Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Fun Things to Do With Kids in Dominical and Uvita, Costa Rica

I recently had someone ask me what they could do in Dominical with kids for a week and a half. Having young children, I know this question is somewhat loaded, in that the real goal is what can be fun for both parents and kids. It’s the reason so many children’s movies these days are filled with inside jokes only adults will get. So it goes with travel activities.

The list below is what I offered, so I figured I may as well turn it into a post to be referenced the next time we have friends ask about activities here.

  • Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary: We went with some friends and I was really impressed (wasn’t sure what to expect, but I would go back for sure). They take in rescue animals, so many beautiful birds, monkeys, armadillos, sloths. Each animal has a story and the people who run it are super passionate about saving them. As many animals as possible are released back into the wild, but some have to stay indefinitely because they wouldn’t survive in the wild. The tour is long enough to be worth the visit, but short enough so kids don’t get too antsy (we had ages 3 months – 6 years between four kids).
    Copyright Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

    Copyright Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

     

  • Friday Feria (Farmer’s Market): It’s on the north side of Domincal off of the main entrance road, near Mono Congo and Mama Toucan’s Natural Food Store). There is another feria on Tuesday mornings in Tina Mastes (you have to go early, be there by 9am at the latest because much of the good stuff is gone by then). The one on Friday in Domi lasts longer, you don’t need to get there early and I’ve seen vendors there as late as 2pm.
  • Surf Lessons: Surfing in Dominical is top notch. The water is very warm, you can surf year round and no sharks. The #1 rated Costa Rica surf camp is Sunset Surf Dominical. The coaches are super positive, they make it safe and easy and have a kid/family friendly approach to learning how to surf. Fun for the whole family.
  • Cafe Mono Congo: It’s a great little cafe that is a hub for a lot of people, tourists and locals alike. The staff are super friendly and there are plenty of places to sit down, either in the main area, on swings at a “bar” or at a table overlooking the Baru River. You can sit down, relax and the kids can run around a bit, write with chalk on the walls, etc. We go on Fridays or Saturdays because we’re not in a hurry and they can run around while we wait for breakfast.
    Mono Congo Chalk Art

    Copyright Cafe Mono Congo

     

  • PorQueNo?: This is a popular restaurant a little south of town, near the water. It’s beautiful, waves smash against the rocks. They have awesome pancakes for breakfast and are kid friendly. Sidenote about Costa Rica: Ticos (Costa Ricans) are very kid friendly, it’s really a noticeable difference from other countries, so when going into many restaurants, you’ll notice that feeling exists even in places of business. PorQueNo? has a little “kids corner” in the lobby, so while you’re sitting at your table, they can play with toys or grab some and bring them back to the table, no worries.
  • Dominical Beach Frontage Road: I don’t know what this is technically called, but it’s the road that Tortilla Flats is on, behind the lifeguard stand at Playa Dominical. They have a lot of vendors there selling gifts and souvenirs. That won’t take you too long to do, but if you’re by the beach or in town, it would be cool to check out. A vendor named Alex is usually there (out in front of Tortilla Flats), he makes cute toys out of found objects in nature.
    Dominical Toys by Alex
  • Family Beach Day: Playa Hermosa. Playa Dominical is great, but many families we know of (and ours) go to Playa Hermosa for family beach days. You can sit under trees, the ocean is close and depending on when you go, there will be lots of kids there. They have a few vendors selling ceviche, pipas (coconuts), etc. We take snacks and beer in a cooler and then buy pipas and ceviche for the novelty. I’ve lived here about a year and a half and sharing a cold pipa with my kids on the beach never gets old.
  • Ponzo Azul (Waterfall) in Dominicalito: It has been raining, so i’m sure the waterfall is going strong, but there’s a little pond area there where you can swim in fresh water. You go through the Dominicalito pueblo, cross the bridge on the left and you’ll see it up about 500 meters on the right (car park on the left). There are bigger waterfalls in the area, but that one is easy to get to without a hike. 1 minute of walking from your car and you’re there. Tip the older guy sitting there, he watches cars for tips (and beers, which is what i usually give him when I pass by).
  • Costa Kids Yoga: I think this is Mondays, but check out their page. It’s in a beautiful place (Manoas Luxury Camping and Villas) and the kids have fun, my daughter loves it and where she learned one of my favorite pre-bedtime phrases to calm down and go to sleep: “Peace starts with me.” 

    Costa Kids Yoga

    Copyright Costa Kids Yoga


  • Community Carbon Trees (aka Tree Jenny): I don’t know how often she does these, but kids LOVE her, my daughter is a huge fan. She runs an organization that plants trees. Her energy is great (she was dressed up like a bee when I went) and teaches kids about the environment, planting trees and you can sponsor/plant trees to make your trip “carbon neutral.”
  • Uvita/Ballena National Park (the Whale’s Tail): A little further south than Dominical, but also a great place to go to the beach. Uvita is slightly bigger than Dominical and has two big supermarkets (called BMs), so you’ll likely go there anyway for groceries. There’s a toy store across the street from the BM in Uvita (just FYI).
  • Catarata Uvita (Waterfall): I haven’t been yet, but this one is bigger and apparently beautiful. It’s $1 per adult. Take a left at the BCR bank in Uvita (you’ll see the big square sign) and follow the road, you’ll see it or people driving/walking to it.
  • Manuel Antonio: This is a great little day trip, it’s fun to go there to “get away” from Dominical. There’s an awesome breakfast place called Emilio’s (we pretty much go every time we head to MA).
  • Villas Rio Mar (in Dominical, along the river past Mono Congo): It’s almost like a little country club, but they have villas there. We go because if you eat lunch there you can swim in the pool while you’re eating and the pool is big. A fun place to relax for a couple of hours (they have a little playground as well).
  • Ice Cream (Delicias on the main road in Domi): Ice cream. It makes kids and parents very happy. 🙂 In Uvita, there is a new place called Lick It (yep). It’s on the main highway in a little shopping area next to the Uvita gas station and next to Wing It (same owners).
  • Tours, Rentals and Activities: There’s a great organization here called Costa Concierge. They run some of the popular community Facebook groups and local events calendar. All around, they pretty much know everyone and everything going on in the Dominical and Uvita area. If you’re looking for tours, rafting trips, surf lessons, yoga or spa services, they’ve got you covered.

I hope this is a helpful list of things to do and if you have any more ideas or suggestions, please add them in the comments.

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The Four Day Work Week (4DWW)

https://nadyneharts.wordpress.com/

Image: Nadyne Harts

This isn’t a post about the 4 Hour Work Week, best selling book by Lifestyle Design guru Tim Ferris that happens to be a big motivator to those in the Digital Nomad community. Nothing wrong with a 4HWW, but it’s a personal situation that involves outsourcing your work to other people who are working so you can be absent. The 4DWW is about sharing in that time off with employees so that everyone has a little more time to enjoy and live their lives.

4DWW: The Pilot

We recently started a 4DWW pilot program at my company. I shared my story (below) and the slide deck I presented from at the company meeting (our last Friday before starting) on Facebook. I got some incredible feedback in the comments, people asked me to post this online so others could see it. We’re not the first and PR wasn’t the goal. My sincere hope is that by sharing our experience, other companies will have the confidence to take the leap and give this a shot. We ARE out to prove that we can be a leading company in our space, highly competitive and continue serving our customers through the friendly support they’ve always had, while giving ourselves and families more time, which is truly our most valuable commodity.

Results (So Far)

One month in, I can honestly say it has been wonderful, but not necessarily easy. Any big shift in work requires change. Change in your mindset, processes and approach to your workload. Sundays are no longer “oh man, tomorrow is Monday”, they have turned to “I gotta get my list together, I have limited time to knock things out”, which I’ve found is a much better way to approach the week.

Here’s my story and the presentation:

“Today we started a 4 Day Work Week pilot program at Mosio. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for awhile now and we finally have the team, the traction and the systems in place to make it a success.

This move is very personal to me. I had a dark, horrible year in 2013, in the middle of difficult, but necessary changes at the company, and the death of my grandmother (Papa), my biggest entrepreneurial inspiration. For 5+ months I was working 60-70 hour weeks. Stressed, depressed, but chugging along, hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel.

I would work a full day, dinner with the family, kid in bed and then back to work until 1-2am, off to sleep/worry, only to do it again the next day with a baby on the way. At one point I told my wife “I would never do anything to hurt myself, but right now I don’t care if I live or die.” Seriously heavy shit. I kept telling myself “right the ship, then make the change”, that got me through it.

I know that many people in the world are literally working themselves sick. Chronic stress is linked to the 6 leading causes of death. 18% of US workers work 60 hours per week, some are barely making ends meet. I feel privileged we are able to offer this extra day per week to our team, our families and ourselves.

If you’re interested, here’s my presentation, the final slide has links to references we researched in making the move.

Noel”

4DWW Presentation (click the link to download)

 

Other 4DWW Companies:

Serps Invaders Introduce Four-Day Work Week

Treehouse: This Company Has A 4-Day Work Week, Pays Its Workers A Full Salary And Is Super Successful

A La Mode: OKC Real Estate Company Offers Unlimited Vacation, Four-Day Work Week

 

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Filed under Life Hacks, Motivation, Tips and Tricks, Work and Business

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. 🙂

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Great Video: Sell your crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love.

This TEDx Talk from Adam Baker is a couple of years old, but the simple truths he outlines about the Work > Buy > Debt cycle are timeless. “What Does Freedom Mean to You?” Answering that question is the most important thing you can do for yourself in your life to obtain true happiness. Life is a hustle, it just is. Make the hustle worth it!

My wife and I are in the middle of a big purge before our move. We went through one about 18 months ago when leaving San Francisco to move closer to family in Arizona. Now we’re going through it again, filtering, shedding more “things” to make room for experiences, flexibility and freedom. Admittedly, my hardest parts of the purge have been shoes and my motorcycle. A motorcycle is its own kind of freedom, but I can get another one. And I have a ridiculous amount of shoes. Along with watches they’ve been a pretty big weakness, purchase-wise. I can get more shoes if I want, but this process is helping me learn more and more that I don’t need all of the things I think I need. We didn’t “need” 50% of the stuff we brought with us from San Francisco to Arizona.

We actually did a pretty good job. Our goal of moving from a 1 bedroom apartment in the city (San Francisco) to a 3 bedroom house closer to the Catalina Mountains (Tucson) included us making a conscious and ongoing decision to not buy things to fill the space. We added a crib, a bookshelf, were given a queen bed for the guest bedroom and purchased chairs and small table to eat meals. After this move we’ll have everything we own in a 10′ x 10′ storage unit. Some art, antique lamps and warm clothes not worth taking with us.

Enjoy the video, hopefully it helps you realize what “crap” in your life is holding you back.

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[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!

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The top 8 resources to make remote working a success

Productivity by Alien Frank

Productivity by Alien Frank

As you settle into the life of an remote worker, you will find that you experience many up’s and downs as you settle into your new lifestyle. The freedom is empowering, but the lack of co-workers can be a drain on your personal happiness (or you may even be secretly relieved). I’m going to cover the top methods and resources I use to make your life abroad a breeze, whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional.

  1. Rework: Office Not Required

Get your hands on a copy of this book. Written by the founders of 37signals, they delve into the challenges and unexpected benefits for working remotely. If you need help convincing your employer to let you break free from the 9-5, this book will give you the ideas to set it in motion, outlining precisely the steps you take in building a remote work setup.

  1. The right hardware

You need a laptop, a decent internet connection and a mobile phone that you always have on. Even though you are working “remote,” you need to be accessible at all times – especially when your boss needs to get hold of you. A separate workstation from the rest of your house will also help to keep you on task while you are working, and a great headset will make it easy to answer every Skype call that comes int.

  1. The right software

There are endless programs to assist during your telecommute. File sharing systems like Google Drive or Dropbox are great ways to share and simultaneously work on large files with your colleagues. Of course you need to regularly check your email, sign up for a free Skype account and ensure you are always online. If your clients are international, tools like The World Clock will let you schedule effective meetings in any time zone.

  1. A strategy to be productive

Decide what it takes to keep you on track. The biggest danger in working remotely comes from distractions. You are going to need to be even more productive than your “traditional” colleagues to maintain your remote lifestyle and grow your career. Find what works for you, it can be a post-it system plastered over your monitor, or more complex tools like Evernote or Wunderlist. Personally I write down everything I hope to achieve in a day in a notebook. I prioritize the list to determine my top four goals, and split these into two each morning and two each evening. I reward myself with a break in between tasks, or ensure I get 5-10 minutes away from my computer every hour if its a longer project. Simple and easy.

  1. Stay social

It may sound trivial, but you don’t want to find yourself distanced from the office “clique.” The people you interact with everyday at the water cooler form the foundation of your professional network. If you’re not in the office, don’t miss out on everything that goes on while you’re not there. Tools like Campfire, or WhatsApp and Line groups allow colleagues to stay connected (informally). You don’t want to fade into obscurity simply because your office is in your home.

  1. A regular way to “Get out of the house”

The lack of face-to-face social interaction when working remotely has a remarkable ability to turn a professional employee into an unshaven, unbathed neanderthal whose sole human interaction involves having the right change for the pizza delivery guy. Dont be this telecommuter. Get active in your community through Chambers of Commerce, MeetUp.com, or local sports groups and give yourself a reason to shower each day! Join a gym and ensure you get exercise three times a week. It will also help to balance your sanity and adds a nice change of scenery to your home office.

  1. Clear guidelines and milestones

Be open with your boss and colleagues on what it is you are working on. Keep them updated with regular progress reports, and ensure they know the timelines to expect tasks to be completed. Yammer is a great way for teams to keep up to date. It’s a common misconception that working from home involves tapping away at emails while your focus is on the daily TV soap opera’s. Don’t ever give your colleagues this impression. It only takes a quick morning call or message to outline your major tasks for the day alongside the progress you made yesterday. Bring your boss and your team up to speed every morning, and they will never doubt your diligence.

  1. A good work life balance

My final resource is more of a guideline. Remember the office should stay the office. This key fact is often forgotten by remote workers who put in a crazy amount of weekly hours because it’s so easy to log on and “just check my email”. Having your office in your home offers a huge risk for burnout, so set yourself a schedule and stick to it.

Make use of these resources and you will find that remote working is easier than ever. It’s not scary or impossible. All it takes is for you to take charge, and grab this fantastic opportunity for yourself.  

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Life Hacks, Technology, Tips and Tricks, Working Remotely