So, you want to be a digital nomad? You want to work from the beach sipping iced coffees while the waves roll in and the bikini-clad babes stroll by.
L.O.L. The reality of the situation is a little different…
Right now, I’m typing this article from an Airbnb apartment in Cartagena, Colombia. My place is ocean front with a solid view. There’s a rooftop pool on the 17th floor with sweeping views of the beach and city.
Sounds great, right? Not so fast. I’m currently sitting on a twin bed. My buddy is beside me on a different bed. We’re forced to work in the one room of the apartment that has air conditioning. There’s no desk or table in here.
The AC in my room broke down the night before. I sweated through the night tossing and turning. Hard to sleep in an 80-degree room.
Cartagena is not ugly.
Now, we’re deciding if we should pack our things up and move to a different spot for a few days. Our confidence in the landlord to fix the broken AC promptly is not high.
But we don’t want to pack up our things and move to a new spot – for the third time this week.
On top of that, I’ve been ill for the past few weeks. A throat issue that simply won’t go away has me spending more time in third world doctor’s offices than I’d ever like to.
Oh, and don’t forget the sunburn. Your third-world doctor forgets to tell you that antibiotics make you susceptible to sunburns. You spent a few hours at the beach and now resemble a gringo lobster.
Bad Things That Happen While Working From the Road
A lot of shit can happen when you travel around working on your laptop. I’m not going to talk about why you should become a location independent traveler or not.
I’m just going to talk about a few things that have happened to me:
When Exercising Goes Wrong
Traveling through a third-world shithole can be a lot of fun, but it’s also dangerous. I found that out the hard way.
My friend and I decided we needed to work out after hitting the booze a little too hard the night before. So we went to the park around 5 PM. The sun was just setting, and we wanted to hit some pushups, pullups, lunges, and abs.
We didn’t know the park was “gang” territory. After finishing our first sets of pullups, five young men sprinted down. We were surrounded. A chain-link fence surrounded the whole park. We didn’t have a way out.
They confronted us using kitchen utensils as weapons. At first, we laughed. Then three of them attacked my boy, shoved him to the ground, punched him, and stole his shorts and shoes off his body.
They weren’t fucking around. Next, they came to me. Five on one didn’t seem like good odds. One of the was looking away, and I took my chance. I shoved him to the side and made a break for the fence.
My friend saw what I was doing and took off, too. He had a free exit, as they had all came to me.
We got out before they could catch us. A little roughed up, my friend lost his shoes and workout clothes. I was fine, but shaking with adrenaline.
Life on the road isn’t all bad.
Fuck. The elevator dropped from under us. We were free falling. There was nothing we could do. I tried to clutch the handrail and remain calm, but it wasn’t working.
My boy and I started yelling. Then it stopped. The floor was shaking, almost bouncing. The lights started flickering. It felt like we were on a ride at an amusement park, but this was in our apartment building.
What the hell just happened? The lights turned off completely. We pulled out our phones and shined some light while trying to remain calm.
We pressed the emergency button, but it’s the third-world. No one was coming to help us anytime soon.
It was easy to remain calm for 10 or so minutes, but being stuck in a tiny elevator that could plummet to the bottom of the building at any minute isn’t comforting.
We started to panic about 15 minutes in. We punched the ceiling looking for a way out. We kicked the door. We yanked any lever we could get our hands on.
Finally, after 10 minutes of freaking the fuck out. I found a crease and was able to pry the doors open with my bare hands.
We saw a little light but not much. We were stuck between the fourth and fifth floors. I look down. We could crawl out, but it would be a bit dangerous.
Fuck it. We crawled through a few wires, and our feet set foot on the fourth floor.
We walked down the stairs, and the doorman was cracking up. He pointed at me and said, “Superman!” Then he laughed, again.
Apparently, he had watched the whole thing on camera and found it amusing how I pried the door open with my hands.
Mobile Internet For $300 a Night
Airbnb rentals sometimes are amazing. Other times, they blow.
My friends and I decided to splurge for three nights in Colombia. We rented a penthouse with an ocean view for $300 a night. It was baller.
Rooftop pool, modern design, huge balcony, private gym – the whole nine yards. Every room had a 42″ flat screen TV, working AC, and a private bath with hot water. Luxuries in this part of the world.
But, it’s still the third-world…
We arrived and quickly found one major issue. The apartment didn’t have an Internet router. The only WiFi came from a mobile router that offered just enough connection to open up emails. You couldn’t even play a damn YouTube video with this thing.
For $300 a night! No Internet. It was awful. We complained and got a small refund, but still. How do you charge $300 a night and not offer decent WiFi?
What $300 a night gets you.
Is the Digital Nomad Lifestyle For You?
Some are made to live life on the road. Others aren’t. I can see why the life of a digital nomad has gotten some bad press lately. Hell, some people even claim the term “digital nomad” is uber gay – which is hard to argue.
That’s fine. While life on the road isn’t the fairytale those dipshit “gurus” try to sell you, it’s not that bad, either. There’s a lot to love about traveling while working. And there’s only one way to find out if it’s for you…
Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel – one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.