A Pre-Travel Checklist – Some things to do before traveling

Pre travel list - Live work anywhere

There are a few things I do each time before I leave on a trip to make sure that I have no hiccups and can continue to keep my schedule, life, and work – in continuous flow.  Here is my travel checklist and some tips I’d like to share.

1. Check Schedule & Calendar 

Staying productive from anywhere is the true goal of a remote worker, freelancer, or digital nomad.  Your clients, schedule, and calendar matter.

Plan For Existing Meetings

First, take a look at your calendar to see what meetings you have coming up.  Make sure that you plan your flight and all your time in transit around that meeting or call.  Leave yourself enough of a buffer between flights, metro stations, taxis, ubers, etc so that you can get there in time to have your call and actually have the head space to make sure it’s effective.

Everyone is different but you never know if the taxi will be late or overcharge you and your head is in haggle mode when it should be in sales mode.  Be mentally prepared and give yourself the time to focus on the call in a quiet space with good wi-fi.

Set Your Upcoming Schedule

calendar liveworkanywhere pre travel planning Next, decide if you need to schedule any other meetings that week.

Make sure your flight and travel plans are scheduled around your meetings and that you will have strong wi-fi and quiet, low-noise for meetings.

Figure out how you will work around the upcoming meetings.  If you’ve committed to being there, it’s important to show up, and you need to plan accordingly – or rearrange early.

Confirmation Meetings

Even more importantly for travel, confirm your clients or business partners will be there (it’s a pain to reschedule, especially on the road, beside the obvious fact that people need to honor and respect each others’ schedules).

I don’t always tell my clients that I’m traveling.  Not because I’m hiding anything but to keep them from panicking.

This is a double edged sword.  If I say I’m leaving, they tend to panic.  It’s that knee-jerk reaction that we are still programmed to believe that traveling means shutting off.  This is changing.  Soon, clients will just say “okay, safe travels, talk to you at our next meeting.”  Some clients already just know and say something like “… wherever you are in the world.”

Set Expectations & Be Accountable

The truth is – just show up.  Be accountable to yourself and to others.  In general, meetings are canceled or rescheduled all the time.  If you’re not traveling, yet you are in the same city and had to reschedule, it’s viewed as normal.  But, if you tell people that you’re traveling then people tend to think your’e on vacation and you rescheduled for that reason, which portrays irresponsibility and can backfire on you.

Traveling while working personally makes me even more accountable.  I don’t like to waste my own time especially when on the road.

Practicing integrity and being a person of your word, and consistency, is what is important.  Not the place.  Meeting goals, deadlines, and being accountable are what matter most.

2. Bring Food & Water 

You never know when you’ll have an extended layover, the drinking fountain breaks down, or the stores close early.  Make sure you have enough supplies for a just-in-case situation.  Plus, it’s nice to have snacks and not be parched.

First thing I do (after security if in an airport) when traveling is to fill my water bot Brita-Water-Filter-Bottle-liveworkanywhere-pretravel-planning tle.  Even though you have to empty it before security if you’re getting on the plane, you never know when you’ll be stuck without something to drink.  So find a water station and fill up.

Ideally bring a water bottle that has a filter, like a Brita filter, so that you can safely drink most tap water, depending on where you go.

Buy snack food.  Packing nuts, dried fruits and granola bars ensures you’ll never be stuck starving.  They take a long time to go bad, plus you can avoid the $20 dollar sandwich at the airport.

3. Banking & Financial 

Set Travel Alert

Important – set your travel alert with your bank.  Have you ever tried using your card only to find out it’s not working?  It always happens at the worst time – when you’re about to pay for your next meal (that you’ve already eaten!), about to buy that sweater you’ve had your eye on, or need money to pay for a taxi.  Figuring out how to call or contact your bank when you’re out and about overseas can be an especially fun challenge.

Setting an alert ahead of time will avoid all of this!

Reciprocity

Additionally, look online at which bank(s) offers reciprocity so you can save on ATM fees.

bank-reciprocity-liveworkanywhere-pretravel-planning

For example, I bank (partly) with Bank of America.  You can google “set travel alert with <add your bank name here>” to find out if you are able to save on fees with your bank.

There are some credit cards, like the Delta Sky Miles card from American Express that allows you to save on international fees completely.  For ATM cards, check with your bank.  To the right is an example from Bank of America.

https://www.bankofamerica.com/deposits/manage/how-to-pay-when-traveling-abroad.go

4. Keep Local Currency Pocket Change  

Bring enough cash to cover at least the way to the airport / train station and enough for the return trip when you land.  I usually bring $20 USD or Euros each way for the airport and the subway or bus trip.   If there’s some left over, I get to buy local snacks.   pocket-change-liveworkanywhere

Another $20 USD in my bag for when I land.  Enough for breakfast and a bus ticket.

If I have local currency ahead of time, I usually carry about the equivalent of $20 for when I land.

If you don’t have local currency, all you have to do is pull cash out of the ATM at the airport wherever you land.  The rate of exchange may be a little high (unless it’s on the reciprocal bank list) but it’s generally cheaper than going to the currency exchange bureau.  When I land, I suggest taking out around $100-$200 USD or the local equivalent.  This is enough to get you started with transportation, food / coffee, and a little extra for the unexpected.

Try to pay with a card (now that your travel alert is set) and save the cash for incidentals and until you arrive at your destination and until you know the next ATM spot where you’ll do your next cash withdrawal.

5. Necessities Checklist  

This can vary but for me the necessities are:

  • passport-us-liveworkanywherepassport
  • ticket booked with confirmation (and make sure I check in online beforehand to avoid long lines)
  • credit cards (1 main, 1 for backup)
  • laptop and power cord
  • international power adaptor that covers the country(ies) I’ll be going to
  • money ($20 usd each way)
  • map (or picture of map) of transportation, i.e. subway maps for New York City
  • smartphone
  • contact information while abroad dispersed to family, friends, and clients
  • bathroom kit i.e. toothbrush (though I can buy this when I land if I forget it)

I always have my necessities with me.  I can leave from anywhere and go anywhere at pretty much any time with just a backpack.  What I don’t have I pick up when I arrive, like toiletries.  It’s always fun to buy shampoo in which I recognize the brand but cannot understand the label.

6. Accommodations Check  

I am pretty adventurous but I like to know where I’ll sleep when I land, especially if I am jet lagged from a long i accommodations-packing-list-liveworkanywhere nternational flight.  Usually arranging the first day or first week in a place will give you time to get oriented – and you can go from there!

One day versus one week is very different.  I tend to book only one day if my destination is not so far away and there’s not a huge time or cultural change.  I will book up to one week if it’s farther away, there’s a big time change, and if there is a language or huge cultural change.

I landed in South Africa today, for example, and I’ve booked an AirBnB apartment for 8 days to not only see the city but to get myself situated and talk to locals about where to go next.

So, fellow traveler, what’s on your pre-travel checklist?  Do you have an item on your necessities list that you don’t see listed?  What’s your priority when landing in a new place?

The True Cost of Working While Traveling: Budget for Remote Live & Work

Digital Nomad Financial Budgeting Worksheet

I stayed in a hostel, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The cost was $22 Canadian per night, or USD $20 at the time.  It was rated the number. 1 hostel in the world and it’s one of the best I’ve ever stayed in.

If I were to stay for 1 month that means $600 USD / month.  The hostel has a kitchen with free coffee.  That saves me $5 per day on coffee or tea, or $150 USD per month.

I did go out to try the local food at the non-tourist (therefore lower cost and better food) restaurants.  But, eating like the locals, I paid $7 for a sandwich versus $40 for an overpriced meal.

Groceries can be as cheap or expensive as you want.  I like to buy in small quantities, only the basics and only what I need (see my list here).  A little cheese and bread can go a long way.  Cooking spaghetti at the hostel is not only cheap but who doesn’t like spaghetti?

I spent $16 one week on groceries for a loaf of bread, 2 cheeses, carrots, tomatoes, blackberries, and a little chocolate.

So, in total:

1) Rent: $600 Coffee/Tea: $0 Groceries:  $16 / week or $80 / month (rounded up)

2) Restaurant/Pub: 3x/week or $50, $200/mo (rounded up)

Total = $880 / month living expenses

So, for approximately $1,000 / month or less I can live in another city and live well.

Here’s a spreadsheet where you can plot out your own monthly living expenses in various cities.  This spreadsheet allows you to play around with personal expenses, business expenses, a graph of savings and individual or group pricing by country.  Check it out.

lwa-digital-nomad-financial-budgeting-sheet

 

I don’t buy souvenirs and I generally don’t take overpriced tours.  I like to learn the language and the culture and live like a local.  Unless there is a must-see (a must-see for my interests, that is) then I skip it.

The idea that traveling is expensive is when thinking like a tourist.  Of course hotels, going out to eat, and tours all add up – and quickly.  And you return home exhausted, with the same amount – if not more, stress, with a suitcase full of trinkets for your friends and relatives who probably will not have nearly the same response to them as you did while visiting.  Spending time finding souvenirs is exhausting and takes so much of your trip.

Think of living and working from anywhere as a change in your habits and simply a change in location.  Putting yourself in an environment where you live like you would at home will not only help you relax and de-stress, but will open your mind to new experiences, cultures, foods, languages.  Take your time.  You are not on vacation, you are living – with a change of scenery.  Take time to enjoy it.  And live simply.

Just by keeping your same routine at home, or similar, you can live the same in other countries, generally with less.

Use this simple chart to help you calculate your expenses.

 

Mobility Criteria – 15 Tips for Running Your Business Remotely

15 "mobility criteria" for leading a digital nomad lifestyle.

15 Mobility Criteria That Will Help You Successfully Live and Work Anywhere

If you’ve followed my blog at all, then you know that I can literally live and work anywhere in the world that I choose. In fact, right now, you’ll likely find me in one of two locations: New York or Seattle. Although they may be on different sides of the U.S., I am able to call each one “home” due to the fact that I follow what I call my mobility criteria.

Mobility criteria are the criteria that I’ve found necessary for staying mobile and keeping my business running with the best results, no matter where I am physically. So, if you have a goal to do the same, here they are for your consideration:

  1. Create a schedule with milestones. This keeps you productive so that you are able to hit deadlines and goals. So, think about the things that you need to get done and create milestones to ensure they are done on time.
  2. Develop a daily routine. Certainly, you don’t have to do everything the same day in and day out as that would defeat the purpose of living and working anywhere, but having the same basic schedule will go a long way toward keeping you on task.
  3. Become part of the community. Taking part in the local community means joining Meetup or digital nomad groups and truly taking part in the area you are in. After all, that is the joy of living and working anywhere, isn’t it?
  4. Strong, consistent Internet. Of course, in order to stay in touch with the rest of the world, you’re going to need Internet. And not Internet that goes in and out, but strong Internet that works when you need it.
  5. A quiet work space. It is difficult to work in a place that is active and chaotic, so you’ll want to find someplace that you can go that is quiet and relatively free from distraction.
  6.  Consistent power source. You can have the best equipment in the world, but if you don’t have power, it isn’t going to matter. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you have access to a consistent power source so that you’re not literally left sitting in the dark.
  7. Minimalism and flexibility. The less you need to operate your business, the easier it will be to do so from anywhere. This keeps you flexible and lets you take care of day to day tasks quickly and easily.
  8. Virtual money management. You’ll need to be able to take care of your finances while traveling, so you’ll need to set up some sort of virtual money management system that allows you to send and receive money effectively.
  9. Communication and productivity tools. Generally, this means having the necessary programs and tools that you need to keep you on track and in touch. For instance, some communication options to consider include Skype and Google Voice.
  10. Virtual team. When you create a virtual team and system, you can take care of business and stay in touch, even when you’re on opposite sides of the world.
  11. Software product or hybrid. Be sure to take any software that you need with you so that you can access everything required to adequately run your company.
  12. Backup software and hardware. There is nothing worse than being in an unfamiliar place and having your software or hardware fail; therefore, having backup devices can go a long way to keeping you working—even if your electronics have decided not to.
  13. Cloud storage. By putting your information on the cloud, you can have access to it anywhere from any device.
  14. Time Zone management. Admittedly, it isn’t always easy to operate a business when you’re in a different time zone, but it isn’t impossible either. This may require moving around your work day from time to time in order to tend to business when clients and/or team members are available.
  15. Safe surroundings. Although this is listed last, you aren’t going to get much done if you’re worried about your safety. This means finding a good place to lay your head, such as a hostel, and having your own key. It also means acquainting yourself with safe modes of transportation in that area. Sounds simple, I know, but you don’t want to overlook this basic necessity.

LiveWorkAnywhere is based on these criteria, as is AnyPass, a web based system that is designed to help you stay connected no matter where you are in the world. That makes both of these sites great resources to keeping you mobile.

And if you’re not yet mobile, but would like to learn more about how to leave your 9 to 5 behind and earn money while traveling the world, feel free to join this free webinar. It’s time to start living the life you want to live…today!

15 "mobility criteria" for leading a digital nomad lifestyle.

How baby boomers can work remotely from the Internet

baby boomer on laptop

If you are a baby boomer, then you face some unique issues when it comes to work. Those of you who have had a job for 20 or 30 years (or more) are usually ready to retire, but aren’t necessarily ready to not work either because you don’t want a lot of free time on your hands or you can’t afford to financially.

Some of you may have even lost your job due to the economic downturn and now find yourself trying to compete with people half your age for a job you really don’t want. What are you to do? Have you considered working remotely?

Baby Boomers and Working Remotely

Luckily, the Internet spans most areas of the globe, allowing you to work from anywhere. You can set your own schedule and create your own routine (allowing you to work around family and other obligations) right from the comfort of your own home.

Additionally, you have built up certain skill sets, which I would argue are 100% transferable to the LiveWorkAnywhere model. This greatly increases your online work options as a baby boomer looking for a full or part-time career.

By 2020, freelancers are expected to make up 50% of the full time workforce.  The number of freelance workers is projected to outpace full-time workers by 2020. The economy is rapidly shifting to a more contingent workforce, with recent estimates by the Freelancers Union of 42 million American independent workers, up from 10.3 million workers in 2005.”  – Forbes

There are several jobs in which you do not have to actually be there in person to perform.  If you had a career as a trademark attorney, for example, perhaps you could transfer your skills to consulting and meet your clients via web and phone.

If you were a sales executive, get rid of the car, use a US-based number and make calls from wherever you live. You can even hire a team to do the majority of the work for you while you focus on client acquisition.

Perhaps there is another service you can offer to your existing client base? Something you can do without even leaving your house. Baby boomers have many online work options, allowing them to live and work remotely.

Telecommuting is not a buzzword, it’s a reality.  You start with your dream and your skills and work backwards to find flexible work that you will enjoy. That’s all fine, you say, but what if you don’t have time to start with your dream? What if you need something NOW?

Transferrable Skills for Baby Boomers Looking to Work Online

If you are in need of augmenting or supplementing your income, there are several online positions you can do right now from home with just a computer. Here is a list of skill sets that are great for remote, online work:

Less specialized:

  • Admin support
  • Bookkeeping
  • Writing
  • Copywriting
  • Proofreading
  • Paralegal
  • Translation
  • Virtual assistant
  • Telemarketing
  • Telesales
  • Blogging support
  • Market research
  • Advertising support
  • Customer Service
  • Medical research

More specialized:

  • IT & Programming
  • Graphic Design
  • Animation
  • Online Sales
  • Accounting
  • Blogging
  • SEO
  • Advertising
  • Technical writing
  • Consulting
  • Patent / Trademark / Legal
  • Medical equipment consulting

So What Are Your First Steps as a Baby Boomer Who Wants to Work Remotely?

This is where the work begins, so here is a step-by-step guide that will make your online work process as simple as possible:

1. Build Your Online Profile

Are you on LinkedIn?  If you are, is your profile current?  How many connections do you have?  You should have at least 500+ so, if you don’t, then you need to get busy. Join groups in your field and network with others. Connect with other baby boomers who work remotely in your field so you can learn from them.

2.  Build Your Professional Profile

What are your skills?  To answer this, simply take your resume and transform it into a business portfolio.  If you were an attorney, for instance, make a list of all of the professional services that you would offer and include some key milestones from your career.  Package yourself to market yourself.

3. Transfer Your Profile

Create a website (there are several ways to make a free website – weebly.com, wix.com, wordpress.org, squarespace.com and Google sites, just to name a few) where you can showcase all of your talents.  If you don’t want to spend time creating and marketing a site yet, then you can at least sign up on a site like Elance.com where you can build your own profile and have them market it for you within their freelancer marketplace.

4. Build Your Routine

Know how many hours you are available, the wage you want to make (be sure to look around so you are price competitive with the market – too low is okay to start, but doesn’t show high quality; too much and you’ll drive potential customers away), and what your monthly revenue goals are. The more you know what you want, the easier it is to create the routine to get it.

5. Get Started

Nothing new is ever easy.  You will be challenged.  But you spent your entire professional career meeting challenges head-on and look how far you’ve come.  You can transfer your skills and create supplemental income or even prepare to hit the road with your new business and be successful no matter what stage of the game you are in – even as a baby boomer.

Tell me – what other questions do you have?  Where should we dig in deeper?

Please leave a comment below.

 

Can I text via SMS? Using your cell phone overseas to text

woman-texting-overseas-paris-liveworkanywhere

To help you understand how to use your cell when traveling overseas (and what it means if you do), I’ve addressed some of my most frequently asked questions so you know exactly what to expect if you decide to keep in touch with family and friends via your mobile phone while on your next far-away adventure.

Questions answered in this post:

Can I Use SMS Or Text Messaging While Traveling Overseas At No Cost Over Wi-Fi?

Usually, to send an SMS or text message, you need to be connected to a cell tower. That’s not always the case though. Times are changing and cell phone carriers are making it easier than ever to stay connected.

For example, T-Mobile has introduced texting and calling over Wi-Fi. This allows you to communicate using Wi-Fi as though it were a cellular connection. You still need to be careful though. Just because you’re on Wi-Fi doesn’t mean your carrier won’t charge you.

Your best option to communicate over Wi-Fi while overseas is to use a third-party messaging app. This will allow you to communicate with your friends and family for free – as long as you’re on Wi-Fi.

Will My Phone Use Data When I Am Connected To Wi-Fi?

It depends. Your phone cannot use both cellular data and Wi-Fi at the same time. Your phone may have settings, however, that allow you to use cellular data to connect to the Internet instead of Wi-Fi when you have a poor connection.

For example, iPhones have a feature called “Wi-Fi Assist”. When toggled, you’ll stay connected to the Internet (via cellular data) if your Wi-Fi slows down.

The good news is, according to Apple, your iPhone won’t make the switch when you’re data roaming. 

How Do I Turn Off My Cell Phone Data So I Don’t Get Charged Roaming Fees While Overseas?

To understand roaming fees, it’s important to first understand what cellular roaming is. 

Roaming is when your phone uses cellular data to access the Internet using a different network than your carrier. Depending on your carrier plan this setting may or may not be included with your plan. If it’s not, and you’re traveling overseas, you could incur some very large fees.

Even if you aren’t actually using your phone to make calls or send SMS messages, many apps use data in the background without you realizing it.

To avoid charges from roaming, you have a few settings on your phone depending on your needs:

  • Airplane Mode
  • Turn off cellular data
  • Turn off roaming

Although turning off cellular data and data roaming will prevent your phone from using data, these won’t necessarily stop phone calls and text messages. To completely avoid these costs overseas be sure to set your phone to AIRPLANE MODE. 

Airplane Mode

The simplest way to ensure you won’t be charged for roaming is to put your phone in Airplane Mode. Airplane mode will prevent you from using cellular data abroad as well as receiving SMS messages and phone calls. Additionally, with Airplane Mode on, you still can enable Wi-Fi which allows you to access the Internet without worrying about data roaming charges. Here’s how to enable Airplane Mode based on which smartphone you have:

  • iPhone– Go to Settings and the very top option is Airplane Mode. Set this to ON and wait for the airplane icon to appear. Then go to the option below it for Wi-Fi. You can set this to ON so it picks up any network that is available; otherwise, just leave it off for now.  Airplane Mode Iphone From Settings

    Additionally, you can simply swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap the top left airplane icon. If you wish to enable Wi-Fi, simply tap the button below the airplane button and wait for it to turn blue. Airplane Mode Toggle Iphone
  • Android– Click Menu and go to Settings. Under Wireless & Networks, select MORE. You will see that the top option is Airplane Mode. Check the box and wait for the ON button to turn blue.

Turn Off Cellular Data

The next best way to avoid data charges is to completely shut off cellular data. This restricts all cellular data to Wi-Fi instead, keeping you from using data unintentionally for things like emails, browsing apps, and app notifications. With cellular data shut off you can still receive text messages and phone calls, which means if your plan charges you for these, you should just turn your phone to Airplane Mode.

To turn off cellular data on an iPhone go to Settings -> Cellular and toggle the Cellular Data switch to off. Additionally, you can also swipe up from the bottom and toggle the button next to the airplane from green to grey. Turn Off Cellular Data Iphone

On an Android, you have more optionsThere are also tools that allow you to warn you when you’re approaching your monthly limit. You can also choose to use apps only over Wi-Fi.

Turn Off Roaming 

Turning off roaming means that you won’t access other cellular networks when you’re out of your cell phone carrier area. Depending on your plan, you may be able to roam without being charged. 

Better safe than sorry though, it’s good to also put your phone in Airplane Mode when abroad.

To turn off roaming on an iPhone, go to Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data Options. Toggle the roaming switch from on to off.

To see how to turn off roaming on Android you can visit here.

(Note: If you do not have a smartphone (i.e. iPhone, Android, or Windows phone) or a phone that allows you to turn off your data and still access Wi-Fi, then you should turn your phone completely OFF while traveling.)

If My Data Is Turned Off, Will I Still Get Charged?

As long as your phone’s data is turned off, then you cannot be charged for any data roaming charges, even with Wi-Fi enabled. You may still be able to send and receive phone calls and text messages. This means depending on your cell phone plan, you might still get charged. To be completely sure you won’t be charged, you should enable Airplane Mode.

In other words, the safest way to use your phone abroad is while you are in Airplane Mode. No carrier fees will apply, and you still can enable Wi-Fi.

What Is The Difference Between Cellular Data and Wi-Fi?

The difference between cellular data and Wi-Fi is that cellular data is transmitted over your cell phone network (think AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint), whereas Wi-Fi data is over a wireless Internet network, such as what you would have when using Starbucks Wi-Fi.

 

Should I Get A Local SIM Card or International SIM Card?

If you’re planning on using your cell phone overseas, it is probably a good idea to change your SIM card. You may also need to unlock your phone. If your carrier doesn’t have an option for extended stays, then you’re going to need a new SIM card. When getting a SIM card for international travel, you have two options:

  • International SIM Card
  • Local SIM Card

While they both have their own benefits and drawbacks, international SIM cards are ideal if you plan on moving around while overseas, while a local SIM card is great if you just plan on spending all of your time in one country. Here’s some more information on both: 

International SIM Card

When you’re planning to travel abroad, international SIM cards are usually the best way to go. They’re best used by someone who is traveling to multiple countries, as it’s difficult to keep track of phone numbers, and data roaming can get expensive.

With an International SIM card, you get a designated phone number, and you can manage your entire account in one place. Additionally, an international SIM card is great because you can get everything set up and ready to go before you even leave – without any language barriers.

Although they can be slightly more expensive than a local SIM card, typically the small increase in cost is worth avoiding the hassle of getting a local SIM when you arrive in your destination.

One SIM Card and World SIM are some of the possible choices you have when selecting an international SIM card.  OnceSimCard

Local SIM Card

Another option if you want to get Internet while overseas and not roaming, is to get a local SIM card with a data plan. Most SIM cards can be purchased at a local gas station, drug store, or, of course, your one of your cell phone carrier’s stores or kiosks.

What Is the Difference Between a Local SIM Card and a Regular SIM Card?

The difference between a local SIM card and your regular SIM on your phone is that, with a local SIM, you will have a local number. This means that friends and family trying to reach you will have to text you on your local number.

For example, let’s say you go to Berlin, Germany and you get a local Vodafone SIM card. Your phone number will begin with “49,” which is the country code. It’s a great option for texting within the city, but not such a great option for contacting mom.

You do have a few options when getting a local plan, though.

  • Buy a phone with a SIM card that you can recharge. These usually start at around USD $20 and you can add credit as you go.
  • Buy an unlocked cell phone and purchase a SIM card. I currently have an unlocked iPhone 7 Plus with a T-Mobile SIM card on the US-based Magenta plan. This means that I don’t have to change out to a new SIM card when I arrive in a new country and I get unlimited data and texting, Wi-Fi calling, and in-flight texting. Plus, if my plan goes over, data doesn’t shut off, it just slows down.This can come in very handy when you would have otherwise been stuck with zero Internet. Also, with the T-Mobile plan in the US, you can call many other countries for only $15 per month, and international texting is free.

Here are some examples of local SIM card providers:

  • Mexico – TelCel (wider coverage) and Movistar (cheaper)
  • Germany – Vodafone, E-Plus, and Telekom
  • USA – T-Mobile, AT&T, and Boost

Can I Use My Phone As A Mobile Hotspot While Overseas?

Most major carriers allow you to use your compatible smartphone to act as a mobile hotspot. You just have to turn your phone on as a hotspot and connect to it via your wireless device. 

However, as of this writing, I carry my mobile phone as a hotspot, as well as carry 2 additional mobile hotspots depending on whether I’m traveling in Europe or in the Americas.

If you decide to use your phone as a mobile hotspot when traveling overseas, be sure your plan includes data roaming, otherwise you’ll be racking up a huge bill.

What is Mi-Fi?

Mi-Fi is a brand name for a wireless device that functions as a mobile Wi-Fi router. Your device may or may not technically be a Mi-Fi device, but the term has become shorthand for any mobile hotspot.

A mobile hotspot will typically work in a wide range of countries. Many of these devices use “virtual” SIM cards that allow you to change regions with just a few buttons.

Does my Mi-Fi work in other countries?

It isn’t enough to simply have a mobile hotspot, you need to be certain that your device is actually going to work in the places you travel. Many countries actually have different service frequencies, which means a lot of devices (even “unlocked” ones) may not work all over the globe. When you purchase a Mi-Fi device, be sure to check how many frequencies it supports. The more it supports, the better it will do on your globetrotting adventures.

Subscription vs. non-subscription Mi-Fi devices

Traditional Mi-Fi devices are non-subscription. You insert your SIM card and the device creates a mobile Wi-Fi network with a password that you can connect your devices to. However, in the last few years, a new breed of Mi-Fi device has become prominent: the subscription model.

Think of subscription Mi-Fi like a hotspot crossed with a global data plan. With these devices, you have the option to swap out the SIM card associated with your global plan and replace it with a local SIM, giving you 100 percent control over when you use your plan data and when you don’t.

What Services or Apps Can I Use While Traveling Overseas To Send Text Messages?

Typically, you aren’t technically sending SMS messages or “text” messages when you have Wi-Fi on and data off, but you can still send text-like messages to your family and friends using services like these.

Even now with Wi-Fi enabled texting and calling, your provider still may charge you the same as for a normal text message

(Note: If you have AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or a regular T-Mobile cellular plan and you set your phone to Airplane Mode, you will not be able to send text (SMS) messages.)

To text with a family member or friend while abroad, make sure your Wi-Fi is turned ON and that you both have one of the following services on your phones:

iMessage 

This option causes the most confusion and the reason is that if you and five of your friends all have iPhones, you can “text” each other as if nothing ever changed. However, you aren’t actually texting; you’re just using Apple’s messaging service to send correspondence back and forth over a Wi-Fi connection. Therefore, you can only converse with others who have Apple products.

With iMessage, you can still receive messages abroad while data is turned off. And if you’re in Airplane Mode but have Wi-Fi set to “on,” then you can receive iMessages which appear like text messages but they will be in blue versus green, like this: imessage-blue-versus-vs-sms-text-green-liveworkanywhere

Ultimately, you will not receive the green message when you are abroad and your cell phone data is turned off. So, if you have data turned on and you see green messages – look out! You may be getting charged insane rates. Remember, Airplane Mode – on; Wi-Fi– on.

Google Voice

 This one has been around for awhile and is still quite functional, but not the most popular option. To use it, simply download the Google Voice app, sign up for a Google Voice phone number (free in U.S.), and you can send messages back and forth from that number. They will appear on your phone via the app, allowing you to send SMS messages overseas as much as you’d like!

Google Hangouts may start to soon replace Google Voice, but for now, it’s still a great option and I use it all the time. At the very least, it’s like having a second number on the same phone so you have two options. Give friends and clients your Google Voice number so you’ll always have a local US number for people to text you.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp became very popular when it was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. To utilize it, just download Whats App, find your friends, and send messages back and forth. It’s not the first of its kind, but it is fairly popular and growing in popularity. If your friends are tech or travel savvy, or if they/you are European, you’ll most likely find them here. It’s a must-have app for travelers or for communicating and texting your friends overseas.

To use WhatsApp (and all the other apps), you must be connected to Wi-Fi.

A kind of fun feature of WhatsApp is that you can send MMS, or picture messages, for free as well – all over Wi-Fi.The images will also automatically be added to your photo album on your phone (at least on iPhone). No more asking your friend to share an album with you and no more having to ‘save image’; it just shows up.

Viber

 Not dissimilar to Google Voice and WhatsApp, Viber takes the best of the two and combines them. Once you download the app, you find your friends who are also using Viber, and you can connect immediately. The nice thing about this particular messaging app is that, not only can you send free messages back and forth inside of the app, but you can also make free calls. Viber even uses your cell phone number as your identifier.

There are a growing number of options for sending messages to family and friends, and these are just a few. For instance, GroupMe is another popular group messaging app that allows you to communicate with a number of people at once (and you can still use emoji!).

For more messaging options while traveling overseas, I suggest you read: Top 7 Communication Apps to Use While Travelling.

How Can I receive SMS Messages Overseas? 

When traveling overseas, you have a few different options for receiving SMS messages:

Option 1 – International plans via US carriers
For most providers, you have an option to use an international plan. Here’s some common providers, and some of the options available for international plans:

T-Mobile:
The T-Mobile Magenta plan is great for short trips, where you don’t plan on staying abroad for an extended period plan. With the T-Mobile Magenta plan, texting and data is unlimited in 210 countries and nations. This plan also also include calling landlines in 70+ countries, or calling and texting to cell phones in 30+ countries. You can check to see what kind of coverage you will have here.

Verizon:
Verizon offers multiple plans for either short or long term international trips international plans depending on how connected you need to be.

If you’re having a difficult time deciding which plan you need, Verizon also has a great guide to help you pick out what plan or upgrade you will need for your travels.

Sprint:
With Sprint, you have free unlimited SMS and basic data abroad with any smartphone enabled plan in 200+ countries. You only have to pay $.25/call while abroad. 

AT&T:
AT&T offers a passport plan for either short term trip or for extended international stays. 

Option 2 – Google Voice Phone Number.

If you’re looking to ditch your cell phone contract, Google voice is a great option. This allows you to be able to send and receive text messages and phone calls via Wi-Fi, making this a much cheaper option. All you have to do is set it up and tell your friends and family about your new phone number.

Additionally, if you’re not on Wi-Fi, Google voice will transcribe the audio so you can read it later. You can use the google voice app to text or you can text via Wi-Fi anytime you’re on Wi-Fi. 

Can I Receive Texts After Airplane Mode is Turned On?

This varies depending on each provider, but as a general rule, anytime you need to have your cellular data shut off for more than 2 days (48) hours, you may not receive the messages sent to you. Each provider will have a unique “retry” period, in which it will attempt to send the message. If the message is not delivered within this period, the provider will stop trying to send the message, and it will be discarded.

Summary Of Texting Overseas:

Just to hammer the main points home –

DO NOT send SMS messages or text messages while traveling overseas unless you want to pay out the nose for them. (Also remember that it’s usually not possible to send SMS over Wi-Fi.)

You CAN receive SMS messages/texts, but you might pay for them. So turn off your cell phone data by putting your phone in Airplane Mode and turning on Wi-Fi.

You CAN receive messages (non-SMS) over Wi-Fi, for free.

You CANNOT send or receive SMS messages (“texts”) via your cell phone carrier when you are in Airplane Mode.

Eventually, we may not even need cell phone carriers to keep in touch but, until then and until you get rid of your cell phone plan, be careful of extra charges when traveling overseas. They’re simply not worth it when you have so many free options available.

Again, just remember that SMS is always associated with your carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.) and a message can be either a text message synonymous with SMS or a non-SMS text message image, or other form of communication.


What Have YOU Learned about Sending SMS or Text Messages Overseas? What Would You Like to Learn?

Do you have other questions or see anything I’m missing? Please feel free to drop your questions or comments below.

Work from Anywhere! The CoWorking Movement

It is estimated that by the year 2020, approximately 50% of the workforce will be working online. While this may offer a large majority of individuals the ability to work from home, this isn’t always the preferable option.

Thus, the coworking movement.

What is Coworking?

Perhaps the best way to describe coworking is to think of it as an office-type of setting that you can go to everyday to do your work, but you don’t have to go through the hassle or expense of buying or creating it on your own.

Although they aren’t very well-known by a lot of freelance workers and startups, more and more coworking spaces are popping up all over the globe. In fact, I have personally been working out of WeWork in New York City for over three years.

WeWork started as a small, invite-only incubation space in Soho called WeWork Labs. Since 2011, it has grown to 15 locations (10 in New York, 2 in Boston, 2 in Washington DC and 1 in Seattle) and each one houses approximately 200 startups.

Here’s a quick video clip from AFP News, who interviewed me in a piece on coworking spaces in DC:

WeWork Washington DC - CoWorking Movement - LiveWork Anywhere

Advantages of Coworking

There are a number of distinct advantages to picking up your laptop and going someplace else to work. Here are just a few of them to consider if you’re contemplating making coworking a part of your LiveWorkAnywhere life:

  • You get out of the house. It may seem like working from home is great, but the reality is that the four walls can close in on you very easily if you hardly ever get out. Plus, if you have an active family, sometimes the distractions can be too much, making it hard to concentrate and causing you to potentially miss important deadlines.
  • They’re cost effective. Other than the cost of the coffee that you drink, coworking spaces are totally free. This saves you from having to find an office space to rent, which has the ability to eat up all of your income, depending on where you live.
  • You have hi-speed Wifi Internet. This coworking advantage is huge for people who either live in areas that don’t get good service or simply can’t afford the higher speed options. Access to a super-fast Internet is something no online working should go without.
  • They’re good for the environment. Why take up precious space on this planet and build a bunch of offices when you can house a large number of people in one place and they can still accomplish the same thing? This makes coworking very earth friendly.
  • You get to network with other entrepreneurs and startups. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of co-working is that you get to meet like minded people. You can share stories, tips, and advice as you decide how you’re going to conquer the world.

Coworking is the next new trend and one that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

Where do you cowork? What is your favorite coworking space and why?

If you’re not yet coworking, what would you look for in a space?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Sense of Community Wherever You are in the World

I like to travel solo and am very independent.  I love having experiences, overcoming the unexpected, challenging myself and figuring things out.

I also love that you meet random strangers who become friends in a very short period of time.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about community and just how important it is to curate.

StartupBus

I went on a week-long adventure on StartupBus.com.  I rode on a bus with 30 other people from NYC from New York to San Antonio, Texas.  We spent 3 days on the bus, building a startup.

I had been to Startup Weekends, LEAN Startup Machine, and every other startup event under the sun.  Plus, I love to travel.

So, I thought I had it figured out, easy trip.  But this was definitely not the same as any other event.

We were thrown under the bus a few times.  We needed to build a startup, in 72 hours, legit, no excuses.  Nobody could leave, nobody could back down.  After 2 hours of sleep, and in sweatpants, we unexpectedly pulled up to Georgia Tech, where we were called – in random order – to give our company pitches to a group of VCs, dressed in suits.

This is one of many examples of throwing our group into the unknown.  By the end, I had never felt more like family with my team.  We were under a lot of stress, running on no sleep, and we had our bouts, but I had grown close to my team, my bus, and our fearless leaders – our conductors.

I went in expecting a Startup Weekend.  I came out with a group of friends, people who were like me – crazy enough to ride a bus and build a startup.  I gained a group of lifelong friends on a 72 hour trip.

The illuminati of the startup world, experiencing trauma like military squadrons,

Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.  In fact, I’m seeking it out, and I’m trying to create more experiences like that in my life.

StartupChile 

Prior to StartupBus, I went to Santiago, Chile, to give an Ignite Talk.  When I arrived, I had expected the same old routine of traveling solo.

But I hung out with generations 8 and 9 from StartupChile.  (I had applied for gen. 8 but got denied, but visiting my friends who got in).

At the ending party to celebrate the last class and welcome in the new, I felt a lump in my throat and a tear roll down my cheek as the coordinator from StartupChile started to get choked up in his speech. He said it was always so hard to say goodbye and that so many experiences and memories had ensued.

I felt it in the room.  I saw it in the friendships, the smiles, the hugs.   This was no easy goodbye.

It reminded me of my trip in Spain, when I was 20.  Then suddenly things that I had never put together before started making sense.

Spain 

My trip to Spain changed my life.  Not only were the intense challenges that I overcame and grew from life-changing, but I suddenly realized that it was the community that made my visit most worthwhile.

My 21st birthday was not spent barhopping and getting wasted in Wisconsin.  I was surrounded by a group of lifelong friends, in my favorite pub, and Happy Birthday was sung to me in 5 different languages.

Every night after classes my friends and I would go out to barrio Humedo and have a beer and talk about our experiences that day.  I never smiled so much, never felt happier or more at peace.  I looked forward to every moment I’d spend with them.

Leaving Spain was one of the saddest days of my life.  I’ll never forget the bus station, Jamie and Nina hugging each other for support as the bus rolled away – all of us with tears in our eyes.

When Mattias sent me a virtual beer months later while I was at work, it was much more than an email, it was an emotional hurricane.  The virtual beer was just a mechanism that rekindled that deep connection.  It affected me so much that it was the reason I built Beer2Buds.

It was too expensive to travel to Sweden, England, and Germany on a regular basis.  I wanted to never lose touch no matter how far apart we were.

I went back to Spain a year later, after finishing school and saving all my pennies.  But it wasn’t the same.  I walked the same streets, ate the same foods (mmm tortilla!), visited my old schools, and even had a beer in el Humedo.

It felt lonely.  I had a few friends there.  But that short period of time, with a blend of people in a similar situation, experiencing the same things at the same time, was the key to my experience.

In Chile, I bonded with the new and old class (primarily the new one) and even in my short 3 weeks my heart broke when going home.  My face hurt the last night from smiling and my feet from dancing, just from a spontaneous dinner meeting at a friend’s house – a friend who was a stranger only a week before and is now a lifelong friend.

In Summary: 

Mutually parallel experiences bond people in ways that will never happen otherwise.  And having the right mix of people can change the way you see the world.

Someone asked me once “how do you get your sense of community”.  For years this question haunted me – I had no good answer.

Now I believe I do.  I find like-minded people and curate life-changing experiences, particularly related to travel.   This makes me feel whole with a sense of belonging.

What about you – how do you get your sense of community from your world?

Growth Hacking is Overrated

“Growth hacking” is a technical term for customer development. Essentially, it involves figuring out what your customer wants without ever having to talk to or interact with them.  How?

By using tools like OptimizelyGoogle Analytics and KISS Metrics, you’re able to learn more about your customer based on a specific set of metrics. These types of programs allow you to discover their likes, dislikes, and interests solely by monitoring their Internet usage and what sites they frequent most.

So, what’s the problem with customer development via growth hacking?

The Problem with Growth Hacking

You can’t growth hack your way into your customer’s mind.  Sure, you may gain a little understanding about them thanks to the software program, but your growth will be faster if you actually keep a finger on the pulse of your customers. How do you do this? By having real conversations with them.

The software developers responsible for creating these types of programs are partially to blame. I’m not saying that they are schmucks, but not all of these growth hackers are worth the beaucoup bucks they’re generally paid.

A large number of software developers (and non-savvy business developers) have the illusion that “if they build it, they will come.” In this case, the second “they” refers to the customers who they expect will adore everything they do and flock to their software simply because it exists.

In all fairness, this way of thinking is not entirely their fault. We fawn over stories of icons such as Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook and dream of being that one in a billion.

However, overvaluing software developers and undervaluing business developers can give software developers a giant ego and false sense of worth. Unfortunately, it is this inflated ego that can drive them to quit projects midway through to pursue their own passions. And, why not? They can, right?

While it’s great for anyone to follow their passion, this is bad luck in these types of situations. Plus, it’s just awful for the teams they leave behind.

Growth Hacking Can Be Good…Within Reason

Personally, I love the concept of growth hacking. In fact, by definition I am a growth hacker. But I also know that you cannot – 100% cannot – grow your company without getting to know your customer face-to-face.

For instance, consider the concepts behind Lean methodology which forces you to GOOTB (Get-Out-Of-The-Building) and talk to your customers. It’s so much better! Why?

It makes your potential customers part of the growth process so you become customer-centric. When you follow Lean methodology, you are constantly putting your product or service in front of them to test their response, giving you immediate feedback that is essential to your growth power.

One way to do this is by signing up for Lean Startup Machine. This is a three-day course designed to teach you the process by which you can learn enough about your customer base to make your business more successful.

When it comes to Lean methodology versus growth hacking, Lean methodology wins every time!

Customers Aren’t Numbers

Customers aren’t just numbers.  They have a voice.  So, hiding behind the numbers and hacking away at code, pretending that you’re staring at a matrix screen that somehow tells you all you need to know about your customer… that’s all bunk.

Your front end sales people have the pulse on your company.  Your business development people actually know what your customers are saying – and they’re worth listening to.

That’s why I believe that growth hacking is seriously overrated and may, in fact, be one of the worst effects of modern tech culture.

What’s your opinion on growth hacking? Do you find it helpful or not? We’d love to know your thoughts!

Top 7 Communications Apps To Use While Traveling

Top 7 Communication Apps to Use While Travelling

While it is certainly nice to get away, it’s also nice to stay in touch with family and friends along the way. Whether you want to share your stories and pictures of your travels, or simply say “I’m okay,” it’s necessary to maintain contact with those you love. And even though it sounds like something that should be rather easy, it can actually be a daunting task when you’re counties or countries away.

You can’t necessarily just pick up your phone and call (especially if you are travelling overseas) and some of your “normal” communication methods aren’t available when you’re out of your service area. So, what are you to do to stay in touch?

Thankfully cell phone plans now often have an international plan, like T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint allow you to seamlessly turn on your phone the minute you hit the ground and be able to communicate.  No need for those old Internet cafes! 

Downloading a good travel or communication app is a great first step. And, since I’ve been shopping for the best way to communicate internationally for keeping in contact with my loved ones, I’d like to share with you the top communication apps that I’ve found to help you communicate while overseas.

If you’re looking for business communication, then your mileage may vary with some of these apps as most were designed with personal communication in mind. However, depending on your job, you may still get some use out of these. 

Now, if you’re eager to make sure you don’t lose touch with friends and family while you’re out of the country, here are 7 apps for you to choose from.

  1. Zoom

Zoom communication app logo

Let’s start with the big one. A few years ago, Zoom was something you might have used for work. Fast forward to life post-2020, and it’s a household name. You might have even heard grandma say something like “Do you want to Zoom this weekend?” (Who would have thought that would happen!). But it’s hardly surprising since it is no doubt one of the best ways to communicate internationally.

The best part is you only need 4mb of download speed to access Zoom! Maintaining a good connection on a video app is so much easier than it was in years past.

You can see other important speed requirements for your remote work lifestyle here.

Zoom has a chat function, both within and outside of actual calls, but it’s primarily a video conferencing platform. Of all the options on this list, this is the one with the most crossover between personal life and work. For example – ever had a virtual Zoom happy hour?  Cheers! 

You can host multiple people on the same call, much like Skype. Beware that a free account will limit your call length to 45 minutes if you have more than two people on at once (but there’s nothing stopping you from ending the call and immediately redialing to reset your time limit).  Zoom is a great way to stay in touch with multiple family / friends / colleagues all at once.  It’s a good way to keep in touch and reconnect with your community as traveling overseas can sometimes be lonely.  Plans start at just $15/month if you want unlimited time and people on the call. 

2. Facebook Messenger (and Facebook) 

Facebook communication App Logo New

You can use Facebook Messenger app to have instant access to conversations with family and friends. You can send messages instantly over data and also make calls to loved ones overseas, which makes Facebook Messenger one of the best ways to communicate internationally.

Of course you can use the Facebook app to get an update on everyone’s lives or give your own update, and feel as connected as you would if you were right there next to your people.  You can even share your travel photos on your Facebook page as you take them, which helps you keep track of what you did and when.

3. WhatsApp (now owned by Facebook) 

Whats App Logo

WhatsApp is a popular messaging app for travelers, the only hitch being that your friends have to also have the app to communicate with you. So, if you do plan on using this option when travelling overseas, you’re better off asking the people you intend to contact to download it before you go. Other than this minor challenge, Whatsapp is no doubt one of the best ways to communicate internationally.

It is connected by using your phone number, except you won’t get charged cell phone rates when using Whatsapp. Now part of Facebook’s family of apps, it functions similar to Facebook Messenger and a great way to stay connected, particularly with those who don’t have a Facebook account.

WhatsApp gained a lot of popularity by travelers and anyone without the same cell phone plan.  As data increased and cell phone SMS messaging was too expensive, WhatsApp gained a lot of traction and is still widely used today worldwide. It also is known for being somewhat of a replacement for GroupMe and other group messaging chats, as you can quickly and easily form groups.  Like Messenger, you can also do calls and video calls.

4. Instagram (now owned by Facebook) 

Instagram communication App Logo

Another best way to communicate internationally in the Facebook family, Instagram is primarily a social media platform for sharing photos, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the go-to ways to communicate with people across the world both for work and for pleasure.

Like the other apps, you have access to data or Wi-Fi, then your Instagram is good to go. You can go live on Instagram to communicate with a lot of people at once, or you can stick to the app’s private messaging function. It’s a lot like Facebook’s messenger app, except that it is not a separate app; it’s baked into the app proper. Facebook has made it even easier to communicate between apps as they now allow you to cross-post and cross-message on the two platforms, Instagram (IG) and Facebook Messenger.  Instagram users can send messages to contacts on Facebook Messenger without the leaving app and vice versa.

Instagram doesn’t work very well on a desktop, it’s meant to be used on your phone. And like WhatsApp and Facebook, you can only reliably communicate with people who also have the app. So download it before your next travel date and make sure your important contacts are in your friends list. 

5. iMessage and FaceTime

My friends and family have long been giving me a hard time about having limited contact when travelling. Typically, I was on my computer using Skype or Google Voice, but now, with unlimited data, 5G, and nearly ubiquitous Wi-Fi on my phone, I typically communicate in real-time via text by using iMessage.

FaceTime is also a must-have. It rings on the receiver’s phone as though it’s a normal call, making it ‘seamless’ on the caller’s end. That’s what it’s all about anyway, right? Never missing a beat and being able to travel full time and still earn a living

6. Skype

No travel app list would be complete without including Skype. It’s the one communication app that has been around the longest and it likely still has the highest adoption rate worldwide when compared to any of the other apps available for overseas communications.

If you don’t have Skype installed or if you want to be able to call your computer, you can get a Skype To Go number. This includes an answering service for when you’re away and you can even send texts from your purchased number in a manner similar to Google Voice.

People who choose to use Skype regularly can easily instant message (IM), voice call, or video call. Skype is like the older sibling to Zoom. It’s now owned by Microsoft but still widely used worldwide and often a household term for those who use it to say “Skype me” – undoubtedly one of the best ways to communicate internationally.

7. Google Hangout

Google Hangouts communication App Logo

Calling all Google fans! Now that Skype is part of Microsoft (and many of us would not survive without our Google Apps suite), we’ll probably all use Google Hangout at some point.

You have to have a Google+ account to use Hangouts, so that is something to keep in mind. Also, I find that the bandwidth needed is more than that of Skype, so it’s already a little more clunky to get started.

Another consideration for this particular travel app is that you have to have it in another Google window versus open in another app. This is an advantage for some, but I personally love having the ability to switch to another app quickly.

So all things considered, it may not offer the best way to communicate internationally. However, despite any shortcomings that Google Hangout has, your family and friends will love the animated faces and hats you can wear while talking face-to-face!

Honorable Mentions

Here are a few extra apps that didn’t quite make the list, but which are also worth a look.

1. Google Voice

Google Voice allows you to forward your calls and also lets you answer them from your computer. So it’s arguably one of the best ways to communicate internationally. I used to forward my local number to my computer and it was completely seamless, nobody knew if I was in the office or on the beach. Google voice routes your call to any number you set up.


While I’m still a fan of Google Voice, you don’t really need it anymore if you have a comprehensive phone plan. With companies like T-Mobile are offering cell phone plans with coverage in as many as 152 countries, you may not have a need for Google Voice. 

2. Slack

If you work remotely you and your team most likely have used Slack at some point.  Slack modernized communication for teams,particularly remote teams looking for the best way to communicate internationally. So though we’ve talked mostly about family and friends, it’s no secret that remote work is growing in a post-Covid world, and Slack is one of those apps you’ll be referencing often from your app library to communicate with work or with online communities.

3. Viber

I honestly haven’t used this particular travel app much, but an Australian venture capitalist that I met at a Women 2.0 conference was telling me about it and I’ve heard nothing but good things since. It’s also quickly growing in popularity, so if you’re looking for something that you’ll be able to use with many friends, Viber is becoming a communication app option that you’ll want to consider. Who knows? You may even find it to be the best way to communicate internationally as you might be very satisfied with it.

Viber allows users to call and message each other via Wi-Fi free of cost. So, Viber to Viber international calls are of course free. However, for calling unregistered landlines or mobile numbers, users are required to pay – but thankfully the rates are quite low. It’s also a great way to share media such as, images, audio, and files. For making calls to numbers that lie outside of the Viber network, you can opt for a subscription or pay-as-you-go approach.

If you need to make an enormous number of calls abroad, we recommend going for the subscription option, which turns out to be cost-effective for high volumes.

4. Webex

Another best way to communicate internationally is through Webex – a communication app for travel and a business conference platform. Use it to connect with colleagues abroad or make calls internationally. It’s in fact one of the oldest communciation apps that leverages a solid data exchange method. One of its remarkable advantages is that it requires a low bandwidth while offering great security.

Conclusion

Really there’s no way NOT to communicate anymore while being remote, thanks to the availability of some of the best ways to communicate internationally. Social media apps like Snapchat and TikTok or gaming apps like Roblox, Discord allow you to be connected anywhere to your community.

There you have it. These are the top seven apps available for people who travel overseas or even those who venture out domestically.

What apps do you use to keep in touch while traveling?

Renting Out Your Home So You Can Travel: The Virtual LandLord

Today I received a fax with a 12 month lease and deposit for my rental in Seattle. After 2 months of being vacant and going through 30+ inquires and applications, the house is finally rented. All done from New York City.

This is a topic I’ve always wanted to write about. I’ve always wanted to have my own place to call ‘home’, a place to rest my stuff when traveling.

Here, in Seattle, I bought a house and I’ve been renting it out for the past 6 years. I had two houses, but sold one as I downgraded to 4 boxes. But after learning about the housing market, and having refinanced to an interest-only loan that was just at the end of its 3 year pre-payment penalty, I realized that I would have to sell the first house.

Libby's House in Seattle

The second one, the one in the picture, I remodeled and turned into two full living spaces with separate entrances. I’ve discovered that you need to have coverage of at least 25% in order to break even from maintenance, vacancies, and so on.

Becoming a virtual landlord isn’t easy, but it’s doable—from anywhere in the world.

Before leaving Seattle for NYC, I filmed a video tour of the house and put it on YouTube. When prospective tenants would call, I’d send essentially the same template that would include:

  • More information on house, deposit, neighborhood, etc
  • Pet deposit (if applicable)
  • Asking the prospective tenant’s current living situation, number of total tenants in consideration, when they were looking to move, and what they did for income
  • A link to the YouTube video
  • Scheduling tools for setting up a time/day for a viewing
  • A link to my Google Voice number (if I were posting from Chile, I would still have a US number and able to take/return calls (see previous post))

I purposefully hid a key before I left. After qualifying the tenant and arranging a day/time to meet (and after I’d send the video so they were able to see if they liked it before either of us would waste any more time), I would then send them to the house and tell them I had a friend place the key and that they would be by, but not until after their set time.

Finally, after several potential tenants and one guy falling through (not once but twice), I got the signed lease faxed today to my Ring Central number. Done!

There were a few hurdles along the way, such as a friend going over to open the house and accidentally locking all doors which locked out the potential tenants when they arrived for their scheduled visit. Then there was the time my sister and her new husband crashing at the house and locking the key inside —I had to make key copies made and overnight to Seattle. But other than those snafus, it all worked out. I’m able to enjoy my time in NYC with the peace of mind of my house being rented. Totally worth it.