Hi, I’m Julie! I’m a full-time solo nomad international traveler turned semi-retired expat (that’s a mouthful!).
Over the last few years, through much research, trial, and error, I’ve found my must-have apps and favorite things for nomads and frequent travelers/expats. Since you guys often ask me, “What do you use for _____?”… here you go!
Favorite ATM card
The Fidelity Cash Card refunds your ATM fees around the world. There are other cards that do this, but I opted for Fidelity’s no-fee ATM card because I already have existing retirement and brokerage accounts with Fidelity. Learn more or sign up.
Favorite travel credit card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has no foreign transaction fees and has a truly exhausting list of other travel and dining benefits. As someone who’s had more than 20 credit cards in her lifetime… this one has the richest awards yet! The annual fee is $95 a year and it more than pays for itself! Learn more or sign up with my referral link.
I’ve used Mint for almost 10 years to budget, categorize my spending, and track trends. It syncs with all my credit cards and bank accounts. If you join with my referral link, I get $10.
Net worth and investment fee tracker
I started using Personal Capital in late 2021 as an alternative to Mint, but with slightly different capabilities: for example, I love the investment checkup that indicates my portfolio is over-concentrated in certain sectors and lets me know which holdings have high expense ratios (read: they take a bigger cut of your money). Full disclosure: they call me once in a while to offer to manage my money, but I sent the calls to voicemail — I’m managing my money myself these days! If you join with my referral link, we both get $20.
International/expat health insurance
When I “retired” in late 2021, I lost my employer-sponsored health insurance. So in 2022, I bought an IMG Global Medical Insurance (Silver) policy, which covers me both in the U.S. and abroad (provided that I remain outside of the U.S. for at least 6 months out of the year). I paid $1,884 in 2022 for the year ($157 a month) with a $1,000 deductible. If you pay in full, there’s a significant discount: Check current rates and get more info here.
Note, as of September 2022, I will likely not be re-upping with IMG in 2023. William Russell is an insurer that I’ve been exploring.
International travel volunteer program/work exchange
Sign up for a yearly membership with Worldpackers (save $10 with my referral link) and exchange your skills (like marketing, cooking, teaching English, or gardening) for free room and board at various locations around the world.
Since my personal belongings are being stored at my mom’s house, Allstate renter’s insurance protects them in event of flood, fire, or “other covered peril,” according to their website. The $13 monthly fee I pay also protects the items in my personal vehicle from theft via break-in (although I’m unsure if this protection extends outside the U.S.). I bundle it with my auto insurance.
Books and audiobooks
I love to read (and listen to audiobooks when I drive) but I rarely buy books. Why? Cuz there’s the library, silly! Through my (free!) library membership, I can “check out” books through the Overdrive app that either download as audio books or send to my Kindle. Search books and find a library here. And speaking of books, Lonely Planet travel books are my favorite when it comes to planning my visits in a place.
I’m a very visual, directionally-minded person… so I live for Google Maps! One, I download maps “Offline” so that I can navigate without cellular. Two, I utilize the “Save” and “Lists” function religiously to add listings to my various lists. Third, I use the “Timeline” function to mark the places I go to so whenever somebody asks me, “Where was your favorite rooftop in San Miguel?” I can rely less on my crappy memory and more on my personal technology. Win-win.
*The following is asterisked because they’re not all applicable in Mexico (where I am the first half of 2022)
- Gym membership: Orangetheory. My membership is national (perfect for U.S.-based nomads!) and my class allotment can be used at any location in the U.S. Plus, it’s an awesome workout combining strength, power, and endurance. Head to any studio for a free class and say you were referred by Julie Rose, home studio Phoenix, AZ. (There are also OTFs in Mexico and Canada, but they count as drop-in classes not part of the membership.)
- Pet wellness plan: Banfield. My membership for Penny means I can go to any Banfield in the U.S. for vaccinations, teeth cleaning, and flea and tick. (There are also Banfields in Mexico, but at the time of this writing I am unsure if the plans are compatible.)
- Groceries, gas, and tires: Costco. I’m just a Costco lover, ’nuff said. (There are Costcos in Mexico!! And my membership does work here.)
- Music: I drive a lot and I don’t like to mess with downloading music or running up my cellular usage, so I like SiriusXM. I pay about $6 a month (I negotiated!) and I can also play through my mobile app.
I don’t buy a lot of stuff… but my other nomad life essentials?
- Dash cam for mounting on your windshield and recording the road
- Portable french press for those coffee-fanatics like me
- Foam roller because I’m an aging 36
- Velvet lay-flat hangers to “fold” clothes in your suitcase for easy retrieve-and-hang upon unpacking
- Power extension cord because those dang Airbnbs never have enough outlets for all my gadgets
Questions/comments? Let me know. I’ll continue to update this blog as I get questions or develop more favorite things. Buen viaje, mi amigos! 😘