VERY practical things to do BEFORE you become nomadic

We became nomadic back in May 2016, mostly through sheer frustration after living in France, and we weren’t quite as prepared as we thought we were. In other words, the world isn’t quite ready for the progress of nomads and people who don’t conform to not having a constant address.

Here’s some of our tips based on problems we’ve encountered over the last few years.

Flowers in Florida on our nomadic tour of north America

Bank cards

In this day and age we have debit cards, credit cards and pre-paid credit cards (that aren’t actually really credit cards).

I would recommend getting as many sources of banking cards as possible, before you leave.

Why? For example when renting a car in Europe many agencies won’t accept debit cards or pre-paid credit cards and you’re required to have a physical credit card. Some ATM machines won’t accept retractions with a debit card and require a credit card or a pre-paid card.

Some of the cards we have are English, Australian, Bulgarian and Virtual. We did have French but that was so much hassle it just wasn’t worth it.


Non-conventional bank accounts

Please believe me when I say that you cannot have too many bank accounts!

Recently one of our conventional bank accounts (BNP in France) closed  our account without informing us – luckily we have other accounts to fall back on however another one of our conventional bank accounts (Natwest in UK) frequently blocks our cards and we’re required to ring them so as to unblock the card. On one occasion when we were in Spain, Natwest cancelled my card with no prior warning and required me to present myself at a London branch to collect a new one.

What I am trying to say is, when you bank with conventional banks, you have no control over many matters and it can be costly to keep ringing the bank and an utter pain in the arse.

So here’s our tips:

  1. Have as many bank accounts and bank cards as you possibly can.
  2. You might want to consider non-conventional providers such as Revolut, Monzo, Monese, Fidor, Ffrees, Transferwise or N26
  3. We use a company called TransferWise to transfer money between our accounts and we also have a Borderless Account (with a visa card) with them which means we can accept & make payments in any currency.
  4. We have also used WorldRemit to send ourselves cash and it’s best to set accounts like this up before you go.


Phone apps

I purchased a new phone just prior to becoming nomadic which has cloud storage. My phone is my everything and cloud storage is the key! Everything I need to do can be run through an app. All of the above cards & accounts can be managed through phone apps which requires less data than the laptop.

I control everything from my phone. To protect my identity I have two system identification set up and I run Turbo VPN & AVG.  I have folders of apps to enable easy access; Money, Travel, Shopping, Social Media, Education, Exercise.

If you can purchase a phone with a dual SIM card it is of huge benefit and will save any potential mishap of losing a SIM card.


Keep a telephone number from your country

It is essential to maintain one constant telephone number as bank accounts, bank cards and social media accounts often require proof of  a telephone number.

If you can get a dual sim phone, it really is beneficial.


Maintain proof of address

Despite there being more digital nomads and travelling families now than every before, the world is still hung up on proof!

We have opened a business mailbox that doesn’t use a PO Box address. If you’re interested it is called Capital Office but I think you must be British to open it or at least have a British residential address.

Proof of address became the bane of our existence. Whereas bank statements used to be acceptable, companies have started requesting utility bills.  A way around this would be to take out the cheapest possible mobile phone contract and maintain that whilst travelling. Sadly we cannot do this because we have no credit rating in the UK.


Car Rental Business Accounts

Consider opening up business accounts for car rental agencies. It saves a lot of hassle to know there’s always one car rental agency who will be able to rent to you.

We considered doing this with Entreprise and they only required a business card as proof of business. Most car rental agencies offer some scheme but it is best to set it up prior to becoming nomadic.


MIFI box

I don’t think there’s a country we’ve stayed in where we haven’t had some sort of problem with the wifi. It’s an ongoing joke that we’re forever in search of decent wifi.

I really recommend buying a MIFI box and using local sim data cards which are usually easy to purchase. If you take the mifi box into the shop with you, they will usually set up the data and connection which saves you having to register the sim card etc.

We use a black, Huawei pocket mifi that cost approximately £110, similar to the one below.


Doctors, Dentists & Candlestick makers

We haven’t seen a Dr in over 4 years but I did recently have dental work in Spain. You should decide whether you’re going to maintain your own records or have them centrally stored by your home-based practitioner.

If you have vaccinations & want to keep up to date with them, I’d recommend either having a print out of dates of jabs or scanning the proof and keeping a digital copy etc.

Unless you’re going somewhere that requires yellow fever, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be asked for proof.


Nomadic Insurance

This is a touchy subject and one that is bound to evoke feelings of hostility whenever discussed.

We personally do not have any insurance. No health insurance, no travel insurance, no possessions insurance. We agreed in the beginning to just take the financial hit if something went wrong because I think insurance is extortionate. Some people will not agree with this whilst others have the same idea (read The Pearce Family blog about a theft where he discusses how much he lost in comparison to how much he would have paid out).

So far we’ve paid out €300 for dental treatment, €1,000 for a missed flight to Athens and we may pay £200 to have a mole removed privately. I will probably pay out about €1,000 to have some extra dental work done but if I had the work done in the UK it would cost three times that.

If you want to buy insurance, the one that is always recommended and comes highly praised is WorldNomads.


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Very practical things to do before becoming nomadic