I'm a South African citizen with a job that allows me to work from any place that has a internet connection. I want to travel the world and I feel in my current situation that would be possible. I have money saved up but my monthly income is not that high to allow me to live lavishly in a city like Tokyo, for example.

So which countries would be the best to visit? According to Wikipedia (link) I could visit most of South America without a passport, is it worth getting a Schengen or USA visa? Are there any tips for the best way to visit a country, stay for a while, and then continue to the next place, and keep on doing this for as long as possible?

  • You mean, visit most of South America without a visa (not passport)? – Calchas May 11 '15 at 14:20
  • Not having to apply for a visa makes the whole travelling thing easier, but without a Schengen visa I'll miss out on all of Europe. – Niel May 11 '15 at 14:21
  • When I am travelling on a budget, I often use airbnb.com to find good accommodation at reasonable prices. In France I have found it a superior option to most hotels. – Calchas May 11 '15 at 14:21
  • "Best way" is highly subjective. What I might enjoy you maybe find boring. However, if you are on a tight budget and want to travel for a long time, I know many people doing exactly this in South-East Asia. It is way cheaper than South America, the states or Europe and allows to travel for a long time (either by doing visa runs or by simply visiting one country after another). – dirkk May 11 '15 at 14:40
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    You are not allowed to work in the EU or US without a work permit, even if you are a South African national working for a South African company, receiving your income into a South African bank account in South African currency. I guess there are similar laws in other developed countries. Your job may allow you to work from everywhere, but legislation doesn't. – Alexander May 11 '15 at 15:07

I'm afraid it's more difficult than you realise. You can certainly stay in various South American or South-East Asian countries. You are almost certainly not allowed to work there, even remotely, but it's probably possible to get away with doing it.

Europe is another matter. The Schengen agreement was intended to make some things easier but it's not particularly helpful for you. First, it means that the maximum stay limit (up to 90 days, depending on your visa) applies to a whole lot of countries, instead of country-by-country. After that, you need to spend a 90-day cooling off period elsewhere. So it's more difficult to travel indefinitely or take a long time to enjoy each country without falling foul of the regulation.

Additionally, as a South African citizen, you would need a visa. You will have to obtain this visa from your usual place of residence, which if you are constantly travelling probably means South Africa (as you won't be able to secure a proper residence permit in other countries while traveling on tourist visas or visa exemptions). So you can't get it on the road or spontaneously decide to go to the Schengen area.

An additional issue is that you need to satisfy the consulate that you have a legitimate purpose for your trip and will return to your country of residence after that. Here, being able to work remotely works against you. They most definitely don't want you to work while in the Schengen area (that's not a legitimate purpose if you don't have authorisation) and prefer to see tangible things tying you with South Africa (which is more difficult with a nomadic lifestyle).

If your citizenship would allow you to visit without a visa, you could possibly get away with it a few times (although the authorities are trying to fight this) but since you need a visa, you will have to submit a lot of information about your situation in advance and have a plausible plan, which makes it more difficult to flaunt the rules.

You also risk getting a visa that only covers the plan you submitted, which might not afford much flexibility. And if you rely on your job to satisfy the “means of subsistence” requirement, you can't very much submit a plan for a three-month tour of Europe without disclosing that you intend to work remotely. But if you ask a visa for a trip that corresponds to, say, a couple of weeks paid leave, you might get a visa valid for 20 or 30 days only, which is very short.

So that's a large part of Western Europe that can't be visited without extensive planning and many administrative formalities, sadly. The UK (not Schengen) is similar and the US and Canada probably too.

One tip would be to start with the Schengen area and other picky places. You can apply for the first visa while you still have a situation in South Africa and once you have used several such visas (even from different countries), getting another one for subsequent trips should become easier.

  • Great thank you so much, this is exactly the type of info I was looking for. I guess I have to start making some plans then. – Niel May 11 '15 at 18:04

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