
According to the British council, only 5% of the population can speak some English! Learning some basic words and phrases of the native language can really help you in situations you may experience while living abroad.
Research the area you are going to – find out what’s around you.
Whenever Austin and I travel, we always do extensive research on the place we are traveling to next. We always find the safest area to live in that country and make sure all amenities are within a few miles of the place we are staying at.
In Brazil, we were across the street from bakeries, restaurants, pharmacies, salons, bus stops, and supermarkets. This was no coincidence, we picked this location purposely to help cut down on transportation costs.
With everything nearby, we could walk to wherever we needed to go and did not have to worry about the costs of Ubers unless we needed to go somewhere far away.
Book your flight in advance and wisely.
This one is self-explanatory, you’re going to want to book your flights in advance to get the best price for your tickets.
Watch out for hidden fees, sometimes when you spot what you think is a cheaper deal on tickets, it may include fees for seats, baggage, etc.
Try checking out Skyscanner and book your flights in incognito mode on your browser to find the best deals on plane tickets.
Save funds for emergencies
You should have the extra money in your bank account so you can be prepared for the worst.
You never know what can happen in a foreign country, or if you may have to suddenly leave the country.
In case you fall into scams or have a crazy night out and spend a lot more than you planned to, at least you know you have extra savings you can fall back on.
Take a back up debit card
To go along with tip #4, taking a backup debit card is just as important because not all foreign countries may accept your debit card as a form of payment in certain shops. I know in Bali, Indonesia, when we were there, we had to use Indonesian Rupiah, to pay for our groceries in the supermarket.
If you have a strict bank as Austin does, your bank may stop your card from working because they may suspect that your card is being used by someone else in a different country.
Even though he notified his bank that we would be living overseas before we moved, his bank stopped his card from working and we had no way to take out money from his card for some time. This is why it is important to have an extra debit card with you just in case you are in the same dilemma.
Take water sterilizer for countries that do not have safe drinking water
Some countries, such as Thailand, do not have safe drinking water unless you purchase bottled water from the store. If you want to save money on purchasing water bottles every day, you can purchase a water sterilizer and just cleanse your tap water that way
Find out how long you can stay in the country you’re going to
One of the worst things that could happen while living in a foreign country is that you don’t realize you have overstayed your visa, and then have to pay a large amount of money for overstaying. Find out if you can get a visa on arrival which is free entry into the country and usually lasts about 30 days.
If you plan on staying longer, figure out your visa options and how you can legally stay longer in the country. Sometimes work opportunities in different countries can allow you to stay for at least a few months. If you want to extend your visa, you most likely will have to pay a fee to do so.
Have extra documents, passport photos, etc.
Keep your important documents in a good place whenever you need them! Whether it’s for visa runs, leaving for another country, etc. You never know when a visa office may request other passport photos and if you do not have extra photos, you will have to retake them and pay a fee for them.
Of course, as you already know, always keep documents like your social security card and birth certificate with you, because sometimes your passport alone isn’t enough in certain circumstances.
Make sure wherever you go- has good wifi and data plan
If you are a digital nomad or just traveling abroad in general you know how important it is to have good wifi to be able to get your work done or contact your family back home.
Do not assume that wherever you plan to live will have a good wifi plan. Ask in advance about wifi to know if it comes with your accommodation or if this will be another expense for you.
Stay away from tourist areas
There are many reasons to stay away from tourist areas. These are the top areas where you can get scammed, spend crazy amounts of money, and possibly get robbed or worse. Tourists spots can have all the foods you are looking for like fries, burgers, and pizza. All of these foods you are craving will definitely come with a heavy price tag.
If you stick with the local food in the country, you may cut down your costs on food by like 1/5 of the price and it will be just as good. The tourist areas know exactly what they are doing and know that foreigners are looking for their comfort foods and will give you that but for a high price. This leads me to my next tip…
Eat where the locals eat
To save money, try to cook your own food and not eat out all the time.
If you decide to eat out, it would be ideal to eat where the locals. This will be your best chance of finding the best quality food in your area.
A tip we learned from fellow nomads is that f the locals are eating there, you can trust that the food there is delicious! You may pay anywhere from $1-$5 for a really good meal that is filling and also gives you a taste of the country’s culture!
Try to stay at an Airbnb at all times
Hotels are a thing of the past! They can be so overpriced and what you spend for a night at a hotel, you can get away with staying a week or a month at the same price but in an Airbnb.
Plan your trip wisely and stay in an Airbnb like many travelers are doing nowadays because it just makes more sense and is so much affordable.
You can extend your vacation for longer and cheaper, you will also get more amenities finding your place on Airbnb for a fraction of the price! Airbnbs are willing to work with you and give you a discounted price when you decide to stay longer which is great.
Carry any important medication you may need, or any emergency kit items
When we first traveled overseas, half of my suitcase consisted of first aid items in fear of Austin injuring himself while training MMA and Jiujitsu. I had everything he could possibly need, from bandaids to alcohol to gauze. I am definitely not telling you to bring all these items.
Don’t ever underestimate a third-world country and what they have, because, from my experience, these countries are a lot more modern than you could ever imagine! All the first aid items I brought with me that took up most of my suitcase could all be found at local pharmacies around where we were living. Thailand was way more advanced than we thought and the same goes for many other countries.
I would just recommend taking medicine that you really need that you do not think you would find overseas. Also, a little first aid kit with just minimal first aid items is a good idea to have in your backpack just in case of any emergencies, but don’t overpack medical items as I did!
Dont carry around expensive equipment out in the open
This is a given, don’t flaunt your expensive vlogging camera, Gucci handbag, or drone out in the open. This will definitely alert people that you have money on you and will definitely give them the ok to try and rob you! So please don’t do this!
Be aware of your surroundings
I am not saying you need to be paranoid, but always look over your shoulder and know your area well. You should at least know where a nearby police station, hospital, and doctor’s office is if anything were to happen. Always try to stay in a safe, well-known, non-touristy area.
Try to get travel insurance
You never know when something can happen and you may need to rush to a hospital or a nearby doctor in your area. If you don’t have insurance, this can put you thousands of dollars in debt by the end of your doctor or hospital visit.
SafetyWing is the travel Insurance We use is Specifically for Digital Nomads and Remote workers and is truly the best. They have always been reliable for us and plans start at $40 per month! You can check them out here!
Have a back up plan
Don’t expect everything to be perfect. You should not expect negative outcomes for every situation in your life but you should know that with every situation, you could have a positive or negative experience.
Just know that when you get to a foreign country, it may not meet all of your expectations and you should always have a plan B. Have an emergency fund and a backup plan in case things don’t turn out the way you thought they would.
Make sure you have enough money to either book a flight back home or book a flight to another country as a plan B.
Bring the necessities and bring just that!
It can be easy to overpack and think that foreign countries won’t have anything that you are used to having back home as I mentioned above. When we first traveled overseas, to Chiang Mai, Thailand, I nearly brought everything that I owned with me.
I had 2 suitcases filled with all of my makeup, tons of clothes, shoes, dresses, and just soo much stuff, most of which I never wore! The overweight luggage had cost us $2k to be able to take it with us to our next destination.
This is a mistake we have definitely learned from!
Thailand, for example, has really nice malls and trendy clothes that I am sure a lot of girls bring back home after their trip! I have seen supermarkets in Thailand that are like a Walmart x 5.
In Bangkok, we saw shopping malls with 5 floors and it had a movie theatre and arcade center on the top floor! Based on what I have seen, anything you think you may not find in these foreign countries, you will almost always find it. There are lots of American brands in foreign countries.. Even though they may sometimes be overpriced, you will most likely find a store with familiar products from groceries to hair products and many other items.
Look out for scams
This is not something that you can always prepare yourself for. It may just happen and you will learn from it. Check out some Facebook nomad or ex-pat groups and hear some stories from locals or foreigners who have been there for a long amount of time.
Sometimes they will make posts telling you what life is like in that country and give you some different tips and advice across different topics. They may tell you areas to stay away from and mention the safest areas to go to based on past experience.
You can do a simple google search or go on YouTube and search for something along the lines of: “scams to look out for in Thailand”. You can find out about scams that tourists fall into and look out for these scams when you are there.
Go to a local bank to exchange money
Never exchange your currency at the airport! This is a popular place for tourists to exchange their currency and airports know this and really take advantage. 32.5 Thai baht is equivalent to $1 USD and if you were to exchange $1 USD at the airport, you would only get like 20 Thai baht from it, give or take.
This is how much value you can lose from the money you’re exchanging at these airports. ATMs are not the best either because you don’t get a good exchange rate as well and end up being ripped off by ATM fees every time you decide to take out money.
Your best option is to exchange your money at a local bank with a teller and get the most out of your money there.
Have toilet paper!
Carrying some extra toilet paper around will save your life, especially in Asian countries where toilet paper is not always a common thing. When you need to go.. you got to go!
You will definitely be grateful that you walked with some toilet paper in your bag just in case you need to stop to use the bathroom.
Get Your Phone unlocked before flying abroad
This is very important to do before flying because when your phone is unlocked, you are able to get a sim card in a foreign country and you will be able to use your phone and have a data plan outside of the country.
One time, when I was in Brazil, I could not get a data plan because the store told me that my phone was locked.
A good data plan is definitely something you’ll want to fall back on just in case your wifi is unstable and you need to
get some work done.
Try to dress culturally
Just as we all tried to fit in with the latest fashion trends in high school, it is a good idea to know about the dress code in the country you are moving to or visiting. The more you dress like the locals, the less you will look like a tourist.
This is good because you will then be less likely to come across people who may try to rob you or take advantage of you.
Even If you don’t necessarily look like you were born in that country, it could still be good to dress like a local so that people won’t mistake you as a newcomer and take advantage of you, assuming that you don’t know anything.
Download google maps!
Google maps can be your best friend whether it’s in an unfamiliar place in your hometown or a new area while living abroad! I would still manage to get lost even with the help of google maps but my boyfriend is really good with it.
He uses it all the time for us to find our way around in foreign countries. We used google maps many times.
To find a nearby temple in Thailand, a local Starbucks in our area, and to Austin find his way home after a 4-mile run!
Familiarize yourself with the culture
Why is it so important to familiarize yourself with a country’s culture? This is because you want to have a good understanding of the culture so that you do not accidentally disrespect any of the locals.
For example, it is a form of disrespect to walk with dirty shoes in a person’s house in Thailand or even in schools and shops. The feet are seen as the dirtiest part of the body to Thai people, so you do not want to be disrespectful by doing something as simple as walking into someone’s house with your shoes on.
Knowing just the smallest parts of the culture can allow you to make friends because people gratefully appreciate it when you have respect and knowledge of their culture.
If you don’t want to just read from us but want to keep up with our travels as well, go ahead and follow us on our travel page on Instagram on Instagram @onelifepassport! and follow us on YouTube! Comment below what else you would like to know/see about our experiences while traveling the world!
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