Mrs. Emini-Watch and I have been traveling around the world for the last 11 years.
We’ve spent time in: Australia, France, Hawaii, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Spain, Mallorca, Italy, Sicily, Bali and the UK. Here’s what I’ve learned about traveling and trading while away from home.
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- It’s easier if you stick to places you know
- Try to stay for 3+ months
- Negotiate long term deals
- Ask about storage options
- Check the WiFi speed before you leave
- You might need to travel with CAT5 cable
- Google Fi is a great WiFi backup service
- Best travel trading setup
- Chromebooks make great backup computers
- You only need 1 screen to trade
- Travel with 2 travel adapters
- Use a power strip with surge protection
- Travel with a spare battery
- Buy the lightest, strongest luggage
- Use a digital luggage scale
- Choose a computer bag with excellent padding
- Keep an updated packing list
- You can always rent, buy or ship locally
- Ditch your iPad
- Notify your bank before you travel
- Make sure your passwords are safe
- Keep your ‘clean install’ notes safe too
- Don’t skimp on travel insurance
- Travel business class (or at least use Priority Pass)
- Close out any open positions before you leave
- Ease back into day trading slowly
It’s easier if you stick to places you know
We’ve found there are advantages to always going back to the same travel destinations. Of course we had to find spots we like first. But now when we arrive: we know what to expect, we settle in quicker, we have friends that we see every year, we have our favorite restaurants and places to hang out.
Try to stay for 3+ months
We also try and stay as long as possible in the one spot and don’t move around. We’ve found 3 months is an ideal amount of time in a new location – enough to settle in, not long enough to get bored. And of course don’t overstay any tourist visas or get caught by tax collection agencies for staying too long. This happened to us once – never again!
Negotiate long term deals
One of the advantages of always going back to the same places and staying for 3+ months is that you can negotiate long terms deals. In addition, we normally stay out of season – in Hawaii we arrive after the Xmas/New Year’s “high season”; in France we arrive after the traditional August crush; in Australia we stay during the Southern hemisphere Winter season.
And if you stay long enough and book annually, your landlord will be able to take their property off listing sites, like AirBnB, and pass on the savings to you.
Ask about storage options
Another advantage of always going back to the same places and staying for a while, is that your landlord might be open to letting you use their storage. If that is not an option there are always long term storage facilities you could look into. We take advantage of local storage for my surfboards, our ergonomic chairs, our home gym equipment, printers, snowboarding gear, etc.
Check the WiFi speed before you leave
Before we book any accommodation we always check the speed and type of Internet connection. For example, 3G mobile Internet connections will not cut it. Ask your host or apartment landlord to log into Speedtest.net and send you an image of the Internet speed in the apartment. Some landlords are a little bemused with the questions – but don’t be put off. A poor Internet connection will ruin your stay.
You might need to travel with CAT5 cable
If your WiFi connection is slow you can almost double it by using a CAT5 (Ethernet) cable. Just connect the cable between the back of the WiFi router and your computer. But don’t forget to have an adapter for your computer if it doesn’t have a RJ45 connector port. You might also need this workaround if your WiFi router is old and you’re experiencing micro-outages with the WiFi connection.
Google Fi is a great WiFi backup service
I use a Google Pixel 5 phone and the Google Fi phone service. This gives me great rates for voice, text and data anywhere around the world. Plus I can use the Pixel phone as a WiFi hotspot. So if my Internet connection ever goes down, I switch on the hotspot and it gives me a backup Internet connection over the cellular/mobile phone network. Incredibly you can share the phone’s mobile data connection with up to 10 other devices via the WiFi hotspot. Which is enough for my MacBook Pro, my wife’s MacBook Pro, our mobile phones and our Chromebook!
Before Google Fi I carried a Huawei 4G Mobile WiFi Hotspot with me. I made sure I had pre-paid data SIMs for all the countries we were going to (Italy, Spain, UK, etc.). Often the 4G mobile data connection was faster than the hotel’s! I still travel with the Huawei hotspot but it’s now just for emergencies.
Best travel trading setup
For me the best travel trading setup is a fully spec’d Apple MacBook Pro 16″. Mine is: 2.3 GHz 8-core Intel core i9 processor, 64 GB of RAM, 1TB of storage and bought in late 2019. As soon as Apple launches the next MacBook Pro 16″ version – which will probably have Apple Silicon – I will jump on it. Since I run TradeStation via Parallels (i.e. a Windows program via an emulator on Mac OS) the most important thing is that the MacBook Pro supports Parallels software. Every indication is that Parallels will work on Apple Silicon – which is great news. And the new MacBook Pros will probably be released in late 2021.
For more on how I run TradeStation on a Mac check out the feature article: How to Run TradeStation on a Mac (Updated for 2020)
Chromebooks make great backup computers
After a disastrous motherboard failure while in France, I was left without my MacBook Pro for over a month! Well, that convinced me I need a backup computer and Chromebooks fit the bill perfectly. They’re light, powerful, impossible to infect with malware and cheap. I’ve had 2 Chromebooks now and I currently use the gorgeous Google Pixelbook Go and love it – particularly the great screen and fantastic sound. It has replaced my iPad as our portable media consumption device.
Alongside the Chromebook I have an account with Google Cloud Services. So whenever I have a MacBook Pro problem, I log into my Google Cloud Services account, set up a Virtual Machine and install TradeStation (and the ‘Better’ indicators). This gives me TradeStation “in the cloud” – and I can view my charts through the Chrome Remote Desktop app.
For more on my trading backup plan check out the feature article here: Trading Backup Plan: My 7 Step Plan for Hardware Failure
You only need 1 screen to trade
I think I’m a little different from the average trader when it comes to trading screens – I only need one. I try and keep things simple – minimize the number of trading decisions, minimize the number of variables to monitor, minimize the “noise” and outside influences. But if you do need 2 screens there are portable screens designed for traveling or you could store a second screen with your landlord.
Travel with 2 travel adapters
I travel with 2 universal power adapters that can connect any plug to any outlet. I like the Lyball adapters that are compact, have built-in surge protection and 2 USB sockets. When they update their design to USB-C sockets I’ll probably upgrade and try to keep all my cables to just USB-C.
Use a power strip with surge protection
When you arrive at your final destination, buy a power strip with surge protection. They’re cheap, usually around US$15. Where we stay in Kauai, Hawaii, we get a lot of thunderstorms. There’s not often lightening but just in case I make sure to have surge protection on my travel adapter and on my power strip. It’s such an easy thing – and just in case.
Travel with a spare battery
I travel with a HyperJuice 15,000mAh spare battery with built-in USB-C and lightening cables. I use this mostly for charging my cell phone and BeatsX earphones. But at a pinch I can use it to charge my MacBook Pro. What I like most about this battery is it’s small size and large capacity.
I also travel with my Google Pixelbook Go which can be a huge backup battery. It has USB-C ports. So I all I have to do is use my USB-C to USB-C cable to connect the two laptops and hey presto!
Buy the lightest, strongest luggage
Personally I like the Samsonite range of luggage and always pick their latest and greatest. This last year their best collection was the Lite Shock Spinner. Incredibly light and strong. My second choice would be Rimowa, from Germany. It’s a very close thing – but ultimately the Samsonite is usually lighter (and cheaper).
My wife and I also travel with packable “weekend” bags – for when you go on a short trip and don’t want to take your roll-on luggage. Our number 1 pick is the Netpack Expandable Package Duffel. Great size, very light weight and packs done to almost nothing.
Use a digital luggage scale
The luggage allowance for most international flights is 23kg (or 50lbs). That’s fine if you’re going to a warm destination and only need board shorts and bikinis! But if you’re heading to a cold climate it can become an issue. I always travel with a Tarriss digital luggage scale to make sure we’re not over the limit. Of course, if you’re traveling business class this is much less of an issue.
Choose a computer bag with excellent padding
My backpack is a bit of a beast – a Goruck GR1 (26L). It’s pretty tactical looking, all black, MOLLE attachment points, fits under the seat in front on airplanes and extremely hard wearing. But the best part about it is the “bombproof” laptop compartment that is extra reinforced and has a false bottom, so when you set the bag down down your laptop won’t touch the ground.
Then if that wasn’t enough, I also use a “shock absorbing” laptop sleeve. My favorite one is the Incase TensaerLite laptop case. But it is designed for the old 15″ MacBook Pros and just happens to (almost) fit the new 16″ MacBook Pros. I’m hanging out for Incase to update their range – probably with the new MacBook Pro in late 2021.
Keep an updated packing list
The trick to meeting the 23kg luggage allowance is to keep a packing list and stick to it. When you unpack from your last trip keep a list of everything you used and nothing more. You always take more than you absolutely need – but the packing list will keep you straight.
You can always rent, buy or ship locally
Traveling with surfboards, golf clubs, bikes, skis or snowboards is a real pain in the neck. Don’t forget you can always rent or buy and re-sell gear. For example, in Biarritz (France) they have a couple of awesome surf shops that stock a full catalogue of the best Australian and US shapers. In previous years I’ve bought locally and then re-sold at the end of my stay.
Then there’s the weekend ski trip that happens to be on the way to/from your destination. If you’re like me and you can’t bear to ski/board without your own boots and gear then think about boxing them up and shipping them ahead to your hotel. It just takes a little planning.
Ditch your iPad
I’ve finally ditched my iPad. iPads were great for airplane travel. Download all your favorite movies and TV shows, use a splitter for the earbuds and watch them together with your traveling companion. But I’ve moved on. My Google Pixel 5 phone has a fantastic screen, loads of memory and YouTube and Netflix apps loaded up. With that I can download tons of titles to watch and it’s a fraction of the size of the iPad.
The Pixel 5 does not have a headphone jack so you’ll need to get some bluetooth earphones. My preferred are the BeatsX Bluetooth Earphones. They have excellent battery life and when you’re not using them you just let them hang around your neck.
Notify your bank before you travel
To prevent your credit card transactions from being blocked make sure you notify your bank that you’ll be traveling, to which countries and for how long. And also travel with a few different credit cards – just in case. Apple Pay, Google Pay, chip readers and “swipe” are becoming more common every year. But don’t assume that what works for you at home will work when you reach your destination.
Make sure your passwords are safe
This applies whether you’re traveling or not. But you’re more at risk when you’re traveling, so make sure you’re on top of your laptop and cell phone security. Use long/complex passwords and use a password manager like LastPass to keep track of them.
Then also use two-factor authentication (2FA) as an additional layer of security, when offered. Text message work OK, but I prefer the Google Authenticator App.
Keep your ‘clean install’ notes safe too
Bad things happen – so be prepared. I keep almost all my documents in the cloud, with Google Drive. Now some of you might think this is a VERY bad idea. But I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and decided that for me it’s the right decision. The beauty of Google Drive is that I can log in anywhere and from any device (including mobile phone, Internet cafe, etc.) and access my documents. And as part of my documents I keep updated notes for doing a ‘clean install’ of my laptop, my wife’s laptop, our Chromebook and our mobile phones. So if disaster strikes I can get back up to speed with our tech asap.
Don’t skimp on travel insurance
Don’t travel abroad without travel (including health) insurance. Believe it or not friends of ours took a 2-week trip to Europe and didn’t realize their US health insurance didn’t cover them overseas! We always get the best from reputable insurance companies and make sure it includes adequate coverage for our computers and any sports we’re planning on pursuing (e.g. surfing, snowboarding, horse riding, etc.).
Travel business class (or at least use Priority Pass)
We’re very fortunate that we can travel business class. It really is so much better than economy. But if you can’t justify the extra expense then at least try Priority Pass. This service costs US$99 a year and gives you access to airport lounges around the world. At least part of the time spent flying can be comfortable. We also try and travel “off season” and avoid school holidays, weekends, etc. I don’t like planes or air travel, so I will do whatever I can do to make it less stressful.
Close out any open positions before you leave
Airports, airplanes, security, customs, foreign languages, driving on the other side of the road, etc. are all stressful enough. Why make it any harder on yourself? I stop trading a few days before I travel and close out any open positions. I don’t want to be checking or worrying about the market while I’m traveling.
Ease back into day trading slowly
Time zones can play tricks on your mind. I find that once I arrive in a new location, the trading day initially has a very different feel. The Emini open is happening at a different time of day than I’m used to. In Europe it’s late afternoon; in Hawaii it’s very early morning; in Australia it’s at midnight. Your mental state, not just your physical body, needs time to adjust. Either wait a few days before dipping your toes in the water and taking a trade or halve your normal position size.
I hope you found these tips on How to Day Trade and Travel helpful.