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!
»If you want to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, use my referral link to make my day — I get bonus points!
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. Visit Mint.com.
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.
Free walking tours
GuruWalk is a site and mobile app where you can search and book various free walking tours in major cities in English or other languages.
Best excursion and (paid) tour search engine
I like Project Expedition, which curates tons of tour operators in every city in the world. Just search for a city to be connected to and book a wide range of excursions, day tours, and multi-day packages. Viator Travel is another great option with a little more inventory.
Nomad 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 covered 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). Here, I blogged about my experience with IMG.
In 2023, health care is much more affordable: I’m on an ACA plan paired with nomad travel medical insurance. SafetyWing is the first insurance product built specifically for nomads and by nomads, and I find it to be affordable, flexible, and customer-friendly — compared to its competitors.
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.
Offline hiking app
I use AllTrails, an app and comprehensive online platform that provides users with a vast collection of downloadable trail maps, reviews, and information for hiking, biking, and running trails around the world. It allows outdoor enthusiasts to discover, plan, and share their experiences, and a valuable resource for individuals seeking information and adventure in nature. The offline map feature, and trail data including distance, elevation, and suitability is super helpful!
Passport and visa expediting service
If you are traveling soon and need your passport renewed urgently (OR, just faster than the government will promise), use a highly-recommended and trusted passport expediting service. I like ZoomPassport, one of the only businesses granted a private license by the government to fast-track passport processing through the same facilities the U.S. Department of State uses. It’s also the industry’s only passport service with VIP text messaging to ensure your application is error-free. Passport renewals can be expedited online, or at select UPS Stores. Visit with my referral link.
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/Libby 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 de Allende?” 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
- 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 I don’t believe 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 there.)
- 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 $7 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… watch a video of my packing hack in action here
- 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! 😘