Travel packages are the ideal way to do precisely what you want to do, when you want to do it, and it is no wonder that these types of organised breaks are becoming increasingly popular with tourists from all walks of life.
Whether you are a wine connoisseur whose thirst for the ideal holiday will only be quenched by the promise of a vineyard tour in France, or you are a football fanatic who, after flying out to watch your favourite team beat the opposition, just wants to lie on a beach with a pint and your mobile while perfecting some online foot skills, there is a holiday package for you.
Winning Wine Tours
Savouring a glass or two of your favourite tipple whilst touring the most picturesque vistas in the world is, for some, the perfect way to spend a vacation. There are many reputable tour operators who can whisk you away to Italy, France and even Canada for a tour of the most impressive vineyards set among spectacular scenery. An online search reveals a whole host of ATOL protected tour operators dedicated solely to vineyard tour holidays. Vineyard Tours Worldwide even offers wine-lovers the chance to combine cruises, archaeological breaks and opera holidays with extensive wine tours in Europe, South Africa, North America and Australia. If the thought of a wine-tour closer to home tickles your taste buds, check out the Guardian’s travel guide for tours in the UK and discover the little-known hidden gems of England and Wales.
On the Ball
Away games can take a lot of planning and when all you want to do is watch your team and enjoy a whole load of pre and post match shenanigans, dealing with plans is not always at the top of your list of things to do. This is why it is almost always better to let an accredited travel agent deal with it. Agents such as Thomas Cook and MatchDays.com can organise match tickets, transport, and accommodation for individuals and groups who want to enjoy the beautiful game live. Your travel agent should also be able to advise you what venues will be streaming any televised home games so you won’t miss a moment of what matters while you are away. If you still need your football rush between matches it is worth bearing in mind that sites like Coral casinos online also have football based games which can be enjoyed wherever your football tour takes you.
This is proving to be an increasingly popular destination for those searching for their ideal package holiday. This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts a cluster of approximately 900 coral islands sitting among vibrant blue and green waters which are home to a dazzling array of aquatic life and vegetation. Less than 20 of the islands are habitable and accommodation in this idyllic setting can range from basic camp sites to luxuriously opulent five star resorts. Companies such as the Audley Travel Group and TravelBag can organise accommodation and travel at the budget you require and can also incorporate cruises, day trips, and activities such as scuba diving, snorkelling and glass-bottom boat tours into your itinerary.
Whether you’re going on a year-long adventure or just a quick trip abroad, you need to consolidate everything into a reasonably-sized suitcase or backpack. Whatever the reason you have for bringing your whole life with you on your travels, stop and evaluate. You’ll likely change your mind.
Having ‘stuff’ is a burden
You fly from London to Tokyo. You exit the plane with your small carry-on suitcase and purse, and hurry off to the baggage claim, full of excitement and ready to begin a new adventure. Then suddenly you remember that you’ll have to maneuver through the city to your hostel with your purse, carry-on, and HUGE suitcase. You bought the biggest suitcase the store had because it seemed like a good idea at the time. The bigger suitcases were practically the same price as the smaller, so it seemed like a bargain. Why pay more for less?
Now you’re outside the airport and you have to spend money on a taxi to your hostel instead of saving money by taking public transportation. Airports are not always situated inside the main city. Narita International Airport, for example, is more than 70km away from Tokyo and a taxi ride could cost you more than £140.
Now you get to your hostel, but you’ve arrived too early to check-in. Most hostels and hotels will allow you to leave your belongings with them until check-in or check-out. While the majority of places are completely trustworthy, some are not so well-guarded and people’s things have been stolen. This is not the way you want to start a journey, especially in a foreign country where you don’t know anyone.
Plans change and so will you
You pack all your belongings and head off to one specific destination. Let’s say that you’ve planned to go to Berlin for years; you love everything about the culture from afar. It’s reasonable to assume that you’ll need lots of different kinds of clothing and shoes for all the seasons, party clothes, and various gadgets. Basically, you just need to bring your entire closet. You arrive in Berlin and everything is wonderful, but after some time there, you meet a bunch of people from Australia and become fast friends. After a few months, they all decide to go on a European tour and want you to come along. Getting a job in Berlin was much harder than you imagined it would be and nothing is holding you back – except all your stuff. Shipping costs are prohibitive and paying baggage fees for multiple flights is dreadful and unrealistic, so you end up storing your belongings with a Berlin acquaintance and take only what is necessary in a smaller suitcase. Well, shouldn’t we always strive to have only what’s necessary regardless? Going back and forth with so many items is a traveler’s nightmare.
If you intend to travel from place to place, you can only carry so much. Don’t be a slave to your possessions – be free to see everything and go everywhere possible. Would you rather have new experiences or ten pairs of shoes?
You just don’t need it
At the end of the day, you don’t need stuff. Think back to every time you’ve moved flats and all the stuff you’ve ended up just binning or giving away. Unless you’re trekking through the wilderness (and then you only do want the bare necessities), you will be able to buy things where you travel. But, exactly, you say! I need a big suitcase so I can fill it with all the amazing stuff I’m going to buy abroad. If you’re planning a two-day shopping weekend in Paris, then okay. But don’t add more stuff in your life just for the purpose of having more stuff. Dragging around a suitcase full of tacky souvenirs is not an ideal way to spend a holiday. Instead, opt for things that you really know you’ll love long-term or light-weight items that you can use for a scrapbook later. Old lottery tickets, stamps, ticket stubs, and other mementos are unique to the place visited and capture the memories much more than a stuffed animal or wine glass. And if you must start collecting more stuff when you get home, at least a stamp collection or a stack of US Powerball lottery tickets doesn’t take up as much space – and who knows, they could pay off in the end!
Traveling is about new experiences, relaxation, knowledge-seeking, personal growth, and everything in-between. The one thing it is not about is stuff. Leave it at home and enjoy.
Sin City, the city of lights, the metropolis in the desert, call it what you like but one thing that is undeniable is that Vegas is one of a kind! Is it a digital nomad destination though?
Well for starters it’s in the United States which is far away from being a good nomad country. This is mainly due to the high cost of living throughout the country, peaking in California and the New York area.
Also the visa situation for those not from North America is not that friendly. Most countries passports will get 90 days but typically you will have to leave the North American area (USA, Canada and Mexico) for another 90 days. However it wouldn’t be an issue if you only wanted a shorter stay in the US.
So why Las Vegas?
Vegas has a lot going for it because how else would have come to be one of the fastest growing US cities of recent years. It has everything you’d want from a large city as well as a sublime climate for most the year. June through to August can be oppressively hot in Vegas but being in the desert it’s the kind of tolerable dry heat as oppose to the sticky heat of cities like Houston.
The location of Vegas also sets it apart as it’s not too far from coastal California but also nearby to many national parks and of course the grandest canyon of them all!
The international airport is one of the busiest in the US so getting anywhere in the country or further afield is not an issue.
Vegas is of course most famous for it’s strip which is lined with casinos and huge hostels. In fact some of the World’s largest hotels occupy prime spots on the strip.
In the casinos themselves you can choose to gamble away many different ways including card games, triple hi-lo, slot machines and roulette wheels to name a few.
Wouldn’t Vegas be expensive for a digital nomad?
Vegas can be surprisingly affordable, even on the strip although ideally you’d live away from the nightly carnival!
Because of the high turnover of staff that work in Vegas finding temporary accommodation can be fairly straight forward, indeed there are many listings on sites like Air BnB and Craigslist. You could actually stay in a hotel on a night to night basis if you stayed away from the strip. If you have a larger budget then you could easily afford to stay in the strip and find yourself in a huge suite for less than $50 per night. There are not too many North American cities where you could do that!
In terms of eating there is so much choice. The strip buffets are not great value but can be nice for a one off. You don’t have to wander too far from the strip to find affordable eating places.
In terms of finding places to work, well there are cafes galore in Vegas, both in the downtown and strip areas. Everywhere you look they’ll be a Starbucks that generally offer free wifi throughout America.
The hotel suits can be so big that you might find it works to actually have your temporary office in your room.
Vegas, summing up
There are some obvious reasons not to consider Vegas if you are a digital nomad. If you have a problem with gambling then certainly it’s not the place to be, similarly if you don’t like crowds or you like to be by the coast.
Vegas though is a very lively place and it’s open 24 hours will appeal to many people. There are also lots of opportunities to have fun in your leisure time with a legendary night life and bar scene.
Overall Vegas might not be such a bad place to run your business from particularly if you are a US resident as you could base your business in the state and equally choose to be a nomad elsewhere for part of the year.
Travelling is one of the greatest things that we can do. It broadens the mind, exposes us to a wonderful variety of cultures and is one of the best ways to really feel alive.
However, many of us will have experienced that occasional travel hiccup that can make us question why we ever left our homes. So with the summer holidays in the not-so-distant future, here are a few handy items to take with you to ensure a smooth voyage!
For the flight
Although flying is the quickest and easiest way to get to those far flung locations, it’s also becoming a bit of a chore with ever-increasing security checks and baggage limitations.
So why not invest in a compact electronic luggage scale that can accurately weigh your luggage. They’re so handy to have if you like to pick up a few mementos on your travels, and will avoid that horrendous overweight baggage fee on your return trip.
Lost luggage is something that most of us have faced. So eliminate that fear with the Trace Me Luggage Trackers that use barcode technology that links your luggage to a central database ensuring your bags will never completely vanish!
At the hotel
And likewise, we’ve all checked into a hotel that redefines the word ‘basic’. Whilst many of us will not exactly be expecting a comfortable luxury mattress, there are still a few ways that we can ensure some sleep.
Many firms offer deluxe travel pillows that are nicely compact and will offer you all of the sleep support you require, even if the rest of the bed doesn’t!
And the bewildering array of gadgets that we require to travel can lead to a headache when trying to keep everything charged in hotel rooms that frequently only offer a couple of sockets. This is where the roll up travel charger from Restoration Hardware steps in by offering the ability to charge four devices from one socket.
If you find yourself trying to sleep in a particularly noisy area, then having a compact Bluetooth speaker in your room playing soft, continuous music can also mask many noises.
In the bag
Being a frequent traveller will also require you to develop highly efficient packing skills. So why not get a little extra help with a self-sealing dry bag that ensures that the rest of your clothes don’t have to risk becoming waterlogged by a soggy pair or socks.
And if you’ve got a particular fear of getting soaked, then check out the a micro umbrella courtesy of Genius Pack that can be packed down into a mere six inches of height!
I am starting off another blog post in a similar fashion to before e.g. ‘it’s been a while since I have posted’. Well that seems to be the way things are these days, of course it doesn’t mean I haven’t been working or being nomadic. Far from it as I have been on the road since leaving the UK in August.
So I am shortly heading back to the UK for the Spring and Summer and to get back into playing softball in the Bristol Softball League and touring the country too. My plans also involved buying a camper van to travel around the UK and further beyond in Europe. This is something I’ve always wanted to do and the time is now!
So how is my work going?
My online income has been declining for a while now but it still pays enough for me to travel and do the things I want to do. What I am seeing is that I need a new direction if I am to get back to the heady days of 2008 – 2010.
Because earnings have not been so great I have had to travel more frugally and this is going to be the emphasis of my next ebook which will focus on travelling for longer and cheaper.
For instance I travelled around Australia for a couple of months last year on a very limited budget. In fact my overall spend was lower than what I would spend in Bali or Thailand which is crazy considering how expensive people find Australia.
The key factor is having a cheap car that I successfully sold on for a small profit! In fact every car I have ever bought in Australia or New Zealand (probably about 5 now!) I have sold for pretty much what I paid for them or more. So in effect I had a free rental car and free or very cheap lodgings.
A car can be your accommodation and transport rolled into one. The initial outlay might stretch some travel budgets but as I have proved you can more often or not get your money back.
What am I going to be working on going forward?
So as I mentioned above I am currently researching for an ebook about travelling longer for less. I appreciate for many the working nomad route is not always possible. Not everyone will have the skills, time, patience, nerdy-ness even to get into technology and become a location independent worker. It’s also not getting any easier as there is a lot of competition online now but there are still opportunities. I just think you’ll have to be smarter these days.
So for many they will be travelling on their savings not on their earnings and it’s my determination to show how this can be taken to the extreme. Watch this space!
Chiang Mai really is the darling location of globe trotting Digital Nomads and it’s not hard to see why. Plentiful cheap accommodation (and I mean seriously good value) is pretty much available year around. The dining scene on the face of it is broad and is the night-life.
The café scene is also hopping with apparently many good places for the Digital Nomad to hang out and connect. Shopping is also wide ranging and the climate, well for half a year anyway is pretty good if you like hot days and cool enough to turn your air conditioning off nights.
The airport has frequent connections all over Thailand and some international destinations too. There is transport in the city but as you will read later this is it’s real undoing though.
There is an ex-pat scene as well as a traveller scene of course, in fact the city has a very international feel and many parts of the Old Town and basically an extension of Bangkok’s tourist ghetto, Koh San Road.
WHEN TO GO
Best time weather wise is November through to March. March / April you have to put up with the smog from fires that are burned around the city by farmers. May through to October is too hot and you’ll be glad of your air-con.
GETTING TO CHIANG MAI
Couldn’t be easier, there are many flights from Bangkok and other Thai cities and the airport is well served by a number of airlines. There are some international flights too mainly to South-east Asian hubs like KL and Singapore. Increasingly China is a direct destination.
The train station is well served with trains from Bangkok and the overnighter ones are particularly good value when you consider a night spent on the train is a night not spent paying for a hotel.
I am not going in to specifics too much as there are heaps of resources online to help you plan your trip to Chiang Mai.
GETTING AROUND CHIANG MAI
This is my biggest problem with Chiang Mai. If you are not prepared to risk your life using the roads on a motorbike or bicycle then be prepared to walk everywhere or be ripped off by the transport mafia that rules the city.
There is basically no public transport to speak of, the red sangtheuws that splutter along filling the air with poison all day are perhaps as close as you will get to a public service but if you are not Thai you will certainly be over charged by them. Any ex-pat who thinks otherwise is deluded.
Tuk-tuks are everywhere but they are very choosy who they pick up and again as a fa-rang you will be paying a whole lot more than a local will. Most of the time they are sitting asleep in the back of their Tuk-tuks rather than providing a transport service.
Well there aren’t any. Walking around has always been my preferred mode of transport but Chiang Mai which is very spread out is a nightmare to walk around.
Firstly you have uneven side-walks everywhere and in many cases no side-walk at all. So expect to be watching where you put your feet all the time unless you want to turn your ankle.
Secondly crossing roads in Chiang Mai is a challenge and is probably as unsafe as riding motorbikes without helmets. Traffic will not stop for you at any crossing apart from one or two in the Old Town, and even then it’s not guaranteed as I was almost run over by three local girls on a motorbike despite the little green man said it was safe to cross.
So in my opinion Chiang Mai has some serious transport issues but I guess while the nation remains at the wrong end of the corruption index these issues will probably remain around longer than your average older ex-pats living out their twilight years in a changoholic haze.
CHIANG MAI ACCOMMODATION
Simply put I cannot fault the accommodation situation in Chiang Mai other than to say there is probably too much choice! Obviously this topic has been extensively covered elsewhere so cannot add too much apart from these random tips.
No need to book ahead, in fact there is little need to book ahead anywhere in Thailand unless you are travelling for a short duration between Xmas and New Years. Just because a booking website says a hotel is full doesn’t mean it is so.
Most hotels only allocate a small proportion of their rooms to online bookings. In Chiang Mai, having not pre-booked means you can have a good look around inside the rooms and then negotiate which should always be done in Chiang Mai where supply exceeds demand.
In relation to the dire transport issues it would be worth staying somewhere near to where you’d like to be unless you are of course happy to risk your life on a motorbike like many fa-rang who believe they are above the law by not wearing helmets.
In terms of areas then I guess this is personal choice. Many nomads seem to like it around the Nimmanhaemin Road area but as far as I could see it’s only an area for Thai students.
The old town is tourist central, in fact I’d say it’s pretty much the same deal as Koh San Road.
As for other areas I guess you can refer to to the countless Chiang Mai guides out there.
CHIANG MAI COFFEE SHOPS / WORK SPACES
Chiang Mai’s other perceived advantage as a digital nomad hotspot is the cafe scene which is exploded in the last few years.
SOME TYPICAL DIGITAL NOMADS…
Firstly the coffee is very good, which is kind of important if you like your coffee.
So there are a few online guides to coffee shops online but this one http://www.nomadicnotes.com/travel-blog/chiang-mai-cafes/ is particularly extensive although a little out of date now, in fact half the problem with writing guides to places in Asia is that local businesses close down so often, particularly cafes and bars.
Anything owned by an ex-pat in Thailand is bound to have closed down by the time your Lonely Planet is starting to look anything less than pristine.
Anyway I digress! So I investigated a good few of the coffee shops listed above and from the ones that are actually still there I found universally the following to be true.
Many of the coffee shops are very small. Maybe it’s me but I hate small confined work spaces and can no way be productive in them. Also sitting outside is a big no no for me when I am working.
Part of the reason I don’t like small coffee shops is due to being under the constant gaze of the owner or overly enthusiastic staff who unless you buy the entire stock of the stale food on display won’t leave you alone. I have found this to be true everywhere not just Chiang Mai.
So that leaves me only feeling comfortable in larger coffee shops that are more impersonal. If I am in a coffee shop not to work then I love the small places but the reality is I want to be productive.
Sadly I end up in places like Starbucks because once you have collected your coffee and batted away the up-selling then you are generally left in peace. Occasionally the staff may come around and offer you a sample which is fine by me.
So there are shared work spaces in Chiang Mai. I did have a look around some of the more well known ones but similar to my experience in other countries they are generally filled by overly sociable digital nomads who sit around and do nothing other than chat all day.
CHIANG MAI DRINKING AND DINING
There is a wide range of food places but I find the drinking scene pretty dull after a few weeks. You have at one end traveller type places filled with 20 something Scandinavians or the seedier areas designated for the 50 plus early retired gentleman.
Chiang Mai seems not to offer too much in-between and remember this is the second city of a nation of 70 million plus people. Yes the too cool for school nomads may go on about Nimmanhaemin Road as the place to be seen but unless they are under 18 then they’ve probably missed that boat.
ANOTHER POOR NIGHTSPOT
The dining scene, well it’s not bad but again it’s easy to tire of it after a few weeks. Trying to find food in Thailand that isn’t fried to within an inch of it’s life is a challenge at the best of times and Chiang Mai is no different unless you are prepared to pay for supposedly organic fare at some of the yoga style restaurants.
I guess the majority of the Chiang Mai Nomad crowd will be in some disagreement to what I have written. Possibly this is the first time anyone has offered a different view of the Chiang Mai Nomad scene so for that reason I should probably be applauded a little and yes we are all different.
P.S. You are not obliged to take this post too seriously 😉
I am constantly consuming all sorts of good and not so good stuff online when I should be writing, editing, being productive, working, doing stuff etc etc!
But hey not all this time was wasted and I am going to regularly list some of the great online content I have uncovered from around the web which relates to digital nomads and living location independently.
So here we go, here is a rundown of some of the best stuff from last month, in no particularly order of course!
From Geektime.com – “If you feel coworking is something you’d like to explore, here’s a list of world’s top five coworking spots you can visit for free”
From the BBC – excellent documentary on modern day nomadic groups in the USA. It’s a long video but worth watching and if you are a true nomad I am sure you’ll relate like I did!
From Cody Mckibben – “Get the secrets that will make you successful in the coming Entrepreneurship Economy! Learn how you can make a few simple but drastic changes in your life to leverage Geo-Arbitrage, build your own online business, and live and work anywhere in the world. “
From Lifehacker – Finding clients as a freelancer “When you decide to pursue freelance work, you might not have a clue how to actually find clients. But if you start with research and ask businesses what they look for in freelancers, as well as ask your peers for advice, your network will begin to grow and you’ll already know what clients are looking for.”
From USA TODAY – Typical mainstream article of the working nomad lifestyle “Some frequent business travelers never return home and live full-time in hotels. Such a life has its challenges but also many advantages, they say….”
From Tech in Asia – “You can work anywhere you have Internet, right? So, why are you still here?” was the question that hit Pieter Levels on the head and changed his life. At that point of time, he and his friends had just graduated from university, and Levels was already going crazy from the humdrum of working life in Amsterdam.”
From The Wireless Generation – What we’re all about!
From Almost Fearless – “ I wanted to put this together for a while, and I am hoping you guys will help me add things I might have missed. Digital nomading is simple — you travel around a lot and you somehow make a living, usually because you do your job remotely, via the internet. “
As promised here is Part Two of our 12 month / 12 destination guide for the sun seeking nomad following the best weather around the globe.
So lets get straight back into the year as a digital nomad starting off in the month of July.
BRISTOL, UK – July average temp 21C
Without doubt the best month to be in the United Kingdom as it’s continental neighbours are frying, the UK is at it’s most pleasant although it can actually get above 30C, particularly around London.
Bristol however has a slightly milder climate and the city really comes alive in the summer months. There are festivals pretty much every weekend from May through August and the long hours of daylight (typically 5am – 9pm in June) make it a great place to be. You are also a stones throw away from national parks and the splendour of Devon and Cornwall, just 2 hours down the M5 motorway.
BARCELONA, SPAIN – August average temp 29C
Barcelona is a great destination for the nomadic worker any time of the year. August may not seem like the best month to go but it’s not quite as hot as you’d imagine and if you are wanting to cool down you have access to some of the best city beaches in Europe.
Because many Spanish take their holidays in August the city will not seem as crowded as you’d might expect as the Spanish Costas are more appealing as holiday destinations.
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – September average temp 22C
The capital of the Czech Republic and tourist mecca Prague is a great place to be in September with lovely temperatures and lots of outdoor action.
The city hosts a number of festivals at this time of the year and of course you have the World famous beer halls and beer! If you want a quick city escape you could head down to Berlin for the famous oktoberfest for more great beer!
MIAMI – October average temp 29C
So leaving Europe Behind we scoot over the Atlantic to the East coast of the USA to the grand city of Miami, more specifically Miami Beach.
Miami has an enviable year around climate but comes into it’s own in October just as the rest of the United States is cooling down. Miami beach is an extensive built up area that acts as a beach front for Miami itself.
There are so many cafes and bars to choose from in the Miami beach area and you’re not far from major airport hubs in order to move on to your next monthly destination.
MERIDA, MEXICO – November average temp 29C
We leave the United States and a short hop via the numerous Florida airports can take you down to Mexico. Our base of choice for November is the main city of the Yucatan peninsular, Merida.
In order to get to Merida you are best off going via Cancun airport where a direct bus can take you straight to Merida leaving the party resort behind.
Merida itself is a delightful Spanish colonial city blessed with great weather year around and some awesome choice of places to eat, drink and be merry.
There is also a thriving cafe scene in the old town which makes finding a wifi hotspot and catching up on work very easy indeed.
ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA – November average temp 28C
So finally we are into December and this month we head further South to the beautiful colonial town of Antigua.
The city is a great destination for Digital Nomads and indeed one could spend the whole year and never visit the same coffee shop twice!
There is a very healthy expat and English speaking student population in the town due to the huge number of language schools in residence.
With this large expat population is some world class restaurants and places to stay at very affordable rates.
If you are anything like me then you’ll be a seeker of an eternal summer too.
There are of course many destinations around the globe that offer a year round perfect climate for the digital nomad. Cities such as Antigua in Guatemala, Medellin in Colombia and and Kigali in Rwanda offer a year around Spring like climate that appeals to many.
However being nomadic will probably mean you will tire of being stuck in one place and the world is a big place and is getting smaller. Always remember that medical cover too when you are going overseas!
So with that in mind I am going to take you through a year of perfect weather in remote worker friendly places.
Starting off from January to June.
Auckland, New Zealand – Jan average temp 20C
It’s the start of a new year and while the Northern Hemisphere shivers under grey skies, the South is approaching mid-summer and frolicking on the beach and in the warm sea.
My pick for January would start off in the largest city of New Zealand, Auckland. The city of sails is in full outdoors mode in January with lots of events, festivals with great city beaches packed with sun-seekers.
The cafe culture of Auckland will ensure you will always have somewhere cool to work from when you are not having a BBQ by the beach.
Sydney, Australia – Feb average temp 25C
A three short hope across the ditch from NZ and you land in Australia and there aren’t many places on the planet better than Sydney in Feb.
Sydney’s long and enviable summer is very much in full swing this time of year with lots of events and activities to get in to.
Wake up early and head to Manley Beach for a surf then head to one of the 100s of beach side cafes that line Sydney’s shores. If you want to cool off from the fierce Australian heat then take a commuter train up to the Blue Mountains and be awestruck by the views.
Saigon (HCMC) Vietnam – Mar Average Temperature 30C
So leaving Australasia behind we now move into one of the most popular regions for nomadic workers, that being Southeast Asia, famous for year round tropical sun and affordable living.
HCMC is very much on the backpacker’s trail in Asia and is a great base for the month of March which heralds the finish of the dry season.
The city can be over-whelming but has all the right ingredients for a digital nomad including free wifi in the many coffee shops and co-working centres. Accommodation is available for all budgets and the friendly locals will ensure you are never short of great food or a cheap beer.
Bangkok, Thailand – average temperature 32C
OK so Bangkok is often quoted as the hottest city on earth (based on average daily temperatures) and April is one of the hottest months where temperatures can reach 40C! So why are we including Bangkok in April?
Well the Songkran water festival that takes over in April is worth a look for sure, just make sure you don’t have your laptop on you or put it in a waterproof bag!
Bangkok, the backpacker capital of Asia (the World?) is also a major centre for Digital Nomads, many of whom make the city their home for the year. It’s not hard to see why because compared to Europe and North America, the Thai capital is very affordable but has all those western comforts too.
The city is modernizing real quick but there are still street sellers and strong Thai culture running through the traffic-clogged streets.
Just don’t forget your waterproofs!
Bail, Indonesia – average May temp 29C
So we are flying South again across the Equator to the resort island of Bali. Bali is a well established destination for sun seekers and digital nomads alike. It’s a small island and can be crossed in a couple of hours (traffic permitting, and the traffic can be bad!) and punches well above it’s weight in terms of what it has to offer.
The predominantly Hindu island has beach resorts, artistic centres such as Ubud, high mountains and volcanoes that can be climbed. Bali also has all the modern western comforts and suits budgets grand and small.
Ubud in the hills and Seminyak in the south by the coast are the two most popular destinations for expats and many split their time between the two. Villas can be had for a few hundred dollars per month, and while it’s not as cheap as it once was, it’s certainly affordable if you are earning anywhere near a western wage.
As of May 2014 the local currency Rupiah has crashed against major currencies such as the dollar, euro and sterling making it even more affordable
Rome, Italy – average June temperature 28C
Rome is not one place you’d immediately associate with a digital nomad hangout but the Italian capital in many ways ticks a lot of boxes.
Firstly Rome is heating up nicely in June and is still bearable before the heat of July which can be quite oppressive to say the least.
Since the economic crash in Europe the Italian economy has suffered pretty bad along with other Southern European countries such as Spain and Greece. This was not good news for the country but it has been good news for visitors as Italy has become affordable again. While Rome is the capital and therefore more expensive than many places it is cheaper than it’s Northern rivals of Milan and Turin.
Rome is packed full of affordable accommodation both long term apartments and hotels too. There are many deals to be had on Airbnb and other booking sites.
The cafe culture is huge is Italy, the food is sublime and if you need a break from your work then you have 2000 years of history to immerse yourself and explore.
Look our for Part Two coming along soon that will feature the UK, Spain, USA, Mexico to name a few.
Being a digital nomad means you can generally live and work anywhere on the planet. There are of course some basic requirements for a place to have to make it a viable option e.g. living in a hut in the Borneo rainforest is going to be pretty cheap but you’ll need wifi, cafes and a social life!
The list below is not an exhaustive one by any means but do represent great value for money and an established digital nomad community. The focus of this article is on Southeast Asia.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang, or LP as it’s known by many is a colonial riverside town in the northern part of Laos. The mighty Mekong river sweeps through the town and orange clothed monks go about their everyday business in a similarly majestic way.
The former French colony town is an architectural masterpiece and so laid back it’s a joy to stroll around at any time of the day.
Accommodation range is vast and you can easily pay $10 for your own room even on a short term basis. Apartments are becoming more common now.
Cafes/coffee shops are everywhere and they nearly always offer wi-fi. Laos telecom does also offer 3G services which can be a great back-up if you cannot get online.
There is great scope for a social life as LP attracts many long stay expats as well as a steady stream of backpackers. There are lots of bars although nightlife tends to be low-key compared to neighbouring Thailand.
In terms of cost of living LP is very cheap, excellent quality food can be had all over the town, from boutique restaurants.
The downside to LP is the remote location and relative difficulty getting there, for instance the road trip to the capital is still an all day bumpy ride and to the Thai border your best bet is a two day slow boat up the Mekong!
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Fast becoming the capital of the digital nomad world Chiang Mai has a lot of appeal to the remote worker. The biggest reason why you should consider Chiang Mai is because it’s cheap!
You can rent a great apartment for just a couple of $100 or stay in a nice hotel/guesthouse for $20 per night. I stayed in one last year, it was newly built so didn’t have a name even, but offered luxury for $15, huge modern flat screen TV so I could plug my laptop into, top quality furnishings and most importantly a super fast wifi connection!
One thing Chiang Mai doesn’t lack is places to work. At one end you have a couple of Starbucks but beyond that there are lots and lots of independent coffee shops all competing for your baht.
CM also has a selection of shared work spaces, ideal for those who are in the city for a longer period of time and who are looking to hook up with other nomadic workers.
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Ubud is probably more famous for being a centre for arts, yoga and all things cultural. The ever expanding town which is actually and conglomeration of villages sits on the fertile plains away from the madness of the Southern Bali resort towns of Kuta/Seiminyak.
Ubud has been attracting travellers for years and it’s no longer off the beaten track. With a huge array of accommodation options it is actually very much on the beaten track now.
The temperature is ideal too and being up in the hills means no air conditioning at night. However it does seem to rain a lot, even in the dry season, but don’t let that put you off because the rains are usually over very quickly.
Wifi is available in many places throughout Ubud from coffee shops, guesthouses to shared office spaces such as Hubud.
I would say Ubud is particularly interesting for those digital nomads who are in holistic trends, yoga and the arts. There are many Yoga studios that double up as places to hang out and even work from such as the Yoga Barn.
Ubud is a pretty cheap destination to stay particularly if you are prepared to sign up for a number of months on a lease for a villa. Even those who only plan to stay there short term will be impressed with what you can get on a short term basis and it’s still possible to find a basic room for under $20!
If you do want to escape the lush green rice paddy fields of Ubud (why would you?) it’s possible to head to a number of beaches that are an hour or so away by shared car or minivan. One of the negative aspects of Bali is the fact the island is becoming over-populated and traffic is a nightmare to say the least and getting anywhere can be time consuming.
If you are happy to stay in Ubud then you will probably need a motorcycle or bike to get around as the area is quite spread out.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap (means Siam defeated!) is one of the fastest growing small cities in Southeast Asia. There is one reason for this and it’s in the shape of the World Heritage site of the ancient city of Angkor and the temples including the main attraction Angkor Wat.
SR is located in the north of the country and not too far from the border with Thailand. The route to the border use to be legendary with hardcore backpackers who spent the best part of a day being trucked from the Thai border along a very poor road to the city but this has been upgraded and Siem Reap is well and truly on the tourist map now.
This has also been helped by the relatively new airport of Siem Reap which has direct flights from many of the capital cities in Asia as well as domestic flights to Phnom Penh.
SR is well and truly on the radar of digital nomads these days. This is in part to the international feel of the city and the very many cafes and bars that caters to all from jet-setting high roller tourists to shoestring backpackers.
Also the visa situation is very good compared to all other Southeast nations, particularly the likes of Thailand and Indonesia. This is because anyone can arrive in Cambodia and buy a business visa for $25 month that actually means you can legally work there, so you could open up a local business to go along with your online ventures.
SR is small enough to walk pretty much anywhere although it is fast spreading out into the surrounding countryside so this may not always be the case.
Accommodation is very affordable and widespread catering to all budgets. A small apartment could be had long term for $200 to $300 which is cheap even by South-east Asian standards, yet you have all the facilities a Westerner would hope for such as international restaurants and supermarkets catering to Expats.
Indeed import tax is pretty low in Cambodia so foreign goods can be bought cheaper than in neighbouring countries.
There are lots of cafes and wifi is available pretty much everywhere. Also Cambodia has a surprisingly good 3G mobile network too so you won’t always need that wifi password.