This is chapter 10 of a 15 part series about digital nomading and location independence. To see all of the other chapters, click here!
How to Pick Destinations, Handle Visas, & Book Travel As A Digital Nomad – Chapter 10
There isn’t an exact science to picking locations but here are some of the most useful tools and techniques:
- Nomad List
- Shows you the cost of living, WiFi speeds, and other details for most cities in the world
- Recommendations From Other Nomads
- There is endless content on the web from other nomads
- Google Flights
- To see how expensive it is to fly from one location to another
- To gauge how expensive housing will be in various locations at a specific time of year
Tip: It’s worth researching high and low seasons before booking travel. You don’t want to be in Bali during rainy season or in Chiang Mai during burning season.
This site will soon have much more comprehensive location guides, but for now, here’s a short list of 10 of the most popular destinations.
And here’s a great breakdown of 30 of the most popular locations from Chris the Freelancer.
When You’re Starting, Start With The Easiest and Most Popular Locations
There is a reason why certain cities have become synonymous with digital nomads.
They tend to have:
- Cheap Living
- Fast WiFi
- Lots of English Speakers
- Great Nightlife
- Expat Friendly
- Large Nomad Communities
- Easy Visa Situations
When you’re first starting, it’s easiest to begin in low difficulty places where there’ll be a sizeable community of nomads.
What are some places that fit these criteria?
- Medellin, Colombia
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Bali (Ubud or Canggu), Indonesia
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Bangkok, Thailand
When I first started, in 2017, I spent two months in Bali and then two months in Chiang Mai. Being surrounded by other nomads made the culture shock of living abroad much more manageable.
If I had started in a complicated place like Bangalore, India (where I ended the year) then it would’ve been much harder to get adjusted to this lifestyle.
C. How Visas Work
If you’re American, you can travel to 163 countries around the world without a visa or with a “visa on arrival.” Most countries will let Americans visit for 30-90 days for free!
Many popular nomad destinations such as Bali and Chiang Mai will let you stay indefinitely if you do a “visa run” every 60-90 days. Doing a visa run involves leaving the country for at least a few hours before re-entering.
For a full list of how visas work for every nationality, I recommend checking out Visa List.
D. How to Book Flights
I love Google Flights because you can look at a map and see the cost of flying from one city to any other city in the world. it’s the simplest way to understand how expensive it will be to move around the world.
There’s also a price calendar so you can find the cheapest flights between two locations.
Google Flights doesn’t always have the best data for regional airlines – SkyScanner tends to do this much better.
E. How to Book Hotels
I’ve found that Booking.com has the best selection and prices internationally but this can vary country to country.