On Remote Year I went from some girl with a lot of wanderlust to a full-time digital nomad.
The girl with wanderlust would sleep anywhere - a hostel full of bugs, just for the chance to see the world.
The full-time digital nomad would expect a good nights sleep and reliable wifi.
And now, I see the Remote Year program through both lenses. With those perspectives, here's what you need to consider before you join Remote Year:
1. You'll Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Remote Year
You'll love the program and you'll hate the program.
- When you're staying in a 5-start apartment in Argentina with a rooftop pool, you'll love Remote Year
- When you are staying in a 2-star hotel where it looks like people have been murdered inside, you will "hate" Remote Year
- When you get free tattoos at a going away party, you'll love Remote Year
- When the internet doesn't work you'll "hate" Remote Year
Remote Year as a program is like going on a blind date, except you fly across the world to meet them and commit a year to that relationship. Just like people, there will be things you like, things you don't, things that annoying you, and things that make them unique and special. Brace yourself and when it happens just remember, "I told you so".
2. Life Doesn't Become Perfect Just Because You're Travelling
Those majestic Instagram photos... so perfect and dreamlike. How could life not be perfect on Remote Year? Unfortunately, life's challenges to stop just because you're abroad. You'll still have to deal with the same situations that life threw your way, just like at home. The only difference? You're abroad.
3. It's Hard.. Mentally
I say this from a perspective of an overly optimistic person. Even my optimism eventually gave into the fact that the program is mentally tough.
- You are trying to navigate the social dynamic of 75 unique people. It's no easy feat and can feel overwhelming at times
- You'll try and balance a million things and only have time for 3-5 things. It feels like there is no winning. When you do one thing, you miss out on another
If you're coming to "escape" a problem or "to find yourself", be careful. Remote Year will test your limits and this only amplifies problems you thought you could run from. If you're the "trying to find yourself type" Remote Year will probably just have you leaving feeling even more confused.
I joined in the best possible physical and mental health I had ever been in, and Remote Year still tore me all apart (not necessarily in a bad way). There's no running from self-reflection and personal growth on Remote Year and that can be hard.
4. Set Your Expectations for the Program
Know exactly what you are hoping to get out of Remote Year by joining the program. When I joined I didn't care about anything...seriously. I didn't even know what a digital nomad was. All I knew was that it was a sustainable way to travel the world without having to save up $30K in advance. I thought there would be piles of us in shared rooms, and in a dorm working from bunk beds. That being said, my expectations were incredibly low. On the other hand, there were people who were told we'd be staying at Airbnb's.
Overall, I had a more positive experience than others may have had. Why? Simply because of how I set my expectations for the program.
If you want to make sure you get the most out of Remote Year, know exactly what you expect from them and that they can deliver on that (in writing).
- Do you care if you find out where you are living for the next month only 2 weeks in advance?
- How much can the quality of accommodations differ - will you accept 2-star locations or only 5?
- What quality of transportation do you expect?
- Are you ok with a 14-hour bus ride or do you prefer flights?
- What sort of events are you expecting and how many?
- How much professional growth do you want to achieve and how will Remote Year foster that for you?
I say get your expectations in writing because sometimes there is a, "he said, she said" scenario with no accountability.
P.S. you're going to be so excited to just be a part of Remote Year that you will say, "you don't really care" at first, but after 2-3 months you will. So let me just say now, "I told ya so".
5. Set Personal Expectations for Yourself
On Remote Year, people come from around the world and all have different backgrounds, from ethnic, personal experience, financial status, you name it. It's a group of 75 different people. This means different "social classes". Some people are well of and some are just trying to scrape by to be on Remote Year. Of course countries such as the US have a lot of buying power with their dollar, especially since the program fee is in USD. If you are from other countries where the buying power or average salary isn't as high compared to the US, it might be a bit more challenging.
In my experience, I knew I wouldn't be able to afford frequent dinners out or a lot of side trips. Throughout Remote Year, Canada hit a recession and "my" dollar plummeted. That made it more challenging to pay for Remote Year. Instead of beating myself up about it and experiencing a ton of fomo, I accepted the fact that I am incredibly lucky to just be traveling the world and that I didn't need to "push it". I told myself I would simply enjoy my time in whichever city and really embrace it like a local.
Set expectations for yourself, otherwise you will be full of fomo and if not trying to keep up financially, you will trying to keep up by being everywhere at all times, which is literally impossible.
6. Side Trips Are a Common Thing
Prepare to Drop The Cash Or Face the Fomo
Every month most people take at least one side trip.
Ie. when we were in Cavtat, Croatia a bunch of us took a road trip to Hvar, Croatia. Whereas in Penang, Malaysia, I took a side trip to Bali, Indonesia. Every month there seemed to be one "hot spot" location for side trips. For each side trip, you are probably looking at $300-$500 (depending) and they are usually planned among participants.
It's a chance for groups to connect on a more personal level and take a break from a crew rolling 75 people deep.
You can anticipate dropping an additional $300-$500 on side trips/month.
7. The People You Travel With Will MAKE Your Experience
...but don't worry, you'll love them
When I started Remote Year, I didn't join for the community. I couldn't care less who I was traveling with, I just wanted to travel the world in a sustainable way. Now as a digital nomad, if I was joining Remote Year, I would expect a large focus on networking, professional development, skill sharing and collaboration on projects. It's funny because I didn't join for the community and left with it being the biggest "selling point".
These people will create and shape your experience, which is why no two Remote Year programs will ever be the exact same. But the good news is, no matter how different you all are, you have this strong and common bond that's greater than anything.
Looking back, if I did the same thing solo as opposed to with the group, my experience would have been completely different. That made me realize just how much the people on the program shaped the Remote Year experience.
8. If Remote Year is For You
In my opinion, Remote Year is best for aspiring digital nomads. Many people on the program are new to this lifestyle, with only a handful joining as existing digital nomads.
It might be a bit more challenging of an experience for existing digital nomads. Why? Because you've been so free for so long. Yes, the luxury of having everything planned seems great, however, you'll start to realize - I don't want to go there, I've already been there or I'm paying THAT much to go THERE?! And to be honest your expectations might be pretty high based on what you are paying and in my opinion, it's better to come in with low expectations.
9. Not Everyone is Employed
... and Some People only Work Part-Time
On the program, I would say that about 60% of the people are working full-time on a consistent, regular basis. With another group working part-time. This makes it hard when you have to work full-time. It's east to get jealous of people who have free time to explore and you'll get some fomo when you see their pictures of them sightseeing, while you're stuck working all day (yes! digital nomads work).
10. Working to a Timezone
Of the people working, many have to work to a certain timezone. This meant that while we were in Asia some people would be taking calls at 1am. Is that hard? Yes. This is one of the reasons I believe that Remote Year has removed Asia from a bunch of programs.
In my experience, however, my job was really flexible in terms of when I would work. As long as my hours were in, it doesn't matter when I worked. My boss is also based in Prague, Czech Republic, so Asia was actually advantageous to me. I could spend the day in the sun and then hop online at 4pm and work until about midnight - and what's better? I was actually "ahead" of my boss so it worked perfectly. I would still sleep in, spend a day outside and come online just as they were starting their day.
11. The Costs Beyond the Monthly Fee
As I said above, side trips usually happen at least once a month and go for about $300-$500. Most people also go for lunch or dinner often. This really depends on a lot but you could expect:
- About $10 a day at a cafe
- About $15 a day on lunch
- If you go for dinner you'll drop perhaps $20 (maybe more if you have drinks too)
- Nights out... $50? and these can happen 2-3 times a week (maybe 4)
- $300-$500/month for side trips
Pretty much, another $1,000/month is a good base to have. Remember, you won't always have a kitchen which means you need to eat out all month and that can get expensive.
13. Where You'll Actually Work From
Your monthly fee will cover the cost of a co-working space, whether a make-shift, which means Remote Year found a space and decorated it, or you'll work from an existing co-working space. However, you will likely spend your time working from:
- Cafes or restaurants (very popular options)
- The co-working space (about only half the time, if that)
- Your apartment/hotel room
Personally, I liked to work from at least 2 locations a day.
14. You'll Live Mostly in Cities, Not Beach Towns
For me, I didn't realize how hard living in cities would be. By nature, I am not a city person. After awhile of living only in cities on Remote Year, it got to me. I craved nature, fresh air, and the beach. If you love city vibes, you'll love it. However, if you prefer the beach you might feel a bit more overwhelmed.
15. To Just Chill, You'll Be Safe
People joining Remote Year tend to be very concerned about safety.
Yes, there is a lot of crazy shit going on in the world, but there's also a lot of shit happening in America too. Remote Year isn't going to take you to a location if your safety is at risk, which is why, for example, Remote Year 2 switched locations from Turkey, Istanbul to London, England.
And Zitka, good lord. We were mostly in cities and I saw MAYBE 1 mosquito in the city.
And finally, ya, your shit might get stolen. For me, not a single thing ever got stolen. I was hyper aware of keeping expensive stuff out of sight, hidden away and knowing when to keep stuff on me and when it was safe to leave.
Just be smart and you'll be safe.
16. Locations May Change
On Remote Year, our locations changed 3 times. This meant that our itinerary said locations that we didn't end up going to. This can "rattle" the group dynamic but just be prepared - it's all about being adaptable, right?
17. You'll Experience 3 Years Worth of Growth in 1 Year
I don't even know where to start. This is another blog post on its own. However, prepare for A LOT of personal growth. You'll never look at people, the world, or yourself in the same eyes you once did. And that, it's kind of awesome, overwhelming, beautiful, and confusing - all at the same time.
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