Tips for new nomads

Becoming a citizen of the world carries a big learning curve. I’ll keep updating this post for those of you who want to take the outstep.

  • You may or may not know (I didn’t) that you can’t fly into most countries on a one-way ticket. To solve this problem for digital nomads, there’s a site called www.onewayfly.com that will book a real flight leaving your destination country, hold it for 2 weeks (long enough for you to make your 1-way trip), and then cancel it… all for $20. Done and done.
  • Google.fi is a really cool and affordable phone service; data charges are capped at $60. Paired with a Google Pixel 2, it’s perfect for digital nomads thanks to a virtual SIM card that lets you roam across 30 countries, and the service will automatically switch networks (across countries and also wi-fi). With my nifty bluetooth android earphones, I can simply say “OK Google, translate from English to ___.” It will automatically pull up Google Translate and translate the next thing I say in English into that language. Google Lens will also translate foreign signs into English.
  • International health insurance: While there are a few interesting companies specifically targeting digital nomads (like www.safetywing.com), I’m signed up with Cigna Global for more comprehensive coverage. I expect Safety Wing and World Nomads are designed for those in their 20s as it doesn’t include things like cancer coverage. Knock on wood I’ll never need it, but when you’re (ahem) a bit older it makes sense to have all the coverage you can get. On the plus side, global is much less expensive than US-only. The downside: pre-existing conditions are exempted from the international coverage; sadly, the Affordable Care Act can be totally disregarded by insurance companies for non-US-based coverage for citizens.
  • International travel insurance mostly appears to be covered by my Chase/United credit card. I’m currently investigating coverage for my cameras and got a quote from www.clements.com. It’s a bit pricey, but not as pricey as replacing my cameras. I’m thinking about it.
  • Mail forwarding! I’m using www.virtualpostmail.com. They’ll receive, scan mail and send to you digitally.
  • Banking. I signed up for Transferwise, a borderless bank account that can hold multiple currencies simultaneously, plus an ATM card with no fees if you pay in a currency you hold in your account. You’ll receive a US routing number as well as a Euro IBAN (Australia, NZ and British accounts also available). I plan to open a business account with them as well, which allows me to receive client payments in local currencies.
  • Regarding “stuff”: I sold nearly everything when I discovered how much it would cost to ship via container. That said, I have a few boxes in storage that I’ll ship over once I have a home base, and I also mailed two boxes to my business partner outside of Geneva. A helpful tip: If you plan to ship anything, be sure to itemize EVERYTHING in the box. No kidding. I had to empty out my boxes, sort and count every item, and list them (with counts) on a notepad. “Clothes” = 5 pants, 3 shirts, etc. “Photo equipment” = white bag with 14 items, 2 strobes, tripod, etc.

I think that’s it for now… feel free to ask about anything I’ve missed.

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