Your first day or so in a new, foreign city -- especially if this is your first location independent adventure -- will likely be overwhelming. It'll seem like you face an immense list of tasks to check off in order to settle in to your new home.
Don't overcrank your engine. Here's a quick list of the things you absolutely must accomplish in the first couple of days after you land. Everything else can wait. Trust me.
- Cover the absolute basics. Make sure you're set with a moderate amount of local currency (and a general idea of the exchange rate), working credit cards and correct electrical adapters.
- Buy a SIM card. Make sure the plan, which will almost certainly be prepaid, includes data, and make sure you know how to re-up the balance. Before you buy, do your research to determine the mobile company that works best in the region of the country where you're staying. If you haven't been able to find accommodation with suitable wi-fi, pick up a stick modem at the same time.
- Buy groceries. Here's a link to a list of good foods to pick up when traveling. Add to this list milk (or milk alternatives, if you can find them), healthy oils and lemons (and/or good quality vinegar). Most rental places with a kitchen have salt and pepper lying around; if yours doesn't, you'll need that as well. I carry a small multi-spice pack like this oneso I don't constantly have to purchase spices in-store.
- Find a solid place to work. Even if your rental has solid wi-fi, you're going to want to find a reliable place to work in the outside world. Take a couple of hours to walk your immediate neighborhood and determine what places have internet access, then check the strength of the connection, the cost of small menu items, the friendliness of the staff, the comfort of the seating and the availability of wall plugs. The absence of any of the four are deal-breakers.
- Check in. Pop up on digital nomad forums to see who else is in town. Let your consulate know you've landed, including your rental address. Give emergency contact information to key friends and family.
- Take the rest of the day off. This transition period is important. Get sufficient sleep to help conquer the remnants of jet lag. Let go of all but the most urgent, time-sensitive tasks and breathe in your new surroundings. Take a long, aimless walk to explore. Do some yoga. Smile.