Croatia, A Work From Home Destination
I used to work hard. Now I hardly work. Here are my secrets. People often ask me some version of “How the hell do you do it?” in reference to my travel-heavy, job-light existence these last few years. I freelance sporadically as a brand & marketing strategist, but am predominantly free to wander the globe doing some combination of yoga, photography, ukulele-playing, and formulating elaborate excuses to not finish my travel memoir. Now, I realize everyone’s financial situation and mosquito tolerance is different, but here is a strategic sampler platter of travel tips that make my lucky lifestyle possible, in case a few of these end up being useful to you.
1. Alternate between working hard and hardly working. Unless you’re reading this from your Tesla jet ski on your private island, you probably need some form of income to finance extended travels. Personally I prefer working my tushie off for a few months when freelance projects arise, and then getting the hell out of dodge when work slows down or if I’m craving a break that a Kit-Kat won’t satisfy. Obviously this requires a somewhat flexible housing and employment situation, but that’s why Al Gore invented the internet and made things like airbnb and Slack possible.
Sure, there are full-blown digital nomads who travel for years at a time and work regularly, and on the other extreme are most Americans, barely squeezing out an annual two-week getaway. I’m simply suggesting a middle ground called binge traveling that has worked well for me, alternating between spurts of focused working and freeing travel. That way you’re not shackled by the paltry PTO days of a full-time job, your relationships and bank account don’t get strained by nonstop travel, and your time abroad can be primarily devoted to exploration and leisure rather than praying for strong wifi during conference calls.
2. Tame the biggest expense (airfare) with the right credit card. Once you arrive in most parts of the world outside of Europe and North America, you can truly get by comfortably on about $30 a day (or $15 if you don’t mind being less comfortable). But getting there and back will cost you, unless you have airline miles and are somewhat flexible in your flight dates.
Most loyalty programs now only reward the pricey fares of business travelers, so the best way to accrue miles is to get a credit card with a sweet sign-up bonus. There are awesome blogs dedicated to the art of affordable airfare, like The Points Guy, so I won’t belabor this point. Just know that I’ve only paid for two international flights out of the last ten I’ve taken, largely thanks to 50,000+ free miles sign-up offers on two airline-affiliated credit cards.
3. Timing is everything. Visit places during their low (off) season. Do a bit of research on what “low season” means for that place. If it’s Monsoon City or the whole town literally shuts down, abort mission. But if it means a short rain every afternoon like in Guatemala or hotter temperatures like in Thailand, it’s really not so bad. Your reward for sweating it out is fewer crowds and cheap, abundant lodging. Book a hotel for your first night or two in advance so you have somewhere to sleep off the jetlag, but consider finding longer-term accommodations the old fashioned way. You will always get better walk-in rates than from booking online through an aggregator, and in some cases be able to negotiate discounts for longer stays.