I wrote this post from a hotel room in Manila and edited it on a last-minute trip to Taipei (there was a flight sale, it was practically forced on me *ahem*).
Although my transit and most of the trip falls on weekdays, I don’t plan to miss any work. In fact, if all goes as planned, my clients won’t even know that I’m not dutifully typing away at my desk.
That’s because I’m a remote worker, capable of fulfilling my duties and responsibilities virtually. I’ve never met any of the other Hubstaff team members in person (although thanks to Slack and Twitter, they all know of my love for gifs), and I’ve only ever heard a few of their voices over Skype.
I did the research, selected a hotel that has free wifi, and brought my brand new travel laptop that I bought for short trips.
Here’s what I’m aiming for;
- Uninterrupted, high-speed WiFi
- A designated work space with a comfy ergonomic chair
- Minimum four hours a day of uninterrupted time to work
You would be surprised at how hard those things are to find when traveling, especially the last one. When you’re in a new place, your attention is being pulled in multiple directions, and it doesn’t feel like something you should fight. It feels amazing, like there’s so much to see and do you can’t wait to dive in. However, if you don’t focus, you’ll find yourself behind on all of your projects and staying up until 3 a.m. on 17 cups of coffee trying to finish the next urgent task. That’s a true story by the way, from one of my trips to Japan. Their vending machines did a great job of feeding my coffee addiction, and even dispensed cans hot!
I should point out that I don’t consider myself a “digital nomad,” because at least 70 percent of my year is spent at my wonderful home office, which I’m very attached to. A digital nomads’ home office is the world. Instead, I am a remote worker who occasionally enjoys long-term trips and quick jaunts to new places and would like to be able to work from anywhere.
So for all the remote workers who want to take a trip, but don’t want to have to worry about ergonomic chairs, high-speed WiFi, a designated work space, fun activities, and traveling companions, I’ve put together a list of great coliving spaces and remote work retreats. All you need to do is show up, and they’ll take care of the rest.Want to travel the world, but without leaving you job - this might be the solution for you Click To Tweet
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Below is a list of coworking spaces and retreats, their costs, locations, trip durations, and some introductory information.
Length of stay: 10 days
Locations: Greece, Brazil, Thailand, Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Egypt, Costa Rica
Cost: ~$700 to $1,800
DNX CAMPS are organized by the founders of the first conference for Digital Nomads: DNX GLOBAL. The “DN” in DNX stands for “Digital Nomad,” and provides 10 days of fun activities, breakfasts, and networking. They ensure fast wifi, accommodations, fitness activities and learning sessions. Their camps take place all year round in various locations.
Length of stay: Varies
Cost: Starts at €22/day (€8 for a day pass)
Sun Desk is a destination coworking space in Taghazout, Morocco that offers shared or private rooms, a desk, chair and locker, healthy breakfasts, WiFi, Skype room access, and coffee, tea, and fresh fruit. The hotel has beautiful rooms with a coworking space on the second floor and a view of the ocean. The location itself has plenty of things to do nearby, such as surfing, yoga, visiting Moroccan markets, or enjoying authentic Moroccan cuisine.
Length of stay: Varies
Locations: Lisbon, Gran Canaria
The Surf Office provides some great locations to stay at in Lisbon and Gran Canaria, complete with private accommodations, an in-house coworking space, fast Internet and community events. They are also happy to host company retreats.
Length of stay: Starts from 1 week
Locations: Around the world
This coworking space travels! Coboat brings together remote workers on a private ship, equipped with wifi and lots of outlets. The boat sails to new places every week. They provide accommodations in shared cabins, breakfast, lunch and dinner, WiFi, all port fees, and use of on-board water sports equipment (whenever available). You can join them at any port and adjust the length of your stay as long as you’re available. They’ve been to Greece, Barcelona, Italy and more.
Length of stay: 1 year
Locations: Malaysia, Czech Republic, Thailand, Portugal, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Croatia, Cambodia
Remote Year brings together 75 location-independent professionals from around the world to spend one month in a different city for an entire year. They arrange a few activities at each location, travel between cities, accommodations, and 24/7 accessible workspaces. They require applicants who are able to commit to the full year of travel.
Length of stay: 6 months or 1 year
Locations: Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Morocco, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Croatia, Serbia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia
Cost: Reservation fee of $5,000 ($3,000 for 6 months), $2,000 monthly
We Roam takes participants on a year-long adventure across 12 different countries. They take care of travel between destinations, accommodation, local community events, professional development, and shared workspaces with 24/7 access. They spend one month at each location and encourage participation for the full year. They set up fun events set up at each destination on the way, and their team is always available to assist, whether you need trip ideas, a doctor, a local SIM card, or anything else. Participants have an option between 6 months and 1 year.
Length of stay: 30 days (options for 2 weeks)
Locations: Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Cuba
Cost: $1,600 to $2,500
Unsettled is a new coworking retreat that plans various trips around the world. They work with the terrain, organizing activities that are well-known in the area and provide new experiences. They are constantly adding new retreat locations. They provide private rooms and bathrooms, aim for locations within walking distance to great establishments (think cafes and yoga studios), are serious about wifi, and curate experiences like dinner parties, local mixers, and urban scavenger hunts.
Length of stay: 6 weeks (stay for any or all of the weeks)
Locations: Turkey (2016)
Cost: €350 for 3 weeks, €650 for 6 weeks (plus hotel @ €40/night)
Coworking Camp is an annual event that provides a fixed desk in a coworking space, and access to their events on remote work and business. Please note, the event tickets are separate from hotel costs. For their 2016 Turkey location, they are partnering with a hotel that costs €40/night, on top of the camp tickets.
Length of stay: Starts at 1 week
Locations: Bali, Miami, Madrid, Buenos Aires, London
Cost: $500/week (plus tax)
With Roam, you can sign one lease and live around the world. They designed their living spaces to replace your traditional apartment life. Instead of paying rent in one location, you can spend your weeks traveling back and forth between countries. Their spaces come equipped with private accommodations, fast WiFi, and co-working spaces.
What to know before your trip
Committing your time and money to a coworking retreat or trip is a big deal. Not only do you have to put aside your time, you have to get the plane tickets, possibly a visa, and spend time adjusting to a new location. It may not be the best choice for everyone.
In order to determine whether it’s for you or not, we reached out to some founders with this question;
What do you want every remote worker to know before they decide whether or not to join coworking retreat?
Here’s what they said.
Keep your travel options open
“If you come for the first time and plan to stay less than the full 6 weeks, do not book your return flight.
“We had multiple people in the past that were afraid that they wouldn’t like it and then had the “best time of their life”. A lot of them either extended their stay and we had one guy who even came back after already flying home.
“So keep your travel options open.”
– Matthias Zeitler, Coworking Camp
Be transparent with your clients
“Always be transparent and authentic to your clients if you work as a freelancer. Most of them will love what you are doing and support you. Block certain time slots for your calls and clients during the DNX camp.
“The camp will be quite intense: You will get lots of input from us and the other participants to bring your business to the next level. We will also have lots of fun together living a healthy lifestyle and doing sports together.”
– Marcus Meurer, DNX Camp
Take the “work” aspect of a remote working trip seriously
“While there are plenty of other programs that offer fun group vacation/party trips, We Roam takes the “work” aspect of a remote working trip very seriously. While we certainly want people to enjoy themselves and experience all the exciting things our destinations have to offer, it is our responsibility to ensure that our Roamers are not only able to productively work remotely with their current jobs throughout the trip, but also have opportunities for professional development to advance their careers and skill sets.
We will have several workshops, trainings, speakers and networking events organized in each destination city and ensure that everyone has a reliable and efficient remote working environment. Our destinations and shared workspaces will connect our group to some of the most amazing and important local and international business communities in the world.”
– Sean Harvey, We Roam
Be prepared in case the worst happens
“Be prepared: what would happen if your laptop and digital equipment got stolen?!
No one wants to think about that, but it’s better to anticipate and prepare your equipment in case they are stolen or lost. This will provide you with some peace-of-mind while on the road, which is an integral part of being a digital nomad:
- Encrypt your disks;
- Use strong passwords;
- Use a password storing app;
- Use Find My Device or get a GPS tracking device;
- Create regular backups;
- Research the places you’re going beforehand;
- Don’t draw unnecessary by being a “flashy” tourist;
- Store your valuables and equipment in a safe place;
This checklist will greatly reduce the likelihood of being stolen and, in the worst-case scenario, it will lower the impact of losing your belongings. In the best-case scenario, you will even allow you to recover them!”
– Aljaž Fajmut, Nightwatch.io
Roam will be your home, not just a trip
“Roam is your home. It’s a new way of looking at work, life, and travel. It’s for the professional remote worker who wants to live an interesting life without the hassles normally involved in changing locations. It’s about meeting interesting people to collaborate, cook, relax, and explore with as soon as you walk through the front door. It’s more than just place to stay, it’s a place to truly live.”
– Dane Andrews, Roam.co
What to bring
Generally, all I pack for work is a laptop and a travel adaptor. Some other remote workers I know bring extension cords, laptop locks, and tablets.
Our coworking hosts also had some tips on what to bring in addition to the staples. Matthias says to bring a special gift for their white elephant gift exchange dinner, and Marcus says that their participants always bring a smartphone with a local sim card and data plan as a fallback option for the WiFi connection.
Heather Lee of Remote Year recommends an unlocked phone with WhatsApp. Many smartphones, especially the ones that come free with your carrier, are “locked” to that carrier. For example, if I get a free phone with my plan from Verizon, I won’t be able to use the local telecom service in Brazil. WhatsApp is a messaging app that works with just an Internet connection and is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends back home, plus the people you meet on the trip. Not everyone can send international texts, but as long as you have the app and data, anyone can send messages on WhatsApp or Viber.
Here’s a quick packing list to run through before you leave.
- Laptop, laptop bag, chargers, headphones
- If needed, glasses, contact lenses, contact lens solution
- Passport, visas, ticket confirmation (or boarding passes, if you checked in online)
- Credit and debit cards to access your bank account
- Unlocked smartphone
- Pen for filling out landing paperwork in the plane/airport
- Weather-appropriate clothing
In addition to the tools that will help you work, don’t forget to bring the attitude that will help you enjoy the journey. According to Sean, Roamers need an openness to new cultures and desire to develop personally and professionally. Similarly, Dane suggests a curiosity for life.
Where I’m going next
I’d like my next stop to be New Zealand, but am still looking into the different options I have for this. Some of the questions I’m facing include;
- Should I go to Wellington or Auckland?
- Should I book on Airbnb or stay at a hotel?
- Should I go on a coworking retreat, or stay at a coliving space?
- Should I go alone, or bring a friend?
- Should I go in September or November?
If anyone has insights on this, I’m all ears!
Bonus: Getting a visa
Getting a visa is my least favorite part of traveling, because most of the time it’s complicated and feels like a college exam and first job interview rolled into one. Determine whether you need a visa to go somewhere using tools like VisaHQ, then do some research online for a checklist of requirements. Good luck!