Easy tips for international travel...

A friend wants to spend her life traveling to other countries but has no idea where to start, how to find inexpensive housing, and things that can make it easier? Yes, I know that’s not much to go on but that’s what she asked me to ask. She does have an ongoing consultation business she will be able to continue.

Where does she want to travel to? The world’s a pretty big place and advice for someone who wants to backpack around western Europe is totally irrelevant to someone who wants to move to Nicaragua.

Is she looking to country-hop, or simply to expatriate? Has she ever traveled before and if so what sort of travel was it - a family vacation to an inclusive resort in Aruba is a very different experience from making your way via city bus from the airport in a country where you don’t speak the language.

How does she plan on continuing her business? Will she need to be able to be available during certain office hours where her business is based? Will she need a reliable, good (ie, good enough for Skype) internet or cellular connection? That’s all going to be a big factor.

What sort of visas is she looking at? Assuming she’s American it can be extremely hard to get a visa that will let you just move somewhere and stay and work.

Yeah, that’s way too broad a question. I’ll assume that she wants an ongoing itinerant lifestyle on the cheap. So - to get started, she should pick 5 countries that would be at the top of her list to spend time in, and get the Lonely Planet guides for those locales. Read them through.

At that point she should have enough idea of what she’s up against to form a slightly more specific plan and ask questions that people can help her with.

If she’s just doing something entirely internet based that has nothing to do with the country she’s residing in, it may not be much of an issue. Here in Indonesia there are incredible restrictions on foreign employment. But if someone has a web design company in, say, Colorado, and does all of their work over the internet for clients with no connection (pun unintended) to Indonesia, it’s generally accepted that there will be no legal consequences.

I’m not familiar with how other countries that restrict foreign employment work, but since the issue is generally one of taking jobs away from the locals, I doubt most countries are going to care about someone running an on-line business unrelated to the country of residence.

It still may require filing taxes, even if being American means that your tax-filing consists of saying “Uncle Sam already got his part”. But yeah, she needs to come up with something more concrete than “do not enlist, see the world.” Does she speak any languages other than English? Even in places where “everybody speaks English”, or in some where it’s an official language, it isn’t necessarily the language you’ll find in signs and on TV, and people’s English-speaking skills may be limited to specific subjects.

I’ve seen some working holiday visas that do put limits on what sort of work you can do including limiting telework, but I don’t know much about it as it’s never been relevant to my situation. It’s an issue of both jobs for locals and taxation – Country A’s government would much rather, if you’re living there, that you make money and thus pay taxes there (as I understand it).

Another related issue to really keep in mind is that trying to have a dialogue during office hours with someone who’s many time zones away is, at best, slow and a pain in the ass. You can email, sure, but if we’re only at work for an overlapping hour…

Expat Exchange can have some useful information but is geared largely towards people who are relocated for work. Wikivoyage is like Lonely Planet, only without the soulless corporation behind it.

Language is indeed another great concern.

I imagine your friend would need, at the very least, to have a place with decent and reliable broadband to continue running her business from abroad. This might limit the choice of countries a little, or at least the areas within certain countries. Many countries will only allow visitors to stay for up to three months without either leaving and renewing your visa, or applying for permanent residency - this is something else worth considering when choosing places to visit. Also, from what I’ve read here, US taxes will still apply when abroad, so that will add a bit of complication to the matter, when potentially mixed in with local taxes.

Taking a year-long sabbatical might be a better option at this stage, and visit a few of the favourite places she might be interested in beforehand to get a feel for where she’d like to be, what climates and cultures suit her best, how much other places cost in relation to her current expenses. There will be ex-pat forums for pretty much any country on her list that could provide much more detailed information than we can. In fact, the question is pretty much unanswerable without further information, I’m afraid.

Three areas she needs to think about that haven’t been mentioned.

Health care/insurance is one. What ever current plan she has may not cover outside the US. Just because the country she’s in has a nationalized system doesn’t mean she as a non-resident and/or non-taxpayer won’t be charged. Quality of care in some countries may be lacking if she’s got long term issues. If she’s on regular prescription drugs how to obtain those if you aren’t staying long in one spot needs to be addressed.

Banking. The US has put on some onerous laws to push foreign governments to require their banks to report back to the US on US citizen accounts. A common response is those banks simply deal with it by denying accounts they’d need to report on. That affects things if there’s a place of 2 that become a primary home base for her. She’s have to find a bank that will deal with her. If not she’s looking at ATM and credit cards as ways to access US funds. That can incur some extra costs in currency conversions and fees. Not all accounts are created equal with respect to those costs.

Immunizations. Depending on where she wants to travel, some have issues with diseases uncommon in the US. She probably needs some extra shots before heading out. The time to figure it out is not when in country A with poor availability of a vaccine recommended before heading to country B. Some of those are courses of vaccination that may be easier to do all while still settled in one place as well.

I’m happy to give advice, but there is just no way to do so with that OP. Are we talking about renting an apartment in Denmark, or country hopping in Asia, or buying a ranch in Zimbabwe? A region and an idea of how mobile she hopes to be would be a huge help.