Travel Safety Tips for Digital Nomads
As we begin a new decade, we will no doubt continue to see the rise of the digital nomad. Advances in technology and the internet have allowed us the opportunity to break free from the confinement of an office and strict nine to five schedule. A digital nomad can explore the world while still earning an income, no longer restricted to whatever little vacation time is allowed by a traditional business.
Whether you’re thinking about becoming an online teacher, virtual assistant, or are looking to create your own website and become a blogger, there are a number of different ways to become a digital nomad. Many of these online careers allow you the freedom to set your own hours and potentially earn as much as you wish.
While becoming a digital nomad sounds like a dream job, there are of course challenges to be aware of. Creating an online business or starting an online career often requires time to set up. You may need to rely on savings to get you started as it may take a lot of time and effort before you start earning an income. There are then safety issues you need to be concerned about. Digital nomads are by name often frequent travelers and travel itself presents a number of safety issues. You then you have safety issues that specifically relate to running a business while travelling.
If you’re on the path to becoming a digital nomad, take a moment to check out these top tips for keeping yourself, your belongings, and your online career safe while travelling.
Choosing a Workplace Destination
Digital nomads often have the luxury of choosing where they conduct business from. Some choose to constantly travel around the world while others may set themselves up in a country for an extended period of time before moving onto another. Wherever you choose to work online from, the key is to select countries that are generally safe. This means you need to stay on top of the latest travel advice and travel warnings put out by your home country. Following travel advice from your home country is important because sometimes only specific groups of people are targeted in foreign countries and what may be a safe destination for some nationalities or religions may be a great risk for others.
You want to avoid travelling to destinations that are experiencing civil unrest, terrorism, health emergencies, or natural disasters. Travelling to unsafe nations will not only potentially affect your travel plans, but could also severely impact your income stream if you can’t work online.
It’s important to thoroughly research where you’re going to live while working as a digital nomad abroad. Seek out safe areas within a city and select accommodation that provides adequate security when it comes to your personal space, parking area, and the hotel or apartment complex itself. Many digital nomads, especially those just starting out, may be forced to look into cheaper accommodation that will fit their budget, but note that there may be a much greater security risk staying in places like hostels where you may be forced to share a room with complete strangers. Lack of privacy could also hinder your ability to work effectively as a digital nomad.
Using a VPN
Digital nomads are often forced to use public Wi-Fi which can be a security issue. In order to prevent others from stealing your sensitive data such as user names and passwords, it is recommended that you invest in a VPN. A VPN or Virtual Private Network will allow you to work online using a more secure server that can be based in another country. Not only will a VPN allow you to hide your browsing activity from the local network, but it also gives you the ability to access websites that may be blocked in the current country you are travelling in. Countries such as China use firewalls that greatly restrict what online content is accessible to you, but a VPN will often allow you to bypass this internet censorship.
When choosing a VPN, it’s important to make sure you compare popular options, as each will have different features, like browser extentions, number of servers you have access to, whether they work with streaming, whether they work in all countries, etc. For instance, check this comparison of NordVPN vs ExpressVPN which are two of the most reliable, but offer different options depending on your use of the internet.
Secure your data
A VPN will help to protect some of your sensitive data, but there are other safety measures you should consider for protecting all your digital nomad data. Always encrypt sensitive files in case your computer, phone, or external hard drive is lost or stolen. You should also consider using cloud storage to store your most important files that you frequently need and use for your online business. Cloud storage allows you to store your important files on remote servers that can be accessed from the internet and often offer advanced data encryption. This means even if your computer is stolen, you won’t lose access to all the files needed to quickly start up your business when you acquire a new computer.
Make Others Aware of Your Travels
Being a digital nomad means you aren’t checking in with the office and co-workers on a daily basis. Because digital nomads often travel around frequently, they may not even see close friends and family all that often. Because of this, it’s important to at least let some family members or close friends know where you are at all times. Email them your itinerary plans and provide them with contact numbers. Plan certain times to catch up with them to let them know how you’re doing. If you suddenly fail to make contact for an extend period of time, your friends and family will be able to provide information to authorities such as where you last where and where you were planning to be. This can be beneficial should you experience a health emergency, get lost, or fall victim to kidnapping.
Avoiding Infectious Diseases
All travellers including digital nomads should be sure to get all the immunisation shots required or recommended for the destinations they are travelling to. There are many mosquito-borne illnesses such as Yellow Fever or the Zika Virus that are prevalent in many regions of the world.
Foodborne illnesses are another serious health concern to be aware of as roughly 50 million people each year experience food related diseases such as salmonella and norovirus. Always be aware of what you are putting in your body, making sure to always stick with safe drinking water and avoiding dodgy eateries that may not practice proper food handling procedures.
Of course, there is COVID-19. Travel restrictions may have eased, but the novel coronavirus remains. You should not be complacent. Get immunized against COVID-19 and follow up on booster shots. While wearing masks is no longer mandatory in some countries, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure to stock up on high-filter masks. You can opt for the standard surgical masks or upgrade to KF94s, N95s, or KN95s. The important thing is that you always wear a mask, especially in a crowded place.
Limit close contact with large numbers of people in confined spaces and restrict touching public surfaces whenever possible. Carrying and using hand sanitiser as well as washing your hands before eating will help you avoid getting sick. It is much easier to get sick while travelling since you are exposed to many things you may not have built up immunity towards. The stresses of travelling can also sometimes weaken your immune system. If a digital nomad gets sick while travelling, it not only affects their travel but their work as well.
Protecting Personal Belongings
Because digital nomads travel often, they often carry their most valuable and prized possessions with them all the time. It pays to invest in theft-proof suitcases, backpacks, and handbags. Always secure items like cameras, cell phones, and laptops in secure pockets and always pack them in your carry-on luggage when flying. They even make GPS tracking devices which you can attach to your most valuable electronics in case they are lost or stolen. Getting items like your computer back in a timely manner is vital to carrying on with your online business.
Scams are more prevalent in certain nations and something you should be aware of. Although rare, falling victim to scams can not only lead to theft but also may put yourself in danger. Don’t be afraid to ask for identification when confronted by authorities and always trust your instinct when it comes to trusting people. If offers seem too good to be true, they most likely are. Be wary of accepting offers or advice from strangers if things don’t add up.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Even digital nomads who take all the necessary precautions to avoid travel mishaps can fall victim to theft, travel delays, or emergencies while travelling. While most travellers settle for single-trip policies, frequent travellers like digital nomads might want to look into annual multi-trip policies that can save them money.
Travel insurance can protect you financially from travel that is affected by natural disasters or range of other emergencies. One of its greatest benefits is that many policies offer unlimited overseas medical treatment which is extremely important for digital nomads. Your home country health insurance won’t generally cover you if you need medical treatment while travelling abroad and this could leave you with enormous medical bills should you require treatment overseas.
Travel insurance can also insure your personal belongings and business equipment. If your valuables are lost, stolen or damaged during transit or while visiting other countries, they will be covered up to the amount insured on your policy. Always make sure to read the fine print of your travel insurance policy to make sure your policy covers all you need it to.