Everyone dreams of running away now and again.
Some people go full-on digital nomad. They wander the world, untied to a regular place of employment, and make money through some mysterious alchemy — or, you know, they do freelance work.
But they make some sacrifices to live full-time this way. Sacrifices like selling their homes and all their belongings back home.
And some well-worn advice for embracing this lifestyle is out of immediate reach for a lot of people — like building up a year’s worth of savings or getting completely out of debt before you take the plunge.
Let’s say you’re not ready to go all-in and travel the world as a lifestyle, but you do want to live in a new place for a while — longer than the meager vacation-day allotment at the average office job will let you. Say two months.
Here’s how to do it.
Figure out how to work remotely
Yeah, we know — easier said than done. But if you’re like most people, your employer is not going to just give you two months to peace-out to the Caribbean.
You have two choices here: quit your job and leverage your skills in a freelance manner, or negotiate a remote-work deal with your employer.
It might sound impossible — but people in diverse fields build careers that allow for this kind of freedom. That includes travel nurses, writers, graphic designers, foreign-language teachers, software developers, and entrepreneurs. The details depend on your career.
The key is to find the intersection between what you’re already good at or have the credentials for, and what you can do online or remotely.
Or you can negotiate this with your existing employer. These tips mostly apply to negotiating a single work-from-home day per week, but could be helpful in negotiating a sabbatical or remote work agreement as well.
Do your research and pick a place
Now that you’ve got your income situation sorted, you’ll need to research where to go.
This will take a little more deep-digging than planning the ordinary ten-day vacation; whatever infrastructure problems and other challenges happen in the country you choose, you’ll be living with them for a while.
Look into daily cost of living — know what you’re in for with the daily cost of food, rent, transportation, and other necessities.
Be sure you can get your needs met
If you’re planning to work remotely, you can’t go too far off the grid. Wherever you land, be sure your Internet connection is reliable — or get yourself a wireless router.
If you’ll need GPS to find your way around (guilty; I have zero sense of direction), you’ll need a working smartphone. You can get these on a pay-as-you-go basis in most countries, but your existing carrier may also offer international coverage. Give them a call before you go.
And if you need to be on the phone for work, you’ll need a reliable and affordable international calling setup. Skype is generally great as long as your Internet connection is dependable.
Talk to people who’ve been to the place you want to go to
This is crucial to getting a real sense of what it’s like to live in a place for a while.
Sites like nomad list, Couchsurfing, Thorn Tree, and Facebook groups for expats will have plenty of experienced travelers. They can give you a heads up on what it’s like on the ground in your chosen country.
Sublet your place back home
You’re not going full-on digital nomad and giving up your home base — but you don’t want to pay rent in two places, right?
Look into subletting your apartment, or renting out your home if you own. Talk to your landlord in person and make your case for this — it’s a ton less stress if you have their permission.
Whether you rent or own, you’ll have to vet renters before you choose. Put out a call on Facebook; hopefully you’ll get a trustworthy friend or friend-of-a-friend. Try sites like Craigslist and Sublet. Get everything in writing.
Reduce your expenses beforehand
Before you go, look into ways to reduce your expenses.
Your Internet provider may be willing to pause your service while you’re gone, so you aren’t paying full-price for Internet you aren’t using.
You might not be able to make yourself totally debt-free before you go, but if it’s within your means, see if you can pay off your smaller loans. And if you really want to kick your savings up a notch, look into refinancing your student loan.
That could save you a couple hundred dollars a month for travel — the average we see is around $253 per month. See how much you could save by going to Refi Ready.