September

Everyone has different reasons to travel. For digital nomads, it’s a part of life. If there’s anything travel teaches us, it is that the world is a enormous place and that we are but a speck on the planet. In short, humility. While we have many stories to share, we need to know why we’re sharing them. There are a lot of people who look at travel as a business; they open a blog, make money and check another item off their bucket list. There remains no point to their traveling because they don’t immerse themselves in it. For them, it’s all about updating their status and bragging to the world about the ability to travel. Here’s how you can avoid being a travel snob.

Avoid pointless stories: “When I visited the Leaning Tower at Pisa, it was so crowded, there was barely a place to stand!” Duh. This isn’t new, not even to people who haven’t visited Pisa because guess what, they’ve met lots of people who’ve been there and heard the same thing. Plus, it’s common sense that a worldwide landmark is bound to have a crowd of people. So what exactly are you trying to say here?

Details are important in stories, not itineraries: No one needs to know every single place you are checking into. If you need to tell someone you caught a flight, text them, don’t check into your flight on Facebook. Instead, describe people and places. Tell stories. Make your travels unique by talking about the important details.

Take meaningful photographs: A couple of selfies at the Eiffel Tower are okay, but no one is interested in seeing a million photos of your face all around the world. It does not qualify as photography and is not important to anyone but yourself. You are just declaring the fact that instead of appreciating your destination, you have been obsessed with yourself.

Think about how your story will affect the listener: Talk about the lesson you learned from not trusting strangers. Or how hiking a tough trail restored your self-confidence. Make your stories relatable. People will appreciate you more for it.

Share anecdotes: Instead of bragging about the places you visited, talk about how you learned a local language or how you made a hilarious mistake while placing an order. Humanizing your story and talking about what it taught you gives an entirely different spin on your travels and makes people listen instead of pushing you away.

It’s not all about you: Lastly, always remember that it is not all about you. Your stories may be from your point of view, but it is more about the things you experience. Your travel could be giving a lot of people hope, and you want to inspire them to travel as opposed to making them resent you.

There is a fine line between bragging and sharing stories. A good travel blogger will make people want to travel, instead of alienating them. So remember to be thankful for your lifestyle and enjoy living it and sharing it as well.

Travelling involves more than taking in the sights. Tourists may visit places to see beautiful things, but travelling includes involving yourself in society. Programmes like volunteering put you deep into situations that the majority of the country faces. An extreme example of this would be to be in a country during the war. Your safety depends on the degree of uncertainty in the country but here are a few steps you can take to ensure your safety:

Visit your embassy: On entering a country in the middle of war, the first trip you make should be to your embassy. Submit an itinerary and contact details for every day of your journey. If you are not aware of emergency procedures, ask for any essential information that you should know in case of any crisis. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to exit the country, the embassy is the safest spot to be. They will recommend a safe place to stay, put you in touch with other citizens of your country, and inform you about flights leaving the country.

Skills: Basic medical emergency procedures like first aid and CPR are skills that every traveller should know regardless of where they are travelling. In high-risk areas, your knowledge of first aid may save lives.

Fake passports: It will be useful to have a camouflage passport, which is a fake passport with a non-existent country stated in details. It is an extreme move and not usually necessary, but journalists who work in war zones are given one to deter abductors.

Training: Many organisations offer basic training courses about what to do in emergency situations.  Such courses cover topics like survival, escape, and protection that can be extremely handy for travellers. Journalists, NGO workers and even corporate workers receive such training especially before visiting high-risk areas. Some of these courses also have weapons training but they can be quite expensive and specialised, and you may need to state a reason for receiving such training explicitly.

Insurance: It is critical to know that medical insurance does not cover the war. Insurance for war-torn countries is sold separately and can often be quite expensive. For corporate travellers, the company usually pays for it, but freelancers should consider it as an important necessity while travelling to high-risk areas.

General safety: Your best source of information in a situation like this is your hotel staff. Before heading out anywhere, make sure to ask them about the condition outside. Check local media as well, to assess how safe it is outside. Do not wander too far off and avoid crowded areas. Stick to areas with security. While moving around in affected areas, be extremely careful of photographing people and places. If the situation escalates, it is safer to stay indoors and get in touch with your embassy.

Most countries that are in a state of war do not advise travellers to visit. However, if you find yourself in a situation where the country you are visiting gets into a state of war, exercise extreme caution and make sure to head to the closest embassy.

The concept of constant travel is one that society is yet to come to terms with. Everyone has those folks back home asking you how you’re going to “meet someone and settle down” if you keep moving from place to place. But being a digital nomad doesn’t mean you can’t meet that someone special. In fact, considering the number of people you meet, the chances that you will meet someone you like are very high.

Map your destination’s social scene: Make time to meet people at social events, as they are the best places to meet like-minded people. They are generally informal enough to kick back and socialise and there is no pressure to stay till the end of the event. Exhibitions, concerts, even a drink at the bar can be an opportunity to meet someone. Yoga classes, cooking classes, hiking groups can all help you find people you’re compatible with.

Don’t rule out casual dating: You don’t have to jump into a relationship with the first person you get along with. It may be just a drink and dinner or you may just have a few days together or it may be a random travel fling — don’t let the inevitable parting of ways convince you that you cannot date someone. If you click with someone, go out and work on that chemistry. You may not want to get into a full fledged long distance relationship but you’ll never know until you try. In any case, you may end up making a good friend.

Give people a chance: Digital nomads need to be open to new experiences, people and places. As a digital nomad, you are constantly meeting new people. If you judge people on sight, you will miss out on them as a person. You need to keep an open mind while communicating with anyone for any purpose, so don’t put barriers on the kind of person you’d like to be with either. The jerk of your new found group might just turn out to be a sensitive person after all.

Go with your gut feeling: Many on-the-road romances end with the logical conclusion that staying apart is better for both parties, considering their independent nomadic lifestyles, lives back home, spontaneous natures, and many other reasons. Once in a while, all these logical reasons will seem stupid, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you really think someone is worth being with, there is no harm giving it a chance. There might be many obstacles along the way but you might just find them easier to overcome because of the person you’re with.

Online dating for nomads: There are several dating websites meant solely for nomads. Websites like Date a Nomad and Nomad Soulmates cater solely to people who are on the road, which is a good thing. You can meet people with similar interests and again, there is no pressure to stay in touch if it doesn’t work out.

There are countless tales of nomads who have fallen in love while travelling and a large number of them never regret it. It’s true that a lot of them have had to end relationships due to itchy feet but many of them have also found a way to make it work and are still going strong.

You’ve paid your visa fees and double checked your documents before submitting them, only to find out that your visa has been rejected because your status as a freelancer doesn’t exactly scream job security. In spite of years of building up networks and gaining clients who rely on your work, the lack of an organisation’s name tagged on to your CV can affect your visa approval.

Here are some steps you can take toward securing your visa:

Letter from client: If you’re working on anything long term with any clients, make sure to get written confirmation from them ensuring your role as a serious contributor. This becomes equivalent to proof of employment, which is essentially what visa officers look for first.

Proof of jobs: If your freelance work has tangible results, include printouts of your work as part of your documentation. The bigger the publication, the most secure your job status. Freelancing may not be a steady income but your portfolio is definite proof of saying that you work in the big leagues.

Don’t leave anything out: Be sure to include documents like tax returns, bank account statements and property evidence to emphasise the fact that your job is legal, that you make a living from it and that you are able to support yourself.

Letters from your host: If you are going to visit friends and family anywhere, make sure to get a letter from them confirming your status of accommodation. If you have a sponsor, be sure to include correspondence from them as well.

Return tickets: Your return flight tickets are one of the prerequisites while applying for a visa, especially for countries that do not have a very powerful passport. If you are flying on to another country, make that absolutely clear in your application letter.

Travel visa service: It is not necessarily true that applying for a visa via a travel visa service will guarantee approval, but for those who find the process stressful, it is worth it. Your agent at the visa service will also be able to give you tips about how to make sure you do everything you possibly can from your end.

Copies: In addition to submitting the required number of copies to the embassy, make sure you have a set of the submitted documents yourself, for your reference. In case you are asked about any document, you need to have it at hand.

Interview: In some cases, being called for an interview is actually a good thing. Instead of looking at it as a foreboding event, look at it as an opportunity to explain your situation to an officer in person. In many cases, an interview has helped people get a visa approval.

Do your research: Different countries have different requirements for visas. Even if you do apply for a visa via a visa service, make sure you do your own research and know what is required from you. Always read the details of the application carefully and if you have any doubts, call the respective embassy to ask questions.

While a sharp increase in digital nomads around the world has made countries aware of the nature of different jobs, it has also made visa criteria stricter. Ultimately, your visa approval depends on the officer handling it, but you can always take steps to ensure you have done what it takes.

As the end of the year 2016 comes closer, nomads need to decide sooner than other travellers where they’re going to spend new years’ eve. Clubs will be full, parties will be booked and before long, you’ll be hunting for accommodation. To get a head start, here are a few suggestions on where you can celebrate new years’ in India:

Gokarna: For the nomads who want to spend the new year festivities with a small group away from the city, head to Gokarna in South Karnataka. Not a very mainstream destination, the quiet beaches are ideal for small groups. It is still advised to book your accommodation in advance since Gokarna is a popular destination with the city folks of Bangalore.

Kasol: Popular at any time, Kasol has a steady stream of psychedelic parties through the year so it shouldn’t be too difficult for one to be on during New years. The Parvati Mystery party during this time seems to be the most energetic happening during this time of the year.

Mumbai: If major parties and dancing are your thing, spending new years’ eve in Mumbai is the place to be. Take your pick from the choicest parties in the most popular areas. They can be quite expensive though so begin saving up now!

Bangalore: Bangalore is where the pub scene reigns so head over there if you’d rather spend your new years’ sitting down rather than dancing. Being a prime destination for music acts, Bangalore will also have some prime gigs around then. Ideal for a group, be sure to make reservations wherever you decide to celebrate.

Hampi: The small historic site slash hippie town is another ideal place to celebrate new years’. Virupapura Gadde, the bank across the main town, has most of the homestays and new year parties are an extension of the regular partying that happens every night. However, you can find quiet places to celebrate the new year as well, just as long as you aren’t being a nuisance to the locals. As always around the holidays, book in advance.

Goa: Goa is pretty much party central so with a good deal of planning and booking in advance, new years’ at Goa is always a blast. You have your pick of beaches, an easy flow of cheap beer and some of the most coveted clubs and active nightlife. New Years’ in Goa couldn’t go wrong!

Jaisalmer: You don’t have to be in the thick of it all to have a good new year party. If you’re looking for peace and solitude, head to Jaisalmer, where you can spend new years in the Thar desert, below the stars. Just be sure to bundle up properly, nights can get pretty freezing, especially in the winter.

Shillong: Shillong has an amazing music scene throughout the year so new years here is bound to be something special. It is quite an underrated place, so if you’re looking to experience a different kind of party scene, Shillong is your best bet. Plus, the enthusiasm after Christmas only increases till new years’, making it one long celebration.

You can ring in the new year anywhere, given that any establishment with a claim to being a hotel throws its own new year party every year. Just remember to celebrate responsibly and book your taxis well in advance!

Working and travelling may sound like a very carefree life, but digital nomads face their own share of problems that they need to solve. Being on the road means we have to be prepared for literally anything and by preempting certain situations you can actually be better prepared for any difficulties. Here are some hacks you should keep in mind:

Internet: When you reach a destination, take some time to wander around and find a workspace where you get good connectivity. The first day in a new place, especially if you plan to halt there for a while, should be spent staking out the area and establishing what your new workspace is going to be like. It could be your desk in your hotel room or a particular table at a cafe where the internet is cheaper than the other options. You can also find the best deal on portable modems or plug-in connections to ensure that you’re always connected.

Frequent flier miles: Make complete use of the air miles that your rack up. You can keep adding points by certain shopping schemes or offers in restaurants and hotels. In certain cases, they can end up paying for your entire airfare. Also keep an eye out for upgrades on your card as higher tier cards allow access to a lot of lounges, particularly in airports and these come with more free features to make your travel easier.

Travelling with gear: Keep all your travel necessities safe with a Scottevest or other similar multi-pocketed jackets. These customised jackets come with multiple features like compartments for tablets, phones, identification, travel documents, pens, earphones, and even hidden pockets.

Equipment failure: Make sure you account for the change in climate from place to place, especially when it comes to your electronic equipment. If you are travelling to a humid place, you need to keep your laptop and cell phone in a ziplock bag with some desiccant. Near beaches, it is always a good idea to keep some soft brushes to clean fine particles of sand out of your equipment. Since your livelihood depends on your equipment, taking care of them should be your first priority.

Travelling during important dates: Avoid planning travel on days of submissions, meetings or when your deadlines are nearing. Going to a new destination would mean searching for a new workspace and a reliable internet connection and you waste precious work hours doing this. Your priority during these days should be to stay in contact with our client so choose a place with good connectivity and avoid travelling.

Keep your bank in the loop: If any of your bank accounts are going to be inactive for a while, it is a good idea to inform your bank about it. Even in today’s super connected age, travellers have known to find their bank accounts shut down because of inactivity during long term travel. In case you miss any messages by them or aren’t able to access your email while travelling, head to the bank personally before leaving town.

Time zone trouble: If you’re travelling internationally, always make sure to inform your client about your timezone. It is very easy to fallout with your clients on this matter and it is easy to miscommunicate timings during travel so while declaring deadlines, check your travel plans and specify timezones and locations.

Every digital nomad has their custom checklist while traveling and it keeps developing to make things easier for them. Preparing for certain situations makes your own life easier. After all, being a digital nomad is a lot of work!

Visa fees can be quite unforgiving and the worst thing that could hinder your travel is being unable to pay these fees. An Indian passport may not be the most powerful passport in the world but there are many countries that offer Visa on arrival to Indian tourists for no fee, or a manageable fee. If you pick the countries with the right exchange rate, you’ll find that you can combine work and travel at quite an affordable expense. Here are a few countries where you can get visa on arrival and hire local services too, for quite an affordable rate.

Sri Lanka (1 Indian Rupee = 2.18 Sri Lankan Rupee)

Sri Lanka is one of our closest neighbours and as a country, is a beautiful place to travel.  In addition to a beautiful coastline, Sri Lanka has an active surfing scene and many national parks. Visitors need to fill an ETA form prior to entering the country and getting their visa. Visas are valid for 30 days but can be extended. The exchange rate is great, at 1 Indian Rupee coming to around 2.18 Sri Lankan Rupee, making your travel and expenses quite cheap. It also means hiring human resources here for short periods is a viable option.

Indonesia (1 Indian Rupee = 196.33 Indonesian Rupiah)

Another popular destination in south east Asia, Indonesia too, has an extremely attractive rate of exchange. India falls in the category of visa exempt countries, which means you can stay in the country for a period of 30 days without a visa. The exchange rate stands at 196 Indonesian Rupiah for 1 Indian Rupee, which means getting services, whether it be domestic, or pertaining to your work, is quite handy here.

Madagascar (1 Indian Rupee = 44.79 Malagasy Ariary)

Baobab trees, cheeky lemurs and beaches that are brimming with tropical beauty, Madagascar can be a wonderful nomadic pitstop. You can get a visa on arrival free of charge if you are going to remain for a period of 30 days. There is a fee for a maximum stay of 90 days. The exchange rate is 0.022 Indian Rupee for 1 Malagasy Ariary, so hiring services there is far from costly.

Tanzania (1 Indian Rupee = 32.77 Tanzanian Shilling)

If visiting national parks is your thing, visiting Tanzania has to be high on your list of travel destinations. You can observe a lot of Africa’s flora and fauna in these parks, not to mention the gorgeous coastline and beaches, as well as Mt Killimanjaro, one of Tanzania’s chief attractions. Lucky for us, Indian passport holders can obtain a visa on arrival for $50 US. The exchange rate is 32.77 Tanzanian Shillings for 1 Indian Rupee. The cost of living is higher, but again, with some budget traveling, you can live quite comfortably.

Thailand (1 Indian Rupee = 0.52 That Baht)

Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for any kind of traveller. Many kinds of nomads flock here for the beaches, the nightlife and the many buddhist temples. Travellers have to get their visa on arrival at the first point of entry into the country for a fee of 1000 Thai baht. 1 Thai baht equals 1.91 Indian Rupee, which is not ideal but if you’re earning in US Dollars, comes to 35 baht per Dollar, which is quite comfortable.

Mauritius (1 Indian Rupee = 5.34 Mauritian Ouguiya)

Another country that allows Indian citizens to stay without a visa for 90 days, the volcanic island nation of Mauritius is a must visit for anyone who wants to see the wonders of nature. In addition to pristine beaches, the country has an abundance of hiking trails amid rainforests and rocky mountains. The exchange rate is 5 Mauritian Ouguiya for 1 Indian Rupee but similar to Thailand, if even part of your income is in US Dollars, makes life here quite manageable.

Cambodia (1 Indian Rupee = 61.36 Cambodian Riel)

Home to the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, Cambodia is a great destination for slow travel.  It would be an absolute shame if you didn’t take your time to explore the Cardamom mountains or visit south east Asia’s largest mangrove forest. Fortunately, Indian nationals can obtain visa on arrival or even apply for an e-visa for a period of 30 days. With 1 Indian Rupee coming up to 61.36 Cambodian Riel, you can comfortably spend a month here, and with some budget travel, can cut down on some more costs.

Vanuatu (1 Indian Rupee = 1.64 Vanuatu Vatu)

The archipelago of Vanuatu is rich in history and prehistory. The country is made up of 83 islands, and with its azure coastlines, is a great destination for photographers. Vanuatu has a visa exempt policy for many countries around the world, including India. You can stay in the country for a maximum amount of 30 days without a visa. 1 Indian Rupee is equal to 1.64 Vanuatu Vatus, which is quite an affordable exchange rate.

Kenya (1 Indian Rupee = 1.52 Kenyan Shilling)

Kenya is the most rapidly developing country in East Africa and another African nation that you can visit for its national parks. The annual wildebeest migration is one of the most popular natural wonders that occurs here. Areas bordering South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia are considered dangerous due to the risk of terrorism and banditry, but travelling through safe channels with ensure your safety. Indian nationals can obtain a visa on arrival and the exchange rate is 1.52 Kenyan Shilling for 1 Indian Rupee, with the cost of living being slightly higher.

The cost of living in countries with good exchange rates varies but with a little financial planning you can easily spend at least a month in any of these places and find human resources for quite an affordable rate too. As nomads, we have learnt the importance of spending money carefully. But of course, money spent on travel is the best expense, so we might as well make the most of visa on arrival facilities around the world.

PS – To read about Visa Extension Procedure In India. Click Here.

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