A few months ago I started solo-traveling and working remotely.
I’m an iOS developer, so my work is a perfect match for this. Also I’m a little (or not so little) crazy about traveling. Now I want to share my experience with you. Hope you find something useful or inspiring for yourself.
Some dry facts about my first nomad experience:
One thing I had to realize was that nomadism is a different lifestyle. It is not like I’m just doing the same things in different places. No, now I have no office, no apartments, almost no belongings and no folks around. And I have another routine. I constantly need to think about my visas, tickets, apartments and where to go next. Every time I move I need to find a new co-working, places to eat, supermarkets, places for workout etc. Almost every day I meet new people. It is not actually an issue, but a feature you should accept if you want to be a nomad.
One part of me knew, that slow traveling matches with remote work perfectly. But another part wanted to see all around. As a result I visited five countries in 1,5 months. It was extremely hard, cause I had time only for work, planning, and moving. There was no free minute to relax, reflex and realize what’s happening. Now I want to stay in one place no less than one month.
First I felt that I was tired after four weeks of this lifestyle. But I didn’t pay attention to my feelings. I continued to go out with my friend and looking around. And I had some plans to go on parties in Berlin, the capital of techno. When I came to Berlin, I realized that my battery was over. All I wanted was to lie in bed and do nothing. I didn’t want to see people. I lay in hostel in my room with 5 neighbours. All of them were nice and we had a good conversation, but to see people was too much. I moved to apartments and lay in bed for two more days. I had neither seen Berlin nor gone to cool parties. So it was really wearying experience for me. At the moment two weeks have passed but I’m still a little tired.
The things that had changed in my work were mostly about communication.
When I was in office I could easily make two steps and ask my co-workers. Now it is easier to google things than to ask somebody. It saves my time, cause nobody asks me small silly questions either.
In office we had lunch with other iOS developers. We discussed new technologies and problems. Now I should read all of this information myself and I have nobody to discuss it with.
On the other hand I have new office every day now.
The points below works for me. Some of them I got as an advice, another were my own experience.
Don’t be afraid to start.
The first problem was surely in my mind. I thought that it was impossible to work remotely for a long term in my company, cause nobody did anything similar. So first I found a vacancy, took an interview, got an offer and only after that went to my director and asked him if I could work remotely. All I heard was “Not a problem. Try it if you like”.
When I worked from office I just spent there eight hours. But it had stopped working when I started to travel. So the best solution for me now is to have six one-hour blocks of work every day. I can easily move them within one day or between different days.
I had a plan for a day to work, look around Amsterdam, and move to Hague. The train to Hague takes 40 minutes, so the schedule below looked reasonable. But that day was a storm and trains from Amsterdam to Hague stopped because of power outage. I was already on my way when it happened. I went wrong way because of this mess and eventually I had stuck at Haarlem. So the transfer took much more time then it was planned. I just moved my work hours to the next two days and didn’t worry about that.
It takes a lot of time to make bookings, find hotels or choose a destination. I found out that it’s better to have some specific time in my schedule to do it. It’s good to do that a month prior to the moving time. It usually saves my time and money, and gives me more options to choose from. Also I feel less nervous, cause I have less urgent tasks.
When I stayed in Russia I didn’t realize how much I addicted to mobile internet. I mean not only social networks, but also maps and messengers. So it is really important for me to have a sim-card with internet. There is no roaming in Europe now, so one card works everywhere.
On my first day in Europe I went to Gdansk, where a friend of mine had to meet me. We agreed to meet at the Central Station. When I came he wasn’t there. And I hadn’t got mobile internet yet. I was waiting for him but to no avail. Eventually, I’d managed to find some internet. My friend told me he couldn’t meet me on time because of gay parade stopping public transport in the city.
Another time in Barcelona I was going to work from Starbucks and my timing was precise. I needed 10 minutes to get from home to the destination. But suddenly on my way to Starbucks happened a demonstration. And mobile internet saved my meeting that time. So in any unexpected situation it is really useful.
Don’t be a tourist.
When I was a tourist I wanted to see everything. I was disappointed if I missed something. Now I’ve changed my opinion. I don’t even try to find a lot of information about the place where I am going. I just check the best area to stay, read about national food, and look up top 3 sights or events. Sometimes I’m looking for co-workings. This is more than enough, cause traveling for me is more about people and less about places.
I continue to lead a nomadic lifestyle, cause it makes me happy. I’ll try to use the principle “less is more” and not to be so greedy about different places. I want to find some nice technical events on my way. I have a ticket to Japan and plans to stay in Asia for at least half-a-year. How will it play out? Time will tell.