Digital Nomads Part 1

You’ve noticed that as a programmer you can work from anywhere. So how do you begin checking in to your daily standup from Starbucks in Paris?


If you don’t have a passport, get one today. Even if you’re not going anywhere soon. US passports are good for about 10 years. They can take three to six months to get, though. So start today before you need one. It just takes a few documents copied and get your photos taken.

Passport photos have special requirements. But there’s no need to pay $15 – $20 at the drug store. Turns out they just use your phone to take a photo now, which you can do yourself. Walmart will print a 4″x6″ matte photo for $0.12 and you can pick it up almost immediately. I recommend IDPhoto4You to adjust the image. You may need a few of these photos. Keep some around for various government services. You may even use them for city transit cards.


Easiest way to get into a country is visa free as a tourist. If you have a return flight already booked and know where you’ll be staying then you can usually stay 90 days without any trouble or extra paperwork at all. The different ways to do this can have a huge depth. Passport Index is a great way to start seeing where you can go without a visa, where you can apply when you arrive, and where you’ll need to apply ahead of time.

Always check on any additional requirements, though the airlines are pretty good at pointing you in the right directions, the responsibility lies on you to know what’s going on. There were additional forms for COVID in 2022, but those were generally gone by 2023.1

Digital Nomad Visas

A lot of countries are making it easier for remote workers to stay even longer. Long stay visas, digital nomad visas, and temporary worker visas all run a spectrum of different ways belong in a country.2 Many give you access to other EU countries and some can start the clock on time for attaining a new citizenship. Some allow benefits for immediate family and some allow access to the school system for children.

For short stay visas you may be able to get away with only paying income taxes in your home country. Some digital nomad visas won’t require full income tax where you’re staying, but do require something back for what they’re offering. The longer and more permanent your stay, the more you will be expected to pay taxes. And the US always taxes its citizens, even abroad.


Many countries will allow you to use your normal driver’s license. Some require and some recommend the use of a translated license.3 In the US, this is a document you can get from a AAA office by showing your driver’s license and giving them two of those extra passport photos. It is good for one year, but you need to get it before traveling.

Public Transport

Many public transport systems have their own cards. If this is available before you leave, go ahead and get one. Usually they are available only in person and will require a photograph or another one of those passport photos you are carrying. Local transport cards can save you a lot when you purchase by the month rather than the tourist rates.

For example, Madrid’s 30 day pass was €21.80 in 2023.4 Far less than paying by the trip. But they only mail the card within the city, so make an appointment to pick one up after you arrive. But don’t worry in London, where you can just use any credit card to tap into train stations or onto busses.


In 2023 most highly developed or touristy places will just prefer you use your Visa or Mastercard. You may not need much paper currency or coins at all. Having a Revolut debit/ATM card can help you avoid bank fees.

Try to always pay in the local currency.5 Most payment terminals and ATMs may ask if you want to exchange into your home currency. Especially the ATMs you may even have to reject their conversion before moving on. This conversion is generally way worse than what your bank would offer.

  1. U.S. Ends Last Covid Travel Barrier, Vaccine Mandate for Foreign Arrivals, NYTimes,, 2023 ↩︎
  2. 66 Digital Nomad Visa Countries in 2023, CitizenRemote,, 2023 ↩︎
  3. Geneva Convention on Road Traffic 1949 and Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968 ↩︎
  4. Madrid Temporary Discounts,, 2023 ↩︎
  5. How to manage your money as a digital nomad, Lonely Planet,, 2021 ↩︎