5 Final Tips that Mark an Expert Nomadic Traveler

We’ve been covering a number of expert traveler tips that come with the experience of hopping around about 37 countries for the past 13 months. You can catch up on the previous six installations here:

  • Part 1 – Planning your trip
  • Part 2 – On the Road
  • Part 3 – Strategy
  • Part 4 – Reducing Errands
  • Part 5 – Hotels and Inflight Entertainment
  • Part 6 - Food, Drinks and Transit

And now we turn to laundry, mail and money.

Bags that take up no space are very useful

Whenever I stay in a hotel, I take the laundry bags with me. I’ll also stockpile plastic grocery bags or tote bags, since they take up nearly no space.

These come in useful for keeping wet clothes if you don’t have time to dry them, separating dirty from clean clothes, putting around shoes, organizing other papers or liquids.


There are plenty of shops that offer wash and fold services all over the world - the trick is to find the ones that charge per kilo - Credit: Mikael Tornwall - Flickr

Leave the clothespins, twine, Dryel pads and sink stopper at home. In nearly every corner of the globe, particularly in cities, there are wash and fold services. Often co-located with dry cleaners, wash and fold services will usually weigh your laundry and charge you by pound or kilo. The hours and sanity you’ll save are worth the $6-10.

Many hotels offer laundry services, but usually charge $2-3 PER PIECE, so your average load of laundry could cost you hundreds of dollars.

In a pinch, there are laundromats. They aren’t glamorous, and you have to stick around, but they get the job done.

Have a back up checking account and debit/ATM card

Make sure you have pools of money with separate banks and separate ATM cards. Keep them in different bags and wallets in case one gets stolen.

This is a no brainer, but if you travel internationally more than once or twice a year, get a separate checking account that you can reload online.

I’ve lost my ATM card while abroad before, and it is an utter pain to recover and can often be a trip ender. Banks will usually only send a temporary replacement card and many can only make PIN purchases, not ATM withdrawals. A permanent replacement can only be sent to your home address. Bluebird and Serve can double as a backup ATM card, but keep in mind you’ll be paying fees and that AMEX doesn’t have a presence in many countries.

Get a Mail Virtualization Service

There are a bunch of mail virtualization services out there that developed over the 70s and 80s for RVers and yachters

If you’re planning on traveling for a few months, enroll in a mail virtualization service. Basically, you get your mail shipped there, they give you the option to scan and view the contents or send it anywhere in the world. This really helps get around the debit card issue above, if you’d like to churn cards while abroad or if you have checks coming in that aren’t on direct deposit.

Sure it costs about $25/mo, but you only have to check mail once every week or two and it takes seconds! Even while I’m back in the US, I’m planning on continuing this service because of how useful I’m finding it. I don’t get junk mail and can domicile in Florida (so no state income tax).

Originally designed for people that cruise around on yachts or RVs, St. Brendan’s Isle (I know, funky name right!?) caters to digital nomads and travel hackers alike. Check them out! There are plenty of other similar services as well.

Avoid using credit and debit cards that charge fees - Duh!

And of course, an obvious gimme. Don’t use cards that charge foreign transaction fees, or ATM withdrawal fees.

In my experience, the Fidelity and Schwab VISA debit cards are the gold standard because they reimburse all ATM fees incurred either from the ATM merchant or the underwriting bank. I’ve easily saved more than $200 on this trip because of that feature. Using the myriad of cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees (most Chase and Barclays cards, considerably fewer AMEX and Bank of America issued cards) will also give a nice boost back to your savings account.

Finally, there are a few cards like the AMEX Platinum / Priority Pass cards, and a physical Star Alliance Gold or OneWorld Emerald status card that will come in handy in a pinch. They especially can be very useful if you’re trying to play dumb (“I like to add my BA number to any ticket I can for good luck!”) or don’t want to explain the complicated rule gymnastics letting you in to an F lounge on a US issued ticket flying on Malaysian through Ho Chi Minh City. (“How about this card?, This one?). My record for number of ways to access a lounge is four.

Lastly, cards with fringe benefits like Global Entry (now required if transiting Canada into the US) or primary car insurance can come in handy, though you’ll use them just a handful of times during your trip. I feel like those have been covered pretty extensively elsewhere.

What are other tips you always follow when your travel? Particularly for long periods? Comment Below!

One Response to “5 Final Tips that Mark an Expert Nomadic Traveler”

  1. An ATM card that reimburses the withdrawl fee is clutch. It is the worst when you realize you need another $10-20 of local currency before you leave a country and you realize that your ATM fee for that withdrawal will be $5 total.

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