Category Archives: Nomadic You

Travel to these countries with cheap currencies

Where should I go next? Argentina, Mexico and Turkey are all countries with cheap currencies that are great to travel to.

Countries with Cheap Currencies, Mexico. Photo by I threw a guitar at him (Flickr)
Countries with Cheap Currencies, Mexico. Photo by I threw a guitar at him (Flickr)

It was bound to happen, a digital nomad blogger with an economics background can’t resist posting about countries with cheap currencies to travel to. But with so many travel options, maybe this list will help you narrow down your search.

Travel advisory Venezuela

Topping the list is the Venezuelan Bolivar, which has plummeted by 56% against the US dollar since the start of the year. But you may want to skip this country for now. The latest U.S. Department of State Travel Warning (as of July, 2016) warns that “Country-wide shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity, and other basic goods have led to violence and looting.” Maybe a good destination then for a crash diet?

Mexican Peso vs Trump

Perhaps it is best then to consider those countries without travel advisories. And in the case of Mexico there is no violent political unrest to blame for their currency collapse. Rather, the depreciation has been because of investor fears about trade under the Trump presidency. Ideal conditions then for a visit to the beaches of Playa Del Carmen or a city break in Mexico City. You could buy many a Trump piñata with the weak Peso.

Buenos Aires, Istanbul and Antalya have all featured before as one of Nomadic You’s best budget destinations. Now could be just the time to try one of these 3 cities.  Here you go then, the Top 25 Worst performing currencies so far in 2016:

Worst Performing Currencies 2016 $1= 1/01/2016 $1= 6/12/2016 % Move
1 VenezuelanBolivar 6.35 9.95 -56.70%
2 Argentine Peso 12.93 15.85 -22.65%
3 Mexican Peso 17.20 20.42 -18.69%
4 Turkish Lira 2.92 3.44 -18.07%
5 British Pound 0.68 0.79 -15.93%
6 Swedish Krona 8.46 9.13 -7.96%
7 Iranian Rial 30303.03 32123.38 -6.01%
8 Chinese Yuan 6.51 6.88 -5.58%
9 Nepalese Rupee 103.10 108.67 -5.41%
10 Polish Zloty 3.95 4.16 -5.39%
11 Philippine Peso 47.05 49.55 -5.30%
12 Trinidadian Dollar 6.42 6.73 -4.79%
13 Libyan Dinar 1.37 1.42 -4.38%
14 Malaysian Ringgit 4.30 4.45 -3.38%
15 Sri Lankan Rupee 144.62 148.82 -2.90%
16 Indian Rupee 66.24 67.68 -2.18%
17 Bulgarian Lev 1.80 1.82 -1.23%
18 Czech Koruna 24.89 25.19 -1.18%
19 Latvian Lat 0.65 0.65 -1.14%
20 Euro 0.92 0.93 -1.14%
21 Lithuanian Litas 3.18 3.22 -1.14%
22 Danish Krone 6.87 6.93 -0.82%
23 Hungarian Forint 289.88 292.03 -0.74%
24 Swiss Franc 1.00 1.01 -0.73%
25 RomanianNewLeu 4.17 4.19 -0.56%

@NomadicYou Which of the countries with cheap currencies would you love to travel to? Venezuela, Turkey, Argentina or Mexico?

Digital nomad life, can I hack it?

How travel and adventure awaits. Remote working from camper-van to Cancun;

Digital nomad life in the gig economy.

digital-nomad-life-kelvyn-skee
Digital-nomad-life-Photo by Kelvyn-Skee

“People don’t take trips… trips take people.” If John Steinbeck is saying that travel will be life and perspective-changing; then I wholeheartedly agree. If he is saying a life of travel will be a rollercoaster, then that is true too. India has probably been my biggest rollercoaster so far. From the sheer bliss of a Varanasi boat ride on the Ganges at sunset, to the man with the snake outside Delhi insisting I roll down my window to tip for my tourist snap. Okay, only those that are afraid of snakes will understand how low such a moment can be. But indeed, India was life-changing.

#digitaleconomy

The digital economy too has been life-changing on a global scale. Changes in IT infrastructure, the growth of e-business and e-commerce have taken hold in the 1990s and continue to evolve at breakneck speed. Along with all these advances have emerged digital nomads working remotely from all corners of the globe. Not so much the corners of the world with slow internet, but you can spot them in a cozy corner of a free-Wi-Fi coffee shop or blogging at a public library.

The most obvious advantage of life as a digital nomad is travel. New experiences. New cultures. The food. (I love Indian food). The people. Seeing fascinating uses of ping-pong balls in Thailand. You are more likely to delight your friends with tales of ping-pong balls than with stories of corporate strategy. “Do you come here often?” probably sounds better if you can say it in Spanish or Hindi. Tequila tastes better in Cancun. The city lights sparkle more captivatingly in Prague. Ice cream tastes better in Camps Bay sold by a man whose sales pitch goes “A lolly to make you jolly!”.

#remotework

Then there is the flexibility of remote working. Wrap up your blog in the morning, siesta in the afternoon and party with the locals till the cows come home. I know, I am a fountain of clichés; but I answer to no boss who will edit away my lame jokes. You too can e-commerce as much as your heart desires. Well, not too little, that Tequila won’t buy itself. (Unless frugal living cuts some inches off your waist and the man at the bar buys it for you.) But another freelancing gig on fiverr need not be far away to give your cash flow a boost. And the cost of living in Bangalore and Colombo is cheap. Meaning few hours in front of the computer screen to trade for that optimal work-life balance.

#vanlife

That work-life balance is yours to strike. More time and more life: Or a bit more work and more luxury. Van living certainly falls in the more life camp. Especially if the van is past its prime and wild camping is your scene. I must confess, I could easily see myself following the cycling Grand Tours in Europe in a campervan. In France the aire de camping are municipal parking sites that are either free or charge a small overnight fee. Smaller camping vans or motorhomes will make your fuel budget stretch further and staying under 6 meters long will keep toll fees down too. Pity the Schengen visa only allows me 90 days in a 180-day period, else I would have my campervan already.

#travel

More digital nomads opt to travel the world from one AirBnB apartment to the next. You could try a shared room, private room or rent an entire place. Plus, many hosts will throw in a discount if you stay for 28 nights or more. I head straight for the mapping tool to see which apartments are close to the nearest metro station. But, in the absence of a metro, travelling by Uber shouldn’t break the bank as long as malls and beaches are nearby. I wonder what the more successful netrepreneurs out there splurge on? Nothing too big and bulky for sure. But some wonderful experiences I’d imagine: A day at the spa, some fine dining and the latest Apple everything.

It all sounds very dreamy, from the tip of your pedicured toes to your iPhone scrolling thumb. But Wikipedia does bring us back to reality and lists the following digital nomad disadvantages; obtaining health insurance with global coverage, abiding by local laws and work visas, maintaining long distance relationships and the delineation between work and leisure time. I’m surprised health and nutrition on the road doesn’t make the list.

#visarun

Dealing with long distance relationships, work-life balance and your waist line are best left for now. But, my tip for overcoming visa restrictions, is to try one of the many affordable countries with generous visa entry rules that allow you to stay for 90 or 180-days visa free.

Budapest and Prague are right up there as popular and affordable destinations and US and UK citizens have it easy getting into the European Schengen area. UK citizens have freedom of movement, for now. (We will have to see how Brexit negotiations with the EU progress.) Whilst American citizens, according to the US State Department, can stay Visa free in all 26 Schengen states for up to 3 months. <Sigh> My South African passport doesn’t open as many doors for me as you lucky US and UK folk. But, when in Thailand, I will have to follow some advice from my Rough Guide and make a visa run to Malaysia to get a new stamp on re-entry for another 30 magical Thai days.

Yes, life as a digital nomad can be pretty schweet. New horizons. Flexibility. Sunny shores. Learning Hindi. Unsuspecting AirBnB hosts. And not forgetting Bangkok ping-pong balls in action. Wikipedia may be right about the challenges. But armed with enough knowledge, we shall overcome and prosper.

@NomadicYou Where will your digital nomad life take you? Campervan adventure or globe-trotting to Bangkok? #nomadiclife

Is being a digital nomad or downshifting for me?

What does being a digital nomad or downshifter entail? And how to overcome the obstacles to a happy work-life balance

Digital nomad living in Chiang Mai, Thailand Photo: Stefan Fussan
Digital nomad living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo: Stefan Fussan

There are many ways to skin a cat, the saying goes. None of which appeal to cat lovers I’m sure. And many paths to being a digital nomad. But if you love your pet or your spouse, then you have already encountered your first obstacle in becoming a digital nomad. Sadly, society has groomed your spouse to value setting down roots. To be a responsible corporate employee, with all the shiny trinkets a steady salary can buy and having enough closet space to store said trinkets in. There is no time like the present to start wearing down her defenses though. Try asking her if she wouldn’t rather be lying on a beach in Bali when the London weather is at its gloomiest. Or to picture a ferry ride in Budapest whilst stuck in Atlanta traffic.

#single

Single folks have it much easier, but how to deal with loneliness on the road being so far away from family and friends? Of course there is Grindr and Gawker, but you still won’t have a dedicated audience to tell your knock-knock jokes to. Still, there is the question of financing your globe-trotting lifestyle on an income of one. Plus, you have to tell Mom that despite many years and dollars spent in college, you don’t fancy the idea of a traditional office job.

Never fear, the internet economy is here. And many do choose the digital nomad life before being entangled in married life, kids and bonds. Fiverr has your freelancing gigs sorted. Your AirBnB host may crack a forced smile for your knock-knock jokes. And Mom is but a Skype connection away. So if you are single, you could mingle across the globe. Thailand and eastern Europe are the trendy spots to mingle for now. No wonder Thailand is popular, with furnished apartments from only $200 per month in Chiang Mai.

#vanliving

I’m not sure how the more family-oriented amongst us do it; the cost of flights will add up and the apartment in Chiang Mai will be a squeeze. I have heard tales of families hitting the road in their RVs, reducing the airfare costs for sure. Pity my folks didn’t fall in that camp. I’m sure there is a lot to be said for being house-proud and teaching your kids the most optimal way to mow the lawn (…away from where plugged-in for those using electric, never from the furthest point). But, I would have preferred life on the road and all the RV experiences, good and bad, that would have entailed. Granted, I didn’t have any argumentative siblings my age to torment me from the RV bunk bed above. Possibly the size of the family is key.

“But will my luck know where to find me if I am globe-trotting the world?” you may ask. It is tough to argue with logic like that; being a digital nomad may not be for you. It is possible though to experience a new lifestyle by downshifting. And if downshifting occurs in an affordable exotic location, you can still have the benefit of an improved work-life balance and new cultures to explore. Yes, you can downshift to a less trendy part of the city that you live in already. But I’m not sure where the fun is in that. My advice is cheap and cheerful; when luck finds you, your lotto millions will stretch even further.

#worklifebalance

Time is the currency of choice for downshifters. Time to take a walk on the beach. Time to binge-watch Game of Thrones. And for some, time to tend to the vegetable garden and fetch eggs from the chicken run. My folks left their legal careers for farming outside the city. Annoyingly, the cows would jump the fence on Xmas day and having the neighbouring farmer swear you as a result does ruin the festive cheer. I find myself more partial now to downshifting destinations with fast internet coverage and Chinese takeaways. But happiness can be found from many modest lifestyles with rich experiences and less stuff.

Passive income is just the solution to give you this work-life balance. The IRS defines passive income as coming from rental activity or trade in which you do not materially participate. If you can crack the proverbial passive income nut, then being a digital nomad or downshifter will be far easier to achieve. Options include rent from a property, dividend and interest income, royalties from a book or patent or internet advertisements. This former risk specialist will tell you: the more diversified your income stream, the better. I wouldn’t have been able to escape corporate without some rental income to cushion the jump.

#happiness

The desire to make radical change and escape corporate may be a factor of life stage. You’ll be unlikely to become a digital nomad or downshifter if you are happy with where life finds you. A UK based study conducted in 2016 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that middle aged people between 40 and 59 are the least happy and most anxious. The downward slump in happiness starts at 35 and the trend only reverses after 60. Is this a good time to suggest investing in the alcohol industry to fund your new lifestyle?

Certainly, there are many reasons to be nomadic or to downshift and even more different lifestyles led by those making the leap. You may be under 35 and enjoying the city view from your office viewbicle, that flashy car and strategizing your next leap up the corporate ladder; but eventually downshifting will appeal to you.

Compared to downshifting, the appeal of being a digital nomad must be far broader still. What is not to like about travel and working remotely from a tropical location? As technology takes over the workplace, surely there will be many more taking up these lifestyles; you could soon be part of the movement. First, it will take some planning and thorough consideration and it is well worth connecting with other digital nomads and downshifters before following the dream.

@nomadicyou What is the best route to nomadic life or downshifting? What are the difficulties and practical tips to overcome them? #nomadicobstacles