Category Archives: Digital Nomads

Remote Working, Distributed Teams and Bali

Remote_Office_photo

Image Copyright Evan Lovely – Flickr

 

A quick post about a few recent articles that came across my radar, both are definitely worth a read. More and more companies are seeing the benefits of distributed teams, through cost savings and the ability to hire great people without requiring them to uproot their lives. Plenty of people have reasons for staying where they are: family, school, jobs of a partner, etc.

If you’re considering a location independent lifestyle, time is on your side, the business world is moving in this direction. Why not make the move now and start living the life you want to live. We’re only here for a short while. Forget the commute, the stress of getting to work every day.

I see a lot of “view from the office” photos promoting digital nomadism. Many of them show an umbrella drink in hand, which I believe paints an incorrect picture of what it takes to make this work. You don’t wake up and start the day with a margarita in your normal job (maybe you do, but that’s none of my business). My point is that behind every digital nomad umbrella drink photo, there is a person who hustles every day to keep their dream alive. Those that don’t hustle, don’t last. The hustle is real when you have beautiful beaches and friends asking you to surf every day.

This is not to say you should make the leap to this new way of living only to be shacked up in an AC office and never enjoying your surroundings. Reframe the way you look at work and you can reap the benefits most people dream of. More people and companies are reframing what success looks like in the real world and I am consistently in awe of and applauding the Buffer team’s moves in shaking up the ideologies of what it is to be a successful start up.

Sidenote: I’m loving my life in Costa Rica, but Bali is looking pretty damn good after the piece below. 😉

Articles…

Buffer ditches its offices to go 100% remote, startups should too

Why working from the beach in Bali is the new cool

I wouldn’t change my digital nomad life for anything: Jacob Laukaitis

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Nomads, Motivation, Working Remotely

Tips for Crossing the Costa Rica/Panama Border with Children and a Car

luis_border

Tips for Crossing the Costa Rica/Panama Border with Children and a Car

This is Luis. Luis is a hustler. He helps confused gringos with too many bags cross the Panama/Costa Rica border. His only tools are a pen, mobile phone and people skills. I love meeting people like Luis because he reminds me that true entrepreneurial spirit isn’t about industry press, funding rounds, exit strategies, head count, taxes, etc. It’s about creating solutions to problems and busting your ass to make things happen. Thank you for being there when we needed you, Luis.

My family and I recently spent a two week trip in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. We have been traveling now for 53 days, to Mexico, U.S., Costa Rica, Panama and now we’re back in Costa Rica. With two kids and more luggage than we probably need (we spent Christmas with family in the U.S. and accumulated gifts), we wanted to drive our car south to the Panama border (Sixaola side) to get to Bocas. Traveling in a car means you don’t have to pack so neatly, so tightly. You have the opportunity to spend less mental effort in the traveling exercise. Here are some things I learned on our journey to and from the border.

1. Don’t take your car, it’s not worth it.
Unless you are traversing Latin America in your car, there is no reason to take it from Costa Rica to Panama. If you insist, here is an incredibly accurate way to do it, the photos are spot on and just remember you need to visit 5 offices. We were determined to do it, had our attorney do the appropriate paperwork (cost was $60 and two hours out of the way to meet him to pick it up after the initial meeting), I read up on getting the car to the ferry in Almirante, etc. All of that planning, time and money spent only to find out after visiting said offices, getting our car sprayed and spending about 2 hours in lines, than there is some new Panamanian law stating that a Costa Rican car can only come in if the person driving it is a Costa Rica Resident. Being that we’re 90 day border-jumping touristas, it didn’t matter that all paperwork had my name on it, all stamps, dotted i’s, t’s crossed, etc were in order, they wouldn’t let the car through. Luis spoke with someone who said we could come back later and they could help us out, but it was going to be a 3 hour wait and we were afraid that once we got the car into Panama, it would be difficult to get it out. So we parked it on the Costa Rica side in a parking lot (you can see it down the hill to the left if you walk out of the Costa Rica immigration office, $9/day). We rented a taxi/bus for our family of 4 for $40 from Sixaola to Almirante, but I know this can be cheaper if you share a bus with others and don’t have the bags we have. We travel alot, but our experiences are not what I would call the “light and cheap” type. We don’t waste money either, but if spending it is necessary, we do it, which brings me to my next point.

2. Utilize assistance, but go with your gut on things.
Luis, pictured above, was a huge help, both ways. As a father, traveling internationally can be extremely stressful to ensure the safety of your family, make sure everyone is where you can see them and remaining calm when children are distracted by literally everything. Some people are ridiculously independent, others are paranoid they’re getting ripped off. There’s something empowering about trusting someone, letting them do what they do, for a fee, so you can focus on other important things, like “do you have visual on her?” comments with your wife about your daughter. I was skeptical at first, a small handful of people were willing to help, from showing us parking spots to watching our car. Luis walked up, said “I help people cross the border, if you need me, I can help.” Then he brought over 4 immigration slips for me to fill out, asked if I needed a pen, and gave us space. Not only did he show me to all 5 offices, when the 5th one didn’t work out, he walked me back to those where he knew I would get a refund for the taxes and insurance. On top of that, Luis was waiting for us in Almirante with a driver and bus to help us on our way back.

My office for two weeks in Bocas Del Toro

3. Include your children in the process.
Ticos love children, it’s a wonderful thing. Panamanians do as well, we found out. In a long line of faces trying to get their documentation stamped, a smiling and waving child saying “hola!” can do wonders for your processing time. Families can go to the front of the lines and aside from maybe 2 sighs from those in a hot line, none of the officials care. At immigration they need to see faces anyway, so bring your kids up first, have them say hello and then they can go back to doing whatever you need them to do to remain occupied.

4. If you’re working, take the day off on border crossing days.
This isn’t always a luxury and our plans got snafu’d when our kids got sick in Puerto Viejo and had to be taken to the clinic. Doctor’s orders were that we had to stay until Monday, which meant our plan of crossing on Saturday were foiled. I usually try not to do meetings on Mondays anyway, but sometimes you have to be on calls when clients can and want to do so. Even if you’ve crossed a border before, you have no idea how long things can take and there’s very little (nothing) you can do to speed things up. Having a phone call scheduled before or after means you are rushing the crossing at one point of the day or the other. Reduce your level of stress, take the day off, especially phone calls and if you absolutely have things you need to do, they can wait until you get to your destination.

TLDR; Don’t take your car, ask for help, use your children as ambassadors and take more days off. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Nomads, Life Hacks, Working Remotely

Enjoying the Antifragility of a Location Independent Lifestyle

Ian-Location-Independence

I suffer from a deep seeded, subconscious, feeling that tells me that I should be doing something that sucks to make money. I often feel guilty about the amazing life I’ve created through a location independent business that finds me walking down a beautiful Gold Coast foot path on a sunny tuesday afternoon checking out the bikini-clad ladies cruising by on roller-skates and skateboards. Totally, 100% first rate problems… but problems none the less.
 
Growing up I was instilled with a work ethic that involved getting up at 6:30 am and working outside in the cold dirt all day. We build houses and this intense work ethic still lays the foundation for the way I see the world. It’s taken lots of leadership courses and business success to get me to the point now where I can say to myself, “It’s ok to be here. Keep going.”
 
It’s not like I work less. To be honest, I work all the time… but work is like play to me now. My company makes internet radio programs. We’re not millionaires yet, but we live lifestyles that I imagine many millionaires would be envious of.
 
So when I’m walking down a beautiful Australian on a tuesday afternoon, watching girls in bikinis; I’m also listening and taking notes for important books that will improve my decision making in the future. Books like Antifragile by Nicholas Nassim Taleb.
 
Antifragile is exactly what a location independent life is all about. It’s answering the question, “how do I build a life that improves with chaos?” If I were kicked out of Australia tomorrow, my business wouldn’t be effected. If the US economy collapsed tomorrow, my business would hurt, but because I have clients all over the world, I would simply have to restructure things.
 
We’re moving from the Gold Coast to Costa Rica soon and I see no impact on business. I’ll be able to cut down on expenses and the time zone will be better for working with a few clients in New York. But aside from that, there will be no impact on the business. That’s the anti-fragility of a location independent business.
 
Ian Robinson is a entrepreneur world traveler. You can listen to his podcast at LoveAffairTravel.com or learn more about self improvement at IanRobinson.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Nomads, Location Independence

Tips for Digital Nomads: Find the Perfect Place to Stay

Bangkok

Being a digital nomad is a lot more than sitting at the beach with a laptop and a cocktail all day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it a number of times, but you’re going to be a lot more productive in a space that’s set up for work. For one, there’s not usually power or an internet connection at the beach, and you have a constant battle to keep your laptop from filling with sand! Your friends all envy your digital nomad lifestyle, but to become awesome you need planning –  especially if you want to simply up and change cities whenever you feel the inkling to move.

I’ve had so many friends tell me

“You get to work wherever you want, that’s freaking awesome!”

but there’s so much going on behind the scenes they never see. You need an iron clad will to balance work and travel, and personally I just want to get my work done, so I’m free to go out and enjoy the city I’m in. After a year and a half
as a remote freelancer, I’ve discovered a certain art in finding the right place to stay.

First you need to decide what you’re looking for. Do you want a fun social environment or peace and quiet to knock out a ton of work?

Hostels

Enjoy a party atmosphere and an unbeatable price on a dorm bed, and the best time to work is while everyone is out sightseeing. Combine this with a fun and social vibe as the evening kicks on, and you’ve got an ideal place to stay in almost every city. Check Hostelworld for the best deals or if you’re feeling adventurous Couchsurfing is another budget-friendly option.

Hotels

Perfect when you need to focus without any distractions and knock out massive work days. Combined with room service, a gym and even a swimming pool, and you’re all set. Agoda is a great site for hotels in Asia, or Booking.com for everywhere else in the world.

Apartments

This is my favourite because it’s more comfortable than a hotel when you’re staying somewhere for more than a week, and can be even better for your budget. Check out AirBnB to see your choices.

Must have

For the room there are basic necessities you need to get your work done effectively. Make sure that wherever you stay there is:

  • Internet. It’s impossible to work remotely without it, so double check there’s WiFi available.
  • Work space. A desk or table is essential, and saves your back from hunching over on the bed or the sofa.
  • Power points. Hard to judge, but conveniently located power points are vital for a remote office. Check the pictures and see if you can spot lamps (which mean power) on the desk, or on any bedside tables.
  • Kitchen. I don’t like eating out everyday, and cooking is a great downtime after 12 hours staring at my laptop.
  • Laundry. Being able to throw a load of washing on is a godsend, and saves you time that would otherwise be wasted sitting at a laundromat.
  • Size. The bigger the better, so find somewhere at least 40 square meters and you won’t mind being cooped up all day with your laptop.
  • A Separate Bedroom. Having a separate bedroom is fantastic if you’re travelling with your partner. It let’s you both have different areas to work, so you can get in the zone without being right on top of each other.
  • Location. Find a place with a large supermarket nearby to stock up on groceries, as well as being close to an internet cafe so you can change scenery whenever you need it. I like to be a little bit removed from the tourist centers to avoid all the commotion, so long as there are a couple of nice restaurants nearby.
  • Cleaning gear. Not the most exciting item on the list, but if you’re anywhere for more than a week it’s nice to be able to give the floors a sweep and keep your temporary home fresh.
  • Reviews. Read through what the others who stayed here have said. You don’t want to be stuck in a dark little apartment with dingy furniture and a shaky WiFi connection, so do your homework before you book!

If you follow this advice you’ll find the perfect place to get your work done, so you can get out and enjoy the best attractions in the city once you’re on down time.

The life of a digital nomad is unique, so set yourself up to work effectively and you’ll be out enjoying the local sights before you know it – as you live a lifestyle many others only ever dream about!

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Nomads, Finances and Budgeting, Life Hacks, Location Independence, Travel Tips

Can Families Be Digital Nomads? (Resources for Information and Inspiration)

Location independence isn’t for the young and single only, although if you are, what have you got to lose?

I saw someone on a Digital Nomad forum ask this a couple of weeks ago. It seems a natural question as so many nomads appear to be single (or just a couple). I will be doing a video about this soon, but wanted to comment on this question, provide some resources and hopefully inspiration to anyone who currently has a family and is looking to go remote or is on their way to location independence and interested in starting a family in the future.

The short answer is ABSOLUTELY, my wife and I are living proof of successful remote professionals (we have two children, both under the age of 4). The speed of which you get things done and your flexibility to do things changes a little bit when you have children, but I sincerely believe it is a mindset. For some inspiration, I urge you to watch this wonderful, short video called The Only Road about a family traveling the world.

“You’re so lucky to be able to do this…”

Inevitably, when you make the decision to find a way to travel more or live in different places, you find a lot of people telling you how lucky you are. I always agree, knowing luck doesn’t play as big as a role as sure will to make it happen. That said, even among traveling families there are varying degrees of “I wish we could do that” and admittedly, when I first watched The Only Road, I literally said the same thing. You have to do what is best for you.

For my wife and I, what we’ve decided is best is to travel as much as possible, but also to live in different places while our children are young. Our daughter flew on 24 flights before her first birthday, she’s a traveling professional. Our choice, however, is not necessarily to be constantly nomadic, always on the move. We like having a home base and have had one in Tucson for the past two years, close to family. In March we’ll be living in Palm Springs, CA with some friends on a similar (same-same, but different) path, then we’re headed to Costa Rica on an open-ended trip. We think it may be 2 years and we’ve already discussed 1-2 month “jumps” to other countries while having Costa Rica as our home base during that time.

Additional Resources

One of the biggest motivators for me has been reading and exchanging stories with other people who have lived or are living this way. Here is a list of 10 sites/blogs to check out for great information and inspiration. If you have any questions, please feel free to use the contact page and ask. I’ll respond to emails as quickly as possible with any information or experiences I have.

Vagabond Family
MY LITTLE NOMADS
The Nomadic Family
World Travel Family
Travel with Bender
y Travel Blog
Bohemian Travelers
Going Anyway
Living Outside of the Box
Snaps and Blabs
With 2 Kids on Tow
Wagoners Abroad
Family on Bikes

If I’m missing any that should be added to the list, send an email or post a comment. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Nomads, Location Independence, Motivation, Tips and Tricks

[VIDEO] One of the Best Kept Secrets About Becoming a Digital Nomad

Hey! Happy New Year to you (or Happy Birthday if it’s getting close).

With so much information online about being a location independent digital nomad (we call them Remote Professionals), you’d think that there are a lot more people doing it. There aren’t! The world is set up to make it easy for you to do so, the economy is ripe for living in another country (or countries) for awhile as you earn “home country” dollars and yet the average person says “wow, that would be nice.” Well it’s a new year and with new years come resolutions, goals, etc. If you’ve considered this lifestyle, make 2014 your year to GO FOR IT!

One of the ways you can learn more about how to go about this (besides subscribing to this blog and the videos, of course) is to ask other people who have successfully done it. Whether through informational interviews or simply asking people questions, there is a wealth of experience and knowledge available to you that can’t be found in a google search. Plus, you can ask questions specific to your needs. In this video I go over a few tips on the best way to go about asking questions and getting the best information from people. As I say in the video, if you have any questions, ask! I’m happy to answer anything I can to help you along. Ask in the comments or use our contact form, either myself or another Remote Controller will do our best to help you out, that’s what this project is all about. Ok, enough of this, let’s get to the video…

I hope you like the video and if you do, please subscribe to the Remote Control youtube channel!

1 Comment

Filed under Digital Nomads, Motivation, Tips and Tricks, Videos, Working Remotely

The Dos and Don’ts of Freelancing

482790_715391577674_629059093_n

Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

If you set it up right, freelancing can be a fulfilling career giving you the freedom to do what you want when you want, but that comes with a price tag. You have to be your own boss which means making sure you set work hours, take vacations, and get paid what you deserve. Here are a few dos and don’ts to help you out.

Do have a website and write a blog. If you have a personal website and blog, you are published, and you have a portfolio to show others what you do whether that is web design, creative writing, or photography.

Don’t ever do work for free. Several people will trick you into doing work for free even well known magazines and companies under the guise of “helping to get your name out there” or “making sure you are a good fit.” Your work should never be free unless it is a personal labor of love. Freelancing is work, and you should be paid for it.

Do order some business cards. On Vistaprint, you can get your first batch free. You never know when you might meet with a future client.

Don’t limit your options. All your skills can be used in freelancing. The awesome thing about it is you can be whoever you want to be, and you will learn along the way what you are good at and what you are not, what you love to do and what you don’t. The best thing is you are in charge. You don’t need a degree to freelance, you just need to be good at what you do so that people want to work with you. So pick what you are good at and do it well.

Do read the fine print. A job may say you will make $20/hr, but then offer you contracted pay instead of hourly pay. Be careful to do the math and make sure it really equals up to $20/hr. It is always a good idea before a job to calculate the estimated amount of time it will take you to complete and then negotiate a fair price. At the very least, charge whatever the hourly minimum wage is where you live. If you are experienced, have a degree in your area of freelancing, and have a well developed portfolio, you should be making a livable, even potentially six figure annual income depending on the area of freelancing you are in.

Don’t take a freelance job without a contract. Make sure you will receive credit for what you do if this is important to you, make money that is worth the time and effort you will put into the job, and regain the rights to your work if the person does not fulfill their end of the bargain. Usually, you can regain your work as long as you do not receive payment from the client or refuse/return payment. Know your rights. Each client will have different rules. Make sure they are in writing.

Do work creatively on your own terms outside of your freelance jobs without the intention to make money. Doing so will keep you fresh. Join a community of fellow artists to encourage and challenge you. You can send your independent creative work and portfolio to companies and clients you admire outside of your regular bill paying jobs that can often be tedious. You never know when your dream publisher or business will take notice maybe hiring you on as a regular freelancer with better pay.

Don’t take rejection personally. Learn from it. Stay true to yourself but also be open to change. Outside perspectives are not necessarily correct, but they do help you see your project with new eyes allowing you to create something completely different that can often be better than what you or the client even thought possible.

Written by Beth Ann Nyssen

1 Comment

Filed under Digital Nomads, Motivation, Work and Business, Working Remotely