Here was my philosophy on joining Remote Year, a travel community that embraces the digital nomad lifestyle: Routines are boring, the internet is everywhere, why be confined to 9 to 5 office job? Pretty simple. The fact is, the recent rise of remote work has made geographic shackles unnecessary; people no longer need to be physically together to brainstorm strategies. Also, traveling is awesome.
Some background: I’m the Marketing Director for an online retailer of adult entertainment and products (basically, I’m a solidified, professional smut peddler). Balancing work and life is challenging as it is, but back on May 1st I embarked on a new journey: Traveling and working remotely in 12 cities over the course of 12 months. I’ll be living in a community of 52 talented and driven professionals spanning seven nations. Is it possible to combine this nomadic hippie life with a standard nine-to-five office job? I was eager to find out, even if that meant being away from friends, family and the comforts of home.
The first destination on our itinerary was Split, Croatia — meaning I’d have the chance to ease into my new, vagabonding life in one of the hottest travel destinations on earth. After just a few days, the small coastal town with mountainous backdrops had me worried that I’d never be able to return to a typical office setting. The place is that stunning.
Since my bosses asked me to align my work hours with east coast time in the US, my mornings were left free to spend time embracing my true self: A beach bum. Being from Pittsburgh and never having lived near an ocean, I set an intention to embrace the sea and allow it to rejuvenate my body and mind, seizing every opportunity to bask in the sun or be on a boat. A change in career path may be on the horizon, as I now aspire to become a freelance skipper (which may have been prompted by one of the deckhands I encountered being an ex-professional polo player for the Croatian national team).
Of the course of our month in Split, Remote Year introduced us to Local Tracks — curated, authentic, experiences designed specifically for the people in the program. We met the pioneers of LAB Split Craft Brewery (makers of Barba Beer), and spent the day on a family owned eco-camp, Inspired Croatia, where a lovely husband and wife duo are sharing a more sustainable way of life with their community. We got in touch with nature, ate cherries straight from one of their trees, and enjoyed a meal prepared by the hosts themselves while watching a cotton-candied sunset. It was a side of Croatia that would be unchartered territory for most.
The transition to remote work was relatively seamless. Like folding maps, I’m already questioning why cubicles are even produced anymore. Being extra responsive and striving to keep open lines of communication are always key, but especially so whenever your company is not organically remote, and you’re 4,000+ miles away. Both sides (mine and my office mates’) were experiencing some mild growing pains when daily habits of popping into each other’s offices were now off the table. Attending meetings via video conferencing was a little awkward at first, too — but it felt important for me to put forth face-time and not just become black and white typeface to my coworkers back home. There were times where I felt “out of sight, out of mind”, so it came as a pleasant surprise when some of my colleagues built a life-sized replacement of me, Meg-A-Tron. Constructed from a defective sex doll (but fully clothed!), Meg-A-Tron was equipped with a webcam and a monitor duct-taped to the doll’s head for my face to appear.
With no children, husband, or boyfriend to worry about, I took the “dive in and embrace the uncertainty” metaphor and jacked it up on steroids. While a huge part of the appeal was being immersed in the local culture, food and scenery, I also wanted to taste the local flavor, if you catch my drift, and was high on my to-do list around the globe. To my disappointment, my intentions were derailed, due to spending a large chunk of my time in Split with the world’s longest, never-ending cold. Being down for the count had me longing for bed island back home.
Life on the road has tough days too, but when they hit I just think of my new normal, working out of some of the world’s most sought-after destinations, from the patio of Dvor overlooking the Adriatic Sea, to peering out Lvxor Café’s windows at the ancient ruins of Diocletian’s Palace. While I do miss the simplicities of home, this feels like truly living.