I’m Steve, I spent my twenties working in an office about 40-minutes from where I grew up. Like most people, I accepted that working a 9 – 5 is the norm. During my early thirties I was fortunate to live and work, still in an office, in Australia. Life changed when I met my now girlfriend on a trip to the U.S. and we decided to join the growing number of “digital nomads” who work remotely around the world.
We hit the road in January this year, having sold all of our possessions and giving back the keys to our apartments. It’s not all been plain sailing, but we’ve had some life experiences that make the hardships worth it: swimming with whale sharks, 50ft jumps during canyoneering, motorbiking through the jungles of Vietnam, Michelin starred dumplings in Hong Kong and freezing in -110 degrees celsius cold sauna in Finland.
Aside from these highlights, I wanted to let readers know more about the day to day life of working remotely and what a ’typical’ day looks like. Very often we’ll be up around 7.30 in the morning and I’ll workout before we have breakfast. Our accommodation normally consists of living between a mixture of friend’s and family’s spare rooms, Airbnb, serviced apartments and hotels, so the workout and breakfast combinations will vary accordingly.
We stick with a part time work schedule daily from around 9am through to about 2pm. In a great city like Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam you can find 10Mb wifi and great cafe’s to work everywhere. On a tropical beach in the Philippines it can be a bit more challenging! Always check wifi in a city before you commit to working there.
Lunch is around 2pm and then we tend to switch into activity mode for the rest of the day. Depending on our surroundings and activities we choose, we change the schedule accordingly, but still get in the same amount of work daily. It’s amazing what a view of the beach in Phuket or the excited anticipation of flea markets in Berlin will do to focus the mind on work that day!
To truly live the work/travel lifestyle, we like to get out on foot, get lost and explore the city and see some of the sites. Through various experiences we’ve come to be cautious of anything touristy because of the crowds and selfies, so we try to stay away from group tours and the like.
From a travel perspective, the best priced flights and trains are usually weekdays so we tend to travel on these days and make up for work on another day or in airport waiting areas as required. To find the cheapest flights we use sky scanner.com and type in one way, the city we’re currently in, then choose “flexible/everywhere” and for the date do “whole month”. This will give you a chart of all the flight costs for the month so you can choose a date accordingly. Having a flexible schedule is so nice because we can always fly out on the cheapest day. These days, late bookings tend to be less advantageous than, say five years ago, but we’ve had some success with last minute hotels.
During my travels I was fortunate to network and meet the charismatic Vanni Torelli of Gluon Consulting. Vanni, an Italian software architect based in London, had recently set about developing an office for his company in the Philippines. Fast forward six months and I am now very excited to be working with Vanni and his team to help connect fintechs and SME financials with the quality, agile software developers of Gluon Consulting. My background as a relationship manager in finance, with a keen interest in financial tech, was a great fit for Gluon who wanted to increase their presence in the fintech space.
— Gluon Consulting (@gluonconsulting) September 7, 2016
I’m very lucky that Gluon supports my remote working and this only adds to my desire to work hard for them and generate great results. To take the leap into full time travel is a hard one, but has so many rewards. Remote working is here to stay and I’d recommend anyone to try it! I was a big fan of Tim Ferriss and the idea of the mini-retirement – why wait until I’m 60 or can get a week off work to life live? Let me know of any success stories or feel free to send me any questions you have.
Tips on the road:
- Carry voodoo floss bands and a resistance band for working out and stretching (especially important after long flights). I’m a big fan of Kelly Starrett and his book “Becoming a Supple Leopard”, we should be able to fix our tight muscles and move freely without always needing to see a physio.
- Keep the office light – you might have to venture around town to find wifi and a decent coffee so make sure your work equipment fits in a backpack – I have a MacBook Air, iPhone and international plug adaptor so I can setup anywhere.
- Get a wifi speed check app on your phone so you can check speeds before you even agree to a coffee!
- Meetups with other digital nomads can be very helpful, we find them through Facebook groups, meetup.com and other digital nomad sites.
- BOSE noise cancelling headphones – game changer for flying, taking calls and working in peace.
- Be strict with your habits – it’s very easy to lose discipline and I struggled with this in the early days.
- If you have a friend or can get an introduction to someone in the city, DO IT. These people are worth their weight in gold, from advice on where to find groceries or how to navigate public transport, they can save you a ton of time and hassle in navigating a new location.
- If you want to live well, earn your money in the developed world and spend it in the developing world! Our first 4 months in SE Asia we were able to live for about €30/day for both of us.
— Stephen Findley (@sfindley1) August 28, 2016