This is the final part in Meredith's series on How to Prepare for Long-Term Travel! In Part 1, she helped you ensure your spending power while you travel with her tips for using debit and credit cards. Part 2 was all about insurance (what you need and what you don't). Now she shares her experience with apps, phone plans, and taking care of business when you're on the road.
Is There An App For That?
Yes. For everything. Download these:
This is a text and media messaging platform that works over cellular data or wifi for free to any international number that is also using WhatsApp. All the cool kids are doing it. That's how you'll keep in touch with family at home as well as all the new travel friends you'll meet. Even hostels, taxis, and tour companies often use it.
Easily track all your expenses by category in multiple currencies and manage against your initial budget.
If you have a travel buddy or 10, you can each download this app and keep track of what you are spending and who should split it. At the end it tallies it all up for you.
Downloadable offline maps. A lost traveler’s best friend.
Voice and video calls over wifi.
Exchange rates at your fingertips.
Journaling app where you can insert pictures, music and more, and later upload, download, print, etc. It loses the charm of writing in a real book, but I found I keep up with it better on the app and it helps organize my photos.
Call Me, Baby
We’re accustomed to having a computer in our pocket and being connected 24/7. While part of the beauty of travel may be falling off the grid for a while, it may not be a full-time option, especially if you’re running a business. Consider these options:
Keep a U.S.-Based Plan
I have T-Mobile, which offers unlimited texting and 2G data, and calls at 20 cents per minute in more than 140 countries with their Simple Choice and T-Mobile ONE plans. Though it was an added expense of $60-70/month, it was so convenient and provided peace of mind.
Purchase a New SIM in Each Country
Carry an unlocked phone and purchase a new SIM in every country. This is probably the most cost-effective, but it requires effort to purchase a SIM and keep it loaded with the proper amount for whatever your needs are.
Choose no service, just enjoy your freedom and use Whatsapp and Skype only when you have wifi access.
At-Home Personal Assistant
It's likely you'll need some help in your home country. My parents were very helpful receiving my mail, mailing the occasional check (yes, people still use checks), and helping with things I had trouble doing abroad. Find a friend or family member who is willing to be your forwarding address and to help as needed. Consider leaving a few signed checks as well as all of your important information (passport, insurance, auto info, etc). And then bring home lots of presents for that person.
Taking Care of Business
As an entrepreneur or digital nomad you might take your work on the road. Remember these considerations:
Strong, Reliable Internet
Depending on where you are traveling, this could be a challenge. Hostel wifi can be spotty or slow during peak times, and there may not be any quiet areas. Consider an AirBnB when you need to work and check with the owners about internet.
Use cloud services as well as USB drives to have backups of your work when possible. Laptop bags can be a target for theft, so consider disguising it or carrying a backpack. And of course make sure your electronics are covered by your travel insurance.
Consider renting space if needed. Checkout Global Coworking Map for a map of coworking spaces in 96 countries, or LExC for a network of spaces. Consider subscriptions to networks of spaces like Copass or Impact Hub.
You may have to plan a little more that the average long-term traveler to ensure that you aren't trekking and out of touch when you need to be reachable.
Meredith McCurdy is returning to the U.S. after a year of globetrotting. A sports marketer, yoga teacher, and wanderluster, she loves helping others take the travel plunge.