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Category: Advice

3 Lessons I Learned From My Digital Nomad Lifestyle

This is a guest post by Nico Jannasch, a travel blogger dedicated to helping as many people become digital nomads as possible. He created a course ‘How to Become a…

This is a guest post by Nico Jannasch, a travel blogger dedicated to helping as many people become digital nomads as possible. He created a course ‘How to Become a Digital Nomad’ to help newbies get on the road.


 

In early 2015 I bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok. For the next year I traveled around Asia, living in 5 countries including Thailand, The Philippines and China. My name is Nico Jannasch and I’m a digital nomad.

Two years ago I wouldn’t have recognized the life I live today. I was stressed out, taking college classes I didn’t like, and wondering what was missing. I felt like everyone was living out a prewritten script that I didn’t want to take part in. I fell asleep in every class and read tons of personal development books that had me searching for more excitement and meaning in life.

During the last 4 months of 2014 I took up freelance writing to earn my first ‘location independent’ income. During my first week I earned over $600, and I felt a type of freedom I hadn’t experienced before. I flew to Chicago to test if this whole ‘nomad’ thing was possible, and took a similar trip a few weeks later to Puerto Rico. Tim Ferris was right, digital nomad lifestyle WAS possible. 🙂

Soon afterwards I dropped what I was doing in North America and flew to Asia. For the past year I’ve been living, dating, and earning income as a full-time nomad! I only brought $1,000 of spending money with me, which made the whole experience a ‘crash course’ in this new lifestyle. Sink or swim.

I’m glad to say… I didn’t sink! I successfully learned how to earn money, make friends, live well, and travel. Along the way I learned many important lessons about how to thrive as a nomad.

Here are a few tips I learned from my first year of a digital nomad lifestyle.

Getting work done

You’ll need money to fuel your new digital nomad lifestyle. This will involve work of some kind, and that’s true whether you want to stay employed with your current company, become a freelancer, or start your own business. This can be a nightmare when you’re traveling, so here are some of my best tips for working efficiently. You can also check this fantastic piece by Brian Kidwell on how you can increase productivity and creativity by traveling.

Don’t try to do important work in hostels. They’re typically full of people in vacation mode who are loud, trying to convince you to take shots, and probably spilling beer on your keyboard. It’s great fun, but not when you’re trying to close a deal with a potential client.

Co-working spaces are a much better option because you’ll be surrounded with other people trying to get work done. Be warned though, signing up for dedicated desk for a month can cost as much (or more) than your rent!

The best way I’ve found to be more productive is to travel slower. Constantly going new places is exhausting, and new distractions keep you from getting big projects done. When you travel slower, say 2-3 months per location, you can rent an apartment to give you some private space for working efficiently. Also, the unavoidable excitement of a new location dies down as it begins to feel like a home.

Lars At 'Summit' In Utah

Lars At ‘Summit’ In Utah

Fitness and health

If you’re going to be on the road long-term you need to build routines to stay healthy. Most people travel with a ‘vacation’ mindset that involves eating whatever they want, drinking every night, and never working out. That’s only okay if you’re away from home for at most two weeks.

When you get to a new location, work out as soon as possible. I usually throw on my workout shorts within 3 hours of getting into a new apartment. Most people throw their bags off and lie down on the bed for a few hours when they get to a new location.

Your brain learns that certain behaviors belong in certain environments. By working out immediately you tell your brain that you’re going to be healthy while you’re here. Start this routine when you arrive and continue at least every other day. I never missed a workout in Asia.

You never know where you’ll be when you’re traveling, so you want to build an exercise routine you can do anywhere. My go-to exercises are sit-ups, push ups, and squats, because I just need a little floor space and can find that anywhere. In addition to these, I’ve used 6-litre plastic water jugs as barbells for ‘pull’ exercises for biceps and back muscles. You probably need to buy them everywhere you go anyway!

Nico In Istanbul - digital nomad lifestyle

Nico In Istanbul

Getting lonely

I never got lonely during my year in Asia. In fact, I think it would have been hard to do so! I was always just a Skype call away from my family and I could always ‘ping’ my friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc. Technology has made it so easy to connect, even when you’re a digital nomad on the far side of the world, so make sure to leverage these technologies!

I met so many travelers like myself who were far from home and looking to make friends. Hostels are a terrible place to get work done, but you’ll meet some amazing people there if you’re looking to bust a lonely feeling!

I also really enjoyed making friends with local families! I met a guy in Vietnam who brought me to meet his family in a nearby town. I stayed with them for a week, continued my traveling, and then returned to see them again before coming back to the USA! They’re like a 2nd family on the far side of the world.

Think connecting with locals who don’t speak your language is impossible? It isn’t. Even though I hardly spoke any Vietnamese and their family hardly spoke any English, we were able to communicate fairly well, laugh together, and share meals.

I really enjoyed hanging out with their kids as well, because everyone around the world speaks the same ‘play’ language that children do. Sports are also a great way to connect with locals. Soccer is a language spoken around the world!

Nico in Laos - digital nomad lifestyle

Feel Ready To Become A Nomad?

If you’re already location independent then you can apply these lessons today. If you haven’t ‘take the leap’ then this post may inspire you to do so! These tips will certainly be helpful as you begin your journey.

If you’re serious about becoming a digital nomad and living a digital nomad lifestyle, I highly recommend checking out my course How To Become A Digital Nomad.

My co-founder and I have included everything we know about jump-starting a travel-friendly career, optimizing your lifestyle for freedom and flexibility, and meeting like-minded people to share experiences with. We’ve also broken down a lot of the myths about becoming a digital nomad!

With the resources, tips, tricks, and expert interviews that we provide in this course you’ll be ready to confidently launch into this lifestyle yourself!

Any tips or resources that you would like to share with us? Feel free to comment below.

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9 Reasons You Can Increase Productivity and Creativity by Traveling

This is a guest post by Brian Kidwell who is the founder of TravelThisPlanet.com. Travel This Planet was created to share travel tips and advice to make traveling as easy…

This is a guest post by Brian Kidwell who is the founder of TravelThisPlanet.com. Travel This Planet was created to share travel tips and advice to make traveling as easy and fun as possible. Brian also created a Facebook group to build a community of travel enthusiasts. You can follow Travel This Planet via Twitter and Instagram.


 

Did you know that Americans fail to use over 429 million vacation days each year?

We have been programmed to work through our vacation time because we think that no one else can do our job. We idolize the idea of the person that works 80-hour weeks to become successful and never takes time off. But what if I told you taking time off is actually proven to increase productivity?

77% of HR managers agree that the employees who take time off are actually more productive. Yet, over a quarter of the workforce do not use all their time off because they think it will show greater dedication to the company.

On top of this, 96% of Americans say they recognize the importance of vacation. As a society, if we truly recognized how travel can make us more productive, we wouldn’t leave almost half a billion vacation days on the table at the end of the year.

Getting away from your daily activities and taking a break can actually provide a significant boost to productivity and creativity. In this post, you’ll see how you can increase productivity and creativity by traveling.

Evening at the seaside

1. It Gives You Something to Work Towards

Even if you absolutely love what you do for a living, there is one thing about work that won’t change: work takes work. Most of us can’t just sip margaritas in Cabo all day and magically pay our bills.

Work isn’t always easy or fun, but it is an essential part of our lives. When work gets tough, it is nice to have a reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing. When you plan a vacation, you’ll have something to work towards. This will keep you focused and push you to focus on getting things done so that you can enjoy your vacation.

Setting your desktop background to a picture of the place you’re visiting soon is a great way to stay motivated. Whenever you look at the picture you’ll instantly remind yourself what you’re working towards.

2. It Leaves You Feeling Like You Have Some Catching Up to Do

40% of people leave some of their vacation days unused because they don’t want to come back to a mountain of work. This makes sense. No one likes to have way more work to do than usual.

Yet, what if we look at this from a different angle? Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

In layman’s terms, this means however long you have to get something done is how long it will take you to complete it.

Do you have a project that you need to turn in one month from today? It will take you one month to complete it. If you only have a week to do it, it will take you a week.

You can use this to your advantage when you take a vacation. Not only will you be more productive before you leave, but you will also be more productive when you get back. You will have less time to complete the tasks so you will spend less time procrastinating and more time actually working.

To reduce the stress of feeling like it’s all on you, set up systems and processes that allow others to help you complete your job. Creating systems takes time up front, but they are extremely beneficial when you take time off. Don’t wait until you’re about to go on a vacation to start creating systems. Do it now so that the processes work by the time you leave.

Did you know that people in France on average take 15 more days off per year than people in the US? On top of that their GDP per hour worked as a percentage of U.S. is 98.2%.

They are almost just as productive while taking 2 weeks more off per year. Imagine what you could do with an additional 15 days off per year!

Focus

3. It Opens Your Mind to New Ideas

Do you ever feel like you were more creative when you were a kid?

One of the best ways to restore that childlike sense of wonder is to travel to places that are foreign to you. This could mean visiting a city down the road from you or traveling half way around the world. The point is to get away from the day-to-day things you’ve gotten accustomed to.

The further away you go, the more likely you’ll be in awe of what you see. This doesn’t mean you’ll immediately be filled with creative ideas. It just means that you’ll have more reference points next time you’re tasked with a creative challenge.

By stepping away from what’s normal to us, we start to see things in a different light. We see new ways of doing things, experience different cultures, and face other types of challenges. All these experiences add to your memory and your brain can draw from these unique memories to help solve future problems.

4. It Gives You a Chance to Refocus on What’s Important

There is no question that routines are excellent for getting things done and being efficient. Yet, sometimes you need to get away to understand why you’re doing something. Are you doing it because it needs to be done or are you doing it because it’s just part of your routine?

Getting away from your day-to-day activities and giving yourself another perspective helps to identify what’s important and what’s a waste of time. By using your vacation as an opportunity to reflect, you’ll be able to make improvements. When you come back to your normal daily life you can make the necessary adjustments.

5. Your Creativity Will Improve Because You’re Happier

During the planning phase leading up to your trip, your happiness increases. You’re also likely to be extremely happy while you’re on your trip as well.

A study found that people’s creativity is higher when they were happy the day before. Conversely, it’s lower when you are sad, angry, or depressed. You’ll probably agree that this makes sense. It’s hard to come up with creative solutions when you’re ticked off.

Creativity is extremely desirable in the workplace. According to this study, creativity was one of the top skills that CEOs value in their employees.

I’m sure most of us would agree that we are happier when we travel. All our stress and worries are left behind as we explore new places. If this is true for you then you can expect your levels of creativity to be higher as well due to your positive emotions.

Laptop and beer at SYD

6. Airplanes and Airports are Great Places to Get Stuff Done

If you’re one of the many people who hate long flights or extended layovers, it’s time to think about it a bit differently. Both airplanes and airports are great places to get work done. Being stuck in one place for hours on end is an excellent opportunity to force yourself to be productive.

Airline companies are continuing to add WiFi as a service on their flights and many airports have WiFi as well. Instead of watching Netflix or checking social media, use this opportunity to knock out some work.

Your productivity levels can increase even more when your plane or airport don’t offer WiFi. If you prepare materials ahead of time, you can get work done that doesn’t require the internet. Since you don’t have access to the internet you won’t risk constant distraction from everything else you can be doing online.

Admittedly, it is a bit difficult to get work done on airplanes when you’re sitting in economy class. This is especially true when you have crying babies or a chatty passenger sitting next to you. Noise canceling headphones, earplugs, or some more aggressive tactics should help solve this problem.

Wanna hang out?

7. More Ideas Come to Us When We Are Relaxed

Have you ever experienced coming up with a great idea or solution while you’re taking a shower?

This, like traveling, has to do with being distracted. Instead of focusing 100% of your brain power on coming up with a solution to something, you simply relax. You are no longer thinking about the problem since you’re doing something else. Walking is another activity that increases creativity!

Harvard researcher and psychologist Shelley H. Carson says, “a distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.”

Sometimes this distraction is a five-minute coffee break, other times it’s a week long vacation. Getting in a relaxed state is a great way to give your mind the ability to come up with solutions and ideas.

8. It Reminds You to Get the Most Out of Every Day

I don’t know about you, but when I’m traveling I want to squeeze the most life out of every single day. I like to get up early and see as much as I can, only stopping for the occasional breaks to replenish my energy.

I’m guessing, you probably want to see as much as possible as well. You might only visit a certain place once in your lifetime so making the most of your experience is important.

When we are traveling and filling each day with as much as possible you realize how much time you waste during your normal daily activities. How much time do you spend on social media? How much time do you spend watching TV?

Time is one thing you can never get back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Treating each day with importance and getting the most out of every day is a great lesson that travel can teach us.

9. You Will Have Renewed Energy and Positivity

Although you might feel like you have some catching up to do, taking a vacation will boost your morale. When you come back you’ll be ready to take on challenges because of your renewed energy.

According to one study, small business owners who took a vacation experienced 82% increase in post-trip job performance. Yet, a two to three-day vacation didn’t have the same effect as one to two-week vacations.

Sometimes you just need to get away for a bit. Do something different. Experience new things. By not focusing on work all the time you’ll actually be more productive when you get back.

As this article says, “the renewed energy and positivity is contagious and can help the entire team be more productive.” That is powerful, especially when you are leading a team. Not only are you boosting your energy, but you’re transmitting that positivity to others on your team. It’s like productivity osmosis!

Happy jumping

Final thoughts

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5 Travel Scams To Watch Out For

With an increase in the number of tourists worldwide, travel scams are just getting more creative so even experienced travelers could be ripped off and scammed. If you are traveling…

With an increase in the number of tourists worldwide, travel scams are just getting more creative so even experienced travelers could be ripped off and scammed. If you are traveling to an unknown place for the first time here a couple of things to bear in mind.

Touts, touts and more touts

In some countries once you get off a plane, train or a bus you get surrounded by people who want to help you find a taxi or a hotel. In most cases these people have connections with the transport department and if you tell them that you already have a booking or that you know where your hotel is, the rebuttal would be that the accommodation is booked to capacity. You would be surprised but many tourists fall for this. Touts then offer to take you to a different hotel or even their own place where they overcharge you for your stay and food. The same thing can happen with the sightseeing. Touts would say that a certain tourist attraction is closed and then they’d offer to give you a cheap sightseeing tour when in fact you’ll get involved in their “get rich quick” scheme.

Food and drink

While traveling, we often encounter a loving co-passenger, willing to share their food and a cola maybe. At first glance, the innocent act of hospitality may seem so nice, but let’s not generalize the same for each gesture and by others around. Take caution and be careful when you accept drink from a stranger as it could be spiked and your precious belongings gone!

Fellow tourists

Quite often and especially at places of tourist interest- the beach, a famous park, a well-known monument or landmark, you would find people clicking away and capturing images using their DSLRs or their phones. Should someone ask you to click a picture of them, the first instinct would be to oblige. However, when you notice the camera isn’t working well chances are that the device is faulty or broken. While handing the device back to the owner, ensure it is done safe and in the presence of many around. A scammer is known to  drop the camera and ask you to pay for repairs or steal your belongings while you bend to pick up the broken object.

Hiring vehicles

Before doing so, never ever hand over your passport as collateral to the hiring of a vehicle. Most agencies run a scam, where they keep your passport and falsely blame you for damaging their vehicle. Unless you cough up a large sum, they wouldn’t hand over your passport to you, which means you are stuck! Check with reputable travel agencies that can help you with a hired vehicle, and also inspect the vehicle by taking videos and pictures of the bike or car, before you hire for personal use.

Don’t touch!

If someone walks up to you in Spain and tells you there is a fake pigeon poo somewhere on your shirt collar or the sleeves ignore them! In most cases, they would have tissues embellished with sleeping drugs and a water bottle with them. While they would want to help you clean the dribble and poo off your clothing, the same hand that cleans would steal and drug you off to sleep- you’d be left with none of your belongings when you wake up!

Talking about belongings, a right travel backpack is a must have. Amazon has a wide variety to quality and classy ones on offer.

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15 Essential Tips Every Beginner Hitchhiker Should Know

Hitchhiking is not only the cheapest way of traveling but also the most exciting one as it allows you to have so many experiences in short period of time. You…

Hitchhiking is not only the cheapest way of traveling but also the most exciting one as it allows you to have so many experiences in short period of time. You will;

  • meet a lot of people and maybe even befriend someone

  • get frustrated or mad after hours of waiting, but the feeling of getting a ride after waiting for such a long time is good

  • you will be exposed to very interesting music (see below)

  • you’ll get better at sign language

  • your faith in humanity will be restored

  • you will hear insider stories from your drivers

  • and more

Hitchhiking is not fun and games only as it involves a risk of being picked by a potentially unsafe driver, so if in doubt turn down the ride.

Hitchhiking from Belgrade to Zagreb

Here I’ve compiled a list of 15 essential tips every beginner hitchhiker should know;

1) Think twice before you decide to hitchhike. Why? Hitchhiking is not about getting a free ride only, it’s also a WALKING ADVENTURE, so be ready to walk. And sometimes to walk all day!

2) Buy a good road map. It’s gonna be useful when deciding whether you should accept that ride or not.

3) Try to learn the language at least a bit as it will help you have a conversation with drivers. Sometimes they decide to pick up hitchhikers for one simple reason – they are bored and they appreciate company. You will also have a higher chance of getting that ride if you speak your driver’s language.

4) Have a supply of food and drinks with you.

5) You will of course first use the public transport and then go to the outskirts of the town to hitchhike.

6) NEVER accept a ride into the center of the city if you are traveling long distance and between big cities. Not only you will lose a lot of time, it will also be hard to come back to the highway.

7) When at the border, it’s better to cross it on foot and then hitchhike from the other side. Why? Drivers are more alert and they don’t feel comfortable transporting other people through an international border, so you might have more success from the other side.

8) Gas stations are a good place to hitchhike. You can always ask people around for a ride and the chance of success is usually pretty high.

9) Getting a ride at night is really difficult and not recommended.

10) Some people will react mean or try to make a joke on you. Don’t let that discourage you! You are awesome! 😉

11) Usually people who stop don’t go all the way to your destination but you can ask them to leave you at a better spot or at the next gas station.

12) Hitchhike with a friend. Not only it’s more interesting, it’s also more safe. A girl and a guy is the best combination for hitchhiking.

13) Walking along some roads like highways can get you warned or even arrested. Although you may have the right to walk along most roads, it doesn’t bother to check which one you can and cannot.

14) If you are entering a truck, take off your shoes. This is especially true for the part in the back. Truck drivers spend most of their time in a truck and they treat it like it’s their home.

15) In EU there is a law that forbids more than two people in the front of a truck. That also means if there’s two of you traveling you won’t be able to pass an international border with a truck and will have to cross it on foot instead.

What do you think about hitchhiking? Would you do it or not? If you already did, do you have any other tips to share? Feel free to comment below.

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Hacking Flights In 12 Steps

There are many ways and resources for finding a cheap flight ticket online which can be confusing, but in general finding a cheap flight is much easier now than it…

There are many ways and resources for finding a cheap flight ticket online which can be confusing, but in general finding a cheap flight is much easier now than it used to be in the past. Here I will list all the tools that you can use to find the best possible deal. Booking a flight is also the most expensive part of your trip and it can be time consuming, but it’s definitely worth it as it can save you a lot of money if you use this ‘Hacking Flights in 12 steps’ guide.

Let’s say we are looking for a RT ticket between Belgrade and Istanbul and 5th-15th June are the dates. First we should;

1) Use flight search engines

We usually start looking for a flight online using various flight search engines. But which ones are the best to use? There’s Kayak, Vayama, Travelocity, Skyscanner, Momondo and many others. Skyscanner is great because it searches all airlines (both national carriers and low-cost) thus allowing you to find the cheapest possible price. If you are flexible about the destination, it will also show you the cheapest flights from your home base airport.

skyscanner search flight

As you can see Skyscanner found the cheapest flight with AirSerbia, while Momondo filtered these results;

momondo search flight engine

Momondo has a great user interface and it allows you to see which flights are cheapest and what is the quickest way to arrive. Another great option is the fare alert, which means that Momondo would let you know if the price of the flight would drop. Because of this Momondo is my personal favorite and I absolutely recommend it.

Kayak is also a good flight search engine but it works much better for the US citizens than Europeans.

2) Check the airline’s website to see if the price is cheaper

Sometimes the price is cheaper when booked directly through airlines website as they want to steer travelers to their own websites instead of online search engines.

So in this case we will check the websites of Turkish Airlines, AirSerbia and Pegasus Airlines.

The results we get are;

turkish airlines belgrade istanbul

airserbia belgrade istanbul

AirSerbia’s price is 97 EUR, same what Momondo showed us.

pegasus belgrade istanbul

So from all the airlines who fly directly to Istanbul, AirSerbia offers the cheapest price.

3) Search flights from nearby airports

For example, the biggest air hub around is Budapest airport and many people from nearby countries (Serbia, Romania), fly from here. Anyway in our case this is not a good solution as the price is more expensive.

The good thing about searching for flights from nearby airports is the possible availability of more airlines. For example RyanAir flies from Budapest but not from Belgrade. For this reason it might be good to check nearby airports.

skyscanner budapest istanbul-vert

4) Check the website of the airport that you will be flying into

Many times budget carriers are not listed in the search engines and that’s the reason you should check a list of the airlines flying into that airport. Usually you’ll be able to find a much cheaper flight.

5) Watch out for the promotions

The earlier time I’ve flown from Belgrade to Istanbul it was with a special promotion of Turkish Airlines. The ticket costed 99 EUR and if you look above it’s 183 EUR. You should definitely sign up for the newsletter of your prefered airline as their subscribers will usually be the first to find out about special deals. So if you wan’t to fly this route for example, sign up for the newsletter of Turkish Airlines and AirSerbia.

6) Check airlines’ social media accounts

Besides signing up for the newsletter I recommend checking them on Facebook or Twitter.

air serbia belgrade istanbul

The cheapest ticket we found so far is on Facebook page of AirSerbia! But these are not the dates we want. The advertised price is for travels between 29th april to 12th june so we should also…

7) Be flexible!

This must be the most important thing. Forget about booking months in advance, the best deal you will get is usually ONE MONTH before your trip. The key is to watch promotions and once you spot a great deal just grab it otherwise it’s gone. Being flexible also means traveling in off season which isn’t so bad as you will encounter less tourists than usual.

8) Use miles

If you are a frequent flier check if you can redeem your miles for new flights. You will have to sign up for the frequent flier program of your prefered airline and keep track of your miles.

9) Check student discounts

The best site in this category is statravel.com which offers cheaper rates for students.

10) Visit Holiday Pirates website

This is an amazing resource for crazy cheap flight deals, hotel deals and everything in between. Check it out for yourself, you won’t regret it!

11) Delete cookies

Clear your browser’s cookies when searching for a flight. Search engines usually track how many times you have visited their website which can make prices go up.

12) Check with the travel agent

Travel agents will rarely give you cheaper tickets than the tools I’ve just introduced to you but it doesn’t bother to try. Even if the travel agent has a slightly costlier price, he can help you by giving advice about your destination.

What is your favorite tactic for finding cheap flights? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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