5 Things I Wish I Hadn’t Left Till The Last Minute… When Preparing To Become A Digital Nomad

A lot of the delays I experienced were actually just the result of my own indecision…and my desire not to act prematurely on ANYTHING. But with the information I have now, in retrospect this is what I would have done:

I found so many of the blogs online to be amazingly helpful, but in spite of that they were often written by Americans or Brits and this meant that many of the details simply didn’t apply to me. I really didn’t have enough information specific to my situation in Australia…so it created a lot of doubt..which led to inaction…

5 Things I Wish I Hadn’t Left Till The Last Minute…

Apply for A Transaction Fee-Free Bank Account

I should have transferred over to a no-fee transaction account years ago. Yup. I guess it’s that syndrome that most of us tend to get that stopped me:

You know the one…where you are always being ‘sold’ to, and there always tends to be a catch, so you get cynical and as long as what you have works, you don’t want to risk getting into anything new that might have a hidden catch…

The point is, my bank was “working” for me. And my stance was, if the current fees were all I had to put up with, that was o.k.

Horribly complacent, I know. It’s the worst kind of attitude to take and I’m not proud. But it took my imminent travels to get me researching and making the leap for a bank that I didn’t know or trust.

transaction free bank account for travel
You’ll be glad you took the leap

Do better than I did, and apply for a fee-free bank account pronto.

I must say, though, in a way, I’m glad that I held off a little longer. I had read about a number of ways of handling money overseas, including travel cards – and had read a lot of good things about certain cards – only to later find out that I had read all the good reviews and somehow had missed out on the avalanche of bad ones.

I should have got off my ass earlier when it came to my bank account – but at the same time, I urge you to not to rush into anything, research as much as you need to in order to feel comfortable.

And if you can, utilize the service for a few months in your home country before you leave – just to be sure that everything is running smoothly. 

If you are from Australia and looking for a no-transaction account, Citibank Transaction Free Account appears to be the best one out there at present and served me well with not a single issue during 6 months in Asia.

Deciding Upon a VPN

I guess you can’t help it if you read 100 blogs but still miss out on some vital information. You can only do your best. Somehow, during all of my inquiry, I never realised the need for a VPN until a few days before I left for overseas.

What the hell, right? I mean it’s obvious.

But coming from a mostly non-tech background, it’s just one of the things that escaped my attention till the last moment. A VPN or virtual private network to the uninitiated provides a layer of protection to your online activities. Helps keep you safer over open WiFi networks and helps you disguise your location. You can be in one country and appear to be browsing from another country – allowing you to use the internet as if you were back home. Comes in handy.

Anyway, I proceeded to register whatever VPN I thought had good reviews. And I’m pretty happy with both the one I have on my phone and that which I have on my laptop. On my laptop, I use Witopia (here’s my referral link!). Although, I would have really liked to have had more time to shop around for both better quality, and prices.

Maybe commit to a longer plan, thereby getting a better deal. I just felt rushed, and security is not an area you want to feel that way, I’m sure you will agree.

Deciding What Gadgets To Buy and Take

From my day pack to my backpack, power banks, laptop and clothes, the items that were best suited to my interpretation of a digital nomad lifestyle (and the best quality, but lightweight..) were not to be found in Australia or on Australian websites.

So this meant that that I spent many hours researching products, reading reviews and vacillating – as is my wont anyway – before deciding to buy my gear…which then took weeks to ship from the US and Britain. Furthermore, as soon as I decided upon a purchase, I would get some really convincing reviews advising another product – or poking a great big hole in the one that I had been just about to buy. 

I don't regret my Logitech h340 headset
I don’t regret my Logitech h340 headset

Furthermore, as soon as I decided upon a purchase, I would get some really convincing reviews advising another product, or poking a great big hole in the one that I had been just about to buy. 

Come on, they kind of mattered – these were the items to be my only gear for the foreseeable future.

Or that is how seriously I chose to look at it. Now looking back I realise I could have been a lot more flexible with some things – but gadgetry is definitely something to sort out while you are still at home. This allows you to easily test, and if need be, return items before you find yourself without a permanent home

Deciding to Sell/ Not Sell Some Of My Stuff

You live and learn I suppose, but I delayed too long when it came to selling my belongings. Why? I just hate doing it. That’s totally not a good enough reason, but that’s what held me back, mostly.

Still, I did sell off my old laptop and was very pleased with how that went down. But, I would have liked to have gotten rid of a few more electrical goods. As it is, they are sitting at a friends house depreciating in value – and I’ll still have to deal with them later on. My advice is, if you are leaving, sell your stuff – unless it has particular sentimental value.

You can always buy the items again – and a better model – in the future.

Scanning My Documents and Photos

It looked like a small pile of things to scan. Really it did… And yet there I sat for two whole days in the last week before I was leaving, scanning page after page after page…

Aside from official documents, you may have years worth of scribbling in notebooks (as I did!), story ideas, poems, lists and other musings of yours that need to be saved. You can’t take piles of notebooks with you. But there’s no need to throw your thoughts out – scan em!

scan your documents
If you don’t have a scanner, take well lit photos of everything

Well, if I had to do over, I’d definitely get the scanning out of the way. We accumulate a lot of official documents over the years and those you can’t simply discard need to be scanned and saved with backup into space in the cloud.

Copies of photos and drawings can also be saved in this way, so go crazy. Make sure to remember to scan copies of current bank cards (both sides!!) and your passport and travel documents and send them to your email or some other secure location – handy if you lose your belongings.


So, now you know how I bungled things. How about you? Did you slip up or struggle with planning for your nomad debut? What have you since realised you would do differently next time? Fess up below!


2 thoughts on “5 Things I Wish I Hadn’t Left Till The Last Minute… When Preparing To Become A Digital Nomad

  • April 1, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    I’m still in the process of planning for my launch in 2017 but here’s a few things I’m doing so far.

    *Convert to an agile lifestyle: moving most of my computer files&programs to an external hard drive/dropbox/google drive. Set up a chrome account with productivity apps so it’s the same wherever I access a computer (only have to download chrome and login basically).

    *Selling off my belongings: including my bike, a kayak, and still going. If I can’t find a buyer, I’ll send it back home to my parent’s home. Used Let It Go, Offer Up, or Craiglists.

    *Got an REI Trail 40 backpack to start experimenting with going mobile. Having laptop, clothes, toiletries, gadgets, and other things around me all the time to see what it feels like. It’s cheap, lightweight and comfy. It’s designed for comfort the trail and also has a rain fly.

    *Signed up for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to rack up the airline miles and try it out at home. Got 60,000 points now to use! Now onward to learning about stopovers and open jaws for maximum travel awesomeness.

    *Trying VPNs at coffeeshop to see how they work out. I’ve been using free ones like Ghost VPN or Betternet. I’m sure the paid ones offer more reliable service but the free ones work for me right now.

    Cheers for this article.
    Tim recently posted…Nomad Hotspot: Chiang Mai,ThailandMy Profile

    • April 2, 2016 at 6:04 am

      All that sounds really great Tim, especially the part about trying out and testing your gear before you embark on your journey. As for VPNs I use a paid one on my laptop, but have recently found some real benefit in using a free one on my phone. It works well for me…sometimes free is good enough. The airline card sounds great. We don’t have options like that for Australians – or not ones that are any good anyway…so that is definitely a benefit for you. Sounds like you are really doing well. Keep it up, and thanks for the comment!


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