Being able to work from anywhere and to travel constantly are two of the biggest upsides to being a freelancer. However, if you just uproot yourself to work halfway around the globe with little planning, chances are you’re going to run into problems.
If you think you’re ready to try digital nomading, I’m not going to talk you out of it. What I’m going to do is help you plan ahead so you run into as few problems as possible, because setbacks can and will happen.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how to audit your payment methods, account for time zone differences, and research the area where you’re going to stay. There’s a lot of ground to cover before you uproot yourself, so let’s get right to it!
1. Audit Your Payment Methods
The worst situation you can find yourself in when you travel is to have no money and no way to access your bank accounts. These days, it’s not as common for banks to freeze your cards if you use them away from home, but it does still happen in some cases.
As a freelancer, you have a few additional things to worry about. For example, some payment processors can also freeze your account if they detect someone accessing it from a foreign IP. PayPal, for example, doesn’t like it when you do this and since most of us use to get freelance payments, it can make for some awkward situations.
Before you go off into the wild, here’s a quick list of steps to ensure you won’t have problems accessing your money:
- Check your bank or payment processor’s documentation to find out if you can access them from abroad.
- Check if any cards you plan to bring with you charge exorbitant fees for conversions or withdrawals.
- Bring your local sim card with you in case you need to receive codes via SMS to access any of your accounts.
- If you can’t find any information about using your payment processors abroad, don’t be afraid to call them and ask a support agent.
All this stuff seems pretty evident, but you’d be surprised at how often digital nomads have problems accessing their money due to lack of planning. Even if you’re sure you have everything in order, I recommend bringing more than one credit or debit card with you when you travel.
For example, earlier this year I traveled through Colombia and Argentina. For some reason, one of my cards didn’t work for in-person purchases while I was in Colombia, and the same happened with another card in Argentina. If I didn’t have a backup, I would’ve been in a pretty awkward position and my trip would have been ruined.
2. Take Time Zone Differences Into Account
As a freelancer, you probably work with clients from all over the world. It takes time to adjust to each client’s unique schedule and moving things up even an hour or two can throw your entire system into disarray.
For example, one of my clients is based in Italy, so they’re five hours ahead of me. That means, when I wake up in the morning at a leisurely 9 AM (perks of being a freelancer), I often have emails from them sitting in my inbox from hours ago. Most clients are pretty cool about time zone differences, and they don’t mind if you don’t answer them right away. However, if you’re traveling through a different time zone, it’s often a good idea to update your clients about when you’ll be available.
Here are a few tips to ensure your change in time zone doesn’t impact your work:
- Research what the time difference is before you go and inform your clients if you think you might be replying to messages a little later than usual.
- Mention during which times you’re going to be available to reply to messages, take Skype calls, and other methods of communication.
In my experience, even small changes in time zones are often enough to get you playing catch up. With that in mind, your best bet is to get a bit ahead of schedule before you depart, so when you land at your destination, you have some extra time to adjust to the change.
3. Research Your Destination Well Before You Arrive
In my home country, you can’t count on the fact you’ll have internet access anywhere you go. Even fancy hotels sometimes have spotty internet service because of a lack of investment in the area.
That means, traveling anywhere was an exercise in frustration for me. Anywhere I went, I had to call ahead to ask if they had reliable internet access and look up reviews online just to be sure.
Nowadays, I’m living in a different country, and moving around is much simpler. I can use my smartphone as a hotspot anywhere I go. I can’t remember the last time I went somewhere without internet.
Even so, it’s always a good idea to look up this kind of information before your trip, particularly if you’re going somewhere off the beaten path. You’d be surprised at how many places around the world have shoddy internet access, even if you’re only a bit outside a major city.
Aside from connection issues, here are a few things that are always worth researching before you try digital nomading:
- Conversion rates to the local currency.
- Average prices for eating out, taxis, and room rentals.
- What apps locals use to move around in case Uber doesn’t work where you’re going.
- How to get a local sim card and bonus points if you have a smartphone that can hold more than one of them.
- Whether you need to use a card of any kind to ride public transport.
That’s a lot of stuff to keep track of. A lot of people just dive in headfirst, and it doesn’t blow up in their faces. However, if you’re obsessive about planning, like me, you won’t be able to enjoy your stay as much unless you’ve done your research well.
It’s easy enough to find most information. However, for the best possible tips, you’ll want to check digital nomading forums and read about other people’s experience where you’re going.
Working while you travel is always a thrill. However, in my experience, most people who try digital nomading and succeed owe a lot of that to preparation, rather than just a desire to travel. Most importantly, you want to make sure you already have clients in place before you move halfway across the world. If you want to build up your client base before you go, check out the Paid to Blog Jobs board to find new leads.
Before you give digital nomading a shot, here are three things you should consider:
- Auditing your payment methods.
- Taking time zone differences into account.
- Researching your destination well before your departure.
Do you have any questions about how to make digital nomading work for you? Ask away in the comments section below!