The exotic dream to work from a beach while sipping margaritas is not as far-fetched anymore as it was a decade ago. You don’t have to quit your jobs to travel the world or make massive lifestyle changes to make that dream come true. There are countless ways to travel while working remotely.
Research shows, post-pandemic, more and more companies are permanently switching to the remote work model and there are growing opportunities for employees, freelancers, small online businesses, and more. Working while traveling has never been easier and now is the time to do it.
If you are ready to take the leap, here are some insights into how to do it, where to go, what to know, and more. Keep reading to know more about working remotely while traveling.
What is Remote Work/Travel – Expats, Digital Nomads, or both?
Remote work revolves around the idea of having the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere. This working style allows you to plan your work hours, save time and resources (on the commute, office hours, getting ready for work, taking care of your pet, etc), and the most essential of all, the freedom to work from a beach in Hawaii, a national park in Utah or anywhere else in the world.
Difference between Digital nomads and Ex-pats
- Digital nomads travel more often than Expats. Expats settle in one country for a longer period.
- Expats create a new life in their new country, whereas Digital nomads keeping moving in and out of countries.
- Usually, digital nomads are independent freelancers and entrepreneurs. Expats have office jobs or in-person positions in their new countries
- Expats generally have a bigger social circle in a new country than digital nomads
If you prefer more stability in your career, social life, community, ex-pat lifestyle is more suited for you. If you like to keep moving around and explore newer places, digital nomadism might be the right thing for you.
If the pre-existing ways don’t appeal to you, create your own lifestyle like ‘Digital Expat’ or ‘Slow Nomad’. There are no rules and no right or wrong in remote work and travel.
You can work as a remote employee for a company, you can work as a freelancer, or you can build your own business. There are countless possibilities to explore. It is not a standardized process. Scout and try different things, see what works for you, modify it for yourself and make the plan your own.
Tips on How To Travel While Working Remotely
Planning a vacation and planning a trip as a digital nomad is very different. There are several things you need to consider before picking a destination: a quiet work environment, a comfortable place to live, and the vibe of the place as it impacts your productivity and your work. Knowing how to travel and work remotely makes the process simpler. With some tips on maintaining efficiency while working remotely, you can enhance your experience. To work at your best capacity anywhere in the world, you must consider the following factors and tips from digital nomads and ex-pats from around the world before picking a destination.
Here are some things and tips digital nomads wished they knew when they were starting out.
1. Availability of co-working spaces
When choosing a destination, look for co-working spaces in the town or work-friendly cafes. Joining a co-working space creates a work environment vibe and excitement in the routine.
“Coworking helps me a lot with productivity. Having people around me gives me the motivation to work,” says Judith (online business owner).
Having a dedicated workspace in your living space is great but sometimes we need that extra push to get us going. Working remotely also means that you will be working alone most of the time. This can get monotonous, squeeze out the motivation, and might even drain you.
There are several online forums where you can find co-working spaces. You can also visit NomadStays.co to find co-working places around the world.
2. Do your research regarding WiFi speeds and connectivity
Make sure to do your research regarding Wi-Fi, check the Wi-Fi speed and connectivity in the area before reaching a destination. Good Wi-Fi is essential for remote work. This will save you from prolonged working hours due to slow internet.
Emily Triplett Lentz believes that it is essential “To the extent you can, especially if you’ll be traveling somewhere, service is spottier, sort out internet access before you need to be online. Don’t just trust the Airbnb listing that says there’s Wi-Fi — ask the host what upload/download speeds are”
3.Access to culture and food
When choosing a destination, try to find places with an immersive and open culture. Start your journey as a digital nomad with community-driven places. If you’re traveling to a different country, consider things like friendliness to foreigners, customs, and local norms. This will help you plan, absorb, and experience the essence of the place in the best way possible. The core of traveling lies in exploring the culture and food of the place.
Extreme weather or altitude change may affect your work and well-being. When you travel for longer durations, you must check the weather conditions and see if they will hinder your work in any way; for example, are there frequent storms, or is it too humid, too hot, or too cold. How different is it from your current climate? Researching about these things helps you plan better, shortlist the destination and finalize the ones that work best for your requirements.
5.Digital nomad communities and resources
If you don’t know where to start, where to go, or just need information about a country, connect with people who are doing what you want to do. There are so many online communities on the internet where you can find exactly what you are looking for and more. One of the best resources, according to Sanne Wesselman (a digital nomad since 2008) is Facebook groups. Every time he goes to a new place he checks Facebook to see what ex-pat or digital nomad groups there are in that city, town, or country. “If there aren’t dedicated digital nomad groups, there are (almost) always ex-pat groups and they are a great way to get to know an international community and to get answers to any questions you may have.”
Another great resource to meet people in a new place is Meetup.com. It is a great place to find local events and connect with people.
6. Set a routine and follow it
Having a work schedule at home or office differs greatly from working while traveling. Along with work, you need to have enough time to explore and enjoy the new destination. Having a routine and balance helps you with both. Digital nomad Mo McKibbin shared his insights on how he does this while traveling, “At home, I often work through lunch and linger online well past 6 p.m. Abroad, however, I gave myself an hour lunch to explore or hit a temple and work at a more touristy lunch or coffee destination, and come 5 or 6 p.m., that laptop was closed. Also, don’t be over-ambitious. Since you’re working, you should book three times longer in a place than you would if you were just traveling — otherwise you’ll be forced to miss out on some stuff.”
Making a strict schedule means sticking to the work goals as well. For that Sara says (living abroad since 2010, and has been a digital nomad since 2014), she makes a schedule and sets SMART goals. She doesn’t allow herself to go to the beach or do anything for leisure until she has completed her goal for the day.
7. Get the right gear and Travel light
Investing in the right gear is the investment in your well-being, convenience, and maximum productivity. Having the right gear makes your work easier. A pocket MiFi, external battery and plug adapters, etc. are a must for you if you want to maintain your work efficiency. You could be traveling on a train or be on a cruise but if you have the right gear, your work won’t stop because of battery or internet issues. Experienced digital nomads can’t push this point enough, ‘travel light but be well-equipped for your work.’
Travel on a budget while working remotely
While you can cut down on the cost of commuting to work and housing, when you travel and work remotely there are some additional costs that you need to consider before diving into remote work and travel lifestyle. Along with the cost of traveling to new destinations, accommodation and food costs, there are several other things you have to take into account.
When working remotely, having a proper work environment, speedy Wi-Fi and a comfortable lifestyle are very essential. You can travel to places where the cost of living is lower and the quality of life is higher. You must also consider the cost of visas, documentation, and any other mandatory requirement in a state or country. There are some costs which you cannot compromise on like the investment in good gear and a proper setup, backup Wi-Fi, good backpack, etc. but here are some ways to cut down other travel costs:
- Try to travel with one airline to gain air-mile discounts and other benefits.
- Travel during the low season or shoulder season to save money on accommodation and other activities.
- Look for monthly or weekly deals on accommodation on sites like Airbnb.
- Find cheap coworking spaces and cafes with free Wi-Fi to work from.
- Find free house sitting or house-swapping arrangements to cut down the accommodation cost entirely.
- You can also rent out your home on Airbnb when traveling to not duplicate the living cost.
Best Destinations for Remote Workers in the US
Starting out as a remote worker cum traveler is exciting and things get a lot easier when you know where to go. Some countries are very traveler/digital nomad friendly, some locations might have other practical issues, some might be inconvenient to travel to, and some places might just be a perfect blend of everything you are looking for.
Here’s a list of top destinations to consider for traveling and working remotely.
1. San Diego, California
One of the major cities on the West Coast, San Diego, is not as touristy as Los Angeles and San Francisco. An urban and contemporary city, San Diego is a perfect remote work base with an excellent quality of life, fast Wi-Fi, coworking spots & cafes, and the dreamy beach life. If you want to spend your time by the beach, watching sunsets, eating great food, San Diego is the perfect place for you. Work during the day and take long walks along the beach in the evening. On weekends, go explore La Jolla, Cardiff State Beach, Valle De Guadalupe wine country, and even Mexico!
2. Boulder, Colorado.
Nestled in the foothills of the famed Rocky Mountains, Boulder sits one of the best routes in the USA. Colorado has always been a top pick by remote workers. Boulder boasts an outstanding quality of life and is one of the safest places to live. Boulder is a cozy town hidden in the hills with a passage to some of the most magnificent national parks in America. Located 25 miles from Denver, Boulder gives you the best of both, a laid-back town feel and a happening city vibe.
Along with being a haven for skiers, Boulder is known for its plenty of hiking trails, food culture, and a quiet lifestyle.
3. Miami, Florida.
Miami is a tropical dream for remote workers, travelers, and ex-pats. A plethora of resorts, lively beaches, extravagant parties, and the retro-chic vibe of the town are just what you need. Very different from any other beach town in the country, Miami is a mix of world cultures, ex-pats, and a welcoming community. The outdoor restaurants and cafes, great Wi-Fi around the city, a wide range of places to work from, upbeat vibe of the beaches and the town, are a delight for remote workers.
Miami is also one of the more favored locations among digital nomads because of its closeness to two major airports that will give you access to the rest of the country and Latin America.
4. Tucson, Arizona.
Mild temperatures, surreal views, and a thriving outdoor scene of Tucson make it a great place to live, work, and travel. With a number of co-working spaces to work from, Tucson is a perfect place for freelancers and remote workers.
The flourishing art culture, centered around the Tucson Warehouse Arts District, is great for creatives, artists, and art enthusiasts.
Visit ‘The Loop’, a place loved by the locals, for hiking, walking, horseback riding, and biking. You can spend a lot of time outdoors in Tucson because of its beautiful climate and optimal temperatures. Explore the trails of Saguaro National Park, hike the Sabino Canyon and enjoy the beauty of the desert and the majestic mountains.
5. Columbus, Ohio.
While Cleveland and Cincinnati are the more famed destinations for tourists, Columbus is the largest city in Ohio. Columbus is a snug yet an urban place for remote workers. Livability ranked the striking city of Columbus as the number one “Remote-Ready” city in the country. The thriving art culture and the vibrant murals in the Short North Arts District give Columbus an eclectic vibe. And the historic German Village brings out the quaint and chic side of the city.
With over 370 public parks, policies for the growth of remote work culture and the work-friendly atmosphere of the city make it an unparalleled choice for ex-pats, remote workers, and digital nomads.
6. Portland, Oregon
The best coffee, top-craft breweries, food carts, and the off-beat hipster vibe of Portland make it a haven for digital nomads and ex-pats. Known for its active outdoor scene and culinary culture, Portland is also great for budget travelers. This city on the West Coast of the US is inclusive of a motley of people from diverse backgrounds, making it a perfect place to stay as a digital nomad. The quality of life, lightning-fast Wi-Fi, great selection of places to work remotely, and the bay areas of Portland are perfect for the work-life balance you need as a digital nomad.
There is a sense of freedom like no other in working remotely while exploring the farthest corners of the world. If you are still thinking about making this change, to quote the words of all the digital nomads, when asked to give one piece of advice to anybody who wants to do this, “There is no such thing as the right time, enough money, or a proper plan, just pack your bags and start”
With the current situation, if it is safe to travel within your country, take your first step as a digital nomad. Explore and find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Remote work and travel have never been easier, now is your time to do it.