7 tips for travel planning – and how we did it

by Michael Gimm Holdensen

In our post the beginning of a life as digital nomads, we finally told everyone about our plans for the future. In this post, I will tell you about our travel planning for the trip.

We have received so many questions from so many people, which is absolutely amazing! It is my impression that most people think our plans sounds cool, but at the same time can not relate to the fact that we have nothing to return home to or have not set a date for how long we will travel.

Many have asked about our plans and how we will approach things. Exactly planning the trip in the time up to we travel, I will get into here in the post. At the same time, I will try to answer the very relevant questions we have been asked.

If you don’t feel like reading the whole post, then feel free to take a look at the points below. Just click the one(s) you would like to read to go to that section.

How we planned our trip

Table of Contents

Moving abroad – Departed from the Social Security register (CPR)

When moving from Denmark to another country, there are a number of things to consider. At borger.dk there is a good guide, but in this post I will only tell about what is relevant to us.

In our case, we are leaving Denmark without having an address in Denmark or abroad. We initially have no fixed income and our children have no affiliation with any school. In other words, we are on our own. 

As we are no longer living in Denmark, we must notify the municipality so that they can register us as departed from Denmark for more than 6 months. It can be done 4 weeks before we travel and MUST be done no later than 5 days after we leave.

VW California

 

We travel Europe on German plates in a VW California (not this one though…)

Travel by car on German plates

In Denmark we have very high taxes on cars, but if you travel just south of the border to Germany, you pay much less for a car. As we are no longer residents in Denmark, we are no longer paying Danish taxes and fees and we have the opportunity to buy a car on German plates. 

At this moment we sold our current car and short term rented a car until the day we are leaving. Alongside that, I have got hold of a company in Flensburg called IMC Motorclub. They can help with everything practical, from purchasing a car or motorhome, to registering and insuring the vehicle. We have chosen that they will be responsible for everything, incl. purchase of our car, which is the VW California.

As a Danish resident, it is illegal to drive around in Denmark on German plates. The plan is therefore that I will be registered as leaving Denmark around August and Rie and the girls will be 1st of September. That way I can pick up the car in Flensburg, pack it at home in Ry and then we can roll away. 
Once we are registered as having left Denmark, we are allowed to, according to SKAT (Danish Tax law) drive on German plates in Denmark 184 days a year. The rule takes effect on the day you are registered as leaving.

Investment and taxation when you do not have a Danish address

What can really have a decisive effect on how long we can travel is how we are taxed on our investments while we travel. All our savings are invested and we are depending on a modest return on them, to stay on the road. If we succeed, we can travel for a longer period of time and maybe even have a little left, so we do not have to start from nothing when or if we want to establish a base for ourselves again.

To be absolutely sure that we comply with all rules and regulation in the tax area, I contacted SKAT and asked about trading in securities once we are no longer residents in Denmark. The rules are actually quite simple and luckily for that. 

I explained them that we were leaving Denmark 1st September and by then no longer have a permanent residence anywhere. In addition, our only source of income is a potential return on our savings that is invested. Based on those assumptions, it was actually quite simple. We just had to make sure to fill out the form 04.029 and submit it through “SKAT Tast-selv” and also make sure to register us as departed in the CPR register through the municipality. After this is done, the following applies: 

  • We are not taxable of any returns and are not able to get any deduction for losses.
  • It is a REALLY good idea to wait to invest until AFTER you are registered as leaving. Not doing so adds a lot of extra paperwork.
  • If you follow this guideline leave your money on a saving account until you are registered as left, then it also doesn’t matter how much money you bring back in to Denmark once you get back. Though I guess if you bring back 10 times your savings, you would have to answer for that somehow. But TAX-wise there are no rules against it.
  • If you trade stocks that pay dividends, e.g. Danish stocks, then dividend tax will be withheld. It must subsequently be retrieved. So if you want to have as little hassle as possible with that part, then avoid dividend paying stocks.

TAX is a vital part of long term travel planning

 

There is a lot of money to be saved if you do this right. Few people are aware that you can avoid paying TAX at all!

Is it possible to avoid paying TAX on your pension funds?

The short answer is Yes! Here’s what we’ve done.

Pension savings that are not labor market pensions can be transferred to almost any bank in Denmark you want. That is why I have chosen Nordnet for my private pension funds. They have a great selection of investment opportunities and reasonable prices on brokerage.

Our labor market pensions continue in the pension companies they are today. Here we make sure that all insurance coverage ceases, but in addition, the funds are still managed (invested) as they are before we travel. It is possible to continue to add money to it and maintain the insurances associated with the pensions. But we have chosen not to do so in order to keep expenses as low as possible.

When it comes to taxation of pension funds, then the rate (in 2021) is 15.3% annual tax on gains (high watermark). We don’t have to pay that tax anymore. But it requires us to fill out a form.
The first thing to do is to go to SKAT’s website and fill out the form 07.058. It must be submitted to SKAT, which subsequently processes your case. I submitted the form along with the aforementioned 04.029 for both Rie (through her login) and for myself.

When SKAT returns with a decision on exemption from paying tax, this decision must be forwarded to the pension company. In my case, both to PFA (labor market pension) and Nordnet (privately subscribed pension). 
When / if we return to Denmark again, it is IMPORTANT to contact SKAT and tell them that we will pay tax again. Otherwise, it will trigger a fine.

Disclaimer
The above is what I have learned from my talks with SKAT. You should consult with SKAT or with an auditor if you are in a similar situation.

How to invest your money when traveling?

There are many options that ultimately relate to your risk appetite, how high costs you are willing to accept and how much you can and will manage yourself. Most can be done by computer or phone, as long as you are properly prepared from home. 
The most important thing in my opinion is the following:

  • Do not put all your eggs in the same basket (e.g. by betting it all on cryptocurrency), but invest in different asset classes.
  • Be clear about how big losses you are willing to accept and then choose your risk based on that possible loss. Never choose your risk based on potential returns!
  • Be critical of the cost of investing – the difference in cost vary a lot between platforms. Traditional banks are the most expensive.
  • Decide if you want to spend a lot of time investing or if you would rather have others do it for you.
  • Make sure to invest your money in assets that are possible to sell anytime. You would want them to be accessible WITHOUT large withdrawal costs. That way, you are not limited in your travel plans.

The above are the main points of my approach to investing. 

For many years I mainly invested through my bank where I also had my other dealings. Since February 2021 however, I have been trying out various other solutions on the market. Although I am not quite there yet, I expect it to be Saxo Trader Go and maybe also eToro on the free funds. I will still use Nordnet on pension funds. But I will get back to that in more details in a later post. 

However, it is certain that I am not going to invest directly in shares that pay dividends, so I do not have to spend time recovering dividend tax from multiple countries.

Choice of bank when not living in Denmark anymore

At the time of writing, we use Jyske Bank as our primary bank. Jyske Bank is also my employer until departure and through them I also have a labor market pension. 

When we leave, our current setup will change slightly so that we have the best prices and tools available. It is important to us that it is simple to access online, reliable and inexpensive.

Whats important to us is that everything we want can be done online. If we still have some questions, it must be possible to clarify through a real person, but this could be through a chat functionality. I think the need for an advisor will only occur due to missing options in our mobile banking solution.

investing is part of travel planning

 

Managing our finances while we travel is crucial to how far we can get around.

Keeping track of our budget while we travel

It has been important to find a banking solution that can be used smoothly around the world. Where fees are kept to a minimum and where we are able to see how we spend our money. Here we have chosen Revolut bank, which is an online banking solution. 

Revolut is the right choice for us as it gives us a lot of benefits. Including free cash withdrawals worldwide, virtual one-time cards, junior accounts with pocket money feature and super good insurance. They also provide instant currency accounts for whatever currency you need. It’s just one click and no paper work fees. Also, the APP works really well. 
I will get back to Revolut in a later post, once we have gotten to know it even better.

Insurance

As we do not have a permanent address in any country, our treatment options are limited when we travel. However, we have the opportunity to order a blue health insurance card, for coverage in EU for up to 1 year from the time we order it. We don’t need it though, since we travel with full insurance, which we found with rejseforsikringsguiden.dk.

We are covered by Gauda’s travel insurance. It covers Europe with an option to upgrade to world coverage. It also covers skiing, which we have planned for in Bulgaria from December to March.

In general, there are some rules about maximum term of travel insurance. At Gauda we could sign up for insurance for a period of 2 years. After that we have to find another solution.

Using your phone abroad

After researching what rules and options there are for using your phone abroad, I found it to be a bit limited. In Europe there are roaming agreements between EU countries and most tele companies. Most offer good deals for use in all of Europe. The problem with all of them is, that you need to use your phone from Denmark some of the time each month.

Our choice fell on Lebara, where you can choose a subscription that costs as little as DKK 19 per month. The subscription contains 1GB data in the EU and you can buy an additional 1GB of data for DKK 19 any time you need it. It’s not the cheapest option if we use a lot of data, but it will do. Once we travel beyond Europe, we will have to find a better solution.

homeschooling

 

Teaching our children while we travel, with e.g. Danes Worldwide through Danes.dk

Homeschooling our children while we travel

During the corona period in 2020-2021, our children have gained a great deal of experience with online teaching – for better or worse. They have been sitting in front of a screen for many hours in a row and often we feel that the learning has been limited. That despite all the hours they have spent “being in school”.

In Denmark, we are allowed to teach our kids ourselves and there is no law saying, that kids must go to school. Only that they must receive an education. Therefore, as parents, we will be responsible for teaching our children and making sure they keep a level that matches their peers.

When we travel together as a family, we need to find a way in which we can ensure the girls’ development academically. But also take into account that we need as much flexibility as possible. 
Fortunately, we are not the first Danes to travel the world with their children and we know of several ways to ensure our children’s education.

What we have found is, that Danish and mathematics are the most important classes. And to keep them on par with their pairs is important. Besides those, we will also focus on different languages. At the beginning English and maybe Spanish. The remaining classes in primary school are also important, but we think that what we experience as we travel will cover that.

Danish

For the Danish class, we register both of the big girls for an online course at Danes Worldwide. They are supported by the Ministry of Education and their teaching ensures a level on a par with an ordinary Danish class at the same school level.

The course costs approx. DKK 16,000 for both Emma and Liva for 1 year. The school year starts in September and every Monday for 40 weeks there are new tasks to be solved. In addition, they receive personal feedback from a teacher once a week and a couple of times a year there is some LIVE teaching.

We have been told that 3rd grade should expect to spend approx. 1.5 hours per week and 5th grade approx. 3 hours a week. How and when is up to us.

Fortunately, the girls are both really happy to read and we, therefore, do not expect a challenge there. We have therefore acquired an e-book reader for both of them as an alternative to lugging large stacks of Danish books from home.

Mathematics

In collaboration with Liva’s mathematics teacher from Mølleskolen in Ry (Thomas), we have talked about how we ensure an academically level in Mathematics. To achieve that we purchased some math books and a teacher’s guide. We have also signed up for a subscription for Matematikfessor. The total price for books and subscriptions to Matematikfessor runs up to approx. DKK 2,200 for 1 year. Here, however, there are no teachers besides us.

English and 2nd foreign language

We will include both English and later on a second foreign language as part of the girls teaching. Mainly with language apps, such as “Mondly”, as well as English movies and books. We do not have much structure on that part yet, but there is still time. 

Projects and other classes

In primary and lower secondary school, a lot of time is spent on projects that go across the classes. They teach the children to think more outside the box and ensure an interdisciplinary understanding. This will be a bit difficult to do the same way, but we believe our travel will be a big project in itself. We hope that our children learn a lot about other cultures, get a better understanding of different people and learn why it is possible to settle for much less than what we have now – without missing out.

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9 comments

Susanne Plesner-Bloch Pedersen 26 June 2021 - 08:39

Hey Michael….du kender mig ikke, men på papiret er vi kolleger i JB. Jeg har pt. orlov (JB0230 plesner) – har været i Zambia og Kenya og arbejde frivilligt. Jeg vil bare lige udtrykke min dybeste respekt for jeres beslutning – HOLD KÆFT HVOR ER DEN GOD! Vi lever kun én gang og det er NU! Ønsker jer alt det bedste – og vil glæde mig til at følge jer. Kh plesner

Reply
Michael Gimm Holdensen 28 June 2021 - 08:11

Hej Susanne. Tusind tak for de pæne ord!
Dejligt du følger os og kommenterer på indlægget. Vi håber vi kan sætte gang i lidt tanker hos folk og samtidig få gode input til vores rejsemål undervejs fra dig og alle andre der har lyst til at følge med 🙂

Reply
Maia 1 September 2021 - 21:53

Hej Michael og familie.
Du kender ikke mig, men jeg gik i folkeskoleklasse med Rie. Det lyder som en fantastisk rejse i har foran jeg! Min mand og jeg drømmer om at gøre det samme, når vores tre piger er blevet lidt ældre.
Det er meget brugbart at du beskriver hvodan i helt konkret planlægger turen, tak for det! Især tippet om at købe en bil på tyske plader ef genialt!!
Rigtig god tur. Jeg glæder mig til at følge med.
Venlig hilsen Maia

Reply
Michael Gimm Holdensen 1 September 2021 - 22:08

Hej Maia det lyder da som en super god idé.
Hvor gamle er pigerne siden I vil vente? Forskellige størrelser har forskellige behov. Fx så kræver Carla på 3 lidt mere når vi skal på tur, mens Liva og Emma (11+8) kræver lidt ekstra når skolen skal passes.

Godt du kan bruge bloggen til inspiration. Jeg lover der kommer meget mere 🙂

Reply
Maia 5 September 2021 - 11:03

Hej Michael.
Vores piger er 5 mdr, 3 år og 6 år. Vi vil primært vente for at ungerne kan huske turen, men også for at have en økonomi der kan golde til det
Vh Maia

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Michael Gimm Holdensen 5 September 2021 - 11:57

Hej Maia, det lyder fornuftigt 🙂
Vi har også talt om, at Carla nok ikke husker turen så godt. Men så kan bloggen forhåbentligt bruges til at genopleve og huske, når hun på et tidspunkt kan læse.
Vh Michael

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Tina 23 January 2023 - 15:16

Hej Michael
Kunne i lokkes til at lave et indlæg om økonomi – Hvordan fik i det til at hænge sammen jeres første år hvor i kun rejste rundt? Hvor meget har i brugt? Hvad ligger til grund for at i har valgt at få en base igen med job og skole? I bestemmer selvfølgelig selv om i vil svare 🙂

Og mange tak for tip om Paxos, det ser MEGET lækkert ud.
Vh Tina

Reply
Michael Gimm Holdensen 23 January 2023 - 16:21

Hej Tina
Det er også min plan at lave en opfølgning på noget af det økonomiske på et tidspunkt og vi deler meget gerne. Jeg skal bare lige finde lidt af det der “tid”.
Allerede nu kan jeg løfte sløret for, at selvom vi har forsøgt at være økonomiske, så har det ikke været helt billigt 😀
Mvh. Michael

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Tina 23 January 2023 - 19:44

Det lyder godt, og ja kunne godt forestille mig det løber op, desværre.
Og det er helt forståeligt, den leder vi andre også efter den tid der 🙂

Reply

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