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  • Chris Gib

10 thoughts on living the global traveller/remote worker/digital nomad dream: Part 1

Lizards scuttle across the sand as whales playfully breach a short distance from the beach. The palm trees sway in the gentle breeze while the sun reflects off the crystal-clear sea water. From the table of a coffee shop which boasts a backdrop of lush mountains, the remote worker nomad takes a sip of their morning coffee while they check their emails and gear up for a day of remote work. Living the dream.

Despite being a modern-day cliché, this dreamlike scenario is legitimate, realistic and obtainable for those that only require a reliable internet connection and a laptop to carry out their day-to-day work. Yet alongside the promise of toiling away in paradisiacal locations comes a host of complications and hurdles that remote workers might need to overcome or be aware of.

There are countless resources across the internet that delve into high-level concepts like productivity tools, work routines, network building, diversifying income streams and the latest digital nomad trends. Although they offer some great theoretical advice and resources, there’s no substitute to getting practical guidance from those who have actually “been there and done it”. So we decided to just pick 10 random nuggets of advice off the top of our heads having recently returned from a year backpacking on a shoestring budget across 14 countries while working remotely.

Invest in a reliable VPN

Virtual Private Networks are essential for remote working, especially if accessing client networks and internal resources on the go. VPNs encrypt data and mask IP addresses, which makes it infinitely more difficult for digital information to be accessed or traced by third parties. Many companies that employ freelance associates will require use of a VPN as part of their policies and processes. We utilised NordVPN on our travels and, although it isn’t perfect, it met most of our needs.

Get a portable second screen

A dual screen setup is a definite game-changer for remote working; More screen area enables more applications/programs open simultaneously resulting in increased efficiency, productivity, simpler & quicker workflows and seamless multitasking. On video calls and presentations, for example, it’s great to use one whole screen to engage in the meeting while using the second screen to display relevant documents, tasks and data. Graphics, design, editing, coding and website development are all made infinitely easier with two (or more) screens. We used this one on our travels and it was light, practical and reliable - although this is the (much more expensive) dream.

Backup your data every day

This point doesn’t really need to be laboured because it’s simple logic. After saving everything to a work laptop at the end of each workday, also back everything up on a separately stored high-capacity USB stick and also a micro-SD card that can be stowed in another secret location. In the event of crime, damage or loss etc., having (at least) 3 versions of everything saved in separate bags/wallets/purses/holdalls/pouches can mean the difference between getting back to work, and getting fired (or worse).

Be aware of “internet oppression”

Some of the more authoritarian or conservative governments across the globe control access to certain websites and platforms on the internet - or even access to the internet as a whole within their borders. Rightly or wrongly, they have their specific reasons to do so and it’s something that should be researched and planned for prior to arranging travel and work in those countries. VPNs are banned or severely restricted in places like Russia, China and many locations in the Middle East. In our experience and - despite what they claim on their website - NordVPN did not work at all in Egypt, even when attempting to use it with obfuscated servers. As a result we wouldn’t recommend Egypt as a remote worker destination, which is a shame because it’s an incredible place to visit.

Keep tabs on time zones

Broadly, it’s not too difficult to keep track of how many hours divide 2 different points around the world. The real danger is in the smaller details; Not being fully aware of seasonal time changes can easily result in a remote worker arriving an hour late (or early) for that all important meeting, interview or deadline - which isn’t a good look. The specific dates that clocks change seasonally vary with location, and some countries have multiple time-zones (looking at you USA). Being always on the move and covering long distances, aiming for exotic places across all seasons, turns time-zone tracking into a dark art. Good luck.

The popular opinion that globe-trotting remote workers “have it easy” is a myth! Being away from the safety, comfort and familiarity of home is tough even when the destination is an idyllic paradise. On top of the standard day-to-day challenges that would usually be experienced when working from within a comfort zone, remote workers will experience a host of additional pressures and factors to deal with - and that’s the balance associated with working remotely from exciting faraway lands. Incredible new environments, locations, cultures and experiences bring with them a host of unique new challenges and development opportunities for adventurers who have the ability ply their trade while enjoying everything that planet Earth has to offer.

Part 2 of this article offers another 5 thoughts geared toward ambitious working travellers focussing on finding the best possible accommodation, avoiding being a victim of crime, traveller fatigue, work/life balance and harnessing the experience to enhance personal brand.

We’d love to learn from the thoughts and experiences of others, so feel free to contribute a comment, or get in touch for a chat to discuss how you can benefit from DarkScorpio’s international experiences and capabilities.

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