We’ve all seen the photos: laptop balanced on one knee, looking out over the giant palm trees, or the crashing waves of the ocean, or any other instagrammable-backdrop. Being able to work from anywhere in the world is what dreams are made of. Having the freedom to travel whilst maintaining the stability of earning a living is the sweet spot that thousands of people search for every year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies have upheaved their remote-work policy. Working remotely is now more accessible than it ever was. So, why work from home when you could work from anywhere in the world?
Living a digital nomad lifestyle can be pricey, but choosing the right destinations will keep your expenses down. An annual travel subscription, such as eDreams Prime, helps you travel further whilst saving money on every booking. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure you get the very best out of your digital nomad experience, and some destinations to consider too.
Tips for working remotely whilst travelling
1. Budget, budget, budget
It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of it all and end up spending more than you accounted for. Having a weekly or monthly budget helps to keep you on track – and know when you can spend a bit extra too!
1a. Stay in places with a low cost of living for longer
As a digital nomad, you’re free to live and work anywhere in the world, and no place should feel off-limits. Keep your costs down and base yourself somewhere with a low cost of living. You can travel all over the world, but places like Paris, New York and Shanghai are best enjoyed in small doses or they’ll eat away at your budget very quickly. For example, you might base yourself in Lisbon, Portugal, as it has a relatively low cost of living for Europe (and a thriving remote-work scene), and then spend a few days here and there in the more expensive cities of London, Paris and Zurich – just a short flight away.
1b. Subscribe to a travel subscription program
A travel subscription program, like eDreams Prime, allows you to hop from one place to another, getting the best price every time. With over one million Prime members, we’re able to offer the very best prices on every flight and accommodation booked. On average, a Prime member saves €250 on each holiday booking (flight and accommodation for 2 people). If you’re racking up a few bookings in a year, then eDreams Prime is worth it, as you’ll make back the annual fee of €54.99 very quickly, and you’ll save money every time you book. Add Prime onto your booking when you next purchase a flight from eDreams.
1c. Travel around the world with low-cost airlines.
Did you know that you can go around the world using only low cost airlines? Air travel doesn’t have to be expensive, even on long-haul flights. In 21 steps, you can do a tour of the world, travelling exclusively with low cost airlines. There are plenty of no-frills airlines all over the world. Search for the cheapest flight routes to keep your costs down while you travel.
2. Choose destinations that have good internet connection
Any digital nomad will tell you that a good WiFi connection is not to be undervalued. We take it for granted at home or in the office, but it’s not a given when you’re working on the road. Some cities are very generous with their WiFi, offering free connectivity anywhere you go, whilst in other places you might struggle to even connect in a cafe after buying a coffee. Check before you go, so you know what to expect and have time to plan where you’ll work.
3. Coworking spaces are crucial
You might think “I haven’t given up my 9-5 office job to travel around the world enjoying life, just to then go straight back to working in an office environment” – and yes, it might not be for you. But, there’s something to be said about an air-conditioned room with plenty of desk space, good coffee and hardworking people around that makes it easier to get the job done. Without the constraints of a 9-5 (was it ever really 9-5?), you might like working in an office environment when the moment calls for it. It’s also a good place to meet other digital nomads and socialize, if the office-thing wasn’t doing it for you.
4. Spend your non-working time wisely
Remote working can be a lonely business. Visions of drinking cocktails at sunset after you close your laptop never seem quite as fun when you’re on your own. The good news is that more and more people are working whilst travelling the world, and (most of the time) they’re looking to meet new people too. Choose destinations that attract like-minded people, and you’ll never be alone.
The way you spend your non-working time is in some ways more important than the way you spend your working time. To fully recharge your batteries and get your juices flowing, choose places that excite you and have things that you love to do on your days off. Remember that you chose to work remotely for the experience, so get out there and try new things!
5. Be prepared to work hard
Being a digital nomad doesn’t necessarily mean a 4-hour work week. At least not for most people. To earn enough money to live comfortably and travel the world, you’ll have to put in the hours. This might seem extra hard when the beach is calling your name, or you have another city waiting to be explored. But knowing all the exciting things that await you once you finish work, you’re likely to work more efficiently than ever before. And who knows, you might find your groove with a 4-hour work week at one point.
6. Remember that logistical nightmares hit doubly hard
We hate to say it, but they really do. Logistical nightmares happen to everyone, but when you’re travelling the world, the search for a good WiFi connection, space to work and a plug to charge your laptop are small necessities that can’t be taken for granted. There’s also the fiasco of different time zones. Conference calls every Monday morning when you’re travelling the world are extra tough – especially when they fall at 3am local time.
7. Don’t rush from one country to the next
Slow down. Enjoy it. Don’t rush off to the next country just to tick places off your bucket list. Enjoy where you are, and spend enough time there to fully experience it before moving on. Being a digital nomad means you have all the time in the world, and there’s no point rushing your travels. Choose a long-term travel subscription program like eDreams Prime to ensure you get year-round discounts on flight and accommodation.
8. Give yourself time to get used to being a digital nomad
Humans are creatures of habit, and any change in our day to day lives takes getting used to. Packing up your things and taking your work on the road can be overwhelming and you may need some time to really start enjoying it. Give yourself a “trial period” of say 2 months. Stick out the 2 months, even if you find it hard, and then decide to continue or not after having given it a good go. Don’t give up at the first bad internet connection!
9. Know that working from the beach is fun. For a day
“Let’s move to Bali and work from the beach everyday” – said everyone, at some point in their lives.
Sure, the beach is fun. And there’s nothing quite like that ha-ha-you’re-stuck-in the-office-and-I’m-here-working-from-a-beach-bar-with-a-strawberry-smoothie-in-hand feeling.
Sand really does get in all places, beach WiFi is unreliable. Beaches are quite hot. And sweaty. It’s hard to concentrate. And who really enjoys half-working-half-playing anyway? After the novelty wears off, working at the beach is not that fun. Spend your working hours efficiently, so that you have more time to enjoy things like the beach at 100%. Not half heartedly.
Are you still up for the challenge of being a digital nomad? Despite the hurdles and logistics, being a digital nomad is one of the best feelings there are. With the whole world at your feet, where will you go? Here’s a few of our favourite destinations for long-stays whilst working remotely.
Best destinations for being a digital nomad
Bali is at the top of most lists of best destinations to live and work remotely. It’s long been the poster child for digital nomad adventures, and we’d be amiss to leave it out. Canggu is a popular area on the island of Bali, with lots of trendy coffee shops and coworking spaces. Coworking and remote work are part of the international lifestyle in Canggu, and it’s very easy to meet people doing the same thing. Great weather, good surfing spots and trendy places to eat are just a few of the reasons digital nomads choose Canggu as their temporary home.
Bali is also very cheap. More expensive than the rest of Indonesia, but if you’re coming from the UK, Europe or the USA, you’ll find the prices here are extremely affordable. With the same amount of monthly rent you’d spend on a single room in Central London, you can rent an entire villa – with a private pool – in Bali.
Have a look at these 25 things to do in Bali whilst you’re there.
- Cost of living: €1,000 – €1,200 a month
- WiFi: Free WiFi almost everywhere you go.
- Where to travel on days off: Ubud, Uluwatu, Lombok
Working and travelling around Europe doesn’t have to be expensive. Lisbon is an ideal place to base yourself if you’re looking to explore Europe while you work. The coworking spaces are second to none in Lisbon. Try out Village Underground – a coworking space made out of 14 old shipping containers and two double decker buses from the ‘60s! There are also more coffee shops than you can shake a stick at, each trendier than the last.
To top it off? Lisbon is cheap compared to other major European cities. You won’t blow your budget in a few days, and you’ll be able to find good accommodation for a fair price. There’s so much to see near Lisbon, and beyond. You’ll find cheap flights to almost anywhere in Europe from Lisbon, and if you only have a few hours to spare there are beaches and little towns to be explored just on your doorstep.
- Cost of living: €1,400 – €1,700 a month
- Wifi: Free, fast WiFi in coffee shops and coworking spaces
- Where to travel on days off: Cascais, Porto, Seville
Barcelona is, dare we say it, Europe’s coolest city? No place quite has the atmosphere and laid-back lifestyle that Barcelona has. The city beach, the skateboarders and the fascinating architecture give Barcelona its soul. The city runs on sunlight and tapas – and the people are happier for it. Barcelona has a huge, welcoming, international community, and a thriving tech scene – perfect for budding tech entrepreneurs. Slightly more expensive than Lisbon, Barcelona is still much cheaper than the bigger European cities like Madrid, Milan and Paris.
Nature-lovers will appreciate the surroundings of Barcelona, where mountain hiking, skiing and remote beach coves are aplenty. Being a digital nomad in Barcelona is a great place to start – but beware – you might never leave.
Have a look at this low cost guide to Barcelona to get some ideas.
- Cost of living: €1,500 – €1,800 a month
- Wifi: Fastest internet speed in the whole of Spain
- Where to travel on days off: Costa Brava, Valencia, Ibiza
Chiang Mai, Thailand
The food is surely enough of a reason to make Chiang Mai your remote work base. One of the best cuisines in the world, authentic Thai food is to die for. It’s also incredibly cheap. 1-2€ a dish cheap. If mango sticky rice isn’t a good enough reason for you, there’s also a thriving coworking scene. Several are even open 24/7 so that you can work at any time of the day or night that suits you.
For people on a tight budget, Chiang Mai will get you far with very little. It’s incredibly cheap to eat, play and stay. Whilst the location is quite remote, in a mountainous region in the north of Thailand, you can still travel to some great places that are just a short flight away.
- Cost of living: €700 – €1,000 a month
- Wifi: Very fast internet with lots of free WiFi spots around the city.
- Where to travel on days off: Chiang Rai, Luang Prabang, Myanmar
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Playa del Carmen is not as established yet as a digital nomad hotspot, like some other destinations on this list, but is perhaps all the better for it. The remote work scene is small but growing rapidly. The cost of living is low, and there are cheap monthly rentals to be snapped up beach-side for any digital nomad looking to make Playa del Carmen their base.
Playa del Carmen has all of the things we love about Mexico: beaches, mountains and great food. With the added bonus of very speedy WiFi – which can be tricky to find in some parts of the country. The main draw of Playa del Carmen is undoubtedly its beaches. If you’re not a die-hard beach lover, this place is not for you.
- Cost of living: €900 – €1,200 a month
- Wifi: Strong, reliable internet connection found all over
- Where to travel on days off: Cancun, Holbox, Cuba
Buenos Aires, Argentina
South America’s digital nomad hub, Buenos Aires, draws in people from all corners of the earth. The low cost of living and vibrant culture are why so many people choose to stay in Buenos Aires for extended periods. The Argentinian capital has a well-established co-working culture, plenty of local start-ups, and a lively expat community.
Your evenings away from work could be spent learning to dance tango and testing out your new found Spanish skills with the locals. Nightlife in Buenos Aires is a long, wild, colourful affair. Get stuck in, and use this city as your starting point to visit the rest of South America.
- Cost of living: €650 – €950 a month
- Wifi: Good access to WiFi all over the city, with a fast connection.
- Where to travel on days off: Rosario, Montevideo, Santa Fe
If you’re ready to take the plunge and start your digital nomad journey, use the eDreams Prime subscription to start saving on every travel booking.