Updated: Oct 19, 2018
Written by: Eve
To be able to travel the world while you still have an income is the dream come true for a lot of people, but is it really as easy as everyone seems to think? If you are working freelance you can just bring your laptop and work from wherever, right? For my part I say that bringing my laptop is the only easy part about it. The getting work done part is the tricky one, and the part that a lot of digital nomads fail at. It is also where I almost failed – until I discovered the wonders of co-working.
After about 8 months on the road traveling in both Europe and Asia I can say that I love it, and it does work out for me, but I can also see why this lifestyle is not for everyone. A lot of so-called ‘digital nomads’ end up broke and are spending their very last cents on a flight back home, while others thrive and both gets to see the world and save up money. So, what is the difference between these two groups of nomads, and how can you make sure you’ll end up in the second group rather than in the first one? I finally found the solution that works for me – coworking!
Hitting the Road!
So – let's go back about 8 months in time. I had already been working as a freelance writer for maybe a year and a half, and I did great. I had enough clients to keep me busy, and I was happy with my income, my clients, my job and most other things in life. But…there is always a but…I lived in Norway – one of the most expensive countries in the world, and it’s not exactly famous for the great weather either.
When my boyfriend started working freelance as well we decided to hit the road. Why stay in this overpriced country where we run the risk of a frostbite whenever we leave your house, when we can just as well work in a tropical country that is also cheaper? We packed up all our stuff, filled up my best friends’ attic with whatever we wanted to keep but not bring with us, and then we left. The first month and a half we spent in Europe and saw a lot of great sites, and we tried to work from our hotel room. We didn’t get a lot of work done, but don’t worry – as soon as we leave Europe behind we’ll get way more work done. After all, in Europe we are visiting a lot of friends and family, so that will of course keep us back. As soon as we leave for Asia it will be way better and much easier to get work done. Guaranteed!
Getting work done while on the move is tricky, and a part where a lot of digital nomads fail at. It is also where I almost failed - until I discovered the wonders of coworking.
Asia – Here We Come!
Finally, the day came when we flew off to Bangkok. What a relief! We’re finally really travelling, the weather is great, the food is amazing, everything is super cheap, and there are so many things we want to see! But work…well…we have just arrived, so we should get to see some stuff. After 2 weeks in Bangkok we’re going to Bali, and there we’ll stay for a month, so it will be plenty of time to both do tourist stuff and work.
Here I’m going to cut the story short, because I guess that by now you can tell where this is going. We never got much work done, and all I did was trying to do whatever I had to do to not miss a deadline. I still made enough to support myself while travelling, and then some, but I made perhaps half of what I made while we were still back in Norway, so work was really suffering. The worst part was that I didn’t really enjoy travelling either, since I always had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I should be working, and would feel guilty whenever my laptop was left at the hotel. Without motivation to work I also probably spent at least twice as much time on every task as I normally did, not to mention a couple of hours just staring at my screen trying to force some inspiration to come to me. So what to do? Where to go?
I should also tell you that before we even left Norway the deal was that if I can’t keep up with work, I have to go back. I’m trying to build up my business, and that has to come first. If I can’t reach my budget for this year, then that’s it. I’m pulling the plug and going back. So this was our final chance. We had to get stuff done!
Biliq Bali – My Savior
As we love Bali we decided to go back. On our last trip here, we saw most of the sights, so this time around we would just focus on work. We hadn’t really been using any co-working spaces before, as the hotel bed was also our office, and when we needed a change of environment we would just go to a Starbucks. But this time we actually chose to look into this whole coworking thing that seems so popular, and we checked a few out. Eventually we found this new amazing place – called Biliq Bali Cosharing Space in Seminyak
I opted to rent the private office they are offering, and also an extra monitor. And you know what? I have been so productive here, that I never want to leave. Not only have I kept up with work, but I have also finally had some time to work on my own projects. I’m coming in between 9 and 10 in the morning and leaving at about 6 in the evening, and I can actually stay focused on work for the whole day. Only distraction would perhaps be the small break to have a Bintang in the dipping pool or by the bar. But hey, after all I’m kind of on a vacation as well, so that is allowed.
Ever since I rented a private suite in a co-working space, I have been so productive that I never want to leave Bali.
Why Coworking Works for Me
I think there are several different reasons why I work better from a coworking place, but the main thing is probably the fact that I have a dedicated place to go to just to work, and that I have a normal office setup.
Having a proper ergonomic chair, big desk, extra monitor, keyboard and mouse just makes the whole experience so much better. It really can’t be compared to working from a bed or a coffee shop.
I also think that everyone has to find a co sharing place that works for them. Some people go to all the trendy places where you can look really cool while working in an overcrowded bamboo-place without AC, and others just wants to work in a relaxed place. I’m in the second category. I love the whole natural thing as much as the next person, but working when I feel hot and sweaty is just not working out for me. I just need to feel comfortable and have the stuff I need to be as productive as possible.
Work and Travel – Can It be Done?
So, what I discovered about the whole work and travel thing is that it can be done, but maybe not all people are made for mixing it too much. I have found out that I need the routine of going to an office every day to get work done, and when my day is over, or in the weekends, I can go exploring. Other people will pop open their laptops whenever they have 5 minutes to spare at an airport, coffee shop, while waiting for lunch or whatnot. I really admire that and wish I could be like that – but I’m not. And that’s OK. Everyone just has to find what works for them, and co working is it for me.
I love the whole natural thing as much as the next person, but working when I feel hot and sweaty is just not working out for me. I just need to feel comfortable and have the stuff I need to be as productive as possible.
Self-control doesn’t really come easy to me, as I tend to be a bit (a lot) too impulsive and very impatient, so having some boundaries is good. At a coworking place I can’t just have a nap whenever I feel like it (even though this one actually has a nap room), and I don’t accidentally go out for a lunch that will last for the rest of the day, or end up sipping a cocktail in the hotel pool for the rest of the afternoon. I actually work when I’m supposed to!
I also have to admit that I basically bribe myself. I have goals for every week, and if I reach them I’ll book an extra nice hotel whenever I’m taking a weekend in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or wherever I go on my weekend trips. And with a proper place to work from reaching my goals is a piece of cake, which leaves more time to just be a nomad – without the digital attached.