Dose #3 What to Know Before You Travel to a New Country or City?

Eight Essential Preparations with a FREE Notion Template

Holla Amigos ๐ŸŒฎ

Itโ€™s a new week, full of possibilities! Who would have thought I'd be in Mexico City, learning Spanish on DuoLingo, and petting cute little pugs on walks? Certainly not me.

And that's how life works.

You've got to take chances without overthinking. Sure, do some thinking and talk it out. Chat with a few friends who've been in similar situations. But my advice? Go ahead with what you're pondering, even if it's out of character for you.

I just love how my hair looks here. Nothing special ๐Ÿ˜ 

I want to talk about a basic topic today: how to prepare for your first digital nomad travel adventure.

This is assuming that you have chosen a destination according to the tips I gave in my previous dose on How to Pick Your Digital Nomad Travel Destination.

This essentially covers all the details I delve into while preparing for a trip. To simplify the process, I've crafted a Notion template that allows you to easily gather and organize this information for any destination you're planning to visit.

Here are the 8 essentials to prepare with when travelling as a digital nomad or a beginner traveller

Since I am in Mexico, Iโ€™ll share my research on this location as an example.

1. Legal and Documentation: Information on visas, work permits, and any other legal requirements.

This was a pleasant surprise for me. Usually Sri Lankans need visa to enter Mexico, but if you have US visitor visa, itโ€™s visa on arrival up to 90 days. You can check the requirements for Visa for your passport here. However, it's always important to check the most current visa requirements before traveling, as immigration policies can change.

2. Basic Info such as Weather, Best time to travel, Language, Currency, Common phrases in use, Cultural festivals, Experiences and Places to explore: Understanding the locality is key to enjoying your trip.

Put down this information so you have a good idea about what you are walking into. Find a few communities of fellow digital nomads and local professionals if possible and connect with them before you reach your destination.

On our first day in Mexico, we met our friend Vi, who gave us plenty of suggestions on places to visit and things to do. We built our travel itinerary just like that.

First night in CDMX โœจ 

3. Budgeting/Cost of Living: Our typical budget includes allocations for food, accommodation, flights, coffee, coworking spaces, and data. Your budget will vary depending on factors such as your dietary preferences, whether you prefer hostels, hotels, or apartments, your daily coffee consumption, and your typical data usage, among other considerations. It's important to think this through and estimate your expenses.You have to think through this and put down rough amounts. I have put down a list on the Notion template.

Accommodation takes away a major chunk of the budget. Choosing this depends on the best Neighbourhoods to live.

When selecting a neighbourhood, consider staying near areas where expats and nomads reside. This usually means better access to restaurants, a feeling of greater safety, and the likelihood of locals being more accustomed to interacting with foreigners.

Set aside a dessert budget to indulge in all the churros you crave ๐Ÿ˜‚ 

4. Connectivity: Ensuring reliable internet access, using VPNs, and purchasing SIM/e-SIMs cards is crucial.

I had a hard time finding an e-sim since most of the telecommunication providers donโ€™t have the e-sim option for foreigners without long-term visa. There are few apps that you can buy sims from but they are very expensive. So far the best offer I could find was 8 GB for 500 Pesos from AT&T. There is a local provider called TelCel where you can get a physical sim for the same price if you are looking for a physical sim. You can purchase TelCel sims from the OXXO convenience store at the airport or anywhere outside.

5. Selecting the Right Gear: Verify whether you need special travel adapters or converters for your destination. You can find out what's required here.

In Mexico, as well as in the U.S., the electrical outlets are different from many countries in Asia. Devices like hair dryers may not function without a suitable converter, so it's wise to be prepared.

6. Health Precautions: It's important to research health insurance options, available medications, hospitals with English-speaking doctors, and safe water practices. Being prepared for emergencies, including knowing local emergency contacts and services, is crucial.

A well-known precaution in Mexico is to avoid tap water; we always opt for bottled water. For our insurance needs, we rely on Safety Wing.

Look at this vicious animal attack in broad daylight ๐Ÿคฃ 

7. Pre-Departure Checklist: This checklist covers all the essentials needed before setting off, including travel documents, finances, and packing lists. You can find it at the bottom of the Notion.

We always pack for a range of temperatures. The weather here can shift from crisp to hot or cold without warning, so we're always prepared. We have all kinds of medicine everything from allergy relief to wound healing creams. This is to avoid any late night mishaps in an unfamiliar city. We fit all of these belongings to 4 suitcases.

8. Mental Health: You need to do a bit of thinking about coping with loneliness and maintaining a healthy mental state while traveling solo or even as a couple.

If you are traveling solo, find ways to meet new friends in your destination, join communities for solo travellers.

If you are traveling as a couple, it's wise to establish ground rules for your relationship. We've adopted a daily ritual of taking a walk together to discuss our day and any issues we're encountering. This has been particularly beneficial in creating space for us to open up about any individual anxieties. I plan to explore this topic more thoroughly in a future piece.

Glimpse of the Day of the Dead celebrations ๐Ÿ’€ 

In truth, no amount of preparation can fully anticipate the incredible adventures awaiting you. Nonetheless, being as prepared as possible can help mitigate the stress and anxiety that unfamiliar environments may bring. After all, the goal of travel is to enjoy the experience, not to be weighed down by worry.

Thatโ€™s it for this week!

On a personal note, I'm considering some structural updates to the newsletter to enhance your reading experience. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions for me โœจ

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