Do you want to enjoy travelling the world while simultaneously running your business? We’ve done it, and we’ve created the ultimate guide for how you can too. You may think this type of life is a faraway dream, something you could never actually accomplish. But you’re wrong.
We’ve been on our travelpreneur journey for years and have perfected the art of running our business on-the-go.
And now… we want to share it all with you!
With our juicy secrets, tips, and tricks, you are just one plane ticket away from starting your travelpreneur journey.
Want to skip to one of the sections of the post? Go ahead, use the menu below!
What Is a Travelpreneur and Is It The Life For You?
Essentials for the Aspiring Travelpreneur
The Wonderful World of Accommodation
What Is a Travelpreneur?
Travelpreneur—a portmanteau combining travel and entrepreneur—is a new term: so new that it doesn’t yet appear in dictionaries. We define a travelpreneur as an individual who operates a successful business and is location independent. This means that the business continues to operate profitably and under the same principles, regardless of the owner’s physical location.
Sounds pretty great, right?
Well, it is. And it’s entirely within your reach.
Lyndsay, Jonathan, and Zeke on the plane to Chiang Mai, Thailand (2018)
The Way of the Travelpreneur: A Choice Worth Making
Jonathan, the founder of SEOButler, has always enjoyed the life of an international traveller. So, when founding the business that would one day become SEOButler, it only made sense that it would be an international endeavour.
SEOButler has offices and team members all around the globe. Therefore, in most of our travels, we fly between different international locations where we conduct business and see all the stops we can along the way.
On a business level, there’s much to be gained from the travelpreneur lifestyle other than merely seeing the world—although we’d be lying if we said that wasn’t a major part of the appeal!
Our jet-setting allows us to meet with our clients and remote team members in person. We also reap tangible benefits due to meeting influencers and new business contacts along the way.
Zeke, Jonathan, and Lyndsay in Berlin
Dispelling the Myths–Stop Listening to Everyone Else!
Many people come to the mistaken conclusion that the travelpreneur lifestyle is simply “too good to be true.”
However, if you’re willing to build a business that you can operate regardless of your location, you can make the travelpreneur dream happen for you too.
Let’s start by addressing some of the common misconceptions that convince people not to pursue the travelpreneur lifestyle.
- I Need to Start a Blog
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a blog to succeed as a travelpreneur, and running a blog is not the only way to make money online. There are countless different businesses you can operate with nothing but a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection–that might involve a blog, but it doesn’t have to.
- I Don’t Have Enough Followers for That
It’s common for people to think that you need tons of Instagram followers to chase the travelpreneur lifestyle. Your follower count is not something you’ll get asked when booking plane tickets. Not every travelpreneur runs a travel-themed Instagram, and you don’t need to either.
- There’s Nothing I Can Do On-the-go That Will Make Me Money
If you don’t already have a business that you can run on-the-go, create one! Starting up or acquiring an online business today is one of the simplest and most versatile ways you can achieve financial freedom.
Set up properly, an online business keeps the money flowing in while you travel, allows your office to be wherever you are, and enables you to stay in constant touch with your business partners and hold meetings with them without being in the same room–or even the same time zone.
- A Business Can’t Succeed When Its Owner Is Never Around
Many fear that running their business remotely and leaving employees unattended is a model destined for failure. But this is changing. Nowadays, with Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, Slack, and other communication services–coupled with project management tools like Trello and Asana–business owners can be “there” and “not there” at the same time.
- My Business Isn’t Successful Enough for This Lifestyle
You might be right about that, but only for now. If your company isn’t generating the money you need to operate it while travelling the globe, you may be able to address this problem by adjusting what your business offers or how you offer it. Give your clients something worth buying by providing unique services that actually work, and the rest will come naturally.
For example, for digital marketers, our SEO Agency Partnership Program allows our partners to simultaneously offer quality SEO to their clients while alleviating the heavy lifting of running the campaign themselves.
- I Can’t Afford to Travel That Much
It’s easy to think like this when you’re just starting out on your travelpreneur journey–after all, vacations are expensive, and who can afford to be on vacation 100% of the time? However, this is subjective and depends on your priorities. Thanks to the internet, planning accommodation, flights, and everything else that goes along with travelling the globe is cheaper and more accessible than ever. People are often stunned at just how affordable our style of travelling can be.
When people hear how frequently we incorporate travel into our business operations, they’re often both perplexed and intrigued at how we manage and pay for it all while still growing and operating a successful company.
That’s why we’ve written The Definitive Guide to Life as a Travelpreneur.
Read on to see how you too can realise your travelpreneur dream.
Is the Travelpreneur Lifestyle for You?
This guide is perfect for you if you are:
- An SEO just starting out and looking for solutions to get away from the 9-5 grind.
- A digital business owner seeking to simultaneously improve yourself and your company by hitting the road.
- A travelpreneur or digital nomad who has already ‘made it’ and is now looking for pointers on things like airlines, car rentals, or global hubs for fellow digital workers.
- Anyone interested in making money while travelling the world.
If any of these sounds like you, then WOOHOO!
Read on: We have plenty of hands-on advice and tools to help your business succeed while pursuing this path.
CAUTION! Do You Have What It Takes?
The travelpreneur lifestyle is not for the faint of heart.
It requires a strong work ethic to succeed. If the security that comes with being bound to a desk and receiving a regular paycheck is your biggest motivation for working, then you may not be cut out for the travelpreneur way of life.
Self-reflection is crucial before you take such a drastic leap.
Are you ready to work long hours? Do you have the self-control and determination you need to be successful? Will you get back up when you fall?
Undoubtedly, you will experience many of life’s highest-highs and lowest-lows on this journey.
You will need to be able to solve problems and navigate unforeseen circumstances while on the road. These can range from difficulties with clients to trouble gaining internet access and unexpected changes of plan. You need to be brave, open-minded, and responsible for every minute.
In short, you need to know who you are and what your goals are. You need to be honest with yourself about whether your personality and ambitions are compatible with the lifestyle of a travelpreneur.
Regardless of how you make your money, proceed with caution.
What We Wish We’d Known When We First Started
Like any travelpreneur, there are some things that we simply had to learn by doing.
Luckily for you, you can learn from our mistakes. Here are some digital nomad life lessons it’s good to know before you hit the road.
- You Need to Act
Failure to take action is one of the main reasons why people don’t succeed at the travelpreneur lifestyle. If you want to make your dreams a reality, the crucial thing is to make it happen. Successful entrepreneurs and leaders all tend to have one thing in common: they have the courage to pursue opportunities. Without action, your intentions remain just that: intentions.
- Memories are Worth Spending Money On
In a lifestyle where you’re constantly on the move, it’s easy to get hung up on trying to pinch every penny.
Don’t let parsimony stop you from making memories in the places that you visit!
What’s the point of all this travelling if you don’t have any stories to tell at the end of your journey?
Dive into the local culture, eat something exotic and unique, stop at the tourist attractions, seek out the unexpected, and don’t be afraid to spend a little money on something you’ll remember for a lifetime.
- It’s All a Learning Process
You are a constant work-in-progress, and you always have more to learn and room to grow. Everyone can continue to develop and improve their company, their products, and themselves. Life on the road presents so many opportunities for advancement: conferences, meeting industry leaders, soaking up new cultures and experiences, and so much more. Take advantage of it!
If you, like us, work in the online marketing space, something you’ll learn very quickly is that the rules are always changing. Meet with experts along your journey and attend conferences to keep your knowledge up-to-date and your approaches innovative.
- Remember Friends and Family
Even on the other side of the globe, your relationships with friends and family should remain a priority. These are the people who will be there for you through thick and thin, and it’s important to keep them close. Make sure to plan stops on your journey to visit loved ones frequently. The experiences you share with them are vital for your mental health. New laughs with old friends really help to reset your stress levels!
- Health is Wealth
As you travel, your body will be exposed to all kinds of new environments and germs that it’s not accustomed to. Keep your body healthy with good, clean food and daily exercise to bolster your energy levels and immune system. Maintaining good health enables you to keep pace with the daily hustle of the travelpreneur life.
- Live a Life You Are Proud Of
Live your life so that your future self will look back and be proud of what you have accomplished. Every person is unique, and it’s essential to own your gifts and strengths. Be proud of who you are, what you’re doing, and your journey.
- Choose Your Own Path
Making the choice to hit the road and become a travelpreneur is a very personal decision. No one can make that choice for you.
Your friends and family might point out all the downsides because they want you to stay close to home. Others might encourage you to do it for their own reasons.
At the end of the day, only you can make the decision to become a travelpreneur. Make the choice that is best for you, then own your decision with pride!
- Focus on Solutions
Bumps in the road are inevitable—not just for travelpreneurs, but for everybody. You need to recognise problems when they occur, yes, but focus on how you can fix the issue rather than worrying about the fact that it exists. Do the best you can with the means you have available to you and learn from the mistakes that you make along the road.
- Be Patient
As mentioned earlier, we like to chase opportunities. Despite this, weeks–and even months–can sometimes go by without anything worth pursuing jumping out at us.
Keep a positive attitude and continue working towards your goals. Opportunities will present themselves eventually.
- Work Hard and Play Hard
The nature of our business requires us to work a lot–but luckily, we love what we do. Despite the need to work hard, it’s crucial to make time for play as well! You don’t want to say that you’ve been Paris but couldn’t even make time to visit the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre.
Ensure that you always make time for play. It’s an essential facet of the travelpreneur lifestyle.
- Think Outside of the Box
If you could become a major success by following all of the “rules”, then everyone would do it. You need to think outside of the box, question the way things are done, and break the rules of your industry to come out on top.
Stay fresh and innovative, use unique solutions, and take risks—sometimes, that can make all the difference.
Here are the two absolute essentials every travelpreneur needs to conduct business on-the-go:
- A laptop
- A Wi-Fi connection
While this short list might seem overly simple, these are the last two things you want to take for granted.
Choosing Your Laptop
When picking a laptop, it really comes down to the age-old question: Mac or PC?
Here are a few of the essential factors to consider when choosing your laptop:
Mac: If you choose to go the Mac route, AppleCare for Mac is a great investment. The extra coverage virtually guarantees you’ll have support wherever you travel. From jammed keys to black screens, AppleCare has got you covered. And who could ever disregard the ever-helpful Apple Geniuses that grace the Apple stores in many big city shopping centres.
PC: We have had excellent experiences with Dell support. You can expect next-day delivery of services under warranty, excellent help from their customer support specialists, and overall reliability: regardless of where you are in the world.
Mac: Here’s the truth–Apple’s hardware is almost always more expensive than comparable devices using Windows operating systems. Not only that, but you’re often paying for worse specs as far as RAM, storage, and processing speed.
BUT, for many, this doesn’t matter. Apple’s operating system is what you’re paying for, and for many, it’s worth the additional price. Just know, you’re going to pay more for a Mac laptop than for a Windows laptop with similar or better specs.
PC: It’s typically easy to find a PC laptop at a significantly lower price than a Mac– and often one with better specs. If you’re ballin’ on a budget, then a PC laptop is the way to go.
Mac: Macs often require additional software to be compatible with industry-standard programs. For example, you can get Microsoft Office for Mac, but you’ll have to install it yourself at an additional cost.
PC: Roughly 85% of the world are PC users, and as a result, PC users rarely run into the same compatibility issues that may trouble Mac users.
Ultimately, your decision on what laptop to buy comes down to personal preference.
On our team, we have both Mac and PC users, keeping the debate as to which product is better alive and well.
What is crucial is that you invest in a reliable machine that you feel comfortable using.
A dependable laptop is an absolute necessity for any travelpreneur.
Without a doubt, you need a fast, reliable internet connection.
It will reflect poorly on both you and your business if a call with a prospective client drops in the middle of the conversation and you have no way to call back. Additionally, neither you nor your colleagues back in the office are likely to work to maximum efficiency if your Skype connection regularly drops in the middle of your conference calls.
Internet connectivity is crucial to bear in mind.
The best way to guarantee a reliable internet connection is to invest in a Wi-Fi dongle.
A Wi-Fi dongle typically plugs into a USB port on your laptop and accesses cellular data networks to provide internet access. While it is the rare hotel—or even coffee shop—that doesn’t boast of offering Wi-Fi access in this day and age, such networks are often spotty and unreliable at best. Having a Wi-Fi dongle handy can be a lifesaver when Wi-Fi is otherwise dubious or difficult to come by.
Another option for helping you stay connected is the Google Fi project. Right now, this is only available for purchase in the USA. Google Fi is a phone plan that comes with a SIM card that works globally. If you’re in the States (or going soon) check it out for on-the-go, global voice and internet connectivity in over 200 countries.
One alternative to a Wi-Fi dongle is to purchase a SIM card for your unlocked smartphone and use the Wi-Fi hotspot function to connect your laptop. Prepaid SIM cards are now available virtually everywhere. Prepaid local data will always be a cheaper option than using roaming data.
If your home country is the USA or UK, you may be shocked at just how inexpensive cellular data is in other countries around the world.
The kit you choose to travel with is very much a personal choice. Many travelpreneurs wouldn’t be caught dead with a bulky backpack, while others may see it as the most practical way to get your belongings from point A to point B.
Just FYI, we come down firmly on the rolling suitcase side of the backpack vs luggage debate!
Personal preferences aside, here is a list of the essential kit for any travelpreneur to take on the road.
Inarguably the single most important item you need to have to live the travelpreneur lifestyle is a valid passport.
This may seem absurdly obvious, but you wouldn’t believe the number of stories we’ve heard from friends about arriving at the airport having forgotten their passport or realising—far too late—that it expired six months earlier.
These can be very costly mistakes, both in terms of time and money—always make sure your passport is up-to-date!
Even if you don’t have immediate plans to travel internationally, the life of a travelpreneur is all about acting quickly on unexpected opportunities. Don’t end up missing out because of something as avoidable as an expired passport.
Keep in mind, also, that the expiration date of your passport is not the only thing you need to pay attention to. If you travel frequently, you can run out of passport pages before you know it. Many countries require you to have a minimum number of blank passport pages before being granted entry or a visa. Some countries, including the United States and the UK, offer passports for frequent travellers with more pages than standard. These are typically worth the additional nominal cost to save you expense and aggravation down the road.
It is also highly advisable that you renew your passport at least six months before the expiration date. An increasing number of countries require visitors to have a minimum of six months validity left on their passport in order to be granted entry.
Lastly, make sure to have high-quality scans of your passport readily available. Keep copies in private folders on Google Drive or Dropbox. Having these scans can significantly facilitate the replacement process at your embassy if your passport is lost or stolen.
PRO TIP: It is common in many countries for hotels to ask guests to leave their passports with reception for the duration of their stay. It’s worth carrying some photocopies of your passport with you as they may be willing to accept these rather than insisting you leave your precious original passport. Additionally, we recommend keeping scans of your passport in a secure online location such as a Dropbox folder.
Regardless of where you land in the rolling suitcase vs backpack debate, resist the temptation to buy the cheapest luggage available at a local bazaar or market. There are few things worse than running to catch a train or plane and having the cheap plastic wheels blow out or the extendable handle come off in your hand.
You’re going to be using your luggage a lot–it’s worth investing in quality. Travel and Leisure offers a handy primer here.
We’re big fans of Samsonite. You can find a Samsonite store virtually anywhere in the world where they’ll take care of repairs covered under their warranty—which for most bags is 10 years. Our experiences both with the quality of their products and their customer service have been entirely positive.
Frommers published a handy list of manufacturers that offer lifetime warranties on their luggage here.
Universal Power Adaptor
There are few things worse than going to plug in your laptop or smartphone only to find out you have the wrong-shaped plug. Universal power adaptors are readily available and cheap–except when you need one the most!
Not surprisingly, airports charge a hefty premium for these adaptors, and we’ve run into situations where the only retailer is out of stock or closed. If you’ve got a long layover at an airport, this situation is tantamount to a disaster! Don’t be a victim—pack two!
A quick note—virtually all laptops and phones are dual voltage these days, but it would suck to find out the hard way that yours isn’t. Make sure you check your specs before you plug in.
PRO TIP: Keep one global adaptor and one multi-socket (power strip) in your local configuration. That way when you hit the road, you’re sure to have enough plugs. For added protection, we highly recommend that you purchase adaptors and power strips that are fused and have surge protection—just in case!
“First Aid” Travel Kit
Many destinations require you to take specific medications when visiting (such as malaria pills) or require vaccinations. Make sure to research this and consult with your doctor before you get on the plane.
No matter where we’re travelling to, we always take certain essential health-related items with us. Here’s a shortlist that we recommend and rarely leave home without:
- Aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen/paracetamol
- Imodium (Loperamide)
- Dramamine (for motion sickness)
- Activated charcoal
- Mosquito repellent (for relevant countries)
- Antiseptic wound cleaner
- Benadryl (for allergies/itching from insect bites)
- Rehydrating eye drops
- Toothbrush and toothpaste (It’s such a relief to be able to brush your teeth during a long layover)
It is always advisable to take sufficient quantities of any prescription medications you need for the duration of your trip. At the very least, you should confirm that your medications or suitable substitutions are available in the countries you’re visiting. In this case, make sure to bring copies of your prescriptions.
The good news is that in many countries, including several of the ones featured in this guide, prescription drugs cost a small fraction of what they do in the US and Europe.
Also, many favourite travelpreneur destinations take what might best be described as a laissez-faire approach to prescription drugs. Pharmacies are abundant and most (if not all) medications are available over-the-counter without a prescription.
In addition, the cost of medical treatment at a modern hospital (particularly in Asia) is much less than it would be in the US or Europe, and you can typically pay cash. Vietnam, for example, has a thriving “dental tourism” industry. The quality of care for the money is such good value that it can easily be cheaper to purchase a plane ticket to Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi to have major procedures performed rather than paying a dentist at home.
Our Top 5 Destinations for Travelpreneurs and Digital Nomads
The first step to actually being a travelpreneur–rather than just planning and scheming to become one–takes place when you set foot on an airplane bound for some faraway destination.
There will be many challenges to overcome both before and after you take that fateful first step but have faith in yourself to find solutions as you go.
Dive in by picking a place you’ve always wanted to visit, book a flight, and cannonball into your journey.
Here’s how we have chosen our travel destinations and what works best for us to maintain a sense of stability while we’re living the travelpreneur lifestyle.
Travel Hubs 101
Having several travel hubs–basically “homes-away-from home”–is a crucial aspect of our travelpreneur lifestyle.
Travel hubs are places we always return to. Whether we have an office, colleagues or family there, these are the places we simply love.
Our choice of travel hubs may surprise you. It’s unlikely that they are amongst the first locations that come to mind when pondering travelpreneur and digital nomad hotspots.
However, each has both unique and common characteristics that make them ideal travel hubs for our team.
We encourage you to consider these attributes when selecting your own travel hubs. The most well-known locations may not make the best hubs. Nevertheless, we’ll examine the more established hotspots later in the guide.
Here are our hubs:
Jonathan lived in Brighton as a young boy. After spending many of his formative years here, Jonathan began calling Brighton home in 2008.
i2W, SEOButler’s parent company, is registered in the UK. This means not only do we count Brighton home, we had a registered address here for accounting and business purposes long before establishing an office.
When it comes to what Brighton has to offer, this eclectic, seaside town really has it all.
From our favourite spots, like family-run Italian restaurant Al Duomo, to the hidden Japanese joint we love, Pompoko, there is no shortage of cuisine and culture in Brighton. People are friendly and welcoming, and you’ll never have the same day twice.
We officially opened the SEOButler office in Brighton in September of 2017.
Jonathan and Lyndsay, Zeke, our accounting team, and our UK writing and SEO team all call Brighton home.
Pondicherry holds a special place in our hearts.
When we first began our digital marketing journey, “Pondy” is where it all began. From our earliest PBNButler days, the inception of our business started here.
Nestled away in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry is an old French settlement that is home to many of our development team members.
Pondy is conveniently located. We fly into Chennai airport, get picked up by our driver, and in two hours we are working away alongside our staff.
Chennai is an excellent jumping off point for flying to and from many cities on the Asian continent.
We find India an absolutely fascinating place to spend our time. It is so enriching to experience the Indian culture, from the food to the colourful clothing, the bustling streets, and so much more.
Watching films or reading books about India is but a pale substitute for the experience of actually being there and we return to Pondy several times a year.
Lyndsay (Jonathan’s wife and SEOButler’s Director of Content) is from Kentucky. For this reason, we tend to pop over there a couple of times a year to celebrate holidays and see family.
During our time there, we’ve established long-term relationships with important clients and colleagues throughout the US, and we use Kentucky as a home base for travelling to other destinations around the country.
Whether it’s a road trip to Chicago, or over to the east coast, or flying into other US cities to meet with clients, we get to both spend time with family and have a jumping off point for our trips anywhere in the US and Canada.
Reaping the Rewards of Travel Hubs
There you have it–the three main hubs that we frequently use as launch pads for our journeys.
You may notice that we have strategically located our travel hubs on three different continents–Europe, Asia, and North America–making it easy for us to traverse a significant portion of the globe conveniently.
PRO TIP: We recommend that you designate several travel hubs, preferably on different continents, facilitating travel to a wide variety of locations.
The place where you currently live might naturally evolve into being your main travel hub. It may even be a wise idea not to give up your residence completely and instead sublet it temporarily. Subletting or Airbnbing your home may give you the option to stay there when you’re back in town.
Our Top 5 Destinations for Travelpreneurs and Digital Nomads
We’re always on the go, and because so many of our clients and team members also live the travelpreneur or digital nomad lifestyle, we’ve used their feedback come up with a list of the top five destinations you should consider calling home, even if only for a few months.
Like any such list, our top five is subjective and based on both our own experiences and those of our colleagues and clients.
Florian, our head of SEO and our founder, Jonathan, are both originally from Berlin, so as you can imagine, we visit often.
Aside from doing business there, the best thing to do in Berlin is to enjoy all the excitement that this buzzing metropolis has to offer, especially the nightlife and the food.
Berlin is truly one of the world’s great cities. Many creatives, travelpreneurs, and digital nomads have chosen to make Berlin home, making it one of the most diverse and international communities there is.
At the same time, everything from accommodation to food is cheap and plentiful, especially when compared to the UK and many other European destinations.
PRO TIP: A Berlin döner kebab in the heart of Kreuzberg and a currywurst from Curry 36 are must-haves. If you can get past the infamous door staff, Berghain is one of the world’s premier nightclubs and well worth a visit for a night you’ll never forget.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is a medium-sized town in northern Thailand sitting at the base of the mountain, Doi Suthep. It’s become one of–if not the–main travelpreneur hubs in the world for numerous reasons.
First and foremost, the cost of living in comparison to the quality of life is incredibly low. You can live in luxury–in a modern apartment, eating out for every meal–for approximately $1500 per month.
Chiang Mai offers a taste of South East Asian city life but is only a quick ride away from peaceful rice fields, waterfalls, and mountains. The entire city is littered with high-speed Wi-Fi cafes that will only cost you $1-$3 to use daily.
Yee Peng Lantern Festival, Chiang Mai. (Source: Adobe Stock)
Whether you want to go to Chiang Mai to relax and sit on the residual income you’ve built, or you’re going there to live on $750 a month while you hustle to get your business profitable, Chiang Mai is definitely a stop you should make on your journey.
Story Time! For three years, our Head of SEO, Florian has called Chiang Mai home. We talked to Florian about his experience living in what has grown to become one of the world’s premier destinations for digital nomads:
What made you choose Chiang Mai as your base for working remotely?
I always wanted to live in Asia and Chiang Mai turned out to have an incredible community of entrepreneurs, so I chose it as my home.
What are your favourite things about living in Thailand?
Besides the cost of living and tasty food, we have a fantastic SEO community here.
The city is also just the right size. It’s not too big, but at the same time not too small.
During the weeks of the SEO Conference in November, you can’t throw a rock without hitting another SEO. But my biggest reason for staying in Thailand is definitely all the friends I have made here.
Your least favourite things?
In the spring months, farmers start burning their fields, pushing the air quality well below acceptable pm 2.5 levels. People who can afford it often leave for the whole of March, while the thick layers of smog and smoke pollute the north of Thailand.
Do you feel like you’re more productive working remotely rather than in a traditional office environment?
Productivity comes down to focus which is mostly a state of mind. Working from home makes me more innovative and productive, but it requires balance. I can see how an office life can be more straightforward, but at the same time more distracting.
What really keeps me focused is music, meditation, strong purpose, and a healthy work/life balance.
What are the biggest challenges you face when working remotely?
Working in a different time zone can be challenging. I often end up being online and available for my team from morning until late at night.
Where is your favourite place to work in Chiang Mai?
Chiang Mai has many unique and cosy coffee shops to work from. It’s worth exploring them all.
Cape Town, South Africa
Camps Bay and the 12 Apostles Mountains from Atop Lion’s Head Mountain
Affectionately known by locals as the Mother City, Cape Town is undoubtedly one of the world’s most physically beautiful cities. Nestled up to majestic Table Mountain– officially one of the world’s New 7 Wonders–Cape Town is also situated right next to numerous stunning beaches. The water may be surprisingly cold given the air temperature, but that doesn’t stop intrepid surfers from donning a wet suit and enjoying a morning or afternoon off amongst the waves.
Cape Town has a thriving cultural scene. It is home to many of Africa’s finest museums and art galleries. For the foodies, Cape Town boasts many fantastic restaurants, including The Test Kitchen, one of the only African restaurants to regularly feature on World’s Best Restaurant lists. And if you have a passion for wine, the famed vineyards of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are less than a (stunning) hour drive away.
V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain (Source: PDPictures)
Cape Town is also widely considered Africa’s tech hub. It rightfully earned its nickname the Silicon Cape, and there is even a startup accelerator of the same name. Amazon has a thriving technical centre in Cape Town, alongside a large AWS support team, and is rumoured to be considering a massive new development in the city. All of this points to a robust and reliable data infrastructure for travelpreneurs.
Cape Town has become a popular destination for travelpreneurs and digital nomads in recent years, partly due to the fact that the national currency, the rand, declined sharply in value against the US dollar and the euro. At today’s rates, the rand is worth roughly half what it was against the dollar in 2011. This makes Cape Town an attractive destination if you’re earning money in dollars or euros.
Having said that, the cost of living is certainly higher than in many travelpreneur hotspots–such as Chiang Mai, Ho Chi Minh City, and Medellín. Thanks to its breathtaking natural beauty, Cape Town is a popular holiday destination, and the popularity of Airbnb has considerably driven up the price of rental properties.
Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of breathtaking scenery (and really, who isn’t it) and particularly if you’re into outdoor physical activities like hiking and surfing then Cape Town is worth considering for an extended stay.
PRO TIP: While data infrastructure in Cape Town is state-of-the-art, other essentials are sometimes under threat. Scheduled power outages, known as load shedding, are a regular occurrence at certain times of year and running water is often at a premium. Cape Town was actually predicted to run out of water entirely in 2018, and while that disaster was narrowly averted, water reserves remain at dangerously low levels. As with any location you’re considering visiting, be sure to check current local news to see if there are any emerging situations that won’t show up in the guidebooks or on Trip Advisor.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
A bustling metropolis of over 8.6 million people and nearly as many motorbikes, setting foot in Ho Chi Minh City–or Saigon as many locals still call it–for the first time is bound to lead to some culture shock. Just crossing the street is an adventure and has inspired many instructional videos on YouTube.
Waiting for the Train to Pass in HCMC
PRO TIP: Walk slowly but determinedly in a straight line while making no sudden or unexpected moves while crossing the busy streets. You will find that the motorbikes part like a school of fish to surround you and allow you to move forward. Don’t stand there waiting for the traffic to stop–it never will!
In recent years, HCMC has become a prime location for travelpreneurs and digital nomads. International coworking giant WeWork recently opened a massive building in the heart of the CBD, and there are a huge number of local coworking spaces, so finding a place to work is never an issue. The Vietnamese also love their coffee shops, all of which offer fast and reliable Wi-Fi. Venturing to a different coffee shop to work each day is an entertaining way to explore this city.
The venture capital community has also taken notice of the level of tech innovation happening in Vietnam. Famed early stage venture fund and incubator 500 Startups launched in Vietnam in 2016 and has been actively investing in Vietnamese startups. 500 Startups Partner Eddie Thai noted to Tech in Asia that having “plenty of low-cost high-tech talent” is an advantage for the country, with US tech giant IBM projecting that “Vietnam could be top 3 in the world by the number of engineers in 5 years.”
This healthy startup scene coupled with relatively inexpensive access to quality engineers, combined with a fantastic cost of living to quality of life ratio has made Ho Chi Minh City a destination of choice for many travelpreneurs and digital nomads.
Story Time! Sean, SEOButler’s Editor-in-Chief, has called HCMC home for over two years now. We asked him to share some of the upsides and downsides of life in the hectic South East Asian metropolis.
What made you choose HCMC as your base for working remotely?
Vietnam had long been a location I dreamed about visiting. I originally planned to come for a month to get a taste for life in Saigon. Over two years later and I’ve never left!
What are your favourite things about living in Saigon?
People here are incredibly welcoming and friendly. They seem to have a real sense of optimism about the future, which I find not be the case in much of North America and Europe currently. This enthusiasm is contagious, and I believe it’s a big part of the reason that so many people are developing new businesses – from bars and restaurants to tech startups. Also, the climate–it never gets cold, and I spent too many years dealing with winter! Plus, the quality of life is extremely high when you’re making a Western salary or have other income from overseas.
Your least favourite things?
The air pollution can be a bit much, and I wear a face mask religiously, especially when travelling by motorbike during the day. The lack of green spaces and access to nature can also be dispiriting at times, though there are beautiful beaches and islands just a short and inexpensive plane flight away.
Do you feel like you’re more productive working remotely rather than in a traditional office environment?
While I do sometimes miss the camaraderie of an office environment, I have no doubt that I’m far more productive working remotely. Writing and editing are solitary tasks, and the distractions of office life and meetings tend to slow down my output.
What are the biggest challenges you face when working remotely?
I work from home—coffee shops and coworking spaces are too distracting for me. The biggest challenge is not to get too siloed and cut off from other people and the energy that makes HCMC such an exciting place to be. I have to make a concerted effort to leave my cocoon on a daily basis for the sake of my emotional well-being!
Fresh Shellfish on Vinh Khanh Street in District 4. Cost: $6
SEAN’S PRO TIP: Vietnam is home to some of the most delicious street food in the world. In two-plus years of very adventurous eating, I haven’t been sick once, so jump in and try something new!
For Western food options, which you’ll come to crave after a while, Quince is one of the best casual fine-dining experiences in terms of value and quality that I’ve come across in all my travels. El Camino is a fantastic Korean/Mexican speakeasy that always makes for a good night out.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Perhaps once better known in popular culture as the name famed drug kingpin Pablo Escobar gave to his cartel, Medellín has rapidly become one of the top destinations worldwide for travelpreneurs and digital nomads.
Due to its unique geography, Medellín is warm year-round, earning it the nickname “La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera” or “City of the Eternal Spring.” This climate makes Medellín an ideal location for those looking to escape winter (or avoid it altogether!)
(Source: Adobe Stock)
Thanks in part to its past reputation as the world’s most dangerous city, Medellín remains somewhat off the beaten path for travelpreneurs–and for some, that’s part of its appeal!
According to Nomad List, the approximate monthly cost of living is $1,199 per month, putting it in a similar price range as the more established South East Asian hubs like Chiang Mai and Ho Chi Minh City.
One potential downside—internet availability and reliability can pale in comparison to the other cities we’ve recommended here. If you’re a fan of coworking spaces, though, Medellín has you covered. The startup scene in the city is thriving, and plenty of coworking spaces have opened to meet the demand.
Weekly Medellín event guide Catalyst keeps a regularly updated list of all the city’s coworking spaces and is a fantastic resource for finding out about all the best happenings in town.
Uncharted Territory–Share Your Tips with Us!
While we have done a lot of travelling, it’s a big world out there, and we have yet to see it all.
Have you come across any ideal cities for travelpreneurs and digital nomads that we haven’t covered here?
Tell us all about it in the comments below!
If you have any tips for travelling to destinations not mentioned here–and living there–please get in touch!
We’d love to hear from you–and who knows? Maybe one day we can meet up.
Beyond the Hubs: Chasing Opportunities
Beyond our travel hubs, we tend to make our plans according to meetings we need to have, masterminds and conferences we want to attend, and the cost of living vs quality of life ratio.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing places that you want to visit outside of your typical hubs.
- Seek Out Opportunities
There are many times when we’re travelling and don’t know where we will be even a month or so in the future. When this happens, we tend to start seeking opportunities. This might involve reaching out to people we’re already working with or those we would like to, so we can position ourselves to meet up with them and work on a project in person.
- Pick Up Skills on Your Journey:
Other ways that we seek out opportunities include looking for conferences and events that we would like to attend that might help us to grow our skills, network, and share what we know with others. One great example of this is the annual Chiang Mai SEO Conference in Thailand, where industry leaders gather to help attendees in the digital marketing industry up their game.
Working out the details of attending a conference can be tricky, but the knowledge and experiences you get in return can be invaluable.
- Join Masterminds to Work on Projects
In many situations, we do our work using online tools like Skype, but when we’re working on larger projects with someone, we find it extremely beneficial to be able to meet with them and work on things in person.
Sometimes, things work out smoothly and go off without a hitch. Sometimes, things get insane.
Story Time: Jonathan Tells ALL!
“I had just gotten back to Brighton from India and was ready to relax and rejuvenate after a two month stretch of growing the office over there. During the first few months of that year, I’d been saying how I wanted to visit Chiang Mai to meet up with Matt Diggity from Diggity Marketing.
I only had a small window of opportunity available, so I confirmed our trip without even having a ticket and told Matt to line up whatever he could as far as meetings and presentations, as he had been kind enough to offer to do so.
After a little bit of research, I had a ticket to fly to Chiang Mai that followed an insane itinerary: London Gatwick > Dubai > Bangkok > Chiang Mai.
I landed safely on Thursday, gave a presentation a mere 2 hours after touching down. Thank God the plane wasn’t delayed!
But luckily, everything went off without a hitch.
I then left around midday on Saturday–having spent barely 50 hours in the country.
Was it worth it? Hands down: YES!
The results of the talk were astounding. The presentation went well, with 50% of those in attendance already being SEOButler customers, and the other 50% excited to give it a try.
More than just cultivating new business connections, spending time with Matt and his team was an invaluable opportunity.
The impact this had on me, both personally and professionally, was a turning point in my life. I will always be grateful for the opportunities I received and the friends I made from this experience.
It’s crucial to take the opportunities as they come. They might come mere hours after you have finished wrapping up an exhausting and months-long project–but it’s these opportunities that help you and your business grow.
Even more, it’s seizing these opportunities as they come that makes the whole dream possible.”
Frequent Flyer and Travel Rewards Programs
Visas, plane tickets, ground transport, oh my!
Traversing the world takes a lot of effort, but we’re going to do our best to help you get started.
Let’s talk hacks, memberships, and budget-friendly tips for all things globe-trotting.
Visas: What You Need to Know
VISA ADVICE DISCLAIMER: We are not visa experts. While we can share our experience and advice, we are not legally responsible for the information in this post. Please refer to the consulate/government websites for both your citizenship and travel destinations to receive the most current information about the visa you’ll need for your travels. Also note that visa regulations are subject to frequent change. Always check for current information in advance of planning travel or purchasing tickets.
International travel requires visas.
A visa is “an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country.”
What visas you require depends on where you’re going and your country of citizenship (i.e. where your passport is from).
Depending on the country, a visa may be granted upon arrival, or you may need to fill out applications beforehand to be given entry. In some cases, you may not even be able to board the plane to your destination without the required paperwork.
The type of visa you need for any country depends on why you’re visiting that country in the first place. For short stays, a tourist visa is often sufficient. Whether you will be granted a visa on arrival or need to apply in advance varies significantly from country to country, and based on your country of citizenship.
EXAMPLE: A US passport holder travelling to the UK as a tourist will typically be granted a six-month tourist visa upon arrival, while a German passport holder visiting the US will travel under the Visa Waiver Program. They’re required to fill out an ESTA beforehand and will be granted a 90-day visa waiver upon arrival if qualified.
If you’re travelling to live, work, or study, you typically require a special visa to do so legally.
The travelpreneur lifestyle demands a lot of travel, so it is best to plan your itinerary wisely. Be careful to make the most out of places that require a visa due to the additional, often time-consuming paperwork and expense.
Some visas are granted immediately while others can take months to receive. That’s why it’s crucial that you do your homework early and submit any visa applications required as far in advance as you can. There are few things worse than making travel plans—perhaps even purchasing tickets—only to be unable to travel due to visa complications.
It’s Easier to Travel Than Ever Before
The good news is, it’s getting easier and easier to travel without obtaining a visa for every leg of your journey.
The U.N.’s World Tourism Organisation announced that the year 2015 required the lowest ever number of tourists requiring a visa for travel. 39% of the world, the most ever, can travel as tourists without having a visa beforehand.
This is an increase from a mere 23% in 2008, so things are looking up.
Some of the destinations that still require visas might surprise you, but don’t let that dissuade you from visiting your dream destinations.
EXAMPLE: India is one of our favourite places to visit. Europeans can get a 6-month visa, while Americans can get a 10-year visa, good for a 6-month stay with multiple entries. For those seeking a shorter stay, you can apply for a 1-month e-visa online twice per calendar year.
Visa regulations vary greatly from country to country. We can’t stress enough the vital importance of consulting your destination country’s embassy or consulate website to learn exactly what your visa requirements will be. Depending on the country, regulations can be subject to frequent change, and it’s easy to come across outdated information—especially online.
There are many great online resources like this one that can help you with knowing what visa you need.
Approached proactively, and well in advance of travel, getting the visas you need to visit most countries should not present too much of a challenge, particularly for holders of UK, European, and North American passports.
Flying 101 – Everything to Consider
Most people these days book their airline tickets via a third-party comparison website instead of directly with the airline.
But we find there are benefits to each. We use both methods to book our flights.
Our Favourite Travel Comparison Sites
One of the best flight booking comparison sites that we have found is Momondo.
There are a lot of airlines on their search engines that other flight comparison websites don’t feature.
We book around 70% of our plane flights using this comparison tool!
While it doesn’t allow you to book your flight through their website directly, Momondo offers flexibility when it comes to searching for flights that makes them second to none.
And they always offer the cheapest fares out there.
You can find some truly amazing deals by browsing Kayak. Searching many different airlines at once, you can obtain the best prices on flights in no time at all.
FUN FACT: Kayak actually manages Momondo.
We find that Kayak is particularly useful when booking domestic and international flights when searching from within the USA.
Another flight aggregator that gives access to many small local carriers that some of the more well-known sites don’t list. We’ve found Skyscanner to be particularly useful when booking flights within Europe and Asia.
Flight Centre is a consumer and commercial booking agent.
They have access to a vast range of tickets that other agents might not, like fuel dump tickets for example. These are flights that utilise strategic airports to bring the cost of taxes on your ticket down substantially.
Other agencies typically aren’t aware of these kinds of tickets, aren’t able to access them, or just aren’t looking to save you that kind of cash.
Before we sing their praises too much, we need to start with a quick disclaimer: We have only used Flight Centre’s service in the UK, and we can’t speak for what the US version of their service is like. But if the US version is anything like the British one, then you’re betting on a winning horse.
Booking Directly via an Airline
We have found that considerable benefits can come with booking directly through the airline.
For example, most airlines offer a wide variety of ticket categories, even if they are for the same seat. For instance, they might offer both ”flex” and “non-flex” tickets, which means you can either change your plans last minute for free OR you’ll be stuck with your original plan OR you’ll need to pay a fee to make a change, respectively.
On many comparison websites, you can’t book different types of tickets for different legs of your flight. So, if a cheaper “non-flex” ticket is only available on a single way for your journey, the website might only offer the complete “flex” price.
PRO TIP: By working with airline agents over the phone, you can get mix-and-match pricing for different legs of your journey as you please–which can drastically reduce the cost of your flight.
Also, it is worth noting that many of the flight comparison websites you might use to book your flight through a third-party charge an admin fee.
Further, if you need to change or cancel a ticket, you’re bound by the terms and conditions of the third-party provider, and not the airline itself. This isn’t a make-or-break, but it is worth noting! Airlines are sometimes more flexible with passengers who have booked direct.
Our Favourite Airlines (and Why)
It’s commonplace to always be on the lookout for the best deal–but sometimes you also want a great experience.
Here are our favourite airlines, and what you should know to expect from them–as well as where they may fall short.
We absolutely love Emirates, and we fly with them every chance we get.
This is especially true when we are flying to Thailand and India.
Their quality of service is unmatched by any other airline, and the aircraft they use, especially on longer legs, are extremely well-maintained and modern.
Emirates is based out of Dubai and is the Middle East’s largest airline.
Emirates has more than 3,600 flights leaving from Dubai International Airport to over 140 cities spanning 81 countries and six continents.
Why We Love ‘Em
- Unparalleled service, stellar aircraft, and fantastic crew members
- The meals onboard are actually nice.
- “Economy” class is basically “Premium Economy” on any other airline.
Where They Fall Short
- Not many options for flights in continental Europe or the USA
- Occasionally long stopovers in Dubai between flights
Where You Should Fly with Them
- Europe ⟷ Asia
- USA ⟷ Asia
- Asian countries
Norwegian is an up-and-coming budget airline that is taking the U.S. and Europe alike by storm. They’re offering flights at astounding deals that were all but unheard of before.
It’s a budget airline, so if you’re going to fly Norwegian, it’s best to expect a budget experience.
Why We Love ‘Em
- Lower-priced flights
- Their “premium” seats are quite a good deal for international flights, but they are not Business Class seats.
- Their aircraft are all relatively new and modern.
Where They Fall Short
- No frills unless you pay extra for them. “Frills” include things like a meal, drink, or choosing your seat.
Where You Should Fly With Them
- Europe ⟷ USA
- Continental Europe
- Adding more routes regularly
Okay, we know that easyJet has a bad rep. Regardless, we still love them.
EasyJet claims to be Europe’s number one network, operating out of 132 airports, 31 countries, and offering 802 routes. You can’t fault them for that!
If you need to go anywhere within continental Europe, nine times out of ten easyJet has the cheapest flight options out there.
Sure, you’ll have to pay for everything along the way, and your flight will be uncomfortable.
But when you’re finding deals for $20 or $30, who cares?!
Why We Love ‘Em
- Cheap flights and lots of options
- Straightforward, no-frills flying
Where They Fall Short
- Staff isn’t always helpful
- Cramped and uncomfortable flights
Where You Should Fly with Them
- Anywhere in Europe
Delta & Virgin Atlantic are serviceable options to use when travelling between the UK and the USA.
The two companies are partner airlines, and you’ll often be able to find excellent economy deals on their flights from Europe to the USA, especially if you’re looking to visit the East Coast, as their hub is in Atlanta.
Why We Love ‘Em
- Solid option if you’re looking for accessibility to the East Coast
- Good prices for obscure locations
- Delta’s crew is typically lovely
Where They Fall Short
- It’s essential to book early to get great deals; not as helpful for last minute flights
- Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have the friendliest crew, and their planes are outdated.
Where You Should Fly With Them
- UK ⟷ USA
- Continental USA (Delta)
EVA Air is a bit of an underdog when it comes to the long-distance flight game, but they offer business class flights that are cheaper than most of the competition.
Their business class cabin is modern, and they offer customer service that is very much on point. A Taiwanese international airline based out of Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei, Taiwan, EVA Air travels between 77 destinations with their fleet of 74 airplanes. The 5-star airline is the second largest Taiwanese airline.
Why We Love ‘Em
- Comfortable planes and attentive staff
- Very reasonably priced flights
- Affordable upgrade to premium economy for a much-improved experience
Where They Fall Short
- We’ve yet to experience any negative issues
Where You Should Fly With Them
- To/from and within Asia
British Airways is the United Kingdom’s largest airline in terms of fleet size.
Based in Waterside, near the main hub at London Heathrow Airport, British Airways operates its fleet of 271 aircraft across 183 destinations.
Why We Love ‘Em
- Tend to fly direct routes to obscure places
- Convenient for those flying from the UK
Where They Fall Short
- More expensive than other airlines
- Airplanes not as modern or comfortable as others
Where You Should Fly with Them
- Any routes you can fly direct
Lufthansa is the largest German airline and showcases German efficiency at its finest.
When including all its subsidiaries, Lufthansa is the largest airline in all of Europe, both in terms of the size of their fleet and the number of passengers they transported in the year 2017.
Why We Love ‘Em
- Highly reliable–seldom any delays or scheduling issues
Where They Fall Short
- Not usually the most reasonably priced option
Where You Should Fly with Them
- Within Europe. Lufthansa also sometimes offers reasonable fares to and from the US.
Airlines to Consider
We’re not sure if any airlines that beat Emirates, but there are many airlines that we’ve heard great things about but just haven’t had the opportunity to fly with yet.
Keep your eyes to the skies for these up-and-coming airlines in the next few years:
American Airlines, fittingly headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is the largest airline in the world pretty much no matter how you slice it.
When measured by fleet size, scheduled passengers carried, revenue, scheduled passenger-kilometres flown, and the number of destinations they serve, American Airlines comes out on top every time.
We’ve included them here because they are the biggest airline in the industry, and although we have not personally flown with them, we have heard good things.
Etihad Airways has been around since 2003, and since then, they have grown considerably.
With a fleet size of 116 aircraft serving 120 destinations globally, and with over 1,000 flights per week, they are an airline that is going places!
More impressively, their quality of service and fleet is meant to be on par—some even argue better—than Emirates.
It is only a matter of time before we give Etihad a go. Stay tuned!
Headquartered in the Qatar Airways Tower in Doha, this airline links to more than 150 international destinations globally from its base, Hamad International Airport.
With a fleet of over 180 aircraft, you shouldn’t be surprised that there are many convenient flights offered by Qatar Airways. And, they’re continuing to grow.
We’re looking forward to seeing what they’re all about!
Airlines to Avoid
We’ve tried flying with Air India, enticed by their cheap prices. However, we soon learned that this comes at a cost.
The planes you fly on are often old and outdated, and the service is sorely lacking. They serve a total of 94 locations, both domestic and international, and they often have tempting deals.
But we’ve learned that the small amount of savings is not worth the hidden cost of our sanity.
We’re willing to accept a lower standard of quality here and there for a great deal, but when it comes to Air India, we’ve found the compromise too steep.
United Airlines’ hub is in Chicago.
We’ve been able to snag a few convenient flights with them, both to Chicago and elsewhere.
But it seems that the majority of their air fleet is old. Sure, you can find good deals on their routes, but you’ll likely sacrifice the many modern amenities you’re used to seeing on other air carriers.
Further, we found their service and crew to be severely lacking.
Perhaps it’s unfair to judge an airline based on a single trip, but with Wizz Air, we’re willing to make an exception.
We’re not at all opposed to a no-frills travel experience, especially for a short-haul flight—after all, we just endorsed easyJet!
But when everything is dismal: from the service, to the legroom, to the below-average guidelines for carry-on luggage designed to squeeze you for extra cash, we strongly recommend using one of the other many low-cost carriers like easyJet or Wow Air as recommended above.
A Newbie’s Guide to Air Miles
A WORD TO THE WISE: While the judicious use of credit and charge cards can be an excellent way of accumulating air miles and reward points, we can’t emphasise enough the importance of paying balances in full every month. Otherwise, the punitively high interest rates will end up costing you far more money than you save on travel.
What Are Air Miles and Travel Reward Points?
Air miles (aka frequent flyer miles or travel points) are perks offered through loyalty programs, typically by airlines or credit card issuers.
You accumulate miles depending on how far you fly and the cost of your travel (the further you go, and the higher the pricing tier, the more miles you earn).
You can also accumulate miles via a rewards credit card, typically for every dollar/pound/euro you spend. You can use the miles or points you accrue to buy tickets on participating airlines.
Many carriers offer partnerships with other airlines, so the frequent flyer miles you accrue on one airline may be redeemable on another, potentially giving you access to more destinations. SkyTeam and Star Alliance are two of the more well-known partnership programs.
While both frequent flyer and credit card rewards programs can save you some cash on travel, they can be tricky to navigate. Both are well-known for having extensive and often opaque T&Cs as to how, when, and where you can redeem your frequent flyer miles and rewards points. Often points and miles also come with an expiry date and must be used within a specified time frame before they are forfeited.
If frequent air travel is an integral part of your travelpreneur lifestyle, it pays to shop around for the best rewards program.
One crucial caveat—be careful not to be sucked in by superficially attractive rewards programs offered by credit card companies. A high APR can quickly eclipse any savings you might realise through accumulating points, especially if you carry a balance.
PRO TIP: When you sign up for a frequent flyer program, you can typically redeem your old flights. The time window for claiming completed travel is usually 3-12 months. If you use the same carrier frequently, it’s worth going through old tickets and itineraries, especially for international flights.
Our Favourite Frequent Flyer and Credit Card Travel Rewards Programs
We currently use around ten different frequent flyer memberships and rewards credit cards. However, there are three that we use most frequently and get us the best rewards.
They are as follows:
Emirates is our go-to for any journey we make via air. They are hands down the best airline in our book, and we make a point to fly with them every chance we get. Not only do they have modern and clean aircraft, but their crew is always accommodating and friendly.
That’s something we can’t say for a lot of the other airlines we’ve flown with, so it’s always a nice bonus!
Emirates is based out of Dubai, and they primarily fly within the Eastern Hemisphere.
We use them religiously for flights to India and surrounding Asian countries.
In addition to being the best carrier, Emirates also offers a generous air miles rewards program. When you sign up for their Skywards program, it’s important to make sure you fly with them during the timeframe advertised when you register to receive your bonus miles. This gives you a great head start on collecting miles for becoming a new member.
If you fly with colleagues or friends, don’t forget to recommend Skywards to them also, as people you refer can collect bonus miles on their first flight too. Taking advantage of perks like these can really make a difference in how far your miles take you, and it goes a long way in helping you cut down on travel costs in the long run.
Skywards also partners with other carriers we recommend like easyJet and JetBlue, which are excellent options for travel within Europe and North America, respectively.
Amex Platinum Card
For extremely frequent flyers and travelpreneurs who are happy to put a significant amount of their business and personal expenses on their American Express Platinum Card, it is undoubtedly worth considering.
The list of perks available to Platinum Card holders is too long to list here—for an in-depth look, the team at Nerdwallet has a comprehensive breakdown here.
Here are some quick highlights:
- Platinum cardholders receive 5 membership reward points for every dollar spent on air travel purchased using the card, 5 points for each dollar spent on hotels booked at Amextravel, and 1 point for every other dollar spent on the card.
- New cardholders receive a 60,000 point bonus if they make $5,000 in purchases during their first three months of membership.
- The Platinum card gives you access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide–the most extensive access of any premium card.
- If you’re looking to make a solid first impression when whipping out your credit card, the Platinum card is made of stainless steel–perhaps not the most practical feature but an entertaining one nonetheless.
- Also ideal for the travelpreneur, there are no foreign transaction fees associated with using the card outside your home country.
- All these perks come at a substantial price. The annual fee for being an Amex Platinum cardholder sets you back a hefty $550. While membership does indeed have its privileges, it also comes at a much higher price than many of the other rewards credit cards now out there.
- It’s also vital to keep in mind that the Amex Platinum Rewards card is a charge card, not a credit card. Your balance must be paid in full every month.
We have focused on a summary of the US version of the Amex Platinum Rewards card for the purposes of this Guide. The terms obviously vary from country to country, though not as much as one might think. Here is a breakdown and review of the benefits of the UK version of the Amex Platinum Card.
Capital One Venture Rewards Card
The traditional banks and credit card issuers have been increasingly aggressive in going after customers of more established reward cards–like Amex Platinum Card users–in recent years.
This has led to a plethora of additional options for travelpreneurs looking to get the most bang for their buck from a rewards card.
Once again, there are too many options to explore here, but NerdWallet has you covered. Let’s take a quick look, for comparison’s sake, at the benefits of what CNBC named the “Best Travel Card of 2018.”
- The annual fee is only $95 and is waived in the first year–a significant saving on the $550 fee for Amex Platinum.
- One-time bonus of 50,000 frequent flyer miles when spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.
- Earn 2 miles on every dollar you spend. 10x miles are available on select hotel room bookings through hotels.com/venture
- No foreign transaction fees.
- No expiration on miles.
- The ability to carry a balance–albeit at a considerable cost. The variable AOR is 17.99% – 25.24%. This can be helpful in emergencies but can quickly turn into a mixed blessing.
These are just two examples to give you an idea of some of the travel reward options that are out there. At this point, we at SEOButler travel enough that the additional benefits of an Amex Platinum card outweigh the somewhat excessive annual fees.
The good news is, there’s plenty of lower cost options, particularly for when you’re first starting out on your travelpreneur journey.
Air Mile Hacking
We touched earlier on the fact that we have somewhere around ten air mile-earning cards, and that means we can save a fair amount of money on flights. By charging everyday purchases–and paying the balance in full every month–we end up earning flights practically for free.
Of course, unless you travel (and expense) as much as we do, you likely won’t end up earning enough miles to cover the full cost of all your flights, so you’ll still end up spending some money out of pocket. However, every dollar you save helps take you further on your travelpreneur journey and makes the lifestyle more accessible.
Here are our top hacks for earning air miles without even noticing:
- Use Your Reward Credit Card to Your Advantage
The more you charge to your reward credit cards, the more air miles you’ll earn. That’s where being a business owner comes in handy. Businesses incur a lot of expenses, and luckily many of these can be used to generate more air miles.
Basically, you can reduce the money you spend on travel through using a reward card for everyday business expenses–a big bonus.
You can, of course, also use this method with your personal expenses. For example, you could start doing your monthly grocery shopping with a reward credit card of your choice–just make sure you’re paying it off at the end of the month and using credit responsibly.
- Air Mile Sales
Every year, Delta runs a promotion where they let you purchase air miles at half their usual price, and this is a bargain that we always take advantage of. Why not buy something at half price that we’re going to end up using eventually anyway?
After all, one thing is for certain in the life of a travelpreneur: there will be more travel, and more flights, in the future.
In addition to earning air miles by putting expenses on your credit cards, you can use “air mile hacking” methods to maximize your rewards.
Again, reward miles are unlikely to get you to all the places you want to be for free, but by employing air mile hacking techniques, you may be able to cover a lot more ground (or rather, sky).
Here are some grey and even black-hat methods for accumulating more miles.
- Apply for Credit Cards–Lots of Them
We’ve already spoken about running all your business and personal expenses through your rewards cards as a method to accrue more miles, but one of the fastest ways to hoard miles quickly is to sign up for more rewards cards.
Almost all airline reward credit cards have an initial signing bonus. This will often net you up to 50,000 miles instantly, and we’ve even seen offers up to 100,000 miles!
As with any hack related to credit cards, caveat emptor! If you don’t pay your balance in full every month, you’ll quickly find yourself spending much more on interest than you’re saving on flights!
It’s also important to remember that anytime you apply for a credit card it can potentially have an adverse effect on your credit rating. This varies from country-to-country. Applying for a bunch of cards at once can also have a negative impact on your applications being approved.
As (almost) always, there’s a workaround. Blogger Nomadic Matt shared his method for earning 275,000 reward points applying for new credit cards in just six months and had this advice:
“One thing to note about credit cards is that you can’t just sign up, cancel, and sign up again. Many card companies make you wait 18–24 months before you become eligible for a sign-up bonus again. (American Express only lets you earn the bonus once per card per lifetime!) I cycle through cards on a multiyear basis.
Therefore, I try to space out my sign-ups. I do two or three big credit card sign-up frenzies per year. This allows me to meet any minimum spending requirements, allows the temporary dip the application causes in my credit score to go away, and gets me around any red flags the credit card companies have. For example, if issuers see you have applied for a ton of credit cards lately, they are less likely to approve you. Chase has something called the 5/24 rule, which states people who’ve applied for more than five cards within a 24-month period can’t get a new card from them. I’ve heard mixed reports on this, though — sometimes it catches people, sometimes it doesn’t.”
- Know Your Categories
Rewards cards often give you additional points for each dollar (or pound) spent based on category. For example, you may get bonus points for spending on items like groceries and eating out.
Read the fine print and maximize the points you get for each purchase. You can even alternate between cards based on purchase category to make sure you’re obtaining the maximum rewards.
- Put that Debit Card on Credit
Moving swiftly into black-hat air mile hacking territory (and into the realm of “Couldn’t my time be more productively spent?”) is the practice of using your rewards card to buy PIN-enabled gift or debit cards. You then use the debit/gift card to purchase money orders and deposit them into your bank account. Finally, you use this money to pay off your credit card, netting you the relevant reward points.
In theory, this will work just fine, but it’s time-consuming, and we’re of the opinion that you’re better off spending your valuable time and energy on building your business.
After all, your goal is to maximize your travelpreneur lifestyle, not game the system in order to score the maximum amount of “free” rewards points.
If you’re hellbent on “beating the system” no matter the cost to your time (and your sanity), we recommend checking out Nomadic Matt’s Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking. He goes much more in-depth than we have the scope for in our travelpreneur guide!
Airline VIP Lounges
Airline VIP lounges are one highly underrated travel hack. The very name suggests that they are the province of the chosen few—such as Amex Platinum cardholders and those that have accumulated enough frequent flyer miles to achieve Elite status.
While either of those methods will get you free access to airline VIP lounges, there’s almost always another way. VIP lounges at many airports will allow you to buy a day pass (including Chennai, one of our hub airports.) But you either need to do your research in advance or be willing to get turned away at the door a few times before you strike it lucky.
A better option, for the inveterate frequent flyer, is Priority Pass. Priority Pass gives you access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide.
There are three membership tiers:
- Standard – $99 Annual Fee: Standard membership gives you and a guest access to all participating lounges worldwide for a per visit fee of $32 each.
- Standard Plus – $299 Annual Fee: Standard Plus gets you ten free visits to participating lounges and allows you to bring a guest for $32. After your first ten visits, you go back to paying the $32 per visit fee.
- Prestige – $429 Annual Fee: This one is for the ballers. Unlimited free access to all 1,200 lounges worldwide, plus you can bring a guest anytime for an additional $32.
(Important note: The Amex Platinum Card comes with a complimentary Priority Pass membership that grants you and a supplementary cardholder (plus one additional guest) unlimited access to participating lounges. If you qualify for the Amex Platinum Card, we recommend you pay the additional $121 towards the $550 annual fee rather than spending $429 on the Prestige Priority Pass. The Amex Platinum Card gives you so many more options to accumulate points as well as having many other benefits and incentives.)
Now I know some of you are going to see this as an unnecessary extravagance. But then again, perhaps you’ve never spent nine hours in the Heineken Bar in Schiphol nursing a $20 pint, pounding away on your laptop and waiting for your next flight.
Aside from the obvious comfort factor, let’s do the math. If you’re going to take ten flights a year, particularly international flights with long layovers, that works out to $30 per lounge visit for the Standard Plus package. At many airports, you’d be lucky to get a sandwich and an adult beverage for that price.
While lounges vary from airport to airport, you are pretty much guaranteed free unlimited food/snacks and unlimited alcoholic beverages. Many offer everything from showers to spas, and the level of luxury will far surpass anything you experience at a boarding gate.
Granted, if you’re just getting your business and travelpreneur lifestyle up and running, it might be a bit early to be springing for VIP lounge access. Besides, at the beginning, those eight-hour layovers at Burger King may not feel like such a burden.
But once you’ve been at it a few years and are enjoying some success, investing in VIP access can be a solid investment in yourself. We can personally attest to the fact that when flying long-haul, beginning or interrupting your travel with a trip to the VIP helps you to arrive physically and mentally refreshed.
At some point, you’re going to need to rent a car.
It’s an often-overlooked part of travelling, but there is actually a lot to consider when it comes to hiring a car, especially when you’re on the go 24/7.
Let’s dive in.
Booking Ahead of Time vs At Location
When it comes to car rentals, one thing to consider is whether you want to book your vehicle ahead of time or simply rent one once you arrive at your location.
One of the biggest benefits of booking ahead of time is that you have a guaranteed vehicle. Sometimes, people prefer to wait until they get to the location to book a car because they believe that they’ll get a better deal on the spot–and this is sometimes true, depending on who you’re dealing with (more on that in a second).
But don’t forget, just because you’ve already booked a car in advance doesn’t mean you can’t ask for an upgrade once you arrive.
PRO TIP: If it’s essential to your plans to have a car, then don’t leave anything to chance–especially during peak travel times. Secure yourself a cheaper or basic vehicle ahead of time, so you know you’ll have something waiting for you, even if it’s not your first choice.
Story Time! Jonathan Tells Why He Loves Avis!
Zeke in front of our free upgrade from Avis in Chicago
“When it comes to car rentals, I always choose Avis if at all possible. I signed up for their rewards program because it comes with so many benefits. Really, it’s a huge waste of your money not to.
Their rewards program offers things like a free second driver, as well as free upgrades or free rentals over the weekend all the time. They hand these perks out like candy!
A special “travel hack” I have discovered you can use with Avis is to rent the most dirt-cheap car available online, with absolutely no bells or whistles.
Then, when you arrive at the rental station, kindly ask if they can give you any upgrades.
Half the time, they’ll just give you the upgrade for free, and if you do need to pay an upgrade fee, it will always be cheaper than if you had paid for it in the first place.
Last but not least, another thing I love about being a part of Avis’s Preferred Membership Program is they always keep a few cars stored on the side that preferred members can take advantage of.
As a result, if they are fresh out of rentals, they’ll often still be able to make something happen for you if you are a preferred member with them.”
Car Rental Hacking Tips
With all the travelling we do, we tend to rent cars a lot.
Along the way, we have picked up many tips that help us save money along the way and get the most out of our rental experience.
Here are some car rental hacking tips that we’ve learned from our experiences, so that you can take advantage of them!
- Free Member Programs Come with Tons of Perks
It’s free to join the rewards programs for most car rental companies, and the benefits are well worth the few minutes it takes to sign up.
Programs like Emerald Isle, Hertz Gold, Dollar Express, Avis Preferred, and more, are all free to join, don’t require a credit check, and give you benefits right away. These perks might include free upgrades or rentals, allow you to bypass the counter and skip the line, and give you priority on nicer and newer rentals.
- Use Discount Codes
You can find deals to bring down your cost even further by finding a coupon with a simple internet search. You can find discounts on car rentals at places like Coupons.com, RetailMeNot.com, and even Groupon!
- Book in Advance and Check Later for Lower Rates
Another great way to find a deal is to book in advance so you can rest assured that you are guaranteed the vehicle you want, and then check back later during peak times when the company runs deals to see if the rates have fallen. If they have, then request a price adjustment to reflect that deal–they will almost always honour your request!
- Call to Book Lengthy Rentals
If your trip is over a week long, then you might be able to get a long-term rental discount. Many companies now give options that are cheaper than the published daily rates for customers needing extended rentals, but this is something you might need to ask about in order to get it.
- Return the Car with a Full Tank
Rental companies hate when they need to fill up your gas tank after you return your rental vehicle. In fact, they hate it so much that they’ll charge exorbitant rates if you return the car below the full line.Either that or they love ripping you off. Either way, make a pit stop at a gas station before you return your car.
Learning to live outside your comfort zone is hard.
But make no mistake, the benefits you’ll get from travelling abroad will change your life.
Sorting out a decent place to stay (while not breaking the bank) can be a challenge. What’s more, the cost of accommodation varies enormously from country to country, and even city to city.
Have no fear! We’re here to help.
Hostels, Couchsurfing, and Beyond
Saving money while on the go is a must (unless you happen to be rolling in dough).
AND, since this is The Definitive Guide to Life as a Travelpreneur, we’d be robbing you if we didn’t include this section.
What many people don’t realise is that what you spend to live your life at home (rent, utilities, groceries, etc.) may be more than what you’d spend if you’re travelling frequently.
Let’s start with the shoestring budget options.
Staying in Hostels
Everyone has differing opinions about staying in a hostel.
Some find it disturbing. Others, liberating.
But what is inarguable is that staying in a hostel is usually cheaper than staying in a hotel or Airbnb.
During our travels, we avoid staying in hostels simply because we aren’t too keen on them. Saying that, we still recognise the benefits of using hostels for short stays in places and for meeting new people along the way.
Hostelworld is the leading platform to book hostel accommodation. With roots going back to 1999, they’ve been in business for a long time, acquiring big name sites along the way, like hostel.com.
Hostelworld offers 36,000 properties globally in 170 countries, meaning they’ve essentially taken over the hostel industry.
Whether you’re looking to share your sleeping space in dorms or you want a cheap private bed option, this is the place to go to book a hostel.
Couchsurfing the Globe
Couchsurfing can be a way to not only meet new people, but to restore your faith in humanity.
Of course, you can crash on a friend or relative’s couch along the way, but you may not realise that there is a dedicated platform for connecting travellers and hosts—for free!
CouchSurfing is a service that travellers can use to meet other travellers, stay on host’s couches, and connect with like-minded people along the way.
Claiming to be a community of over 14 million people in 200,000 cities across the globe, if you use the CouchSurfing platform, you’ll have no shortage of potential friends to make and couches to sleep on.
Getting started on their platform can be a bit confusing, but they offer apps for both iOS and Android that help make the experience easier to navigate.
Remember, CouchSurfing is intended to be a free service, with the suggested form of payment being a gift or cooking dinner for the host.
Beyond the Backpacker Lifestyle
You can probably tell from our tone that we’re not too keen on either hostel life or couchsurfing.
You’re a travelpreneur, not a backpacker.
But we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t at least mention these options. After all, you may encounter situations where you can’t afford anything more than cheap or free.
Booking Accommodation 101—Everything to Consider
There’s a TON to think about when booking accommodation.
Like booking flights, you can typically book via a third-party website or directly with the property.
Our Top Sites to Book Affordable Accommodation
Without a doubt, Booking.com is the ultimate accommodation booking platform no matter where in the world you’re travelling.
Launched in 1996, Booking.com has 17,000 employees and 198 offices in 70 countries. WOW! 1.55 million rooms are booked on their platform every day.
You will find the most extensive variety of hotels, Bed and Breakfasts, hostels, and apartments on Booking.com, hands down.
You’ll also find the widest range of pricing. From ultra-cheap stays to exclusive 5-star resorts, you get more options than anywhere else, often at sharply discounted prices.
Why We Love ‘Em
- HUGE selection of places to stay
- Affordable pricing
- Excellent customer service
- Many properties offer free cancellation, and you can often book without a credit card and pay after your stay.
Where They Fall Short
- Not always the best for last minute travel
- Ugly links for sharing (pet peeve)
After initially entering the travel market as a flight brokerage, lastminute.com is now much more than that.
With products ranging from accommodation to theatre to car rentals, Lastminute is your go-to for booking travel and entertainment on a whim.
As the name suggests, the platform is specifically tailored for helping you find accommodation and flights at the last possible moment. Their user-friendly booking interface and variety of places to stay are sure to impress.
Why We Love ‘Em
- Exclusive deals and pricing, all at the drop of a hat
- User-friendly platform geared towards last-minute options
Where They Fall Short
- No guarantee you’ll find great deals (it’s a gamble based on availability)
Since launching just over a decade ago, Airbnb has single-handedly transformed the global accommodation industry. Not without controversy, Airbnb’s business model has been so successful that it’s had a dramatic impact on the availability of rental properties for local residents.
In many cities, this has led to significant restrictions on the types of properties that can be legally rented through Airbnb. Berlin even went so far as to ban Airbnb for several years. Berlin lifted the ban in 2018, but severe restrictions remain.
Due in part to such initiatives, the pool of Airbnb properties available in many major cities has diminished in recent years. For short-term stays, in particular, it pays to shop around using a site like Booking.com. Traditional hotels and Bed and Breakfasts in many cities often have rates comparable to Airbnb and are sometimes even cheaper.
Despite the above, Airbnb remains a wildly popular accommodation option. According to their site, Airbnb has served over 500 million guests thanks to their six million listings in 191+ countries.
Offering an experience unlike any other, travellers can book accommodation at properties that locals often manage. Airbnb gives guests the option to stay in shared spaces, private rooms, or entire properties at anywhere from budget to luxury price points.
Staying at an Airbnb often affords you the opportunity to interact with local hosts and gather insider tips and insights from the people who actually live where you are visiting.
Why We Love ‘Em
- Experience a spot like the locals do
- Great prices and options for long-term stays
- User rated profiles
Where They Fall Short
- Not always reliable in terms of safety or transparency, largely due to reliance on individual hosts.
PRO TIP: Many hosts offer significant discounts on stays longer than seven days, and even more substantial reductions on stays of 30 days or more. One of the perks of being a travelpreneur is the ability to immerse yourself in a city without needing to rush to the next destination. Airbnb is often the best way to do this, especially for stays of over 30 days. You will usually pay close to local rents on longer term stays, without the hassle and expense of signing a lease or paying a deposit.
Surprised to see this here? Well, you’ll be even more surprised at the hotel deals you can find on Groupon.
Many don’t consider Groupon as the place to go to book accommodation, but you can find excellent deals on properties via their site, especially for short-term stays in big cities.
Why We Love ‘Em
- Awesome deals you wouldn’t expect
- Offers hotel discounts in most major cities
Where They Fall Short
- Not reliable for longer visits or all schedules
Booking a Hotel Directly vs. Using a Travel Site
You may be surprised to discover that there can be perks to booking directly with a hotel versus a third-party travel site.
- Better deals:
Sometimes you can find better deals via the hotel’s website or by calling their reservations department than you’ll find on a third-party platform. This is a great option if you’re aiming to book multiple rooms for an event, conference, or something akin to this.
- Cancellations/Rebooking is Easier
The terms for cancelling or rebooking are often much more lenient when booking directly through the property versus a third-party. If you foresee having to cancel or reschedule a trip, it often behooves you to book direct to make that process easier.
- Earn Hotel Points:
Often you qualify to receive more rewards and points when you book direct. This is because when you book direct, the hotel does not have to pay a “finder’s fee” for your booking, meaning they can reward you for your loyalty and for saving them money. This is especially important if you’re a fan of staying with global hotel chains.
Physical Wellbeing and Health Insurance
Any time you leave your home country, it’s a wise decision to purchase health insurance that covers you while you’re abroad.
While there are plenty of things you can do to keep healthy while travelpreneuring—like getting regular physical exercise and being cautious about food and water safety–you may still find yourself in need of medical assistance, despite your best precautions.
While we’re not advocates of insuring your personal belongings while you’re travelling (premiums on items like laptops tend to quickly add up to more than the secondhand value of the machine), an unexpected trip to hospital for an extended stay can be financially devastating.
This is especially true if you’re travelling in the United States. But depending on your country of citizenship and where you’re going, the US is far from the only country that can wipe out your life savings should you fall seriously ill or require surgery.
There are myriad travel health insurance options out there—far too many to cover here. Nomadgate has written a terrific resource geared towards health and travel insurance for travelpreneurs and digital nomads here.
One crucial thing to keep in mind is that traditional travel health insurance is designed for trips of relatively short duration and is often only valid in countries listed on your travel itinerary. This can be a debilitating drawback for the spontaneous travelpreneur or digital nomad.
Additionally, many travel health insurance plans are only valid in addition to the primary healthcare you carry in your home country. This is so that if you require long-term care, you can be shipped back to your home country where you’ll be covered for treatment under your primary healthcare insurance plan.
If, for example, you’re an American citizen living the life of a travelpreneur in South East Asia, it may not make financial sense for you to continue paying for health insurance in the US. But ceasing to carry insurance at home can invalidate some travel policies.
Ultimately, the decision on what travel health insurance you should get is dependent on so many variables (your country of origin, where and how long you will be travelling for, whether you are fully covered by government or private health insurance in your home country) that it is beyond the scope of this guide.
Having said that, and thanks to the increasing popularity of the travelpreneur lifestyle, more insurance products are being designed with the long-term traveller in mind.
Here is our top pick for travel health insurance for travelpreneur or digital nomads.
SafetyWing is a new health insurance option for travelpreneurs and digital nomads. It launched in 2018, with help from famed startup incubator Y Combinator. SafetyWing was designed from the ground up with the needs of long-term travellers living the nomadic lifestyle in mind.
Crucially, SafetyWing doesn’t require you to maintain health insurance in your home country in order to be covered.
If you’re between the ages of 18 and 39, $37 every four weeks buys you $250,000 worth of medical coverage (with a $250 deductible), in any country but the US. If you’re travelling to the US, that premium goes up to $68 per month.
Here are some of the features and benefits of SafetyWing:
- Unlike most traditional health insurance policies, you can purchase the insurance at any point during your journey, not just before it starts.
- SafetyWing works on a subscription model. You are billed every 28 days until you cancel the policy.
- SafetyWing even covers visits to your home country (though you have to be arriving from abroad.) For every 90 days of coverage, you are covered by SafetyWing in your home country for visits of up to 30 days (15 days if your home country is the US).
- As part of the policy, travel insurance benefits like trip interruption, travel delay, lost checked luggage, as well as some personal liability coverage, are covered at no additional cost.
Though SafetyWing is a recent startup, they are backed by Tokio Marine, the oldest insurance company in Japan, founded in 1879. Tokio Marine is a global leader in the insurance industry and their backing of SafetyWing should dispel any misgivings about the startup’s relative youth.
In more positive news for travelpreneurs, SafetyWing plans to launch comprehensive health care coverage for nomads later in 2019 (i.e., offering preventative as well as emergency care). They plan to eventually provide disability and pension plans as well.
For long-term travellers that often fall through national safety nets, this is welcome news.
Expat Insurance Providers
We love SafetyWing for its emphasis on the nomadic lifestyle, but other notable insurance providers offer plans for the expat or long-term traveller.
Here is a short list:
The nomadic path of the travelpreneur is full of stimulating new experiences and, undoubtedly, you’ll make many new friends along the way. Having said that, life on the road can be stressful at times.
Finding yourself in a new environment with no friends or support system can take a substantial toll on your mental health. This can be particularly true if you’re visiting somewhere where you don’t speak the language. In some instances, this may also mean that your access to mental health professionals is highly restricted.
Here are some tips for maintaining your mental wellbeing on the road.
- Exercise Frequently
Not only is frequent exercise good for your physical wellbeing, but studies have also shown that for many, it is at least as effective as antidepressants for reducing the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
Do your mind and your body a favour–always make time in your schedule for exercise.
- Call Family and Friends Regularly
Now that technology has essentially made it free for anyone with an internet connection to talk or chat over video, there is no reason not to speak with your family and friends frequently.
Loneliness can be an unfortunate side effect of the travelpreneur lifestyle. Staying connected to your loved ones through technology is one effective way of making you feel more centred and less alone.
- Consider Meditation
Much like exercise for your brain, meditation has been shown to be highly effective in combating stress and anxiety.
There is now a plethora of apps out there that can help you build a regular meditation practice.
We’re big fans of Calm, an app for iPhone or Android that features guided meditations as well as a variety of features designed to improve your sleep.
Given that hopping across time zones and the resulting jet lag are practically givens in the life of a travelpreneur, anything that can help reduce stress and promote sleep (particularly without medication) is well worth auditioning to see if it works for you.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
If things just get to be too much, don’t hesitate to seek out professional help. International hospitals in larger cities typically have a psychiatrist on staff who can assist in cases of mental distress.
For less urgent mental health care, therapy is still an option even if it’s not available in your language or the community you’re visiting.
BetterHelp and Talkspace are two online counselling platforms that connect patients with qualified therapists, so all you need to connect with a mental health professional is an internet connection.
According to ZenCare, both BetterHelp and Talkspace offer unlimited messaging between users and therapists, while BetterHelp also offers unlimited live sessions.
Both services are well worth considering if you’re in need of help and find yourself in a location where therapy is otherwise unavailable.
In addition to these tips, here is a helpful leaflet from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office on how to stay mentally healthy when travelling abroad.
Story Time! Jonathan on Treating Yourself and Taking a Holiday from Travelpreneuring!
During our trips all over the world, especially during the initial setup phase of our business, we would ball on a budget.
That meant cheap Airbnb’s over expensive hotels. Simple equipment over fancy kit.
For the longest time in India we didn’t even have air-conditioning in our apartment, just fans… and that at 40C (104F).
You get my drift: we would do everything as affordably as possible.
And while we were “living the travelpreneur dream” (and loving it!) every now and then, it would all get to us.
No matter what you may think people are doing while being a travelpreneur, the reality is, if their business is a success and is growing, they are probably working hard.
I can’t even begin to count the number of countries I’ve sat in a Starbucks working all day just to get caught up.
So, when lethargy strikes, when you are feeling completely over it–and trust me, this moment will come–Follow my advice: Do a city break.
When it all became too much, we would book ourselves into a luxury hotel–in the same city we were staying in–just for like two or three days.
Bunker down, put the TV on, and live off room service.
Book a couple of massages in the Spa or go for a swim in the pool—or why not both 😀
These time-outs–as short as they may be–are so rejuvenating, it’s unreal. We would emerge from our little breaks full of energy and motivation, and with a new spring in our step.
I would actually go so far as to recommend a city break to anyone, even if you aren’t travelling. Grab your partner, a friend or solo it—find a deal on Booking.com and get yourself a nice room 20 mins down the road. Tell friends you are going away for work and turn your phone off.
There’s SO much to consider when working around the world.
Where will you work? How will you pay taxes? How will you get paid?
After much trial and error, we are glad to offer answers to many of your working abroad questions.
The Trinity of Where to Post-Up for Work
You’ve arrived at your destination. You’ve checked into your place. And you’re wanting to do some work outside of your room.
Where do you start?
Many prefer the reliability of guaranteed Wi-Fi hotspots, like Starbucks or McDonalds, but there are doubtless spots you’ve not considered.
During our travels, we have found many surprising work havens along the way.
With the growing popularity of the nomadic lifestyle, many cities are catching on to the importance of offering a coworking space for travellers and locals alike. Offering options ranging from yearly memberships to day passes, coworking spaces typically boast high-speed Wi-Fi, ergonomic working areas, networking opportunities, and more.
As you make your way across the globe, it is a wise idea to search for coworking spaces at each port of call. Not only will working in a coworking space likely make you more productive, but it will also force you to get out of your PJs!
Local Coffee Shops
Skip the chain coffee shops, and cosy up to your inner hipster by visiting local coffee and tea shops to conduct your work for the day.
Not only will you experience the joy of trying artisan coffees and teas, but many shops also offer excellent local lunches and desserts. Often, you’ll find out about local happenings in the community thanks to the many flyers and posters peppered throughout.
Libraries are often undervalued and underrated. A beacon for knowledge and growth, libraries today are equipped with much more than you may imagine. From printers, copiers, and meeting rooms to high-speed Wi-Fi, you may be surprised at what you discover.
Also, libraries were once so treasured in many towns that they are often among the most beautiful buildings in the area, meaning you may already end up there while exploring the city.
Story Time! Jonathan On the Joy of Coworking Spaces.
“In my opinion, the best places to work as a travelpreneur are coworking spaces. There is at least one in every major city worldwide nowadays. We visited one in Bangkok and found ourselves just blown away by the quality and features it offered.
We paid around £6 for access to the amazing space that came with fantastic Wi-Fi.
Everyone else is also there to work, so the atmosphere is just ideal. Not a lot of chattering like you would find trying to work in a coffee shop–everyone is there to focus and get things done, just like you. Not to mention, it came with free filtered coffee, all day long!
What most people don’t often discuss about the travelpreneur lifestyle is that it can quickly become lonely. However, coworking spaces give us the opportunity to meet and interact with like-minded people. It’s nice to meet other young and adventurous travelpreneurs and bond over experiences, share what we have learned, and talk about our future plans. Coworking spaces make it easy for this to happen naturally. As far as working while you travel, coworking spaces are my top tip!”
Getting Paid! Sending, Receiving, and Withdrawing Money Abroad
One of the best parts of being a travelpreneur—and often the one most frequently entangled in red tape—is getting paid. Or paying for the stuff you need.
Getting it wrong can be costly.
Here, we’ll help you get it right.
International Money Transfers
For almost as long as people have been sending each other money over the internet, PayPal has been there. Founded in 1998 and acquired by eBay in 2002, PayPal boasted 267 million users as of 2018.
If you’ve ever sent money or received money online—or purchased goods and services—there’s a good chance you already have a PayPal account. That ubiquity is PayPal’s greatest strength at this point, as—from our perspective at least—there are far better options to choose from for sending money internationally.
- You probably already have a PayPal account, and the odds are good that the person you’re trying to send or receive money from does too.
- Transfers are almost instantaneous–to your PayPal “wallet” at least.
- PayPal is available in over 200 countries.
- If you’re using PayPal as a payment gateway to receive money from customers for goods or services, a business PayPal account is easy to set up and has far less stringent requirements than many of its competitors.
- The fees to send and receive money internationally are much higher than many of their competitors.
- PayPal also penalizes the sender and receiver on foreign currency exchange rates. PayPal is far from transparent about this. Neither the sender nor receiver is informed by PayPal what percentage above the current market rate they are being charged. Estimates range from 2.5% to 4.5%, depending on the currency.
- If anything goes wrong—often through no fault of the sender or receiver—PayPal’s customer service tends to be substandard. There’s a reason PayPal has a 1-Star rating on Trustpilot.
PRO TIP: When accessing your PayPal account while abroad, make sure to use a VPN and set your IP address to the country your PayPal account is registered to. Otherwise, you may find yourself locked out of your account. There are other circumstances that can lead PayPal to freeze an account. We strongly advise against keeping significant amounts of money in a PayPal account for any length of time.
We’re going to come right out and say it. We LOVE TransferWise. And we’re not alone. Monito, an independent site that bills itself as a Trip Advisor for international money transfers, has written an extensive guide on why you should use TransferWise over PayPal. Monito is also a great source of information and reviews of the other platforms out there.
We use TransferWise exclusively to send money to our many team members around the globe and have had nothing but positive experiences.
- Low and completely transparent fee structure
- You receive the true mid-market rate on foreign exchange transactions
- Much lower fees than most bank wire transfers and (again) no commission on exchange rates
- Extremely easy to set up and use
- It just works!
- Their “borderless” business account offers remarkable value for travelpreneurs who need to pay team members, consultants, and vendors internationally. Just take a look at this comparison to PayPal:
- You can only send money to a bank account, or the receiver must have a TransferWise account.
- Pet peeve: If you request that a confirmation email be sent to the receiver, it will only be sent after TransferWise processes the transfer to the recipients’s bank account. This can take several business days.
- In our experience, dependent on the destination country, transfers to bank accounts take up to three business days.
As you can tell we’re big TransferWise fans, especially when stacked up against PayPal. But if you want to comparison shop Monito is the place to start.
Travelpreneur-Friendly Bank Accounts
The more exotic your destination, the more likely you are going to need cash—not just credit or debit cards. Often, it seems like there is a direct correlation between a low cost of living and the need for pay for most things in cash.
Even the most seemingly remote locations typically have at least one ATM within striking distance. When in doubt, it’s always best to pull out some local currency at the airport when you arrive, just in case you have trouble tracking down an ATM.
While access to an ATM may only be a concern in obscure locations at this point, you have something else to worry about. Many banks charge exorbitant fees for foreign cash withdrawals and debit card charges, and they typically aren’t afraid to add a hefty commission above the market exchange rate on top of it.
You’ll be surprised (or horrified!) at how quickly these fees can add up.
Given the growing popularity of the travelpreneur and digital nomad lifestyle, it’s no surprise that there are banking products designed to lessen the burden of excessive foreign transaction fees or eliminate them altogether.
Here’s a couple that we recommend:
Charles Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account
If you’re a US citizen or permanent resident (i.e., if you have a Social Security Number), The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account is arguably the best option out there for the travelpreneur.
- Not only does Schwab not charge you for foreign ATM withdrawals, they actually refund charges imposed by the foreign bank.
- No monthly fees or account minimums.
- You even get a small interest rate on your balance (currently 0.4% APR).
- You get the wholesale Visa foreign exchange rate. Schwab doesn’t add any additional commission. This means you’re getting the best available exchange rate for debit card transactions.
- Overnight debit card replacement if the card is lost or stolen.
- Only available to US citizens and permanent residents.
- Schwab will run a “hard” credit check which may adversely affect your credit rating.
- Not necessarily a con, but you need to open a Schwab brokerage account to be eligible for the High Yield Checking account. However, there is no minimum balance/funding requirement to open either. Whether you choose to use the brokerage account for investing etc. is up to you.
UK-based fintech startup Revolut has been in the news a lot lately, often for the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, Revolut has become very popular within the travelpreneur and digital nomad community.
Revolut offers three different accounts: Basic, Premium, and Metal. For the purposes of the Guide, we’ll be taking a look at the Premium account, which charges a monthly fee of £6.99 per month or £72 per annum (paid in advance).
Revolut offers many of the services of a traditional bank, but the model is different. There are no branches, and you set up your account from the Revolut app on your smartphone.
- Free ATM withdrawals worldwide up to £400 per month. After that, Revolut charges a 2% fee on the value of the withdrawal.
- Commission-free interbank foreign exchange rates on a large basket of currencies. There is some fine print on additional charges under certain conditions here. This means you can be paid in pounds into your Revolut account (for example) and spend that money in other currencies at an extremely competitive exchange rate and without fees.
- Cryptocurrency support
- Business accounts are also available.
- The Premium and Metal plans provide free overseas medical insurance. The basic plan offers the same insurance on a pay-as-you-go basis. A summary of coverage can be found here. As with any insurance or financial product, make sure you read the fine print.
- £6.99 monthly service fee
- 0.5% service fee on foreign exchange transactions over £5,000 each month (this is nominal compared to most traditional banks)
Two other UK and European digital banks that we’ve heard great things about are:
We haven’t tried either of these yet, but both offer features well worth checking out if you’re a travelpreneur or digital nomad.
Opening an account at all three banks is currently free, so there’s no reason not to audition them and find out which works best for you.
DISCLAIMER: What follows does not constitute financial advice. Always consult with a tax professional.
It’s been said there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. However, if you’re living the travelpreneur lifestyle more or less full-time—and you’re not a US citizen—you may find that your tax burden is significantly less than if you are resident in your home country.
The US is one of the only countries (other than Eritrea) to tax the worldwide income of citizens and permanent residents regardless of how long they live outside the United States. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps Americans can take to minimize their tax burden. Nomadgate recently published a terrific resource on taxation for US citizens living and working abroad.
For UK citizens, here is a blog post with some of the basics on taxation when you’re residing and working abroad.
IMPORTANT NOTE: No matter what citizenship you hold, it’s always best to consult a tax professional on how to handle your international income and tax preparation. It’s too easy to come across contradictory, misleading, and outdated information online.
Taxation is a realm where a few simple mistakes can cost you a significant amount of money or even worse.
We hope you’ve found The Definitive Guide to Life as a Travelpreneur informative and–dare we say it–inspiring!
If you’ve already begun your life as a travelpreneur or digital nomad and have any tips, anecdotes, or horror stories that you’d like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments. We’ll include any useful tips in future editions of the Guide.
Lastly, if you’ve been dreaming about living the life of travelpreneur but haven’t yet made the moves to make it happen, we hope this Guide has helped demystify the travelpreneur way of life and made it feel more attainable.
At a certain point, there’s nothing to it but to do it!
The greatest journey starts with a single step…
We hope you’ll share yours with us along the way.
Hey guys that was a super read and as an Seo who met you guys in CM last year and who will be going again in November it will be cool to meet up again with my son this time who I’ve also got going on the Digital Marketing journey. Tons of cool tips in there some i knew and some i didn’t know. Great read cheers thoroughly enjoyed it
Hey Paul! So glad to see you here!
Really awesome to hear about your Son diving into the world of DM! We will have to catch up in Chiang Mai 🙂
Glad that you included Saigon. As a Saigoneer who grow up here and due to the air pollution problem and overload with the city. I suggest you next time try Da Nang city. It more fresh air, cheaper expense than Ho Chi Minh City and they have a beautiful coast for those who love running or triathlon lifestyle.
I also have a plan to move to Da Nang soon.
Da Nang is a great suggestion – especially for nomads who love nature and the beach!
I hear you about the air pollution. To me, it’s one of the major drawbacks of living in Saigon.
But while I visit Da Nang and Hoi An regularly, I love the energy and dynamism of Saigon. I’m not ready to leave the big city just yet!
But when I am, I will definitely consider Da Nang.
Good luck with your plan to move there. Let us know how it goes!