Digital Nomads

1on1: A marketing pro and UX designer talk digital nomadism

Digital nomads — those that select to work remotely whereas touring, due to careers that require only a laptop computer and robust Wi-Fi connection — are growing in ranks: In 2018, 4.8 million Americans selected to surrender a house handle in favor of roaming.

The proliferation of Slack, e-mail, Uberconference, Zoom and different tech instruments, after all, permits remote teams to speak simply. Nevertheless it’s additionally the results of a mindset shift that within the 21st century, work seems to be essentially completely different than it as soon as did, and a 9-to-5, office-based job isn’t seen as the only version of professional success. (On the identical time, one thing like 43% of American employees are distant at the least a part of the time — and the quantity of parents who work remotely as many as 5 days per week grew by 7% from 2012 to 2016.)

Ashley Bernard and Alex Lash attended the identical women-in-tech conferences and knew a few of the identical technologists at house in Philadelphia, however additionally they share the expertise — previous and current, respectively — of digital nomadism, each transferring from Philly to the Iberian Peninsula to dwell and work for an prolonged time period.

Bernard, a digital advertising and marketing advisor who builds content material for communities, spent three months within the fall of 2018 in Lisbon after visiting throughout a earlier trip and falling in love with the Portuguese metropolis. She quit her job at an area digital company and commenced taking over freelance purchasers within the months earlier than transferring, and retained one principal consumer throughout her time there. The College of Pennsylvania grad moved again to Philly final December.

Lash, a UX designer with geospatial software program B Corp Azavea, was making ready in September to embark on an open-ended journey beginning in Madrid for 2 months after which weaving via the Schengen region, a selection of 26 European states that enable vacationers to stay in any given nation for as much as 90 days and not using a visa. She picked this space due to its allowance for journey with Turtle, her cat. The Tyler Faculty of Artwork grad will proceed to work for Azavea whereas overseas.

Once they met at Technical.ly HQ in Philadelphia on Monday, Sept. 30, to interview one another about their respective journeys, Bernard was a few 12 months out from her time in Lisbon, and Lash was just some weeks from embarking on her personal worldwide journey. (She left on the finish of October.) Accordingly, they mentioned how they every ready, how they stored up with work (or deliberate to) regardless of the five- or six-hour time distinction, and easy methods to discover neighborhood when everyone seems to be a stranger.

We pulled out a few of their greatest experiences and recommendation from their dialog. Under is a condensed and evenly edited transcript of their dialog.

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Early plans

Technical.ly: How did you resolve the place to go whenever you began planning your journey?

Alex Lash: I’ve all the time been fascinated by journey and I’ve been lucky to journey. I feel I’ve all the time been fascinated by attending to see plenty of completely different locations, and ideally attending to dwell in [those] locations for a semi-significant period of time.

I’m going to be beginning out in Spain and can dwell in Madrid for about two months. After which I’m going to go to Belgium for one month after which take a ship over to the U.Okay. to exit the Schengen area. Plenty of the rationale for that individual route is as a result of I’m touring with my cat — that’s been very fascinating attempting to plan round. He has had an enormous voice [in where I go] by his very existence.

That at the least units me up for in all probability three to 6 months, and I’ve three months completely deliberate out. After that, I’m planning on being on the highway for a few 12 months or two years. After which I’m simply going to see what occurs.

Ashley Bernard: Considering again to my nomad journey, I left for my journey a 12 months in the past and had deliberate it for about three months due to the 90-day visa [policy of the Schengen region]. I had give up my job perhaps six months prior and began taking over freelance purchasers perhaps 4 months earlier than I left.

I knew that I wished to return to Portugal as a result of I had been the 12 months prior, on a trip, and completely fell in love with Lisbon. I left for Lisbon on October 1 [2018]. I purchased my one-way airplane ticket on August 31. I wished a tender touchdown, so I booked in the identical hostel I had stayed on the first time I went, for 4 nights, and was similar to, “All proper, that’s sufficient. I’ll determine it out after I get there.”

Ashley Bernard in Lisbon, 2018. (Courtesy picture)

Alex Lash: I feel I’m extra of a seat-of-my-pants sort of planner as effectively, sometimes. And so the complication for me, after all, was the cat. And I knew it might be exhausting. I wasn’t fairly as ready for a way troublesome it might be to really plan round him. That has ended up being truly a very nice information for what I can do, as a result of I don’t need him to be in lengthy airplane rides on a regular basis, so I can’t actually be hopping place to [faraway] place.

I’m going to proceed working with Azavea. They’ve been actually nice about the entire thing and are completely on board and actually supportive. After I first went to Azavea [about the idea of traveling while working remotely], I used to be like, “So yeah, I need to transfer. I actually don’t know the place. I hoped that perhaps you may need some parameters round what’s OK.” At the moment it was about 5 months out. [The parameters ended up being to] simply attempt to not go someplace there’s a 14-hour time differential.

Logistical preparation

Technical.ly: When you had your unfastened plans in thoughts, what did you do to place them in place, logistically?

Alex Lash: I purchased my tickets perhaps two months in the past, and received them on Google Flights. I used to be [searching for] plenty of the one-way, continuous flights, they usually offer you plenty of choices for seeing the place you’ll be able to go from completely different locations. Ended up discovering a flight to Spain that was actually cheap and I figured, I all the time wished to be taught Spanish, so it appeared like a great alternative to choose it up.

From there it was many highway blocks to determine: “OK, so we’ve to dwell within the Schengen area. The U.Okay. makes it actually exhausting to deliver an animal in, so how can I get round this and do it, clearly, legally?” There’s two boats I can take. One’s out of the Netherlands, I feel, after which one other one is out of Belgium.

I’ve just a few spreadsheets. I’ve this long-running to-do listing that I’ve been checking issues off — going to the physician and getting my checkup; making use of for Global Entry, which may very well be helpful for coming again [to the U.S.]. I’m utilizing a distinct financial institution than I’ve been, after which I received a brand new bank card as effectively that doesn’t cost [ATM fees].

I’ve additionally been trolling digital nomad message boards and Fb teams. That’s been vastly useful.

One other factor that I actually don’t need to do is fly an excessive amount of due to environmental considerations. Clearly, for those who’re not staying in a single place, it doesn’t matter what, there’s going to sort of an environmental influence. However on the very least, I’d wished to attempt to decrease it as a lot as potential and do trains after I can. I feel the cat factor made that somewhat problematic. However from these three months out I’m going to attempt a lot more durable to maintain it to a minimal.

Alex Lash’s cat, Turtle. (Courtesy picture)

Working whereas overseas

Technical.ly: Ashley, what did your work routine appear to be overseas, and Alex, how do you propose to regulate your work routine to match your organization’s?

Ashley Bernard: One of many issues that I wished and actually received from this expertise is that my splendid type of journey, particularly after this expertise, is solo — but additionally, extra importantly, residing in an area, and never simply feeling like I’m a vacationer. So it was vital for me to have the ability to nonetheless work whereas I used to be doing this.

I used to be actually fortunate: I used to be working with a brilliant versatile consumer. They had been tremendous supportive of me going distant. What I did was for sure days after I knew I had a check-in name with them, I might shift my working hours [to accommodate their time zone].

For essentially the most half I actually loved working 5 hours forward. I generally would get up and assume, “Hmm, I feel I’ll go for a pleasant stroll. Or, I’ll go to the previous a part of city and get, like, somewhat egg tart. Or, there’s an exhibit I need to see. I’m going to go do this after which I’ll come again and do work.” It gave me much more flexibility.

Lisbon’s digital nomad neighborhood is big. They really have a cheerful hour each Thursday evening. It’s one of many issues I miss about residing in a metropolis the place there have been so many alternative individuals doing various things. I made some actually nice pals who had been additionally sort of doing their very own factor, working for themselves. And likewise via the nomad neighborhood, they’d have coworking days at completely different coworking spots. I really feel like each third storefront in Lisbon is a coworking spot now. So there can be open coworking days, and there was one group that was particularly digital entrepreneurs. That was actually cool.

For these days I might work the traditional hours in Lisbon, after which for days after I had my calls, I might both work regular daytime hours for me or I might shift issues again, or simply work the day after which take a pair hours off after which have that decision after which be completed.

Alex Lash: I hadn’t actually labored remotely earlier than, and [Azavea] wished to see the way it work with my staff particularly, whether or not it was one thing I might long run need to maintain doing. So we did a one-month trial. I used to be simply not within the workplace for a month, not attending occasions, beginning to set up some new staff norms in preparation for after I left.

[Because Madrid is six hours ahead,] we’ve determined, at the least on the outset, that I’m going to separate my work days, so I’m going to have 4 hours within the morning the place I’m simply doing my very own factor, after which within the night I’m going to signal again on. So [my hours will be] 7 a.m. to 12, siesta, four to eight p.m. in Spain.

[Azavea has] undoubtedly had fairly just a few workers work remotely: Now we have any person who’s been in Arizona for years, and at the least just a few of us have extra not too long ago began working remotely, one moved to Pittsburgh. It’s been good figuring out that they’ve completed this earlier than, so I’m not completely out within the wilderness with how is that this going to work.

Discovering neighborhood

Alex Lash: It sounds such as you had been assembly up with plenty of of us in nomad communities. What was causing pals like in a completely completely different nation?

Ashley Bernard: [At my hostel,] the primary particular person I had a dialog with is that this younger Irish man named Jack. He’s like, “The place are you from?” and I’m like, “Philly.” And he says, “Whoa! I stayed in Philly final summer season. I lived in West Philly.” He spent the summer season at 50th and Baltimore. So we had been bonding over these items and I’m like, “This feels so proper that the primary particular person I meet, my first new good friend, is somebody who spent the summer season earlier than actually three blocks away from [my apartment], as a result of the world is tiny and delightful and excellent.”

That actually set the stage for making pals from that time on. I met lots of people via the hostel I stayed at. From the leap I actually put myself on the market in a means that wasn’t too exhausting. One in every of my pals I met there, Shannon — I went on a strolling tour and met this particular person. We hit it off. Walked across the metropolis after the tour after which wound up going to some lovely World Heritage Sites a pair days later.

The Fb teams are key. One in every of my greatest pals in Lisbon I met as a result of I didn’t notice [it was] a financial institution vacation. So I went on the Lisbon nomad Fb group and I’m like, “Hey! So it’s apparently a vacation and all the pieces’s closed! Anybody need to hang around? Possibly work with me? Possibly simply go, you understand, drink some wine and stuff like that?” Possibly somebody will reply. Possibly not. And folks did reply!

Reap the benefits of residing in cities the place the bars are open previous two. Take a nap, have an extended dinner, you’ll be able to chill, after which you’ll be able to rally and exit. It truly is a factor of constructing your self obtainable and being open. Additionally, do plenty of the identical stuff you would do at house — the issues that you just take pleasure in. Should you’re into artwork displays, go to an artwork exhibit. If you’d like somebody to go along with, drop it within the nomad group for town.

It’s like the primary few weeks of faculty when everyone seems to be open to friendship, [but] long run. At the very least, that’s what my expertise was like.

It was magical. And I’m so excited for you.

Alex Lash:
Thanks!

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