Digital Nomading 101

Though we have not yet seen the end of the coronavirus pandemic, it's clear that some things will never be the same in a post-covid environment. Cities saw a mass exodus of employees in search of more space elsewhere, and others, seeing an opportunity to experience big city life, jumped on the discounted rents of 2020. Then there are those who are anxiously watching the world's vaccination rates climb up and hoping to try out life as a digital nomad in 2021/2022. Maybe that person is you.

You might be thinking of taking off to a foreign country offering a digital nomad visa thinking that just your clothes, a laptop, and an Airbnb booking will be enough to get by. Though that will certainly cover your bases, your experience will be better off with additional preparation so that you're not caught off-guard when things go sideways while working remotely abroad.

If I were starting over in my digital nomad journey, this is the blog post I wish I had come across.

What to consider

My recommendations for the uninitiated digital nomad will fall under one of three categories: creature comforts, gear, and community resources. This will cover most things to consider prior to starting off on your location-independent lifestyle. With that said, let's jump right in.

Creature Comforts

What kind of traveler are you? If you're an experienced traveler, you may already know how high or low maintenance your personal needs are and what that might look like in terms of the number of bags that come along with you on your flight. If you can't live without two large luggages worth of clothing, and your plan is to work from and travel within Cambodia, you won't enjoy lugging that stuff around via tuk tuk. However, if your plan is to nomad with extended stays in several cities for a month, or longer, at a time, this is less of an inconvenience. If you're looking for tips on traveling light, there are entire communities dedicated to the subject. More on that later.

Speaking from recent experience, it is worth taking into account these other factors:


During a recent stay in Oaxaca de Juaréz with friends, my Airbnb came equipped with A/C, but my friends' unit did not. Depending on your heat tolerance, this may or may not be an issue. Don't leave those things to chance and confirm that A/C or heating is available according to your personal needs. While you're still in the planning stages, be sure to check out your future home on Weather Spark to get a general sense of what to expect. In addition to general year-round climate, look into seasonal events, like Chiang Mai's burning season, which may push you to update your itinerary.

Internet infrastructure in your destination city and country

There are certain well-established cities around the world with great internet that are digital nomad friendly. To get an idea of where you should begin your journey, you can start by checking Nomad List.

Do keep in mind that good internet infrastructure is not a given. A good example of such a location is Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. While it's a world-renowned surf town, and there is wi-fi readily available, the town is also subject to power outages for extended periods of time. During my stay in April 2021, the southern end of Playa Zicatela suffered a power outage lasting well over 12 hours affecting all restaurants and cafes in the area. If the majority of your work is done asynchronously, tethering to your phone's mobile data can hold you over in those situations. That said, it may be better to enjoy the surfing in Puerto Escondido while on vacation and resume working from a more established nomad hub.

If you plan on working from your Airbnb, be sure to do some due diligence with your host before finalizing your booking. Upon arriving at Playa Del Carmen, I learned that the wi-fi router that I was expected to use was:

  • not located within my unit
  • shared amongst several tenants
  • far enough away to render the internet completely unusable

To save yourself this headache of having to book another location, confirm with your host that the internet is not shared with other tenants and ask for a speed test from within the unit. Do not simply accept a response from them saying they pay their internet service provider for a certain tier. If you're by yourself, a speed test showing at least 20Mbps down and 10 Mbps up should be sufficient for most remote worker's needs.

Remote work alternatives

Of course, one could always work from a coffee shop, but then you're banking on the fact that your chosen coffee shop has enough bandwidth to be split amongst the other remote workers present. In some cases, like at Muss Café in Oaxaca, the internet might be excellent for shared use, but you'll be fighting over one of the few outlets available should your laptop need a boost right before a Zoom call.

Then there are co-working spaces, which is my personal recommendation. In big enough cities, WeWork will certainly be an option, but it's also expensive compared to smaller one-off spaces. I've personally used Croissant (discloser: referral link) since late 2019 and can't recommend it enough. With Croissant, you pay for a set number of hours and then they will handle payment to the co-working space that you decide to use. The app will inform you of how many open seats there are available in the common area so you can show up and be sure that you will have a desk, an outlet, and sufficiently fast internet to get work done.


I've mentioned Airbnb several times already, but, depending on your budget and your destination city, you have additional non-hotel options for extended stays. Consider one of the following:

  • Selina: Selina is a well-established brand with many locations around the world with both shared and private rooms. They include co-working spaces as well, and can be a good option to quickly meet other remote workers.
  • Outsite: A higher budget co-living option aimed specifically at remote workers.
  • Local furnished apartment listings: Airbnb isn't the only option in town for furnished apartment listings. If traveling to Mexico City, Tulum, Sao Paulo, or Rio de Janeiro, Casai, a relative newcomer, has you covered. If staying elsewhere in Mexico, you can search for a home on inmuebles24.
  • Local co-living spaces: If you're looking for a place with shared common areas, but the Outsite price tag is too high, you can search on as a starting point. Alternatively, searching on Google for "coliving spaces [CITY]" may bring up options not available on In Mexico City I personally used Covive for the duration of my stay.
  • Expat Facebook groups: Facebook groups are fairly low frills in terms of filtering functionality, but they're a good alternative to finding housing if time is on your side. A quick search for "[CITY] expats" should turn up several results if your destination is fairly popular.


Because of COVID-19, you may or may not have already upgraded your work from home setup. If you have not, you will want to pick up a portable laptop stand to bring your screen to eye level and save your neck. There are no shortage of options available on Amazon, but I would recommend either the Roost stand or the Nexstand, where the latter is a cheaper, slightly heavier alternative.

Depending on what you're used to at your office/home office, you might want a second monitor for the additional screen real estate while abroad. I'll save you from having to do hours of research and point you towards the Lenovo M14. As of August 2021, it's the lightest portable monitor on the market while also being a great value for the money. If money is no object, you could also use an iPad as a secondary screen with Sidecar if your MacBook supports it.

Keyboard and mice are fairly subjective pieces of gear, but if you want to take a look at what I'm currently using, you can check out my co-working page.

Lastly, if you know you will be commuting back and forth to a co-working space, but don't want to bring an additional backpack because of space or size constraints, a packable daypack may be exactly what you need. Their minimal weight and footprint means you'll hardly notice them in your bag. However, you will want to get yourself a laptop sleeve since these bags won't do much to protect the gear inside. I have personally been using the Matador On-Grid backpack since January 2021 without any issues.

Community Resources

As I mentioned earlier, there are whole communities centered around traveling light, but some of those same communities are also concerned with traveling better. And then there are communities that will help you get settled in.

Here are all the groups that I've come across that I frequently reference:

  • Reddit Communities
    • r/onebag : As the name implies, this is a group interested in traveling light. A good resource for packing lists and gear reviews.
    • r/ManyBaggers: For those of us who cannot travel as light as we want to. Useful for gear reviews.
    • r/digitalnomad: For all of your digital nomad related questions.
  • Pack Hacker: A website and YouTube channel covering all things travel. Useful for packing lists and gear reviews.
  • Nomad List: Cities from around the world are given a score based on how they rank across a variety of metrics (e.g. internet speed, air quality, safety). For real-time discussions with other Nomad List users, there is a Slack group available after you sign up and pay the one-time fee.
  • NomadSphere: A free Slack community of digital nomads from around the world. Useful for getting "on the ground" information in your target country.
  • Facebook groups: As I covered earlier, searching for "expats in [CITY]" on Facebook will turn up plenty of communities for your new home abroad. If you need help finding housing, or just need a local language tutor, this is a good place to start your search.

Wrap Up

This post is by no means exhaustive, but should cover most of the basics. Vaccination requirements, health insurance providers to consider, and the tax implications of working abroad are topics I've purposely excluded to keep this post short. Between Reddit, Slack, and Facebook Groups, there is no shortage of information available and you will find plenty of companies and individuals within them who can address those concerns.

Sergio Rodriguez

Sergio Rodriguez