You often see white people going to Bali and living there for months at a time. They call themselves digital nomads. What does a digital nomad do? They work online and travel or live in different countries for a few months at a time. The main reason why it’s almost always the Caucasians who come to Asia is that their currency is stronger. And so Asia is relatively cheap for them. Either that or they like the warm weather.
Being contrarian, I thought, why not an Asian living the digital nomad lifestyle in America or Europe?
And so began my digital nomad journey.
The Germination Period
The digital nomad dream has been germinating in my head for at least 3 years. I intended to start in 2020 but the pandemic happened. That was a blessing in disguise as I had time to earn more money and plan ahead.
After much manifesting and putting in the work, I’m finally travelling again despite everything that’s going on in this world. It’s either I’m stupid or super ballsy. You decide. But I know that if I die today and didn’t make this happen, I wouldn’t rest in peace.
I’m vlogging my journey on YouTube and in each blog post accompanying the video, I’ll try to add in more helpful details that I might’ve missed out on or didn’t say clearly so that perhaps you could start your own journey.
Putting Digital Nomad Travel Plans Into Action
I’m a list type of girl so I started listing things down at least 6 months before the planned travel month. I bought a one-way flight ticket from Singapore Airlines 3 months ahead i.e. early October. The great thing about airlines during the pandemic is that most of them allow for travel date change for free. My ticket cost MYR 2,470 (USD 560) and it has one stop at Singapore from Kuala Lumpur before heading straight to Los Angeles. People have said it’s quite cheap so really this is the best time to travel.
Packing For All Seasons
I only intended to bring my 46L Osprey backpack and a 16L daypack plus a small sling pouch. And I had to pack clothes that would be suitable for all seasons. This means I had to really be in a minimalist mindset and that was very hard for me. It was a good challenge though.
Which Covid Test And When
Because I was going to the US, the current CDC requirement at that time was that I had to take a Covid test one day before the travel date. My flight was to be on a Wednesday so I took the test on Tuesday. Because of the one-day limit, I took the RTK Antigen test as it was the fastest. I just walked into Poliklinik Shaik, which was the nearest clinic providing the test that’s approved by the ministry, and walked out within half an hour. The result was available in 15 minutes and I had to wait 5-10 minutes for them to print out the document with the QR code and send me the soft copy.
Documents Needed For Travel
These are the documents that I brought to the airport so I could fly to Los Angeles and start my digital nomad travel.
- Passenger Attestation Form — this is specific to the US and the link was provided by the airlines I booked on.
- Negative Covid test result with a QR code.
- Proof of vaccination — for Malaysians, you would just need to download the PDF version of your MySejahtera certificate.
- Return or onward flight — they didn’t look at this but I printed this out just in case.
When checking in, they just looked at the first three and took only the first document. Note that you can enter the United States if you’re not vaccinated but they have a different procedure for that. In any case, before travelling, do read the requirements for the country you’re going to.
I initially planned to keep my 46L backpack under 10kg as the allowance for Singapore Airlines’ cabin baggage is 7kg. However, I knew I overpacked so I decided to check in the luggage. With the Economy ticket, you’re allowed 2 checked-in pieces of baggage of up to 20kg each. The backpack turned out to weigh 12kg.
Let The Digital Nomad Travel Adventure Begin!
This has been a dream come true. But I’m conscious that I’d have to work even harder and smarter to sustain it. I’m aware that it will drain my bank account but I’m hoping to replenish it with even more than what I started with, inshallah. At the same time, I mustn’t forget to live in the moment, have fun and enjoy some delicious vegan food.