Congratulations on getting to the step of how to prepare for digital nomad travel! You’ve likely secured a remote job or business, figured out what to do with your housing, have been thinking about all the stuff you are going to toss or store in your parents’ basement and now are ready to fine tune your plans. Before you get on the road, you’ll want to think about cell phones and plans, health insurance, VPNs, bank accounts and credit cards with no fees and a whole bunch of other services. Things you didn’t think twice about before, but can add up to $1,000s in extra expenses, along with a lot of frustration, if not handled properly from the outset. This isn’t a long term travel packing list – it is a life on the road list and everything I’m grateful I handled before I started traveling.

How to Prepare for Digital Nomad Travel Checklist

  • Health Insurance
  • Cell Phone
  • VPN
  • No Fee Checking Account ATM Cards
  • No foreign transaction fees credit cards
  • Passport + 6 months before expiration + blank pages
  • Vaccinations
  • Onward Ticket and Visas

Get a Google Fi Cell Plan

Best International Calling Plans for Cell Phones

If you are able to sign up for Google Fi, it is, hands down, the best and most affordable cell phone plan for traveling the world. Google Fi works easily in 170+ countries and always puts you on the best available network between Wi-Fi and three 4G LTE networks. No sim cards, no data overage and you can keep your cell phone number from the US.

You pay $20 per month for unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international texts, Wi-Fi tethering and hotspot. Then another $10/GB for data – with a data cap (you don’t pay after the first $60) and all unused data rolls over. So for a maximum of $80 you can easily use your phone globally, right when you land, without having to “top off” any data or deal with SIM cards. The catch? Google Fi only works with certain phones, which include Pixel, iPhone and others. Note: If you join Google Fi through this link: Google Fi, we each receive $20 Fi credit.

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Get Your Travel Health Insurance

Travel Health Insurance

Travel Health Insurance is a must-have for any traveler and is always one of the most common questions on any DN page. How is the coverage? What happens when you actually submit a claim? Is skydiving covered? Our travel health insurance review analyzes Liaison Majestic, SafetyWing, World Nomads, Allianz, Bupa Global and other companies.


Virtual Mailbox – Best Mail Forward Scan Services

Best Mail Forward Scan Service

There are dozens of virtual mail services for travelers, in almost every country, so you’ll never have to worry about getting your mail and packages while on the road. Companies like EarthClass Mail, Anytime Mailbox, Traveling Mailbox and more provide a variety of services. These offers include mail scanning, mail forwarding, package forwarding, check deposit, permanent address, tax residency, drivers license address, voter residency and anything else you may require when away from home, or officially homeless by choice.

Read More: Best Mail Forward Scan Services

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Get a VPN

Express VPN for Travel

While I never used a VPN at home, I almost couldn’t live without one on the road. A VPN does more than offer privacy and security, which you will need. It also provides really important benefits, like watching Netflix or Amazon Prime in your home country! Or allowing you to switch countries, depending on who has what rights to your favorite shows. I also use it to watch a lot of sports, as I find it incredibly distracting to watch tennis narrated in another language or when I need a NY Yankees fix. When Serena starting fighting with the umpire at the 2018 US Tennis Open, I would have gone mad if the sportscaster were not speaking my language!

I’ve been incredibly happy with Express VPN ($99 per year) and highly recommend them. One trick for US natives, is to use the NJ or Washington DC VPN (not NY) to access to your favorite shows on your favorite apps. If you use my link to subscribe to ExpressVPN, we each get 30 free days!

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No Fee Checking Account + No ATM Fees for Withdrawals

Charles Schwab Free Checking Account

Best Checking Account – Charles Schwab. You pay NO fees for ATM withdrawals and they reimburse you at the end of the month for any incurred at cash machines. I received over $130 back one month from all my withdrawals in Buenos Aires (a very cash heavy – we don’t take credit cards – city). Works great online, no atm fees anywhere, includes a new brokerage account and as my personal referral, you may get $100 when you become a Schwab client (** I don’t know exactly how it works, but I get nothing for the referral, it’s a potential bonus for you).


No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

Best Travel Credit Card No Foreign Fees

You definitely want to find a Credit Card that does not charge foreign transaction fees, while also offering you lots of bonus points and miles. I got the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to start with, but wish I had gotten the Reserve. The Reserve card, which has a larger annual fee, offers most of the fee back in travel credits, along with access to thousands of worldwide airport lounges. If you start with the Preferred card, like I did, you have to wait a year before you eligible to upgrade to the Reserve card, so my advice is to go straight to the Chase Reserve Card. More Info: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card


More to Prepare for Digital Nomad Travel

  • Passport – make sure you passport is valid for at least 6 months, as many countries require it and make sure you always have at least 2 blank pages
  • Vaccinations – confirm you have all the vaccinations you nee before starting travel – and those you will need when going from country to country. For example, if you leave the US for Europe, you will not need yellow fever, but if you are heading from S America to S Africa, you will need proof of yellow fever vaccine. I had a friend leave Buenos Aires, with a stopover in Brazil, and she was sent back to Buenos Aires for 2 weeks to get the vaccine.
  • Onward Ticket and Visas – research all visas you may need to enter any country. Also be prepared with an onward ticket if you are traveling on a one-way flight. Many countries and airlines will not let you board with a one way ticket. www.bestonwardticket.com is super easy to use, works every time, and costs about $10 per onward ticket.

 
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Tech4Trek Discounts for Digital Nomads and Travelers

  • Note: If you join Google Fi through this link: Google Fi, we each receive $20 Fi credit.
  • ExpressVPN - use this link to sign up and we each get 30 days free!
  • Charles Schwab - pay NO fees for ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world and get reimbursed for those charged at machines. Use this link and you may get $100 when you become a Schwab client (** I don't know exactly how it works).
  • Chase Sappire Preferred Card - pay no foreign transaction fees, get 60,000 bonus points (about $750)
  • AirBnb - if you're new to AirBnb (is that even possible?), get $40 in travel credit on your first trip.