Traveling Digital Essentials – VPN, Insurance & More

nordvpn logo
worldpackers logo
safetywing logo

There are 3 things we set up before starting our backpacking adventure around Southeast Asia, some of these we’d say you need, and some we just highly recommend. In this blog, we will go through each service, why we got it, why we use it, and our experiences with them since we’ve been backpacking for nearly half a year.

These services are a volunteering provider for the ability to travel for basically free, we use Worldpackers, a VPN, we chose to use NordVPN and have been using them for around 3 years now, and a travel insurance provider, we went with SafetyWing for the reasons we will explain below.

  1. Worldpackers – Volunteering Service
    1. What exactly is Worldpackers?
    2. How Does Worldpackers Work
    3. Worldpackers Membership
    4. Our Experience Volunteering
    5. Worldpackers Discount Code
  2. NordVPN – VPN Service
    1. What is a VPN?
    2. Why You Should Use a VPN for Travel Specifically
      1. 1. Safety and Security
      2. 2. Watch TV while Travelling & More Netflix Options
      3. 3. Use a VPN for better travel deals
  3. SafetyWing – Travel Insurance
    1. You likely won’t be covered on a scooter!
    2. If you are backpacking long-term, most travel insurance will not cover you
    3. Why we chose SafetyWing

Worldpackers – Volunteering Service


Have you ever wished you could travel for free? Well with Worldpackers you can get pretty damn close. Worldpackers is a volunteering service that connects travellers with hosts around the world who need help, this can be teaching English, housekeeping, admin work, and so much more. 

In exchange for this work, the hosts offer different things, some offer just accommodation, some offer accommodation and 3 meals a day, and some request a small fee of around £5 a day for all of the above (way less cost than if you were just travelling and paying for hostels and meals yourself). Many hosts also offer free trips, discounted adventures and will show you secret spots around the city that locals know about, allowing you to venture away from the tourist spots and truly experience the country. 

This means that all you have to pay for is to get to the volunteering opportunity, and you can spend weeks or months, exploring for basically nothing.

What exactly is Worldpackers?

Worldpacker is a work-exchange platform that enables you to find opportunities around the world where you can volunteer in exchange for accommodation, meals, and sometimes trips. The Worldpackers platform gives you the ability to contact hosts, and apply to volunteer and gives you insurance in case anything goes wrong with the volunteering. For example, you can get a few night’s accommodation paid for by Worldpackers if a host cancels on you, ensuring you won’t be out of pocket. It is a great way to find volunteering opportunities while knowing each host has been vetted and reviewed by Worldpackers to ensure a great experience.

playing games with children in the village

How Does Worldpackers Work

Worldpackers is incredibly easy to use, you begin by picking an area of the world that you want to visit, and a bunch of hosts will then pop up with different ‘job titles’ of what they need help with. You then get the Worldpackers membership to be able to contact the hosts, this may seem annoying at first having to pay to volunteer, and we were a bit wary at first, however, we made that yearly membership back with just one volunteering opportunity so it’s so worth it. 

You then create a profile, fill in your details, add a picture, and continue exploring opportunities. Worldpackers has an academy that allows you to follow videos to gain ‘certificates’ these then come up on your profile and make you seem better to potential hosts (as they will likely have a few applications to pick from).

You then apply for opportunities, chat with hosts, and head to their location to begin volunteering, spending the next few weeks or months in a unique and fulfilling way.

Worldpackers Membership

As previously mentioned, Worldpackers requires membership to contact hosts and apply for opportunities. You can get membership as a Solo traveller, or as a Couple, allowing you to volunteer together with a partner/friend. Each option has two brackets, a basic membership, or a ‘membership pack’ that gives better insurance and various deals with other companies.

The basic Solo Membership is $49 per year, or if you use our link and apply our discount code ACOUPLEABROAD it’s only $39. The Solo Pack Membership with better insurance and extra features is $99 per year, or if you use our link and apply our discount code ACOUPLEABROAD it’s only $89.

The Couples/Friends Membership is $59 per year, far cheaper than getting two separate Solo Memberships, or again if you use our link and apply our discount code ACOUPLEABROAD it’s only $49. The Couples/Friends Pack Membership with the extra features is $119 per year or if you use our link and apply our discount code ACOUPLEABROAD it’s only $109.

Our Experience Volunteering

Our first volunteering experience with a Worldpackers host was in Vang Vieng, Laos with a company called Sae Lao Project. The project helps Lao students to learn English as they don’t have the opportunity in their own schools, so students head the project every evening to be taught and helped by volunteers. The project is located in Nathong Village, just outside of Vang Vieng, so we got to experience the local life, not being in the main city like most backpackers would be.

At Sae Lao, all volunteers divided daily tasks, gardening, cleaning, building, and then also cooking breakfast and dinner for all other volunteers. These were fun little tasks that keep you busy throughout the morning, then in the afternoon, we had free time to go to the local cafe, visit blue lagoons, and basically do whatever we wanted. Then at 5pm the English classes started, finishing at 7pm. For us, the English teaching and the students were the highlight of our experience, we loved helping the students and generally just communicating with them. We were basically living and eating on about £5 per day while volunteering, a crumb of what we would have been spending if we were just staying and exploring Vang Vieng ourselves.

Worldpackers Discount Code

If you’re interested in signing up for Worldpackers, We have a discount code that will give you 10$ off any of the membership options. Just use our link or enter the code ACOUPLEABROAD.

NordVPN – VPN Service

nordvpn logo

You’ve probably heard about VPNs and if you have, NordVPN is likely the main company you’ve seen around, and that’s for good reason. We’ve used them for over 3 years now and the features are amazing, we get great speeds no matter where we are, and all of our passwords are saved and protected for ease of use and safety. If you don’t know what a VPN is or why they are so useful while traveling, then keep reading as we will go into detail and some of the features we couldn’t live without.

What is a VPN?

A VPN allows you to have private and secure access to the Internet, it encrypts all of your online data to protect you from any would-be hackers. This includes protection for things like your usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, browser cookies, and anything else that can be private to you. As well as complete protection, you can also manipulate your location, telling the VPN to another country or area, and then websites will believe you are in that country. This can be incredibly beneficial while traveling for many reasons, we will go into more detail below.

VPNs are incredibly simple to use, with most working almost the same way. On NordVPN you literally just sign into your account on any device (NordVPN lets you use multiple devices at once). You then can either choose ‘quick connect’ or choose a specific country yourself. If you are just using the VPN for security features, then hit quick connect, this will give you much faster internet speeds while still keeping all of your data safe. However, if you are using the VPN for TV, Netflix, or potential travel deals, then hit your country of choice. The speeds will be a little bit slower, but NordVPN has secure networks all around the globe so we’ve personally never had an issue with internet speeds while travelling all around Southeast Asia.

Why You Should Use a VPN for Travel Specifically

how a vpn works

1. Safety and Security

As most people already know, the internet can have risks, especially when using public wifi’s that you do not know are secure. This will be a common occurrence while travelling, connecting to cafes, restaurants, and hostels WIFI, you will never know if you are truly secure so using a VPN is extremely beneficial. Hackers can sit around on these public networks, wait for someone to connect, and then take personal information like passwords, addresses, emails, banking information and even card details if you use them online, so take precautions before connecting. VPNs like NordVPN encrypt and secures all of this data, keeping your personal data safe while you roam the internet and world.

2. Watch TV while Travelling & More Netflix Options

Depending on how much you’re travelling, you will likely have those days where you just want to sit back, relax and watch some TV. You may have found yourself stuck in surprise torrential rain that Southeast Asia is famous for and want to just stay in your hostel/hotel until it subsides. However without a VPN, this can be an issue, most streaming services only allow access from certain countries, BBC in the UK, Hulu with a handful of countries. Using a VPN to act as if you are in that country will allow you to watch the shows you were craving from back home. 

You may be sitting there thinking, ‘well Netflix is available everywhere’, and although this is true, the actual catalogue of shows/films is completely different for different countries. There are complete series that are available on US Netflix but have never been on UK and by using a VPN you can get around this to watch any show or film you want. Just set the VPN to your country of choice, log in to Netflix, and that countries selection will be waiting for you. We have used this a surprising amount of times while travelling, early nights, rainy days, there will likely be a time that you just want to sit in and escape into TV.

3. Use a VPN for better travel deals

Using VPNs can also allow you to get better deals on flights, accommodation, and activities while you travel. Companies are cheeky and use cookies and your location to judge pricing, by changing your VPN around multiple countries, you may find that the price has suddenly dropped a little bit, and every little helps while backpacking. Sometimes it doesn’t change, but it is always worth a try, we have found some flights and some tour packages have been significantly cheaper when we’ve changed our country connection.

You can check out NordVPN here with a 64% discount for 3 Months for Free: Get NordVPN

SafetyWing – Travel Insurance

safetywing logo

The next service we highly recommend is Travel Insurance, this may sound obvious, but we are so surprised at how many backpackers we have met who didn’t have travel insurance and have had serious accidents, from injuries while jumping in the sea, partying too hard and getting the famous “Thai tattoo” (an inner leg burn from scooter exhausts). We have seen all of these things on countless occasions while travelling and a lot opted not to get travel insurance, a for sure regret.  

Travel insurance covers medical, valuables, flights and so much more. Although it may be a big cost initially, you won’t want that cost if anything did go wrong and you didn’t have insurance. In our case, for example, we both sustained ear infections from scuba diving, which meant we both needed an ear exam and antibiotics, we also both had to get chest x-rays and medical exams for visa application. We also had a travel buddy whose phone broke while hiking to a viewpoint (something you will likely do on a regular occasion) and it cost £200 for a screen replacement, this was all covered in the travel insurance.

There are, however, some things that you may think you will be covered on, that you actually won’t.

Gage gettings his ear cleaned in thailand

You likely won’t be covered on a scooter!

We see a lot of incorrect information on the topic of scooters in Southeast Asia. “You just need a car license from your home country”, “you can ride less than 150cc no matter what”, and “you just need a CBT” (United Kingdom). However, all of these are wrong, in Southeast Asia you need a FULL motorbike license and an International Driving Permit for each country, even though the back of your driving license may show a scooter, that is not applicable for Southeast Asia. The scooters here are more powerful than the ‘moped’ you would see back home, so legally you are expected to have a full motorbike license. However, basically, every scooter hire company will hire you a scooter without any proof of license, and although it is the best way of getting around the countries, do it at your own risk, do not expect to be saved my travel insurance if you happen to be in a crash and need medical care. 

This is the general legal spiel found on most travel insurance companies about scooters, “In case of an accident while riding a motorbike, moped, or scooter, you are covered for your own eligible medical expenses as long as you are properly licensed for the area where you are driving and you are wearing proper safety gear such as a helmet.” Riding a scooter is fun, and if you are comfortable and safe, it is a great way to explore, just know that you will not be covered if a crash occurred, even though some content creators may tell you otherwise, and that an International Driving Permit is all you need, that is wrong.

If you are backpacking long-term, most travel insurance will not cover you

Backpacking, compared to travelling, usually lasts a lot longer, over a wide array of countries. This can make regular travel companies nervous and they either won’t cover you at all, or they will charge insane amounts to cover the extent of the trip. You can also find that the companies that do ‘cover’ actually have a limit on medical care or time you can spend in a hospital, and sometimes if something goes terribly wrong while backpacking you may have to spend an extended period in a hospital.

Due to this, a few companies came out with travel and medical hybrid insurances, advertising to ‘Nomads’ specifically who travel for extended periods. They cover multiple countries, multiple months and seem to understand that holidays can be more than 28 days at a time. The most popular of these travel insurance companies are World Nomads and the company we use SafetyWing. Both of these companies have incredibly high reviews, however, they work in quite different ways, below we will explain why we chose SafetyWing over World Nomads. 

Why we chose SafetyWing

The main reasons we chose SafetyWing, were the price and the form of payment. Unlike World Nomads which forces you to select start/end dates for your travels and then gives you an overprice to pay upfront, SafetyWing lets you pick a start date and pay on a monthly basis. Every month around £35 comes out of your account, for 364 days, however, you can cancel whenever you like with no penalty. So if your trip gets shortened or extended, which can be a common occurrence while backpacking with no plan, you will not be left paying more than you need too. This was a huge bonus to us as we have no end date, we had a rough idea of when we may finish travelling, but on WorldNomads that would have been a cost of around £1500, without the possibility of a return if we stopped traveling early (which will actually be the case). Luckily because we went with SafetyWing, we will just cancel the membership as soon as we need to. 

Although it didn’t apply to us at the time, SafetyWing is one of the few travel insurance providers that let you sign up outside of your home country, as mentioned we didn;t need this as we signed up before leaving, however, we do plan to begin travelling again after working in Australia so SafetyWing will allow us to do that without having to return to the United Kingdom just to leave.

SafetyWing has partnerships with hundreds of hospitals around the world, in these hospitals you can show your insurance and they will cover everything you need from the get-go. If you have to go to somewhere not included, you pay initially, then contact SafetyWing who gives you a refund after the deductible $250. This deductible is also another feature that made us like SafetyWing, although it may be high initially, the $250 covers the whole period of your insurance, so unlike other insurers that make you pay a deductible for every claim, with SafetyWing you pay $250 once, then never again for the remainder of your insurance.

Here are some key inclusions that are of interest to long-term travelers or digital nomads:

  • Emergency Medical Treatment
  • Medical Expenses
  • Hospital Room and Board
  • Family member transportation from the home country in the event that you have an extended hospital stay
  • Lost Checked Luggage
  • Trip Interruption
  • Travel Delay

If you like the sound of SafetyWing, then you can Sign Up Here

Overall we feel that these 3 services are either essential, or extremely helpful to assist you on your backpacking journey. We have personally used all 3 for the entirety of our travels and would recommend them to everyone. You can read more about each service by clicking the buttons above, if you have any questions on things we didn’t cover in the blog then ask away down below!

Please note that this page contains affiliate links. While we only recommend products that we believe in, we may benefit financially from any purchases you make.

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