About six months ago, I needed to finish up a project, so I was putting in some extra hours. When I finally left for the day, I commiserated with a coworker about working late, walked out of the building, got on the road, and drove the route home. Sounds like a normal day, but let me fill in some details:
I was working late hours because I was in Bali, Indonesia calling a client on the U.S. East Coast, and the time zones were 13 hours apart. While we talked on the phone, I was sitting in an open-air section of the workspace with a view of the workspace pool. As I left the workspace in Bali, I commiserated with other remote workers who have clients in the United States or Europe and have to deal with time zones. I walked out of the building past a bunch of gentle cows and local dogs that live near the space. I got onto the motorbike I had rented for the month, and I drove to my temporary home in a gorgeous villa.
As I drove, the weirdness of my day struck me, and I just had to smile. The day was both normal and not normal at the same time. I remember the stress of that phone call flying away as I thought about how much I enjoyed my weird and wonderful remote work days.
I got to have this and many other interesting work days while working full-time for Formstack and traveling the world with Remote Year. Remote Year is a program that provides housing, travel, workspace, and community options for remote workers as they travel the globe. Trips are always a little different, but for the most part, they involve around 70 remote workers living and working in a new city every month for a year.
Before last year, I was remote working for Formstack and traveling the United States trying to find a place to call home. But I found that I was happiest when I was exploring new places, not when I tried to stay in one for a long period of time. Through our network of remote workers, someone mentioned Remote Year, and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to ramp up my exploring-while-working lifestyle.
During the last year, I’ve been able to experience and work in 15 different countries. Some were on Remote Year itineraries, and some I experienced because of the wonderful group of fellow remote workers I met through Remote Year.
It feels like a weird dream thinking about how I was able to spend a Sunday canyoning through Spain; spend a morning surfing in Portugal before work; relax at a riad in Morocco on a work weekend; explore Vietnamese national parks after signing off for the week; ride horses through the Argentinian countryside on a Saturday; take a quick walking tour of a new city on a lunch break; and—most importantly for me—meet inspiring, helpful, and interesting individuals. I had great conversations with many amazing new people, both in my group and in the locations where we visited, by just going to work each day.
Working while traveling is not all rainbows and sunshine. You often find yourself searching for good wifi in the strangest places, and you possibly end up sitting in a closet for a conference call because it’s the only quiet place you can find at that moment with good wifi. The world is full of good wifi and quiet places, but unfortunately, they usually are not the same place!
Is it an added stress to have to find the perfect spot to give a remote presentation? Absolutely! But I find that this (and the many other challenges I’ve met along the way) helps me be quick on my feet, creative, and resourceful—which are useful skills in any job environment. Besides, once you find the quiet place with good wifi and finish the presentation, you can relieve your stress by planning a weekend trip to one of those quiet places in the world without wifi—because when you’re moving around, those quiet places without wifi are only a weekend trip away and can be the best mini vacations.
I’m extremely grateful for Formstack for providing a work environment that lets me choose how I work remotely. I’m thankful for Remote Year for providing a community because my community was everything. I’ve been able to explore the world earlier in life than I ever thought I’d get the chance to do. And I’ve learned more than I ever expected to about myself and how I work, the interconnected world we live in, and different remote work cultures.
If anyone is reading this and wants to give remote working while traveling a try, I highly recommend it. Don’t stress too much; just try it! Nothing will go as planned anyway, and the unplanned moments are the best.