10 Travel Hacks Every Digital Nomad Should Know
Over the past few months, social media feeds have filled up with photos and updates from the only people traveling right now: digital nomads.
If you’re wondering how you can get in on the action, keep reading for our top 10 travel hacks for a smooth transition into the digital nomad lifestyle.
1/10: Join a Frequent Flyer Mileage Program
Don’t miss out on the many benefits of signing up for an airline mileage program. First of all, most of these programs are free to sign up. Many also offer credit cards that offer “points” or “miles” in exchange for usage. Check out the major players (Delta SkyMiles, United MileagePlus, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Southwest Rapid Rewards, or JetBlue TrueBlue) to see what plan is the best for your lifestyle. All of these loyalty programs work with major international airlines as well, so you can earn points each time you fly.
Additionally, many of these programs offer rewards for card holders, completely free. As long as you’re flying with the airline or an affiliate, you may qualify for free checked bags, VIP lounge access, seat upgrades, priority boarding, TSA pre-check, and more.
2/10: Get Travel Insurance
As a digital nomad and avid traveler, you know that the unexpected can happen at any time. Avoid having to make an emergency GoFundMe for hospital bills and buy some coverage proactively. Trust us on this one, insurance for traveling is worth it, especially when your nomadic lifestyle depends heavily on those valuable electronics. You never know when your flight leaves early, your bags get lost, or you get sick on the road. Give yourself peace of mind and stress-free travel with travel insurance.
3/10: Consider Staying in each Destination for (at least) a Week
The digital nomad lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint. Finding the right flow for boosting productivity during the work day is essential, and moving every few days makes that really difficult. If you spend at least a week, or even up to a month in each destination, not only will it give you the chance to keep on top of your workload, you will also save money on accommodations with weekly or monthly discounts. Staying in one destination for longer also lets you experience local life and form part of a community there.
4/10: Learn About WiFi Speeds
It doesn’t matter if you’re not a tech-savvy person, but if your livelihood is going to depend on WiFi, you better learn the basics. Here is a quick guide to get you started on the major vocabulary:
- Bandwidth: This is often mistaken for internet speed but it’s actually the volume of information that can be sent over a connection in a measured amount of time. This is calculated in megabits per second (Mbps). A decent bandwidth, according to the Federal Communications Commission, for digital nomads is between 12 to 25 Mbps. This is based on 2 users or devices with a high usage (zoom calls, email, video streaming, social media simultaneously). Overall, the more internet bandwidth you have, the higher the volume of data you can download at a reasonable pace.
- Download Speed: This refers to how many megabits of data per second it takes to download data from a server in the form of images, videos, text, files and audio. A minimum download speed for a nomadic living is 25Mbps. However, keep in mind the amount of other devices and users that are also using the same internet provider. Most of our apartments at Casai have a download speed of 125Mbps.
- Upload Speed: The upload speed is usually a lot lower than the download speed as the majority of internet activities require more download bandwidth. Sending emails with large attachments and video calling are the main use of upload speeds. An upload speed of 5Mbps and upwards is ideal for digital nomads who upload videos to Youtube or use live, cloud-hosting documents like Google Docs.
- Ping: In most internet speed tests, you will have a ping result. This checks if the server is reachable and if there is any delay in the response time. The ping time, measured in milliseconds, is basically the responsiveness of your network connection. A good ping time sits between 65ms and 100ms and anything less than 60ms is ideal for online gamers and undisturbed video calls.
The most important app a digital nomad can have on their phone is an Internet Speed App. Those who seriously rely on the best wifi check if their internet connection is up to scratch as soon as they check into a new place. One of the best apps to download is the Speedtest App.
5/10: Get an international phone plan and/or unlock your phone
You never want to be in a situation where you’re starting an important call and the WiFi cuts out. No matter where you are in the world, accidents and emergencies happen. Before traveling abroad, signup for an international phone plan with roaming data so you can hotspot your phone in a pinch.
Alternatively, many travelers opt to purchase a phone plan in their destination country. If you choose to go this route, make sure you unlock your phone ahead of time so you can use a local SIM card.
6/10: Find a bank that works for you
Not all credit card companies, banks, and lenders are working in your favor. All providers and companies offer a wide range of services and benefits, so make sure you do some research before jumping on a plane.
American foreigners and expats worldwide rave about the benefits of Charles Schwab since they reimburse ATM fees. Some prefer the American Express cards that offer points back on international dining, hotels, and car rentals.
7/10: Join a digital nomad community online
Sites like Reddit and Facebook have tons of resources for foreigners. These sites have pages, groups, and communities of expats and digital nomads who share tips, meet up, and ask for advice. It’s not a bad idea to join a few of these groups in anticipation of your travels, so you can find answers quickly and easily when you’re looking for recommendations or support. Many of these pages also advertise rooms for rent, furniture for purchase, remote work, or unique experiences.
8/10: Download a VPN
If you are concerned about the security of your information (banking details, passwords, etc.), you may want to use a virtual private network or VPN while traveling. The VPN routes your internet through a private server as opposed to its usual internet service provider or ISP, so the data is not tied back to your private device. Some travelers note that using a VPN while searching for flights helps them find better prices. Start with a free option or free trial to see if it’s worth it based on your lifestyle.
9/10: Travel with a portable hard drive
These days it feels like our data is synonymous with our identities. Avoid the heartbreak of losing everything and invest in a good portable hard drive. These devices are light, compact, and can store incredible amounts of data. This way, you can backup your files weekly without worrying about any unforeseen and unfortunate situations.
10/10: Invest in good headphones
If you’re constantly switching between traveling on the plane, working in cafes, and taking meetings on the go, a good pair of headphones is a must. Not only will you be able to focus better, you’ll be more productive. Some features to look out for are comfort, battery life (if bluetooth), and active noise-cancelling (ANC).
With these travel hacks, you’re ready to become a digital nomad. It can be daunting at first going from a 9-5 office job to transitioning into a nomadic lifestyle but using the best tools at hand, you’ll soon be able to work from anywhere in the world (that has a fast internet connection of course).