- After working in Spain, Croatia, Greece, Portugal and Brazil, I learned to stick to my budget.
- I always choose inexpensive destinations to travel (think Prague rather than Paris) and negotiate a cheaper stay.
- I pack light and plan to do laundry, and I limit myself to a maximum of one meal per day.
- Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.
Over the past few years, the explorer in me has found a way to create remote work opportunities for me all over the world. I have spent months on my own as a solo traveler and have always found a way to make my finances work.
I’m from the UK and live here now, but have worked in Spain, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, and Brazil before, and plan to add more to this list as soon as possible.
Each country poses unique challenges when it comes to reducing costs. However, there are certain habits you can adopt and tips you can use to keep your bank balance in the green no matter where your digital nomading takes you.
1. Location, location, location
Deciding where to go is one of the most important factors in keeping your costs manageable. While it might seem like a romantic dream to make coffee in Paris for a month, the French capital is by no means a cheap place to live. The same can be said for other popular tourist destinations. So, instead of Paris, think of Prague, swap Barcelona for Bratislava, or experience Setúbal instead of Santorini.
2. Light pack
The money you can save on checked baggage fees by packing light can run into the hundreds of dollars. Especially when you travel from place to place every few weeks or so, the costs go up.
Believe it or not, you can go for weeks or even months at a time with a cabin size suitcase. If you think this is ridiculous and you would never make it, how many times have you been away and said to yourself, “Why have I packed so much? Exactly, listen to me.
Start by packing only the essentials, thinking about the climate of the different countries you will be traveling to and what activities (may require specific items) you might want to do there. Then pack a small selection of your favorite outfits. If you’ve chosen your place wisely, doing laundry should be cheap, easy and quick. Which brings me to the next tip …
3. Choose your accommodation wisely
To keep costs down, there is a list of important criteria that I look for when looking for accommodation while working remotely abroad.
First, instead of looking for specific city suburbs, I filter my searches by setting a maximum price limit per night. This only leaves me with the options available within my budget and prevents me from being tempted to splurge.
Next, I only consider places that have a refrigerator and proper cooking facilities – I’m not just talking about a microwave either. This saves a ton of money on eating out. We will talk about this later. But while we’re on the topic of appliances, I’m making sure there are laundry facilities either on the property itself or as part of a residential complex. This will be essential if you have followed my advice and packed light.
You are going to want to make sure that your new temporary home will be comfortable. For me that means being in an air-conditioned space. Being too hot to sleep or concentrate on work would be a nightmare. Some rentals have an air conditioning use limit or extra charge for it, so be sure to check this before booking.
One more thing to check is if there are reliable public transport links to get you around. I made the mistake of thinking that a place looks “close” to everything on a map and then having to walk almost an hour to a supermarket. Avoid this at all costs.
4. Negotiate a cheaper rate
A motto in my life is “shy bairns get nowt”. Which roughly translates from Geordie English to American English as “don’t ask, don’t get”.
If you book a longer stay, it’s likely that a slightly discounted rate will be applied to your stay anyway. However, before you book, it doesn’t hurt to message the accommodation to ask if they have any discounts.
I’ve had a lot of success with this, especially when I offered to promote properties through my Instagram Stories.
5. Limit your dining out once a day
But you’re on vacation, eating out is what you do, right? Wrong. You are not on holiday. You live and work as if you were at home, but in a remote destination, which is probably a lot nicer than the vacant room you’ve converted into a home office.
To make this possible, you will need to shop weekly. Yes, it sounds boring and like a chore, but overseas supermarkets are much more interesting than here.
For breakfast, I almost always cook it where I stay. For lunch, it depends on my schedule for the day. If I go to work from the beach for the day, I will pack a lunch to take with me as well as some healthy snacks. If I work from home most of the day, I will cook something fresh and healthy for lunch instead. I usually do this in bulk to save on future cooking time.
This lets you go to dinner to taste the local specialties.
6. Eat where the locals go
You don’t have to break the bank when dining out. Tourist trap restaurants aren’t always easy to dodge, but I always manage to find lesser-known options where locals eat. This usually means that the food will not only be some of the best in town, but also reasonably priced.
I begin my research by asking the owners of the accommodation for recommendations if they haven’t already provided one. Then when I’m on the go, I look for bars and restaurants that seem crowded with locals and add them to my “I want to visit” list on Google Maps so I can find them easily.
Enjoy your lunch!
7. Spend with a card without currency exchange fees
This is something important. Spending abroad can be costly if your bank or card issuer charges fees for spending or withdrawing money abroad.
Here are some of the best cards with no foreign transaction fees.
While in the United States, using a card or contactless payment method quickly became the norm, many places around the world still only accept cash. For this reason, it’s a good idea to check the cash withdrawal capabilities and fees of your cards well in advance of your trip.