Working Nomad Feb 2015 Update

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!

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1 Year & 12 destinations for the sun seeking Nomad – Part One

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.

JANUARY

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.

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Auckland, New Zealand

 

FEBRUARY

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.

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Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

 

MARCH

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.

Saigon, Vietnam
Saigon, Vietnam

 

APRIL

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!

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Tuk Tuk, Bangkok, Thailand

 

MAY

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

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Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia

 

June 

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.

Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy

 

Look our for Part Two coming along soon that will feature the UK, Spain, USA, Mexico to name a few.

 

Long haul travel on the cheap!

If you are a long term traveller or digital nomad with time on your hands then flying the around the World does not have to be expensive if you are prepared to be flexible with dates and destinations.

I recently flew from Sydney to London via Hawaii, Vegas, Mexico, Munich and Budapest on the cheap with mainly no-frills airlines.

Here is a breakdown of what I paid (prices in Pound Sterling)

Sydney to Honolulu via Auckland £200 with Air New Zealand
Honolulu to Las Vegas £90 with Allegiant Air
Las Vegas to Cancun £80 with United
Cancun to Munich £150 with Air Berlin
Munich to Budapest £20 (overland with DB trains)
Budapest to London Stansted £30 with Ryanair

Total = £570 (AUD $1050)

Had I booked a direct flight from London to Sydney I would have paid well over £900 when I left in January and I wouldn’t have got to see Hawaii and Mexico too!

I used skyscanner and google flights for most of my flight searching. Don’t like to admit it but I find Google flights better than Skyscanner as it’s easier to find cheaper fares at alternative airports nearby.

For instance it’s possible to search up to five airports from one country to five airports from another! Just supposing you were wanting a cheap flight to Dominican Republic you can enter the five nearest airports to you and then search the five main airports on the DR and Google will return the cheapest combinations.

Of course you need to be flexible if you really want to get the cheapest long haul fare but when you are travelling for months rather than weeks it’s normally no issue and travelling overland in most countries in the World is easy these days.

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The European Homeless in Australia

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Free camping for all near Bryon Bay, NSW

I have recently returned from a three month road trip around the continent country of Australia and hoping to get a story published in the Australian press about a subculture of backpackers I met on my travels.

This subculture fits the typical stereotype of the backpacker in Australia. Young Europeans on a trip of a lifetime Downunder. Many come with little money but armed with a WHV (working holiday visa) they hope to work for some of their time in OZ before spending their hard earned on a trip around the country.

The reality of often very different. Unemployment in Australia is on the rise and competition for ‘backpacker’ type work is fierce. Much of the work in rural Australia is now offered on a voluntary basis.

This group of unemployed backpackers are rarely seen in the flashy backpacker hostels or holiday parks. A bed in a hostel in Sydney for instance can be up to $50 (£26) a night. Australia is no longer a cheap destination for the young budget traveller.

So during my trip in the trusty Toyota Station Wagon I came across many from this subculture. They were from France, Italy, Spain, Greece and not only were they sheltering from the European winter, they were also escaping the widespread youth unemployment in their countries.

The photo is from a roadside rest area, usually frequented by truckers and road weary travellers who stop off for a quick rest. This one near the popular resort of Byron Bay on the NSW coast was a virtual campsite. “Why pay $50 for a bed in a room with a dozen strangers when you can camp for free” is their claim.

I spoke to lots of the homeless backpackers and in many cases they could barely afford food let alone a bed in a ‘flashpackers’. They washed in the sea and showered by the beach and ate wherever they could fire up their stove. Some were getting by on just a few dollars a day saving only enough to change their return flight home.

I am not really sure what the purpose of me highlighting their plight and writing their story. In most cases they have a flight home and are certainly not on the brink of starvation. I guess I felt sorry for them. They are economic migrants of sorts and I don’t believe for one second that they set off from Paris, Madrid or Rome with the intention of sleeping night after night by the roadside eating instant noodles and taking cigarettes from passing motorists.

Australia is the dream destination of many young people the World over but it is a magnet for the unemployed youth of Europe. Like so many migrants the World over the green grass they seek is often illusive.

8 Reasons why it’s hard to settle down

‘When are you going to settle down?’ is something I get asked a lot by people who have generally settled down themselves or live the sort of existence that society expects, e.g working 9-5, taking 4/5 weeks holiday per year etc…

So with only a couple of weeks to go before I head away again I thought I’d list some reasons why it’s difficult to settle down when you have a portable career.

1) Escape the winter

I am now convinced I suffer from SAD, perhaps not to the extent that some people do but if the skies are dark and when the days are short I am usually feeling pretty down. Even in the summer I have experienced this, made worse by the fact I have been living in the UK in a region that has it’s fair share of cloudy days! Nothing feels me with more positive energy than a sunny day.

2) Live in paradise

Paradise for many people is somewhere they go on holiday for two weeks e.g. a sun-kissed beach, tropical islands. Some will try and stay on and work there but will often find they are doing very long hours for very little pay and it becomes uneconomical and paradise is lost. Being able to choose where you live and still be able to work as much as you like is addictive and makes a 9 to 5 existence look like a prison sentence.

3) Financial reasons

As the cost of living goes up all over the World there is a huge advantage of living somewhere cheaper than your home country. Most places I visit are considerably cheaper than the UK for day to day living. Even living in nice hotels is cheaper than renting at home, but when you start searching for longer term apartments and living like locals then you can really make some serious savings.

4) Doing things I love in new places

Passions of mine include anything outdoors such as surfing and hiking. Luckily the UK has great National Parks and coastal areas with good surf, however part of the fun for me is discovering new places to surf and hike as I tend to get bored of doing the same walks or visiting the same break. I also prefer to be outdoors when it’s warm so year round destinations appeal more.

a2Image8925) Making new friends

Although I usually travel on my own I never find it hard to meet new people and I particularly like making friends from far flung places. In my travels I have made many friends of all ages and from many different countries. Having wanderlust is usually enough in common to be at least temporary friends. Also getting to know locals is cool too and having friends in different countries can be a real bonus and act as a mini support network.

6) Discovering new cultures

One of the real pleasures of long term travel is exploring new cultures that are totally alien to what seems normal. Although the UK is very multi-cultural it’s not the same as going out and discovering new cultures for yourself. Such is the diversity of the world I don’t think you could possibly run out of new cultures to discover! The more you see the more you want to discover.

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7) Not quite fitting in

A strong push reason and one that I have become more aware of over time. UK society and culture is very much about consumerism. We are urged to get into debt and in many cases spend beyond our means. Owning a house is an obsession, even if we can’t afford them, which is often the case.

I have always lived within my means and apart from a few gadgets I am not materialistic at all. Government’s want you to spend your money and make life difficult if you are not willing to play their way by inflating away any savings you have.

8) Falling in love? 

One thing I agree with is that you are far more likely to meet someone with a similar personality when you are happier and doing the things you have a passion for, such as travel.

Loophole exposed to get cheaper flights

There is a little known loophole that can enable you to save hundreds of £/$ etc on short and long haul flights. To gain access to these cheaper flights all you have to do is book from Expedia’s Brazil website.

Why Expedia.co.br?

The Brazillian government do not allow airlines to charge expensive fuel surcharges and if you book via this site you should see cheaper flights from anywhere to any destination.

I have tried out some sample flights and found a flight from London to Bangkok with Qantas to be over £100 cheaper, in this case it was £469 compared to £575. Long haul to Australia from Europe offered even better deals.

How do I find the bigger discounts?

Airlines charge different surcharges, for instance big savings can be made with Qantas, Air France / KLM, Emirates to name a few. Check out more fuel surcharges here.

Don’t I need to be in Brazil or have a Brazilian registered credit card?

I have not tried this myself but reports from many travel forums suggests that people have successfully booked flights via expedia Brazil even with a home address in a different country. Ensure you credit card matches your home address.

Where is the catch?

This seems to be a legal loophole but at some point the airlines might attempt to close it off. People have successfully boarded these flights but there will always be some risk involved so be aware of that if you book.

Interesting documentary on American Nomads

I watched a very good documentary last night entitled ‘American Nomads’ following various groups of Americans who can all be referred to as modern day nomads.

What I particularly found fascinating was the range of people who are living this alternative lifestyle, from cash rich ‘snow birds’ who plough the Interstates in their huge RVs (recreational vehicles) to young people barely out of college who live on the very edge of mainstream society existing on handouts and temporary work.

The snow birds are an interesting breed. They are usually retired and have lived a normal 9-5 life up to the point where they have sold their home and most of their possessions and have invested a great sum into their mobile homes.

It’s a particularly attractive retirement in my opinion. They follow the seasons like a flock of birds, heading south in the Winter and north for the summer. They live a very free and easy lifestyle.

Oddly enough on the same piece of free camping land can be found the younger generations who only really share the freedom aspect of the lifestyle. They don’t live in expensive vans fitted out with all the modern trappings, in fact they often only have what’s carried on their back and their transport is usually hitching.

I once picked up one of these nomads on the Big Sur in California. She was only with me for 20 mins or so before I dropped her off at some other beach where she planned to camp the night.

I kind of felt sorry for her at the time. She was from the East coast and had wanted to escape the drudgery of a normal 9-5 existence. But after a few more miles I considered that I shouldn’t really feel sorry for someone who was clearly happy with her life despite her scruffy appearance and lack of material possessions.

Indeed most unhappy people I have met in my life have been the ones trapped in a job, a mortgage etc and not the ones who are following their dreams.

 

If you are planning a trip overseas you’ll need insurance for independent travel to ensure you are covered for any medical emergencies. This is particularly true if visiting North America where medical costs are very high!

Technology is making a Nomad’s life a joy

The backpack that I now pack for trips looks very different to the one I packed back in 2005. It also contains a lot more technology than it ever did as well as more expensive items for which good insurance is now an absolute must!

Things have certainly moved on. I no longer have to hunt around for wifi hotspots and internet cafes or carry flash drives to tranfer data from laptop to web.

As I sit here now I am connected to the web via my mobile phone which is acting as a wifi hotspot using my 3G mobile account.

I have visited a number of countries this year, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Spain etc and managed to buy a 3G simcard on a prepay basis allowing me to use the web on the move.

So things have certainly moved on.

More technology has also meant I can travel much lighter these days. The best example of this is the Kindle ebook reader which has been on the best gadgets I have ever owned. So instead of having to carry around numerous books to read and lonely planet giuides to refer to I instead have one kindle!

My next trip I will be trying out a rather cool birthday present that was bought me, a powermonkey for storing power as well as a small solar panel. This is expecially useful for multi day hiking meaning I can recharge ipods, smart phones, kindles etc

So being nomadic now and being able to stay online has never been easier and I can’t see that trend ever reversing!

BLOG COMMENTS

I apologise for disabling blog comments on this site, but I am getting hundred of spam comments everyday and don’t have the time or inclination to go through them all!

Hello from Bali

Since, it was my idea to open up the blog to other Working Nomad forum members, I thought I should get around to making my first post here.

I think I first came across the Working Nomad website from the Lonely Planet travel forum and I joined on the 19th of April, 2006.  I only know this because it is listed in your profile on the forum.  It is amazing how time flies!  At the time I was working in a regular IT job in Japan.  I had already started blogging and building my own websites around 2005.

I was getting stressed from my job and I hated having to show up to work every day.  Seeing Webby’s blog gave me inspiration to pack it all in and quit my job and travel full-time.  I had always had dreams of making a big overland trip through Asia, where I would travel everywhere by buses and boats without catching any planes.  After checking the blog and forum daily from my job, I quit my job in December 2006.

I think my family didn’t realize I would be away traveling for so long.  They still don’t really get how I can make money online, even after many explanations!

I spent about six months in Beijing last year for the Olympics and this year I have lived mostly in Indonesia.  I am now living in Bali where I am working on a website for Bali expats.

Well I think I should say thank you to Webby for starting this website.  I like the great community in the forum and the mix of travel and making money online information.

Living for the weekend again

Tulum Ruins, Mexico
Tulum Ruins, Mexico

Well it’s now been four long years to the week since I last worked in a proper office, surrounded by proper people and doing proper work. Well that’s not entirely fair, I do work with people these days and I do consider my work to be kind of proper. What has changed is the way I look at weekends.

I can remember the time when Monday morning was something that filled me with dread, along with the thought that I still had five more days before the weekend. The one job I did when I occasionally had to work weekends is something I now consider as equally bad as having worked in Victorian Mills during the 19th century.

I have to admit that I valued my weekends a little more than I do now and as a result I don’t think I always make the most of my Saturday and Sunday. In fact it’s not uncommon for me to end up with a weekend where work and play just seems to merge into one. That could also be true of the weekdays themselves!

So what I am trying to do now is recapture my weekends and make them special again, and that means avoiding keyboards and world wide webs. This way I can focus more during the week on work.

I recently had a short trip to Mexico which was very enjoyable despite the fact my Spanish, or lack of it, made it a little frustrating at times, however it has made me further determined to learn more Spanish and a winter break destination will most likely be to a Spanish speaking region.

I have invited people from the forum to write blog so you may see unfamiliar posts now and again but they should help revitalize the site and I thank the new contributors.