The following articles provide Remote Working Tips From Digital Nomads For Vanlife to help you make the most of life on the road….
How these digital nomads are helping travelers embrace the van life movement
Best friends Kristen Bor and Linda Romero have the embraced van life movement. Spending half the year traveling the country in their customised campers and working full-time on Bearfoot Theory. Bor’s website offers insights, tips and resources for anyone considering a life on the road.
It’s a lifestyle that many of us have fantasized about at one time or another. Breaking our lease, downsizing our belongings, saying goodbye to the confines of our nine-to-five jobs and hitting the open road in a camper fitted with home comforts. It’s a dream that best friends Kristen Bor and Linda Romero shared and made a reality. Bor worked in environmental policy in Washington, D.C and Romero at a sustainable energy nonprofit in San Diego. After spending some years tied down in office jobs, they decided to make the switch to a more flexible lifestyle by becoming digital nomads and joining the van life movement.
“I loved my job but it was an office job,” says Romero. “I worked in a cubicle, it was Monday to Friday, nine-to-five and I realised that wasn’t the life I wanted”. A few years earlier in 2012, Romero and her partner had converted their Volkswagen van into an energy-efficient camper and spent 15 months on the road. Traveling from her home state of California all the way down to Argentina. It was the trip that changed her life. The one that got her thinking that maybe travel doesn’t necessarily have to be squeezed into two weeks of vacation time each year.
Meanwhile Bor was having similar thoughts. She had spent three years living in DC before she realised that was not her long-term path. She wanted to see the world. So after some planning she quit her job, started a travel blog and spent four months journeying across New Zealand while documenting her adventures online. The blog took off so Bor — who had been bitten by the travel bug — continued to take stints in a van across the US when she returned home. Before realizing this was something she could do full-time, or close enough. Taking inspiration from the tiny house movement, she found a builder on Instagram who helped her convert her 4×4 Sprinter Cargo Van into a camper and moved in.
“My blog was already making money when I decided to get a van. I was very fortunate in that regard. I had bounced around so much in between my 20s and early 30s that I never accumulated that much stuff so the moving in process was very easy for me,” she says.
Bor and Romero, who had been in graduate school together, reconnected after their road trips and began to work full-time on Bor’s website. Bearfoot Theory aims to make van life and outdoor travel more accessible to everyone, particularly women. In doing so they became fully-fledged digital nomads. They set up a home base, with Bor in Salt Lake City and Romero in San Diego, where they spend a few months of the year in their respective houses. While the rest of the year is spent traveling separately with their partners across North and South America in their customized vans.
Over the years the women have noticed an uptick in the number of people turning to vans for their trips. And with international travel curtailed this year it’s become even more popular. “I think here in the US I’ve seen more vans on the road than ever. It’s really one of the only ways we can travel now. You can of course travel in your car but a lot of people are wary about staying in hotels, getting on an airplane. Being self-contained in a vehicle you can sleep in makes it really easy to travel when other forms of travel may not be as attractive,” says Bor.
Recently they found themselves fielding even more questions than usual from a wide range of age groups and diverse backgrounds who were curious about life on the road. Wth queries on everything from renting a camper for a week-long trip to choosing the right one for life-long commitment. So in response they set up a free online course called the Van Life Roadmap. It guides potential van enthusiasts through all sorts of essential processes from choosing the right vehicle to planning your conversion, downsizing, moving in and making money with options for working on the road. There are six modules and the course is self-paced, designed to save people “a ton of time, money, headache, and stress.”
When it comes to the main considerations Bor says it’s all about evaluating your priorities, which she often helps people determine. “How to choose the right vehicle, because that’s the first step. And it all comes down to your budget and where you’re going to live in it and how you’re going to use it. Deciding what kind of life you want to be living. Do you want to be traveling full-time in it? Do you want something you can throw your stuff in the van and go out for the week?”
“Now more than ever people are taking the time to reevaluate what they really want in life,” adds Romero. “We’re seeing that you never really know what the future is going to be like. If people want to do something, they want to make it happen and not always wait until they retire. People’s priorities are shifting. They want to be able to travel on their own terms, in their own vehicle, in their own comfort zone, at their own pace.”
And that’s what they hope Bearfoot Theory and its growing community will help people do. Fulfill and comfortably manage their van life dreams; whether that encompasses a week, six months or a lifetime on the road.
Source: Lonely Planet: How these digital nomads are helping travelers embrace the van life movement
Hatie Parmeter, a freelance writer and digital nomad, once had to write seven articles from the passenger seat of a Honda CRV. It wasn’t the ideal office setup, but she got it done. Because sometimes the freedom to travel and work from anywhere isn’t all sitting on a beach with your laptop and a cocktail.
During my own tenure as a digital nomad, I filed stories from the top bunk in a crowded hostel dorm room, did my taxes in the back of a campervan. And sent work emails from a bus in South America. Distractions and discomfort are part of the game.
“Digital nomad” describes someone who travels full-time while working online. It’s a lifestyle that offers enticing freedoms. But it also requires the ability to constantly adapt to new environments and find ways to work in places that aren’t ideal.
In the last few weeks, a lot more people started working remotely. But almost no one is traveling. Unfortunately, this sudden global shift to remote work is tied to the terrifying reality of a global pandemic. People who can are now working from home to reduce potential exposure and the spread of the novel coronavirus. And many of them are discovering that working outside of the office comes with a whole new set of challenges.
So we’re turning to the experts on working through distractions and discomforts. Digital nomads offer sage advice on how to optimize your work day, no matter where you are:
1. Create to-do lists and your own deadlines
Before she was forced to hunker down indefinitely in the UK, Christina Jones was traveling full-time with her horse in tow. She hit the road to prioritize new experiences and trails, and she tries to only work for four hours a day. Though that often means a 6- or 7-day work week.
Not everyone has the luxury to work whatever schedule feels right, but Jones says that starting your day with a to-do list and personal time restraints on your tasks will keep you focused. And help prevent the typical workday from stretching late into the nights or weekends.
“It’s easy to avoid distractions if you know exactly what you have to achieve when you sit in front of your laptop,” says Jones.
2. Find ways to reward yourself
Danielle Boltz, host of the podcast Mudlark, has lived in two different Airstreams and spends significant time working on the road. She runs multiple businesses, including vacation properties and Honeysuckle + Mud, a lifestyle and handmade goods company. While traveling between different properties, she’s also managing endless online tasks. Danielle finds that small rewards throughout the day keep her motivated to stay on track.
“I get super inspired scrolling Pinterest midday and getting ideas for future tiny home builds,” she says. “Because I work remotely, I get so motivated by exciting potential projects and new views to wake up to. It makes me work that much harder when I know something exhilarating is just around the corner.”
Boltz recommends carving out some time midday for something you can look forward to.
For Parmeter, that something is a yoga nidra session using the Insight Timer app. “Nidra is also known as yogic sleep,” says Parmeter. “And a 20-minute practice, which you do lying down or sitting up, is equal to several hours of deep sleep. It’s the best mid-day nap ever!”
3. Pick a workspace and make it yours
You probably spent time arranging your office desk to feel like your own, hanging pictures or arranging the tools you need to be most productive. Do the same at home. Rather than allowing all of your space to become a workspace, it’s helpful to set up a specific area. And then spend time on making it just right.
Boltz says the aesthetic of her workspace plays a big part in her productivity.
“Keep it simple, intentional, and most importantly (to me) aesthetically pleasing. When my tiny space is a cluttered garbage pit I have zero motivation or clarity. I begin my work days by making sure my space feels open and available for my creativity to spill all over it. And I always keep my favorite candle close-by.”
4. Upgrade your equipment
Mike Swigunski is the founder of GlobalCareer.io, an international job board for remote workers. He emphasizes the importance of the quality of his work equipment, most specifically his computer and noise-canceling headphones.
“Controlling your equipment is essential and having a top-notch laptop and a pair of headphones with a good microphone is very important,” says Swigunski. “The headphones are great for listening to music and make call quality a lot clearer.”
If you’ve been thinking about asking your boss for a computer upgrade, now might be the time. And if noise canceling headphones could increase your productivity then consider upgrading those, too. All of the digital nomads we interviewed said they most definitely do.
5. Shake out the stress with exercise
Parmeter recommends taking time for brief workouts throughout the day. “I have to move my body to let the stress go,” she says. “I do a lot of five-minute yoga or push-up breaks. I also walk the dogs a couple times a day to get moving and enjoy good weather whenever possible!”
6. Find focus music that works
If the whole family is home right now, distractions are likely at an all-time high.
The right work soundtrack paired with quality headphones can be most helpful in drowning out the household noise. If you live alone, the silence can be distracting, too. So a dependable work soundtrack is a must-have for everyone.
Jones is a big fan of Brain.fm for a work soundtrack that’s specifically designed for productivity. You won’t hear your favorite hits on this music app. The creators made all the soundtracks themselves, using a science-based approach that “elicits strong neural phase locking.” Basically, it helps you focus, and Jones says it’s the best thing for keeping her “in the zone.” (I tried it myself while writing this article and was able to stay on task for longer than I have in weeks).
Digital nomads love their coffee shops for free wifi and the ambient comfort of other people working and chatting nearby. But since coffee shops are mostly closed right now, try Coffitivity, which recreates the sounds of a bustling cafe.
7. Be honest with your coworkers
These are difficult times for everyone. Even if you create a flawless work-from-home setup and implement all of these tips, productivity can go out the window in periods of heightened stress and anxiety. Which is pretty much all the time right now.
While there are no guarantees this will be the case, employers should be receptive and responsive when you’re honest about how work is going.
Jessica Shisler, Co-Founder and COO of The Vanlife App, has been developing a resource for nomads with a completely remote team for years. And she acknowledges that phone and video calls aren’t always sufficient in providing transparency about how everyone is feeling.
“We can’t read nonverbal cues as well in a virtual setting,” says Shisler. “So we encourage honesty and openness to an extreme. We start every meeting with a mental health check-in using green/yellow/red indicators of personal and work capacity.”
If you now manage a remote team, consider implementing additional check-ins, both one-on-one and with everyone. (You can also suggest these to your manger, if you’re not in charge).
Shissler says having time to communicate with co-workers more casually is important, too. She suggests monthly digital happy hours. “Monthly happy hours are important for non-work connection with colleagues. They allow time for more “water cooler conversations” and can spark more creativity on a team.”
We’re all doing our best under the given circumstances. There are a million ways to make working from home a little more comfortable and a little less stressful, but the most important piece of advice might be to just be kind to yourself and kind to each other while we all work to figure it out.
Source: Lonely Planet: 7 Tips For Remote Work From Digital Nomads Around The World