The biggest benefit of being a digital nomad is that you are not restricted to an office or any other place to work. You’re free to work wherever you like. The image of a digital nomad sitting on the beach with a laptop may seem idyllic but it too comes with pros and cons. Where are the best places to work as a digital nomad?
In this post I want to explore the options and the pros and cons of each. So pack up you laptop and let’s go!
This may seem obvious but the place I do most of my work is actually at home. I always have a room or area of the house/apartment where I am staying that is set up just for writing. Trying to work in the same place you use for entertainment will make you more prone to distraction and procrastinating and will bring your productivity down.
I have a post on Being More Productive Working From Home, check it out, you’ll thank me!
|No outside distractions||Distractions – from the fridge to the TV, everything is a potential distraction|
|No extra cost|
The warm sun and the sound of the waves as you tap away at your laptop. It may seem like the ultimate working place but unless you don’t need wifi and don’t mind sand getting everywhere, you may want to think again.
While I don’t recommend sitting on the sand with your toes in the ocean while you work, there are ways to make it work at the beach.
Find a beach side bar, cafe, ice-cream parlor or restaurant. You can often find somewhere to sit and eat or drink at the beach. Usually these places are a little further back from the ocean but have good seating, shade from the sun and wifi!
You can sit with full bars looking out at the sand and sea and work in comfort safe in the knowledge that you wont get sand between you keys.
If you want to know more about working from the beach, check out this post from Digital Itenerant.
|Creative Inspiration||No wifi|
|Photo opportunities||No power|
|Swim etc||Sand everywhere – lenses, laptop etc|
|Take food||No table top – everything is on your lap|
Depending where you stay, it’s possible that you might have a park nearby and if the weather permits you could turn it into your office for the day. When I stayed in Sugar Palm Residences in Phuket there was a huge park right next door, it was the perfect place to sit and work.
If the occasional jogger or passer-by doesn’t distract you, a park bench beats an office any day of the week.
You have a little space to spread out your things, for example if your going back and forth between a pad and a laptop. You can take a packed lunch with you to save a little money and stay strict with your diet. And when you get tired of working you can go for a walk around the park. You may even find some great photo opportunities there too.
|Place to put things||No power|
|Take food||Uncomfortable for long periods|
You might not have ever thought about using a gym to do your work, but why not? Most gyms have a little seating area with tables and chairs and maybe even some drink (get a protein shake.) You’ll have wifi, shelter from the elements and if you’r paying for the gym anyway, why not make the most of it.
Even if your gym doesn’t have a seating area, you might be able to sit in the yoga studio and work. While you might get some odd looks if you rock up and setup shop without breaking a sweat but if you do a workout and stay for a few hours with your laptop you could kill two dragons with one stone.
|Workout||Might be loud|
A Cafe is perhaps the ultimate working environment, power, wifi, great seating and a never ending supply of coffee! Once you find that cafe with the perfect mix of no-too-busy and not-too-quiet you’ll be going back there time and again.
A cafe beats out a home office for working because if all you have is your laptop, all you can do there is work. Once you have sat there a few times, your brain becomes adapted to that environment. It knows when your in that cafe that it’s work time and so it can go into work mode but home is much more multi-functional so your brain might be in sleep mode or TV mode or eat mode.
Would I seek out a museum as a place to work for the day? Probably not, but if I’m going there anyway, I will gladly take my laptop and while taking a break for an hour or two, get some work done. After looking at the exhibits and feeling awe-inspired you’ll find yourself thinking differently, you may find a new idea for that blog post or e-book.
Museums have a really calm vibe, the murmurings of the visitors can be the perfect soundtrack to your workday, if not you always have your headphones.
You often see students coming into Museums with their laptops doing research for their papers and so it is expected that people will be there working. As long as you’re not in the way, it’s unlikely to be a problem.
|Quiet||May not allow you to sit there all day|
|Free||May not let you take photos|
|Inspiring||People walking around you can be distracting|
Town center wall/bench
In China I can’t think of any worse place to work than in the city center sat on a wall or bench. The constant flow of people, the smog,heat in summer and the icy wind in winter make it quite
inhospitable. But when I’m in Phuket town or Bali or in Luang Praban I can set up anywhere, around a fountain, on a wall in a shopping district, even on the floor.
When it’s warm and clean and there is cheap food and drink all around you why not just pull out your laptop and get to work. If it’s a little noisy you have your headphones. Every time you look up you get a sense of gratitude for being in such a beautiful place.
|Access to food/drink||No wifi|
|Take food||Distracting people|
You probably never thought about this but you can get to work in a hotel lobby, even if your not staying there.
I wouldn’t recommend you try this at a small guest house or BnB but as this post from Medium confirms most large 5 star hotels have people walking in and out all the time, no ones keeping track of who is a guest and who isn’t. Hotel lobbies often have lots of seating, cafes, bars etc. So take your pick.
If you do feel awkward like your not supposed to be there, you can always just go order a drink or pasterie then work for hours guilt free. Watch out though nothing is more overpriced than drinks in a hotel.
If you’ve had your meal and stay for 45 minutes while you do a little light work and maybe finish your drink you wont run into any problems but a restaurant isn’t a place to work as a digital nomad. Other customers may want your table and give you evil eyes and the owner may even ask you to leave after too long.
Of course, if you continue to buy drinks or snacks you will be welcome to stay so if you found a great place and just had lunch by all means stay for the afternoon. You may find that the restaurant you’re in wants to close down as many restaurants only open for service times (lunch and dinner.)
If you’re adamant that you want food and a place to work, find a McDonalds! You can sit there all day and no one will bother you, if it’s got a McCafe even better you can caffeinate yourself too!
Whether it s a trip out of the city to the surrounding fields to to a woodland area, it can be refreshing and revitalizing to get into nature, not just for you but for your writing too.
Sitting under a tree lapping your laptop or snuggling into some long grass while you work away on your next project it’s great to unwind and get some uninterrupted work done. You will need to
plan ahead though as there are a few drawbacks to being away from civilization.
Pack something to protect you from the weather, if not you at least something that will stop your laptop getting wet in the even of rain. That might mean using a waterproof bag or taking a rain coat that packs up small.
Take something to charge your devices! Running out of power when your miles away from anywhere can really ruin your day, take a decent power bank so you have enough juice to get you through the day.
See the Area Too!
Where ever you decide to spend your days don’t forget why you traveled to the location in the first place. It wasn’t to spend everyday in the same Korean cafe! So take a trip out of the city, find a park and spend the afternoon there, go see that exhibit, laptop in hand. Make the most of this opportunity we have to be digital nomads.
Originally from the U.K, Greg has lived in Asia for over 15 years. Fluent in a handful of languages, he ran a management consultancy before creating Face Dragons. He spends his time now traveling around Asia, writing, taking photos, and drinking coffee.