How to stay safe traveling as a digital nomad

How to stay safe traveling as a digital nomad

A digital nomad's guide to traveling the world safely

As a digital nomad, the world is your playground. You have the freedom to work and explore wherever your wanderlust takes you. However, with this freedom comes the responsibility to prioritize your safety and well-being while navigating new destinations.

Good preparation decreases the chance of getting yourself into some risky situations. Learning about the risks will prepare you ahead of time so you will be less likely to get caught by surprise.

Whether you're hopping between co-working spaces or setting up your office in a beachside cafe, here's how to stay safe while traveling as a digital nomad:

Choose Your Destinations Wisely:

Research potential destinations thoroughly, considering factors such as safety, cost of living, healthcare quality, and internet connectivity. Consider factors such as visa requirements, language barriers, and cultural differences when selecting your next destination.

Safety:
Check travel advisories and safety ratings for countries or regions you plan to visit and prioritize destinations with low crime rates and stable political climates.

Crime:
Learn about crime rates in different neighbourhoods you're about to visit. Find out which areas of your destination are safe and which are considered shady.

In countries where the crime rate is high, manage your foreign exchange, taxi booking and other necessities with government approved agencies. Resist dealing with currency exchangers, gypsy taxis and suspicious street vendors.

Political climate:
Follow up on the current news, especially any political unrest & covid related regulations.

Natural disasters:
Get familiar with the climate (weather, seasons, altitude, rain, temperature, humidity) & most common natural disasters. Some places may be advised not to visit during times, so make sure you know what to expect.

Before leaving on your trip, visit your state department’s website and obtain travel advisories for your destination country.

Vaccinations:
See your GP, private travel clinic or a pharmacy offering travel healthcare services at least 8 weeks before you're due to travel to allow your body to develop immunity.

 

Visa requirements:
Some countries may require you to apply for a visa before your arrival, while others may grant a visa on entry. Digital nomads tend to hang around longer than holidaygoers, make sure you only stay as long as you are welcomed and apply for the right visa.

Download an offline map before you go:
If you're going where the Internet is slow, mobile data is expensive, or you can't get online, you can save an area from Google Maps to your phone and use it when you're offline.

Insurance:
If you can't afford insurance, you can't afford travelling. Make sure you got yourself good medical, travel and gadget coverage before you go.

Language barriers and cultural differences:
Learn a bit of the local language, at least enough to get answers to basic questions. You can search for the 10 most common phrases. Also, if you'd like to learn a bit more than that, the free Duolingo app is great fun to pick up some basics.

Learn what the customs are at your destination & what could be offensive, so you can avoid provoking locals by accident.

Packing for a safe journey

Take only as much with you as you absolutely need during your travel. The less you take with you, the less your loss in case of theft.

Don’t carry expensive gadgets; leave your fancy toys at home. Of course, as digital nomad you need work equipment, but try to keep things to the minimum. For example if you have a phone & laptop you won't need a tablet.

Take copies of your passport, bank cards and other travel documents. Keep a set of the copies in your luggage and one set in your jacket. If any document gets stolen, you can take the copy to your local embassy.

Have enough cash on arrival in local currency in small denominations. If anything goes wrong, you've got enough till your next withdrawal.

If you’re carrying medication, leave some of them in your luggage and some in your pocket.

A good power bank could save you from a lot of trouble if you were to run out of juice when most needed.

Secure Your Accommodations:

Research the neighbourhood you're planning to stay at.

Choose accommodations with strong security measures, such as secure locks, surveillance cameras, and 24-hour staff presence.

Before booking anything, research what people say about the accommodation. It’s best to stay at places tried out and recommended by someone you know. If that's not possible, go for sufficient numbers in reviews. Research guest reviews and ratings for hostels, hotels, or Airbnb listings to ensure a safe and comfortable stay.

Consider booking accommodations in centrally located areas with easy access to transportation, amenities, and emergency services.

Only book from trustworthy websites.

Always make sure you've got guaranteed spot, hotels might overbook sometime.

If you plan to stay in a hostel, bring your own lock for your locker. This will save you renting one or anyone else having a key to it.

Establish Emergency Contacts and Protocols:

Compile a list of emergency contacts, including local authorities, embassy or consulate services, and trusted contacts in your network.

Create an emergency plan outlining steps to take in case of medical emergencies, natural disasters, or other unforeseen events.

Keep important documents such as passports, visas, and travel insurance information easily accessible in case of emergencies.

    Secure Your Digital Assets:

    Protect your digital devices and sensitive information from theft or cyber-attacks by using strong passwords, encrypted storage, and secure internet connections.

    Install reputable antivirus software and enable two-factor authentication on all your accounts to add an extra layer of security.

    Backup your data regularly to cloud storage or external hard drives to prevent data loss in case of theft or device damage.

    At your destination

    On your arrival:

    Contact doctors at your country’s embassy at your destination and inform them about your health needs if any. They’ll be available for contact during emergencies. If you suffer from any illness, carry a note from your doctor, along with your prescription and latest health reports.

    Register your international driver’s license with your country’s embassy at your destination. If anything happens on the road, your embassy will have contact information for you and will contact your family.

    Get a local SIM card with an international calling facility and data.

    Pick up a free map from any tourist info and keep it in your backpack in case your phone's battery dies or need to save it for later. If you have to check it go somewhere quiet, so you won't make yourself look like an obvious target.

    Stay Connected and Informed:

    Maintain regular communication with loved ones from home, sharing your travel plans and whereabouts for safety purposes. Whenever you move to a different location, leave them with the availability of the place you stay at (name, address, phone, email).

    Stay informed about local news, events, and safety updates through reliable sources such as government websites, news outlets, and expat forums.

    Join online communities or social media groups for digital nomads to exchange tips, resources, and safety recommendations with like-minded travelers.

    Practice Situational Awareness:

    Stay alert and vigilant in public spaces, especially in crowded tourist areas or unfamiliar neighborhoods.

    Have a map downloaded on your phone and one in your backpack with you. Check your route so that you know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. This will prevent you from asking directions of strangers and being led through a merry-go-round.

    Trust your instincts and be wary of suspicious behavior or individuals who may be targeting tourists or expatriates.

    Don’t get fully lost in the sights. Make sure you look around every now and then to be aware of any suspicious looking people. Staying alert can help prevent thefts and other crimes.

    Avoid walking alone at night, especially in poorly lit or isolated areas, and opt for well-lit routes or group outings whenever possible.

    Try To Blend In: Blend in as much as possible to avoid standing out as a tourist. This reduces your likelihood of being targeted for theft. Read about dressing advice, don't wear excessive jewellery or look like an absolute tourist held back by more than necessary luggage and exposed cameras.

    Don’t get into a battle of words with people you don’t know. This is how con people operate; they try to engage you in a conversation and try to lead you astray.

    Travel with pairs as much as possible. Solo travellers are usually targeted more often by criminals than those in a group.

    Follow night-time curfew rules if any. Avoid walking around in a strange area during the night.

    Get the phone numbers of local authorities whenever you travel to a new destination. Report a crime over phone the moment it occurs and follow it up with a written complaint.

    Even though tourist sites tend to attract crooks, usually they also enjoy a heavier police presence. It’s best to sign up for tours from your hotel and reputable companies.

    Read up on common tourist scams and crimes in your destination area.

    Prices, card payment & withdrawal. Get a sense of how much things cost at your destination and what your options are to access money.

    If you want to drive while abroad, obtain an international driving permit in advance from your local motor vehicle authority.

    Keep Your Money And Valuables Safe

    Keep most of your money on a card and only as much cash as needed for the day.

    Don’t carry all your cash in your wallet. Every time you open your wallet, you risk exposure. Hide a bit of your cash in a hidden compartment in your luggage and your clothing.

    Use your bank card to make purchases as much as possible, unless the charges are too high. Use cash only at cash-only outlets.

    Keep your valuables such as jewellery and costly belongings under lock and key in the main hotel safe. Even better if you don't bring them at all.

    Keep your wallet in your inner jacket pocket so that it won’t be easy to steal it. Carrying a money belt under your jacket is also a good idea.

    Use RFID protection.

    Traveling as a digital nomad offers unparalleled freedom and flexibility, but it also comes with unique challenges and responsibilities. By prioritizing safety, staying informed, and practicing situational awareness, you can navigate the world with more confidence and peace of mind. Whether you're exploring exotic locales or setting up your mobile office in a bustling city, remember that your safety is paramount. With careful planning and proactive precautions, you can enjoy a fulfilling and secure travel experience as a digital nomad. Safe travels!

    Do you have additional travel safety insights to contribute? We'd love to hear from you! Share your tips and suggestions by sending us a message, and together, let's empower our community with valuable knowledge to ensure safe and enjoyable travels for all.