Disengage and Automate for Nomadic Living

January 21, 2013 | , , , ,

You’ve been dreaming and scheming so you can live your ideal life, anywhere in the world, and you’re almost there! Your money plan is in place, and you’ve plotted your escape, figured out where you’re going, worked out the travel logistics, and started packing.

Next, it’s time to automate and disengage. This is Step 5 in the 7 Steps to a Life of Travel.

There are a lot of things “normal” people have on autopilot that we don’t need as nomads—and vice versa. Before you go, some things will have to be taken OFF autopilot, and others will need to be put ON autopilot.

If you have any services you currently pay for that you’ll no longer need—such as gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, cell phone plans, and utilities—find out what you need to do to cancel them. Use up gift cards, cash in frequent-buyer points at your local coffee shop, and cancel anything else you can’t use on the road.

It’s a tricky balance to figure out how far in advance to take care of these things when you’re still trying to use them, too! With things like cell phone contracts, you might actually find (like I did) that it’s cheaper to pay the last few months of your contract than pay the early-cancellation fee. (Just be sure to set up a reminder to call and cancel it as soon as you can!)

Anything you can do to make administrative tasks more manageable from abroad should be automated. If you get frequent payments from an ongoing client, see if you can set up direct deposit or some other way for them to send you money more easily (PayPal or wire transfer to your bank account are just two options). Set up automatic payments for bills you’ll still need to pay, like credit cards, student loans, or insurance.

Use a Google calendar or other system to remind you when things need to be done, from canceling that cell phone contract back home, to your grandmother’s birthday, to paying bills or transferring money between accounts. It is amazingly easy to lose track of this stuff when you’re outside your normal routine (eventually, you’ll establish a nomadic routine that works for you).

You’ll also need to consider what mailing address and “residence” to use while you’re gone. No matter how untethered you are, you’ll still need a fixed address back home, or somewhere in the world, so you can get a driver’s license, pay taxes, and vote. It was pretty easy for me to set up residence where my parents live, but there are a lot of things to consider if you don’t have a place that’s an obvious choice. This post from Technomadia outlines how Americans can establish a “domicile state” and more.

There are a lot of things you can do remotely, online or via Skype, but there are bound to be things that need to be handled locally. Before you go, find a trusted person who will be available to handle any administrative stuff that you can’t handle yourself (ideally at, or near, your place of residence back home). Luckily, my parents are willing to fill that role for me. It is a HUGE help to be able to have checks sent to their house and have them deposit them for me, and to have them take care of other random things that come up. If you want, you can give this person power of attorney, so they can sign things for you as needed. (Be sure to be nice to this person—he or she is truly enabling your lifestyle!)

If you don’t have anyone you trust to take on this responsibility for you, check out a service like Earth Class Mail or Traveling Mailbox (I don’t have any personal experience with either of them, but they come recommended by other nomads and expats!). There are also other services tied to specific locations, which you could choose based on your domicile state (see the Technomadia link above).

That’s it! Once you’ve completed this step, you’re officially ready to go. To make your arrival in a new destination easier, check out the next step in the 7 Steps to a Life of Travel.


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