Whenever I talk about digital nomadism or freelancing, specially about having clients located hundreds of miles away and working for them while I travel, they picture me at a sad hotel room hunting for wifi and eating nachos…
Ten years ago I would have thought just the same. And, while I know more than 30 digital nomads that really make a living while they travel (most of them are not even travel bloggers), when I worked at the “corporate” world, the only contact I had with freelancers was with the ones who worked from home. But that’s not how digital nomads work anymore.
So, where do traveling freelancers and digital nomads work?
Option A: hostels and BnB
If you’ve slept on a hostel for the last 4 years, you will sure have found a lot of millenials “playing” at the common rooms when they could be visiting the city. Well, most of them were not “playing”.
Many backpackers now carry a laptop and you will see there is a lot of silence in those areas. Truth is that hostel travelers no longer fit the stereotype of “no money traveller”. Today, you will find many different profiles, from the ones that look to stay in contact with other travelers (easier when you share kitchens and common rooms), to those who want to be able to cook their own food or look for a unique design at a great location (and cheaper price.)
But, being honest, this is only a temporary option for most digital nomads. We all reach a point where we need a decent desk, real coffee and a safe wifi connection.
Option B: hotel rooms
I the hostel option seems unprofessional, the hotel option is only good for businessmen and tourism – related freelancers. I know only a few digital nomads that use hotels as base, it is expensive and business rooms are usually located at basements with no natural light.
Option C: coworking spaces
Last week I read at Harvard Business Review that using a coworking space increases happiness and productivity of entrepreneurs. For digital nomads, the extra point is that it also gives you access to a local community of professionals you can connect with and who can give you advice on business or local providers.
Of course, not every coworking space is open to have people who comes and goes, but many have short-term options, even with other international offices that you can use for the same cost. These are the most interesting:
1) Impact Hub
Imact Hub members can use every single one of their international offices up to 3 days per year, for free (even lf there two different ones located in the same city). This gives you access to working spaces in up to 90 cities all around the world, where you could be working about 260 days per year (plus the ones at your base office).
But this is not the only reason why I chose Impact: it is a network where each project (or most of them) are designed to create a positive impact in society and the business world. So, I don’t visit a new space but meet like-minded people.
WeWork is an international offices network located in 59 different cities. In theory, a coworking membership at WeWork also gives you access to all the other offices, although information on how many days or under which conditions is not that “standard”.
But, the interesting part is that when you book through Airbnb for business, you also get access to 1 day of access to the WeWork offices that are close to your stay. More info here.
Also, you can also get a 45$/month subscription that gives you access to every office in the world, 1 day a month. Here the info.
The european network of coworkings has some “premium” office spaces in about 70 cities around the world. And, being a member you can work from every one of their spaces. It’s more expensive than the other options, but they have a professional barista at their spots (coffeeeee!)
4) The independent coworking spaces within international networks
Some independent coworking spaces allow you to do something like the ones before through the Coworking Visa program or giving you access to Copass. Might not be as easy as the ones above, but it is certainly an option..
5) Coliving spaces
Only one step further: coliving spaces offer rooms and working spaces all together. Roam, for example, has 5 of these around the world. In Galicia, Sende has a similar concept inside a small village of only 20 neighbours next door to the high mountain range of Peneda Gerés.
Option D: nomadic tours
Nomadic tours like
WeRoam, wifiTribe o Nomad House sit between tour travel and coliving spaces. What they do is organize trips (sometimes over 12 months in length) so digital nomads work while they travel the world, providing wifi, flight management, office selection, teammates…
I only know 2 people (both american) who have joined a program like this. It was an idea for me at certain point, but I don’t think I would join it now.