How we prepared the start of being a digital nomad


… and suddenly all you own fits into a small basement compartment.

The last days before leaving (at least before leaving for the first time as a nomad) are stressful. There is no hiding it. No matter how well you thought everything was planned and how early you started packing boxes – the small things do catch up at one point. And there is always one more thing you did forget after all, or that didn’t end up as wished.

But now, we are Nomads. We have a suitcase each and no home. The adventure is finally starting.

What needed to be done

Moving out

The most exhausting and most obvious part is giving up our apartment. For the last 4 weeks, we sorted through all our things and tried to pack a box a day. This worked quite fine and it looked like everything was packed in time. But there are things you need until the end – like a few bowls and forks for breakfast, cups and the coffee machine, some warm clothes and shoes (as Germany is still quite cold in March), something to sleep on and in, a chair and a table to work at. Those were the items that took more time as planned. And packing them took more boxes then expected.

We got rid of our stuff in mainly 3 steps. First, we made sure the basement was cleaned out and the bulky waste was taken care of. Then, a week before leaving, everything we didn’t absolutely need any more, was driven off. That was all the furniture we wanted to keep and all the boxes we were able to pack and store. Then, on the last day, all the leftover stuff was packed, the mattress wrapped up and the apartment cleaned out. The planned 5 hours were super busy and we did have to finish up after already turning over the apartment.

A lot of our things needed disposing. For us, mainly, there were 3 different possibilities.

  • For real things, like furniture, electronics, etc. Free Your Stuff on Facebook was our favorite way. Just because I don’t like or want something anymore, doesn’t mean others can’t use it. And without needing to take care in advance as when selling, we could post a picture and in less than 5 minutes somebody was found to come over and pick it up.
  • As there were many clothes (mostly mine) that were sorted out, recycling banks and refugee camps are the best places to drop them off and to help others with it.
  • And last, there was still a lot of stuff that actually landed in the trash. Mostly on the last day when leaving the apartment, I was a bit shocked about how many bags we had to throw away.


Even though documents are one of the things that can be taken care of weeks in advance – we had to run to the offices in the end.

  • The international drivers license. We pushed it till days before leaving. It only takes an hour (including getting to the right office and back), but yet an annoying trip.
  • There was an error in my reasoning, and so I learned that in Germany you can get a passport within 3 days and from the “wrong” citizen center. Which is good to know. Just keep in mind – it gets really expensive.
  • As soon as a flight to the US is booked, one can apply for ESTA. We did it 2 days before taking off…
  • There was a credit card problem with a major bank, so the last day in our apartment, a new credit card with a different bank arrived. Thanks to number26, banking did get a lot easier.
  • And then we ran out of paper just as we wanted to print our tickets – and ended up in a copy shop to get the last but very important documents to leave.

Saying goodbye

It takes time! But it is such an important step. We concentrated on our families and ended up spending the last three weekends before heading off with parents, siblings, grandparents and nephews. The time was great – but it definitely did increase the work within the week. Yet, not going there would have been worse.

And I have to admit, we didn’t even make it to say goodbye to everybody who deserves it. As thinks were piling up, we just didn’t have the energy to go out every night and meet up with all our friends. I’m sorry!

What will be done differently if leaving again

If I had to start over again, I would definitely:

  • Try to organize documents early enough and pushing myself to stop procrastinating. Getting all the documents together is really nothing that has to wait.
  • Taking the last 3-5 days off. Trying to pack, empty the apartment, getting ready and still working was exhausting. And I think for me and everybody I work with and for taking my time would have been the better option.

Now, I’m so exhausted. But starting a new life is worth it. And since it got too late to actually change anything anymore, I’m doing great and I stopped being stressed.

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