Digital Nomadism – How Did I Start Traveling

Ever since the college, I dreamed of traveling and living all around the world. So I went through bachelor studies with one semester in Finland via the Erasmus program. It was a great experience that made me feel sure with my dream. I have imagined that I would finish school, let myself be employed by a multinational corporation, and I would be traveling around the world for work.

But when I have graduated from college, I had a PATRON-IT s.r.o. and I did not want to throw it all away. Over the next few years, I have been in a state of wondering if it’s worth it and whether to make a change. Every time, however, an event has come up that has moved the business a little further and I have stayed. Last year, things started moving and I have spent most of my time in the last 12 months abroad.

Everything has aligned

I often say that everything has its own time, and in 2016, I think that the time has come:

  • I have accidentally seen the Travel Bible book by Matouš Vinš and Petr Novák about digital nomadism in the news. I have ordered it the very next day and read it within a few days. I think that this book was an impulse to everything. I have learned that people who travel while working are plentiful. If you are interested in traveling, I definitely recommend the book.
  • We have specified the division of labor with the partner. Everything about personal contact with customers went to him. And there remained solutions to problems that no one could solve and process setting (of course, that we both represent each other and discuss things together). As a result, the vast majority of customers have not seen my face since 2016 and know me only by phone or e-mail. And basically, no one noticed that I was no longer in the Czech Republic (they could be surprised if they read this article).
  • My girlfriend has finished her contract in June.

Technical details

Nothing has prevented us from traveling. We have started to solve some technical details (might be useful to someone):

  • Destination: for starters, we chose the Canary Islands. There is warmth in the winter, Spanish is spoken (the language I want to learn), only an hourly change compared to the Czech Republic, an acceptable price level (the perfect cost comparison web Numbeo – cost of living) and it is still the EU.
  • Money: To save on transaction fees and exchange rates, I have opened an account with AirBank – free accounts, allow me to issue a card to the EUR account and another card for a girlfriend. Money is then exchanged via TransferWise for a minimum fee.
  • Money 2: I have a Revolut card in the backup, from which I can pay and collect money all over the world for free. I control the card using my mobile and I can always able or disable the card in my mobile application (ideal for internet payments).
  • Insurance: ČSOB travel insurance with a payment card – Extra family – we are insured for a great price throughout the year and it also applies to sports such as diving or alpine tourism (both of which I like), a continuous stay abroad is 120 days
  • Phone: I have used a Vodafone tariff with unlimited calls, SMS and Internet 100 MB / day for around CZK 1,500 across the EU. Now that roaming is canceled, it is not up to date (I have not had to deal with a long-term out of the EU stay)
  • Accommodation: I prefer the AirBnb, but the charges are getting quite unpleasant. Meanwhile, it’s still the easiest, fastest and safest route to a nice stay for me.

Pre-trip concerns

In the beginning, I was mainly nervous because of what it would be like and if we could stay the planned three months on the Canary Islands. Older relatives feared for us even more (falling aircraft, terrorists, immigrants, violence), but I think it’s just a matter of ignorance and too much TV news. 🙂

I was mainly afraid if I could keep the working morals. I’m a workaholic who always feels no one can do anything without him. Finally, I found out that I was able to do more work abroad than when I was in the Czech Republic. I think this is especially true because of:

  • I work from home, so I save time on the way to / from work.
  • There is more sun, so I have more energy.
  • The sun sets later, so I can work until 6pm and I still have a few hours of light ahead of me when I can do something.

How do I travel?

So far, I am in no shape to travel for a few years. I would rather travel for a few months and then return to the Czech Republic for few more. It suits me that way. I like environmental changes (as well as changes in seasons). I feel that it keeps my brain active and alert. Just walking along the street is different when it’s a strange place (in case I know the place, I automatically switch to “autopilot” and I do not even notice).

If I am abroad, I enjoy what’s different – sea, nature, food, culture. However, I am not a supporter of the fact that abroad everything is better than in the Czech Republic, so I also appreciate returning to the Czech Republic. Back in the Czech Republic I see my family, friends, arrange personal things and save some money for the next trip. Traveling is not a life goal for me, it’s more a way to make my life more varied and relax.

Other observations from travel:

  • Local transportation: We travel on the spot with public transportation (cheap and fun, especially if you are not sure where the bus will drop you off) or we rent a car when we go somewhere further. Our car rental of choice is CICAR. They have low prices, cars in good condition, an insurance with 0% co-participation (our car has already been damaged while parked once and the person has run 🙁 ) and the second driver is included. It has already happened twice that we have ordered the cheapest car with a GPS and instead we got the convertible for the same price, which is normally 2.5 times more expensive. 🙂
  • Food: Mostly at home (baguettes or cooking for several days). Some foods are cheaper than in the Czech Republic (eg cheeses, dried ham, exotic fruits), others more expensive (eg potatoes, onions, stewed ham, chocolate). Once in a couple of days, we would have lunch/dinner in the city (to enjoy something of a life).
  • Sports: When traveling, it’s proved a good thing that we both do CrossFit. Box (the place where you exercise) is almost everywhere, the exercises are the same, there is no need to “play” with others (as with other team sports), and there are always friendly people around (the community of people). It helps us get to know the locals and keep fit.
  • Familiarization: We found the sport (CrossFit, diving) and trips (good opportunities to talk to someone) the best way to meet new people. I also recommend MeetUp to everyone. There are various planned events where people meet – most often for mutual learning of foreign languages.

Travel experiences

Night volcano hike

In Tenerife, we took a night trip to Pico del Teide (3.718 m.), the highest mountain (volcano) of Spain. It’s not like I’m enjoying the night hikes. Entry to the top is regulated and you must have a permit, that is free of charge, but it must be booked at least 1-2 months in advance. By the time we were looking for it, the permits were all booked and I slowly stopped believing that we would have a chance to see the top. But then, what is called “special happiness” – in the Spanish-speaking country, I went to a meeting of French-speaking people and met a girl from Poland. She told me that the guard checks the permits to the top only from 9.00 am to 5 pm (which is the opening time of the cable car), and is nowhere around except for that time. So we found the night of full moon so we have the most light, bought warm clothes in Decathlon (it was almost 30 degrees by the sea, while it was freezing at the volcano) and we set off. It was a beautiful experience to see the island from such a height at sunrise.

Diving license

We have gotten ourselves certified for scuba diving in Spain, so we can dive freely. If you are not afraid of diving and traveling, I would definitely put it on the list of “must haves”. 🙂 Although I do not have so many dives under my belt yet, I have to say that the underwater life is very colorful, calming and alive. I was surprised by the calmness of the animals, and as they are almost not afraid of the divers. Colorful fish float all around; sometimes I think they are staring at us. During the last dive on the Pal Mar Wall, we have managed to touch a half-meter sea turtles and almost three-meter rays.

Meeting with friends

At each of our trips, some of our friends from the Czech Republic have flown in. It is a wonderful thing when we are talking Czech and with someone other than to each other and we share the trips. It is strange, but we do not meet many Czechs – perhaps even because we are staying outside the tourist resorts. But we often meet “neighbors”, most of them from Poland and Germany, with whom we share experience over beer or wine. 🙂

Future plans

I will be back from the Canary Islands soon. The Christmas is coming, through which I wish to stay at home. Also, it looks like new and relatively large orders await in the company, there will certainly be a lot to work on. Where and when the next trip will take place, I do not know yet. I still have not learned Spanish (something comes up every time, and I can’t fit it in 🙁 ), so probably some Spanish language. I also have to keep time zones similar to the Czech Republic. Although I do not have to be right in the Czech Republic, I am still dependent on the same working time (I hope I will manage to solve it in the future).

We met Andrew from Namibia (South Africa) at CrossFit last week. The official English language, time zone +1, and it is said to be a modern, safe country … maybe another destination.

How about you? Do you plan a trip somewhere? If you would find yourself at the Canary Islands in next September / October, let me know, we can grab a drink together.

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