If you prefer anything but mundanity then you probably appreciate working anywhere on the road as a digital nomad. For me, it’s one of the perks associated with my jobs although patchy connection (or no internet at all) might be a pain in the ass in some moments. But having to work outside an office with A/C, out of the comfort of a padded, swivel chair you’ve known for so long has something special in it – no work task, however routine it might feel normally, is never the same. Also time tends to fly somehow faster if you’re not in a predictable environment, surrounded by new things and new people every time.
I’ve asked fellow travel bloggers and digital nomads about their experiences while working on their travels. I had two questions for them:
What was the weirdest/most unusual place you’ve ever worked at as a digital nomad/travel blogger?
What was/is your most favourite place to work at while you’re travelling?
Read on to hear stories and experiences that are surprising, sometimes hilarious but mostly inspirational if you’re looking for your next destination or thinking about starting a brand new adventure as a travelling professional.
Charlie from CHARLIE ON TRAVEL
While travelling around Ometepe Island, a small twin volcanic island in Nicaragua, we ended up stranded in the tiny town of Altagracia. Altagracia is a kind of no man’s land between the lively port town of Moyogalpa and the chilled out beach of Santa Domingo.
After a strange night’s sleep in a small prison-cell style room, we woke up ready to hit the laptops for our morning’s work in the only place in town that had wifi: a bar. This classic beach style bar with palm!? roof and a sand floor looked out onto a dusty dirt track road – it was nowhere near the beach. At 7:30am the bar began blasting Cyndi Lauper from their speakers, and by 8am two local men had rolled in to drink a mountain of Toña beers. It was all a bit surreal.
We’ve worked in some beautiful places, but none more beautiful than in the Costa Rican jungle. During our travels along the Caribbean coast we stayed at La Kukula Lodge, an elegant, sustainably designed eco-lodge.
We worked out on the deck of our teak wood cabin, surrounded by howler monkeys foraging in the trees above, sloths lazily hanging in the branches of cecropias and even an agouti scurrying underneath the cabin. We were immersed in the natural world and the digital world simultaneously.
Charlie is a long-term traveller, freelance writer and house sitter taking an alternative path across the world. Her travel blog Charlie on Travel is about simple, sustainable and socially responsible travel. Follow her adventures onFacebook.
Anne from VIAJAR Y AMAR
The hard part about answering this question is deciding what weird is. After spending the greater part of three years working remotely as a digital nomad from various locations in Central America, monkeys, weak wifi, power outages, birds stealing your food, and ants, lots and lots of ants, are all very normal. Is there a dog with a bad case of the mange being groomed next to you, your huevos rancheros, and your laptop, and you’re not really bothered as long as they wrap up before your 10:00 call?
Do you reflexively take turns disconnecting your wifi so that your traveling/working partner can have enough bandwidth for a phone call? When you walk around your town, do you slow down past even the tiniest eating establishments to check your smartphone for a strong wifi signal? Do you get cranky if the plantains with your gallo pinto breakfast are verde and not maduro? Do you plop down on the bed after the house has been shuttered for a hurricane and get to cracking on that deadline while you still have power?
When people ask you how you ignore that rooster crowing, do you blink, confused, and say, “what rooster?” Have you mastered the art of the mute button, orchestrating perfect calls even when the megaphoned fruit truck drives by? CEBOLLA! DIEZ PESOS! Is there a monkey breaking into the hostel kitchen to steal the bananas right at this moment? Do you find yourself judging the monkey for being so cliche? If you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, you’ve settled into that role of digital nomad where nothing is weird anymore. Except silence. When that happens, it’s weird.
Though an inflatable couch in the dead of winter in Pittsburgh, USA is a close second, and my husband Mike will probably always remember his struggles at his favorite soda in Nosara, Costa Rica with fond bittersweetness, I’m going to have to say that we both really loved overlooking the lake and volcanoes in the misty morning light from our amazing apartment on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. The wifi was terrible (nothing new there), the spiders were bigger than usual, but check out this view! I’d go there again in a heartbeat.
Author of “The Modern Nomad’s Backpack: A Guide to Packing Light for Round the World Travel,” Anne and her husband Mike have been traveling and working remotely since December 2011. You’ll currently find them in New Orleans, USA. See some photos of the places Anne and Mike have worked remotely.
Follow Anne on Twitter to keep up with her adventures!
Polly from A GIRL AND HER TRAVELS
Perhaps the strangest place I’ve found myself working was in a tiny Nissan at a campground next to Lake Sevan (Armenia). I had a freelance deadline that I needed to finish in a few days with no internet prospects ahead. My husband and I had slept in the car the previous night so we didn’t sleep all that well – at 6 AM I was up and stealing the awful WIFI from the locked up hotel!
I really don’t mind where I’m working as long as it’s reasonably comfortable, I’ve got a place to plug in my charger, and I’ve got a good drink with me. My favorite ‘office,’ though, was probably the month I spent in Granada, Nicaragua. My work space was set up so I could stare out the doorway and watch the world go by…
Polly Barks is the author of A Girl and Her Travels where she blogs about her life as a long-term American expat in Moscow, Russia. She’s also the editor-in-chief of the ‘beyond the guidebook’ Like a Local Mag.
Elizabeth from A DASH OF WANDERLUST
The most unusual place I’ve worked is in a dingy hotel room in rural China. I wrote notes about the place on a little notebook as I didn’t bring my laptop!
My favorite place to work while traveling is any cozy coffee shop. I’ve found favorites in China, Vilnius, Laos, and the US.
I’m Elizabeth and I blog over at A Dash of Wanderlust. I’m an American currently living in Vilnius, Lithuania and I frequently travel to destinations worldwide to experience cultures, find new flavors, and enjoy the beauty of the world. Show Liz some social love on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Edwina from TRAVELING GERMAN
I spent a few months working remotely as a community manager for a company in Spain while at the same time helping my family in Germany looking after a stable full of young horses. While both were only part time and normally perfectly in sync, occasionally I’d end up alone with the horses on a Friday as everyone else in the family was off at some riding tournament and had no choice but to be in the stable, cleaning out the stable or feeding the horses while on a conference call with a headset on (yes, I made sure the wifi reached!), making sure I was on mute whenever possible.
It all worked out great until one day, one of the horses started whinnying behind me in the middle of my sentence, and the client interrupted me – “is that a HORSE in the background?”
Luckily, he found the whole situation hilarious once I explained my multitasking situation, but since then I always make sure there are no animals larger than a dog nearby when I’m on conference calls.
A simple café, with WIFI for research if I need it (although I will turn the internet off for writing). I’ll look for a spot near a window and a normal chair and table – no sofa. Big collaborative work tables are great as well, seeing everyone else around me working motivates me to get things done.
I’m a food obsessed, travel sized German, based in Barcelona and regularly on the road to discover the rest of the world. I share my discoveries, tips and stories at Traveling German. You can keep up with my shenanigans on Twitter and Facebook as well.
Deborah from TAG ALONG TRAVEL
The oddest place I had to work as digital nomad was in a teeny apartment my husband and I rented in Prague. The only outlet I could plug my laptop into was the wall next to the loft bed. As you can see from the photo of the place, there was no head room. Very uncomfortable to work half lying down, but we made it work somehow.
The nicest place to work was in Paris near the apartment we once rented in Quartier des Îles. Paris has excellent free wi-fi and even sitting on the bank of the Seine, I was able to get an Internet connection, which was pretty sweet.
Deborah’s blog (which she has launched just recently) is called Tag Along Travel and offers tips and stories about how to make the most of life with a frequent business traveller. You can find it at tagalongtravel.com.
Nigel from Uneven Toast
Toughest place I worked in was a hostel in Hoi An Vietnam which was so hot it literally fried my laptop. That was a hard day! The heat burnt the cable which attached the hard drive to the mother board. I like to think it was because I was working so hard but it wasn’t.
Best place I worked in was a coworking office in Koh Lanta, Thailand, which was about a week away from being opened. Koh Lanta itself is an amazing island. Probably one of my favourites places. The office is a stone’s throw away from the beach with some really good food places near by. James, one of the owners, let me use the office for a few days for free because they were still doing construction work! It’s a great set up and I hope lots of other people head there if they are in the south of Thailand.
Nigel recently launched uneventoast.com after two months of work, a website which reviews documentaries and films about travel. Even though Nigel has started only recently, his blog is already brimming with interesting characters. Catch Nigel on Twitter and Facebook.
Agness from eTramping
For Agness, her job as an English teacher in China was both at the same time – the most extraordinary and the best job she ever had on the road. Read on to find out why and get inspired by her experiences.
Living in China for more than 2 years and working as an English teacher was not only the most unusual job I’ve ever done on the road, but also a great cultural experience, unforgettable adventure, travel dreams come true and also a great source of income as I was able to save up to $18.000 a year.
I firstly came to China in August 2011 where I worked in a high school in Huayuan (a small town located in picturesque Hunan province) and private learning center in Xiushan (a small city in Chongqing province). At first, I was a little bit scared, but I quickly adapted to a new teaching environment. I enjoyed my teaching job more and more each day. Once I left Hunan province, I moved to Dongguan where I was teaching 2-6 years old adorable kids in Bowen Kindergarten in Dalang district. It was, above all, a lot of fun. These little Chinese “monsters” wanted to play, dance, mess around and laugh a lot. They were extremely active and amusing. There was no way you could enter the classroom without being noticed by them. Once they saw me, they touched and kissed my legs, grabbed my hands and twisted them while screaming “Hello teacher!”
This unusual job suited me perfectly with my blogging and travelling schedule. I had 4-6 x 30-minute classes every day from Monday to Friday. Tuesdays and Thursdays were my favourite days as I was off work at 12:00. Every class lasted 30 minutes for K1,2 and 3 students and 15 minutes for nursery students. I really miss those days!
You’ve probably heard about this adventurous Pole from the blog eTramping (which she co-runs with her friend Cez), where she discovers endless ways how to travel under $25 a day. Having left her home in 2011 and currently living and studying in Amsterdam, her inspirational courage is contagious – find out for yourself and follow her on Facebook or Twitter.