How To Work While Traveling Like A Business Nomad

Instead of working out of a cubicle, Kareem Mayan decided to travel the world and work remotely. As I write this, he’s in South Africa. Last month, he was in Argentina. Immediately before that, he was in Antarctica. To see where he is when you’re reading this, check out his site, How’s The WiFi?

In my interview, I asked him over and over if it’s really possible to get work done while traveling so much. He assured me that it is. (Listen to the interview to see how he does it.) If you want to follow in his footsteps and work while seeing the world, here are the tools he uses:

Kareem Mayan

Kareem Mayan

How’s The WiFi?

Kareem Mayan is a freelance technical product developer and digital nomad. Previously, he co-founded eduFire. Earlier in his career he worked at ESPN and FOX Interactive Media.

A few lessons from this program

International bank – Get an account with an international bank before you leave. If you don’t, there’ll be limits on your access to money. Kareem suggests HSBC.

Earth Class Mail – If you’re going to work remotely, you need to have access to your mail wherever you are. Kareem has all his mail go to Earth Class Mail, where it gets scanned and he can decide if he wants to have a document printed, mailed to him or shredded.

Back up – Back up your data often, because, as a world traveler, you’re more likely to lose your data than someone who’s computer sits on the same desk every day. Kareem uses both Mozy, an online backup system, and a second local hard drive.

Earphones – It’s a noisy world, but as a business nomad you still have to get your work done while traveling through it. Kareem uses noise canceling ear buds to get the quiet he needs no matter where he is.

Mini wifi router – Wireless internet is important if you’re going to continue working in exotic locals. Kareem carries a great router that lets him boost a wifi signal if it’s too weak, or create a wifi connection if there’s only wired access.

Unlocked GSM phone – Most American phones won’t work around the world. Kareem bought an unlocked GSM phone which allows him to add a local SIM card and make calls from everywhere. (He also uses Skype to make and receive cheaper calls.)

Power converter – Even vacation travelers need to carry a converter that lets them safely plug their computers into foreign power outlets. For Nomads like Kareem, it’s a must.

Power strip – If you’ve ever waited for someone at an airport to unplug their computer from the last remaining outlet so you can power up your laptop, then you know the importance of carrying a power strip. Kareem uses an ultra thin strip that lets him travel light.


  • Hey! Great interview — we have some other similar tips online for those world travelers out there… check out http://www.BusinessBackpacker.com FAQ’s and Going Global Countdown. I linked back to this site for the gear!! Great tip – headed to Bangkok for New Years… going global and never looking back!!
    -Brooke

  • Well, I suppose its a small world, after all. This interview is a great example of how the internet is moving globalization forward at a rapid pace. Understanding the tools Kareem is using to travel the world and get work done at the same time can be applied here at home. Many organizations, from fortune 500 to startups are telecommuting to reduce costs and improve productivity. Virtual Project Management (VPM) is also becoming an important tool for every business to grasp to help manage distributed teams.

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  • Excellent! So glad to see more information about world traveling digital nomads, which I think is a trend that will increase during this economy.

    We have been a world-traveling, digital nomadic family going on 3 years now and love the lifestyle as it is so enriching in many ways. We have been to 4 continents, 29 countries and traveled over 75,000 miles so far mostly by land but also using every means of transportation from freighter ship to camel.

    Here are two posts your readers may be interested in. This one I just wrote about Twitter and Travel 2.0:

    http://www.soultravelers3.com/2009/02/twitter-travel-20.html#more

    And this one is about how to do extended travel that is jam packed with links which gives people places to start the research as 70% of families dream of extended world travel and it is easier and more rewarding than most realize:

    http://www.soultravelers3.com/2008/06/how-to-do-exten.html

    Digital nomadic life is not just for singles, but it also can work well for couples and families, although the dynamics change some. We choose to do this for the educational value for our child and more time to bond as a family.

    We had an off shore bank from the start, but also use Everbank which is very handy as is Goldmoney ( which are both online).The latter two have different currency available, so has been very handy for us to switch currency as needed and preserves wealth. I think more than ever one needs to keep track of the trend in currencies.

    It is also important to have a good personal connection with someone at each of your banks which will make things much easier to deal one on one with the same person.

    We do almost all of our calls via skype ( webcams work great for family and friends and even do our child’s piano lessons this way while in Spain & he is in Chicago!).

    One no longer needs to be in one spot for work or school and living a free life is fantastic! I have become an evangelist for the digital nomad life!

  • Great interview Andrew. I just left Kareem’s website that led me here. I have been writing about being digital for some time. Many of the things here are very true. In particular the list of essentials. I would ad a rugged laptop and a notebook for backup. I like Mozy, but there is also NomaDesk.

    My gig is more about telecommuting, with a go of being totally mobile with online businesses. It is possible, but lofty. At any rate, cloud computing and SaaS is definitely shaping up.

  • Make that “netbook” as a back up. Netbooks are coming on strong, and in many ways maybe all you need, if you have the write setup.

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  • NuNomad

    Thanks for posting this interview. I'm going to look into Earthmail. As a nomad myself who has also interviewed a lot of nomads for our blog at http://www.nunomad.com/blog mail has often been a point of difficulty. Many of us rely on a trusted friend or family member to forw#liard needed mail information but if there is a service that could be great. For those of you interested in a nomadic lifestyle I'd turn you on to searching #lip on twitter where many nomadic people hang out and share information.

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  • jimfmunro

    Just as an FYI to anyone looking into mail service options, Earth Class mail has upset a lot of people with a fee hike and there are lots of other options out there. Google it and you'll find some negative reviews and links to other services compared.

  • jimfmunro

    Just as an FYI to anyone looking into mail service options, Earth Class mail has upset a lot of people with a fee hike and there are lots of other options out there. Google it and you'll find some negative reviews and links to other services compared.

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