While many people aspire to be digital nomads, not many realize what it actually takes. Apart from certain skill sets that can be helpful and a strong mindset to survive the uncertainties of this lifestyle, you also need to be prepared for all sorts of situations beyond your comfort zone.
Yes, everyone will tell you about a good backpack and shoes to wander the world, which are essential, but I want to talk about a few additional things that may not occur to you immediately.
#1 Gadgets: Aim For Powerful, but Light
A digital nomad naturally carries a laptop and a lot of other gadgets to be able to work from anywhere. When I started traveling, I had a laptop that weighed literally a ton. It was a good, strong performer but carrying that on my back was a nightmare. I endured this for a while, but later on, I moved on to a much lighter laptop.
Similarly, I love my DSLR, but it is too bulky to carry around. Hence, I am beginning to consider getting a mirrorless camera. You should choose light gadgets without compromising performance. This is not always easy because light yet high-performing gadgets tend to be expensive.
So, do your research, scout good deals, or consider second-hand products. I recommend you to find lighter tech equipment because a heavy rucksack is not only an inconvenience but also a threat to your spine in the long run.
#2 Travel Insurance: Better Safe Than Sorry
Travel insurance is a must for any trip! There are lots of insurance providers out there which doesn’t make this choice an easy one.
I recommend you check out SafetyWing, a travel medical insurance for digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and remote workers traveling or living abroad around the world. It’s only $37 for 4 weeks of coverage for 18 to 39-year-olds, excluding coverage in the US. With SafetyWing, you choose a start date for the medical insurance, and it will extend automatically until you cancel. This way, you don’t have to worry about the policy expiring while you are still traveling. You can also purchase insurance when you’re already traveling, something many insurance providers won’t let you do.
SafetyWing travel medical insurance covers you for accidental injury or illness, hospital visits, and emergency medical evacuation. Additionally, they also cover you for travel delays, lost checked luggage, natural disasters, and personal liability. SafetyWing can be purchased in 180 countries, including India and also includes home coverage, in case you come home for a short visit before taking off to the world again.
#3 Mobile Hotspot: Never Go Without Internet
Most people in Western countries take internet connectivity for granted. However, it is not always so in many countries. WiFi hotspots are generally only available in major cities, and they can sometimes be a daunting task to find.
International roaming on your phone may work, but this can be expensive in the long run. But rest assured, in most major digital nomad hubs, you should be able to get a local SIM card or locate local hotspots, cafes, or coworking spaces to solve your internet problem and stay productive.
For India, I wrote a different post earlier about the best pocket WiFi. As a digital nomad, most of your work will be online, so this is really not something you can compromise with!
#4 Rain Cover: Keep Your Belongings Safe
Unexpected rain can quickly turn into a disaster as it can damage your belongings if you get stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Especially in tropical countries, you never know when it’s going to rain.
A good rucksack should always come with a rain cover. If it doesn’t, I recommend getting an extra one. I also like carrying additional plastic zip bags for all my important small gadgets like a phone, WiFi hotspot, and passport, just to be on the safe side.
#5 Data Backup: Never Lose Your Work
We all have a lot of data on our laptops, including photographs, write-ups, videos, and a lot of other things we are working on.
Generally, I keep most of my documents on my laptop or an additional hard-disk. However, these can always crash. I had a horrible moment a couple of years ago when my old laptop died and coincidentally, the external hard-disk also died around the same time, and I lost years of original photographs, just awful! Even worse if it is your work or work you’re being paid for.
That’s why you should consider a good online cloud storage solution for your most valuable data. Yes, there are free options too, but most of them have limited space.
Also, although I planned it as a top 5 post, a few more things came to my mind.
Travel Adapters: Stay Charged Anywhere
Travel adapters are another thing we usually don’t think about. However, I am sure you are aware that different countries have different standards for power plugs and you might not be aware if you are leaving your country for the first time that you will not be able to fit your devices into those plugs!
Always carry an international travel adapter with you. I put it in my carry-on luggage so I can charge my devices on the go, for example, at the airport while waiting around for a flight connection.
VPN: Browse Safely From Anywhere
As a digital nomad, you are most likely to end up using public networks, shared with dozens of strangers. Naturally, there are security threats in such cases. So, opting for a good VPN service can help you secure your work as you travel the world. As a digital nomad, your work will mostly be online, so this is an expense that can rarely be called a luxury. Moreover, a VPN can help you to overcome geographical restrictions and blocks if you connect to the right VPN server in a certain location. This is especially useful if you need to use YouTube and other streaming services on a daily basis.