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Creating an Emergency Plan When You’re a Digital Nomad

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May 3, 2020

Creating an Emergency Plan When You’re a Digital Nomad

Emergencies can come in any form and strike at any time–even when you’re traveling the world. From small emergencies (a sprained ankle) to big ones (the COVID-19 pandemic), as a digital nomad, travel blogger, or even avid vacationer, having an emergency plan to cover all kinds of contingencies is a wise idea.

You never know, however, what the emergency will look like. When 9/11 shut down air travel worldwide, hotels were still open, as were some tourist attractions. During the coronavirus pandemic, though, people can travel by air to countries with open borders, but they may not find a place to stay as governments have forcibly closed hotels.

There’s no way to create an emergency travel plan for every catastrophe. But, a well thought out emergency plan can help you out in almost any situation. 

Stay Connected

The internet is, of course, one of the most important things to a digital nomad. However, traveling to some countries may mean you won’t have reliable internet access the whole time you’re in a particular country–if at all. And, just because your cell phone provider says you can use it in X, Y, or Z country, doesn’t mean you can.

Shark attacks (seriously) have knocked out the internet for long periods. And not every country has reliable cell coverage. So, make sure you have a backup plan in case your communication connection is spotty.

Invest in an international hotspot for wi-fi access from almost anywhere. Or, buy an international cell phone plan that you can use to tether your device to. Alternatively, you can rent an international cell phone or purchase an international SIM card to swap in and out of your phone.

Insure Your Yourself

Being a “world citizen” sounds great until you fall ill. While you can receive medical services abroad, it probably won’t come cheap if you aren’t a tax-paying resident.

Buy a health insurance plan designed for global travelers or ex-pats. These help you get (and pay for) emergency care when you need it, and they also help cover the mundane (like your prescriptions).

Depending on your travel plans, you may also want to invest in an emergency medical evacuation plan. If you become critically ill during your travels and the local medical system cannot provide appropriate care for you, these plans can help get you to your home country for medical treatment.

Have a Financial Safety Net

Sure, you’ve scored a full-time job or have a stable of reliable (and paying) freelance customers. However, you never know when or how something might create economic shocks locally or around the globe. And those shocks could dry up your income stream(s) overnight.

Make sure you have an emergency fund you can dip into to help cover both basic expenses and emergency expenses. While it’s best to have this cushion set before you start your adventures, it’s never too late to start building one.

Set Up Emergency Contacts

A good rule of thumb for international travelers is to make contact with your home country’s local embassy as soon as you arrive. You can let them know who you are, what your plans are, and how long you are staying. You can also give them a list of emergency contacts for you in case something catastrophic happens during your stay.

On the flip side, your embassy can send emergency notifications to you. They will let you know if you should leave the country and can provide assistance to you in certain circumstances.

Deciding to Stay or Go

As part of your emergency planning, it’s important to figure at what point will you stick it out wherever you are and when will you decide it’s time to go. It may not be an easy decision, so consider a few things:

A Roof Over Your Head

Ask yourself if you will be able to stay in your accommodations for possibly months.

During the coronavirus pandemic, some governments have forced hotels to close, leaving guests scrambling for places to stay. And some countries started charging fees to foreigners in an effort to get them out of the country.

Even if that’s not the circumstance you’re in, ask yourself how long you’ll be able to stay in whatever accommodations you’re in. And, more importantly, ask yourself if you’ll be able to afford it if it becomes your “home” for months.

Review Your Documents

Another factor that can help you decide if you should stay or leave is determining how much time is left on your visa and when your passport expires. What would happen to you if your visa ran out while borders were closed? 

If you did find yourself in this situation, get in touch with your home embassy and the local immigration office for assistance. However, there’s no guarantee you wouldn’t be in trouble with the local authorities.

Exit Strategy

Figure out whether or not you’ll be able to get out. For example, flights are still available right now on many airlines. But can you get a seat and can you afford it? And how long will that last?

Will You Make it Worse?

The last thing to think about when you’re deciding to stay or go is, will you make it worse if you stay or go. For example, if you stay where you are, will you make things worse for the locals? Will you be using up their resources, and is that a wise idea? Conversely, if you travel home, do you risk harming others by coming into contact with them and spreading an illness?

Managing Expectations

Usually, traveling locally or abroad is easy. Yes, flights get delayed, luggage gets lost, and weather presents problems. But, these are usually temporary blips, and we’re able to move past them.

The pandemic, though, is something completely different. Now is a good time to think about your options (currently and in the future) and create a digital nomad emergency travel plan.

For more advice like this, browse our blog articles.


Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com

By Rachel Pelta | May 1, 2020 | Categories: Work Remotely

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