Ever think of getting away?
In the post-Covid world, whenever that begins, there will likely be a lot of people who simply do not know how easy it can be to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle and let go and start over in a very real way.
I have been talking about this in my videos as I go through the process, and now, with my departure set for two or three days after my passport arrives, I have cleared most of the hurdles of preparation, but there are still quite a few that require a lot of attention.
Here are some highlights of this journey so far.
Briefly, in August, I posted a video in which I said I was dropping everything and moving to Denmark. The date was set for January 5, and the city of Copenhagen. That lasted about two days. The destination was abrupt as I had been planning for Reykjavik for years while waiting for the conditions to be right, i.e., get past cancer and liver transplant and recovery. Check on the conditions, but there was more.
For starters, it was a very expensive endeavor under the financial terms am working, and simple things like the availability of housing and the stiff competition for it led me back to Copenhagen which it had been before Iceland about 10 years ago. However, similar issues, and the fact that Europe is closed to the US and could be beyond my departure date.
So, the main question on destination became: Where can I go, and how much it is to live there?
Of course, to even be considered the city would need the required high speed and dependable internet availability, and things such as a gym and community workspace. Preferably, nomad hot spots, which are commonly reviewed by content creators on YouTube. (search “digital nomad Bali# for instance)
A quick note here, I need to shout out to two content creators who are a clear cut above the many solid digital nomads who provide such location reviews and lifestyle.
Lost LeBlanc is unique in that you can view his entire journey of many years from a backpacker to cashpacker (lol) to where he is now. His expertise in everything video, photo, travel in general, and his guides are incredibly detailed and well presented.
Conni Biesalski has had the biggest impact on me. Her life as a digital nomad over the past several years features not only a great running conversation on life, its struggles, and dealing with emotions, but her approach to minimalism helped push me out the door. It was in watching her that I got many of the basics of self-care on the road I plan to employ.
So, armed with my new head full of binge-watched videos, and a suddenly broad awareness of countries all over the world, I began investigating them one by one. Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, ColOmbia (trying to force spell check to stop it with the U, it is an O), Thailand, Bali, and even Jamaica for about a day.
Using Travelbans.org for updated information on opening, all passed, though the coffee beans south of the border must be behind why my South American friends in the Eternal Spring keep pushing their closer to the next month, each month, about five days before the end of the current month. Grrrr. I wanted to start there.
I have another blog that goes into more about where I am with countries, so back to other prep.
- Travel Insurance – Got to have it, especially me just 20 months post-transplant. That was budgeted to be about $40, as it was reported in various travel reviews but not for a liver cancer survivor. Nope, you get to pay about $90. Being that most digital nomads are decades younger than me, not even a company specifically for the population had a lower rate, which it does for people with all their factory-installed parts.
- International Drivers License – You better have one of these if you get pulled over in some countries, but it is a good idea to have them for any country. Think of it as one less thing you must explain to someone who does not speak your language has a badge and is asking you for one. I did not dig for a lower price on this as I found an online option for $25 and the convince of not having to go somewhere made this an easy choice.
- One-way vs Round Trip – Quandary: how do you plan when some countries require you have either a continuing ticket or a return ticket to get into their country? For regular travelers, this would be an exceedingly rare, at best, scenario unless they are moving to that country. Even then, they would likely have other documentation to resolve this issue of some form of emigration. In my case, like most nomads, not only do I not know when I am leaving, but I don’t even know where I am going next. The first one is easy for me. With most locations I am considering for first being on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, I would only buy a one-way ticket and then continue later. But, it was only $150 cheaper for the single ticket, so the round trip, with an arbitrary date of three months, works for other reasons, and is a sort of insurance policy should I need to return for any reason. Otherwise, I will simply not use that ticket, perhaps not even still be in that country, and move on. This appears to be a space I will be constantly considering as I will need to check the entry requirements of each country. If the do not require a second, as in “when you are leaving” ticket, I just fly with one-way tickets.
- Cell Phone – What about Verizon? In my case, I had to purchase the remainder of my phone, which was not too bad, so that I can port my number to google. With my phone unlocked, I will be using sim cards for data which I will purchase there. By porting my number with google, think of it like changing your URL to a new host but you do not purchase any storage space, I will pay $2 a month and then the cost of the cards. Since I will largely be in places with WiFi anyway, this will drastically cut my “phone bill”. If I did not buy any data cards and only used WiFi. My bill would be $2 bucks for the month (let that sink in, how much is your phone bill?). I think anyway, we will see how this works. My number will work, but I will use WhatsApp for calls.
- As far as a questionable cost for some but one I am willing to take with me is Netflix. It is not much, and its “residence” is where my two youngest kids live, and, well, they don’t use it because that may be against the terms of service, but they use it too. I figure by adding “too” to that, it is not a lie. Right? They don’t use it, they use it too. The reason I point this out is that my home data plan on which I currently use for Netflix is another sixty bucks gone from my budget. So, to recap, we have gone from about $170 for phone/internet/Netflix to $35 for phone/data/Netflix and have all the same stuff. If I do not need a new sim card, did not use it, or manage to stay only on WiFi, then that number would be $12 with phone/Flix.
- One of the biggest changes was my view on travel and lodging in the first place. I have found that the way we typically search for flights, hotels, other lodgings, is not only expensive, but the price fluctuates depending on who you are and what your search for. By simply changing your App, one finds most flights are significantly cheaper, some by more than half. Example from Atlanta to Medellin: Expedia $594, Skyscanner $252.
- Using Air B&B is by far the best option beyond knowing a local contact or showing up and shopping around, and even then you may still be on the ABB app anyway, their monthly search tool opens up another level of offerings that are much cheaper that one would think when you consider the local market. For example, in Athens, Ga., I pay $600 per-month rent, then another $225-ish for utilities, bringing me to about $825 with just rent, water, internet, and power. One month flat in Tbilisi with all of that: less than $200. So, again, let that sink in those reading this just looking at the savings of life on the road, kinda.
That is all for now but there will be more. Also, as it gets nearer, I will post a spreadsheet that will be updated with projected and real budgets, as well as budget specific to induvial places. The plan is to hit at least four countries by 2022, I already know which ones, and there is a second group for year two. Year one begins within 72 hours of my passport arriving. That will likely be Medellin (still closed) or Belgrade.
If you have not already, please consider heading over to my YouTube page and subscribing. If you ring the bell, it will let you know when I post a video. More on the playlists in the next blog entry. TY!!