Digital Nomad Travel Insurance

Depending on your point of view, health cover is the biggest headache for long term digital nomads, or you can bury your head in the sand and prey you don’t become ill.

bondi-sydney

The issue is that normal travel insurance doesn’t work, because usually you will have to be six months resident in your country before you leave, that’s great if you it’s your first time out, bit not so for the long term nomad!

Traditional Travel Insurance is not suitable for digital nomads or long term travellers.

Expat health insurance would be another option, but some tie you into one country, and they are mostly very expensive, aimed squarely at the rich Expat on a corporate package.

So where does that leave the digital nomad who is getting by on $1000 a month?

WorldNomads.com, at this point in time (April 2016), are the only Worldwide provider who will extend your travel insurance while you are overseas, and therefore get round the six months residency rule.

 

Travel insurance: simple & flexible

You can buy, extend and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

7 things you should know about travel insurance from WorldNomads.com

  1. Trusted reliable underwriters
    WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24 hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.
  2. Value for money with the cover you need
    WorldNomads.com provides cover for what’s important for travellers from over 150 countries. By focussing on what you need and leaving out what you don’t, World Nomads prices are some of the most competitive online.
  3. Flexibility when you need it most
    Had a change of plans? You can extend your policy or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you’re already travelling.
  4. Cover for a range of adventure activities
    From skiing & snowboarding in New Zealand to whitewater rafting in Colorado, WorldNomads.com covers a range of adventure activities, giving you peace of mind to get the most from your travels.
  5. World Nomads keeps you travelling safely
    All WorldNomads.com members have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.
  6. More than just great value travel insurance
    All WorldNomads.com members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal.
  7. Commitment to exceptional customer service
    We want to make sure you get the most from WorldNomads.com. You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip. If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact WorldNomads.com directly.

 

Las Vegas as a Digital Nomad destination?

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.

vegas

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.

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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.

Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads – An Alternative view?

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.

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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.

Other Options?

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.

IN CONCLUSION

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 😉

MORE RESOURCES

What I’ve been reading and watching – July 14

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”

http://www.geektime.com/2014/07/01/best-free-coworking-spaces-around-the-world/


 

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.”

http://lifehacker.com/an-experienced-freelancers-guide-to-finding-clients-1610357303


 

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….”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/07/20/road-warriors-travel-nomads/12315663/


 

From Sara Rosso – “I wanted to share some of my own reflections, lessons, and scenes of working for a startup with an entirely distributed team for the past four years, in no particular order.” 

http://whenihavetime.com/2014/07/08/10-lessons-from-4-years-working-remotely/

 


From Tortuga Backpacks – An interesting concept, the workcation, similar I guess to being a working nomad!

“This post is for freelancers, entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and business owners. Freelancers and solo entrepreneurs will have the easiest time taking workcations.”

http://blog.tortugabackpacks.com/workcation/


 

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.”

http://www.techinasia.com/12-startups-in-12-months-how-this-digital-nomad-doing-it/


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. “

http://life.almostfearless.com/a-brief-history-of-digital-nomading/

 

Hope you enjoyed reading and watching this stuff as much as I did!

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1 Year & 12 Destinations for the Sun Seeking Nomad – Part Two

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.

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.

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AUGUST

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.

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SEPTEMBER 

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!

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OCTOBER 

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.

 

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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.

NOVEMBER 

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.

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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.

DECEMBER 

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.

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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.

 

Established places to live as a remote worker

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

luangLuang 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

tuk-chiangFast 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

bali-beachUbud 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

angkorSiem 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.

Destination Bristol UK for the location independent

bristol-englandThe UK might not be the first destination you think of for someone who can work from anywhere to locate to. It’s expensive and the weather generally sucks, which are usually the two key things many laptop warriors look for when deciding on a remote location.

That’s only part of the truth though and  for around half the year (Apr – Sept) the weather doesn’t always suck and the cost of living isn’t quite as bad as it once was, particularly compared to up and coming regions in the world. Indeed I have on many occasions paid more for a beer in Bangkok than I have in Bristol!

Being from Britain I feel duty bound to put forward it’s case as a great European nomadic hot spot focusing particularly on my home city Bristol, located in the South-west of the UK (approximately 2 hours west of London).

Bristol has been transformed in the last few years and is unrecognisable from the place I once came to for a meeting back in the late 90s. I remember stepping out of the mainline railway station and already dreaming of the 1h 40 mins train back to the civilisation of London.

Bristol is awash with places to work, coffee shops, libraries, bars and some reasonably priced shared work space. I am going to focus on ‘free’ places to work rather than renting space. I did rent a desk a few years ago hoping to mingle with other freelancers and creative people but no one was ever there and I spent most of my time in isolation! I would have been just as better off working from home (for free).

Working from home is something I generally avoid. I am much more productive when I am away from the fridge, kettle, TV and other distractions.

So here is my list of my favourite places to go and work, meet friends for coffee/beer, sit about reading or generally hang out.

BRISTOL CENTRAL LIBRARY
College Green, Bristol BS1 5TL

My go to place to work and from where I have written this piece. It has free wifi, it’s peaceful and there is always somewhere to sit. Even though the students have flooded in this time of year I have always found a desk. Slightly annoying that they leave their work out on the desks and go for long lunches, in the same way people leave towels on sunbeds!

It’s in a grand old building bang in the centre of the City, it has toilets and a cafe too! You are not allowed to eat or drink in the main library but you can bring in water. It has everything including long opening hours e.g. 7.30pm most nights.

WATERSHED
1 Canon’s Rd, Bristol BS1 5TX

The Watershed opened all the way back in 1982 and was the United Kingdom’s first dedicated media centre. Based in former warehouses on the harbourside distric at Bristol, it hosts three cinemas, a café/bar, events/conferencing and fast wifi 🙂

This is not a free space as such so you should buy a drink or food and there are sometimes some annoying restrictions on where you can sit if you are there with a laptop but generally this is not an issue. A great place to hang out and my second favourite go to place.

TOBACCO FACTORY
Raleigh Rd, Bristol, Avon BS3 1TF

The Tobacco Factory is the last remaining part of the old Wills Tobacco site located in Southville which is just south of the City Centre. It houses a theatre, shared spaces, a huge bar/dining/coffee shop area and holds a weekly farmers market on a Sunday.

Things I like; it’s spacious and there is always a table free in the daytime. Coffee is one of the cheapest in Bristol (£1.60 for a latte!) and the wifi is good and fast. It’s often frequented by Mums and their screaming precious little ones but a good pair of earphones cuts them out of the equation. Breast-feeding is common!

THE LOUNGE NORTH ST
227 North Street, Bristol BS3

Part of a small chain of ‘lounge’ type bars these places are good spots for working from. They have a very reasonably price menu including a great Tapas deal and fair priced coffee. They can be very busy in the evening but no problem finding a desk in the daytime. Free wifi but bring the ear phones for protection from the screaming brats. Sells beer too.

THE BOSTON TEA PARTY
75 Park St, Bristol, BS1 5PF & 97 Whiteladies Rd, Bristol, BS8 2NT (two locations)

Again part of a small chain of coffee shops the BTPs are a great place for nomadic workers. They offer a great value menu at a number locations across the city and wifi is available.

They can be very busy though and would be the first place mentioned in this list where finding a table is not always possible so I tend to only frequent occasionally.

GROUNDED BEDMINSTER
66-68 Bedminster Parade, Bristol, Avon BS3 4HL

Grounded are another small chain of cafe bars in Bristol and the surrounding area. This one in Bedminster which is walking distance from the centre is a huge place.

One major drawback is lack of free wifi, you would need to be signed up a national mobile network. However if you have work to do that can be done offline this is a great place to go due to lots of space and lovely vibe. Their pizza is amazing too but their coffee is too weak for me (in fact a problem throughout the UK!).

COFFEE NUMBER ONE
Gloucester Road, Bristol

I use to live near Gloucester Rd and it’s a great part of the city, full of independent shops and cafes. Coffee number one is a small chain of cafes around Bristol and they do the best flat whites outside of New Zealand!

They do have wifi but always a bit iffy to be honest but a good place to do some offline work or get your dongle out.

BOCABAR
Paintworks Central Trading Estate, Bath Rd, Paintworks, Bristol BS4 3EH

Bocabar is a really cool place, just one mile from the mainline railway station near the suburb of Brislington. It is by the river and has a real ‘you could be somewhere more exotic than Bristol’ vibe about it.

Wifi is free and fast, you are competing for space with yummy mummy types but there is always enough space to go around in the daytime.

At night it’s a cool bar that does great pizza!

BRISTOL IN CONCLUSION

Bristol is often being voted number one place in the UK to live and is a great place to be based. It is a smallish city of half a million people but has a good enough international vibe of a second-tier city.

It certainly doesn’t have the same digital nomad vibe that somewhere like Chiang Mai would have due to sheer cost and relatively poor weather but there is lots going in Bristol and culturally it beats many other cities hands down.

 

 

 

Changes in the digital nomad World

I has been nearly eight years since I first set off from the UK with a laptop and a dream. It seems more and more nomads are doing the same these days and with changes in technology, it has never been easier.

I thought it would be useful to see what’s changed over the last eight years and to illustrate how it’s easy it has become to follow this lifestyle.

The biggest change has of course been in technology and this is very much the main reason why living a working nomadic life is becoming easier.

Back in 2005 the only technology I had was a small laptop and a memory stick. I relied on Internet cafes to upload my work and to write blog posts and to be honest this worked pretty well.

When I go out to a coffee shop now I will have at least two bits of technology put of an IPad, smart phone and laptop and in theory I can work from any of these devices.

Additional pieces of equipment are solar powered chargers, mini keyboards and backup drives.

Connecting online has never been easier. Free wifi is available in many places and where it isn’t I usually have the backup of my smart phone with 3G Internet which I can tether to my other devices.

Also finding somewhere to rest one’s head has never been easier too. There are lots of options in terms of long term lettings that can be more useful than normal hotels or guesthouses.

I can only see it being easier in the future to be location independent and all I can say is bring it on!

Downsizing to a Nomad

It’s truly amazing how much you can downsize when you put your mind to it. Going away on a nomadic trip for a few months provides a good reason to get rid of stuff you don’t really need or use.

I have recently come back from a five month trip away and moved out of my flat lock stock and barrel. The charity shops near where I lived certainly benefited from this move as I offloaded much of my stuff.

I managed to get everything into a my medium sized car apart from my surfboard on the roof. I then drove across my city and parked my car in a friend’s garage for the northern winter.

From there I left carrying a mere 12 kg in a main pack and about 3 kg in a smaller pack, and even then I felt like I had too much stuff!

It makes you wonder how little you actually need to exist. Even with a mere 15 kg of gear I felt I had more than I needed.

Here is a list of some of my gear to illustrate I didn’t go without…

– Laptop, for work and entertainment
– Kindle / Ebook reader, the only book I carried
– Samsung S Galaxy smart phone and local simcards for all countries I travelled through providing me with mobile internet, a decent camera, entertainment, communications etc
– More than enough clothing for tropical and summer climates
– All required toiletries
– Spare pillow (I have a thing about poor quality hotel/guesthouses pillows offering no support!)
– Flip flops and converse sneakers
– Rain proof jacket and poncho
– Softball glove!

This is not the full list but you get the idea.

The biggest change has been in technology and it’s now possible to pretty much work and travel with a small laptop or even a large smart phone, if you are just updating blogs for instance.

Gone are the days of carrying around ipods, lonely planet and other books, cameras. Perhaps in the future a smartphone, the shirt on your back and passport will be enough.