The mainstreaming of remote working models has led to a worldwide increase in digital nomadism. In September 2020, a resort in the Maldives made global headlines after it launched a workcation package worth 17949 pounds. A year later, Croatia's national tourism board and tourism ministry started formulating a new policy to attract digital nomads. Meanwhile, countries like Georgia, Bermuda, and Barbados have introduced a new visa category that allows remote workers longer stays.
With the freedom to work from anywhere, these nomads are working and globetrotting simultaneously. Remote work-life tourism has also altered the nature and definition of travel, from being a yearly break to becoming a lifestyle. The travel-hungry and adventure-seeking souls are now taking on expeditions like never. The duration of their journeys has changed from weeks to months, allowing them to observe the culture and life of their favorite cities, countries, and towns from a different vantage point.
Our in-house digital nomad, Madhurima Yenibilli has been amassing stories from distant lands for years now, but her escapades have taken a whole new shape post-pandemic. She now has ample time to visit and live in different places allowing her to immerse in the local life and culture. After being locked up in the house for months, Madhurima and her husband needed an escape. And with the remote working option, they decided to drive across the southern part of the country. She tells us about her five-month-long odyssey that had the perfect balance of work and travel.
The time I joined a meeting from a desk under a tree
It was a lovely February evening. I had finished work for the day, I shut my laptop, and as I looked up, I saw a sky painted in hues of red, yellow, and orange. The sun was setting over the horizon, and the Arabian sea sparkled. It felt like I had teleported from a world of emails and virtual meetings to a world of natural beauty in seconds. I was in Alleppey, Kerela, at the time, staying minutes away from the beach, which made it convenient to commute to my temp office. Some days, the office had a foldable desk set up under a coconut tree, and on the other days, I camped on the seaside rocks. It had become an evening ritual that continued until we left Alleppey.
Rewinding to September (2020), when my husband and I conceptualized this journey. I travel frequently and have covered a lot of ground, but I yearned to stay longer at each destination. I wanted to soak in the local life. It seemed difficult to extend my trips beyond a specific period between work and personal responsibilities. But when remote work culture started gaining popularity post-pandemic, I had to seize the opportunity. We zeroed in on a road trip from Gurgaon to Andhra Pradesh. After some planning and a successful month-long dry run in Himachal Pradesh, we began our journey of 12000+ km in December.
We covered nine states, including Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerela, and Andhra Pradesh, and crossed cities like Udaipur, Baroda, Mumbai, Kohlapur, Gokarna, Hampi, Udipi, Mysuru, Coimbatore, Kochi, Allepey, Trivandrum, Kanyakumari, Rameshwaram, and Chettinad. Our first pitstop was Rajasthan, where we absorbed the rich and colorful heritage of the state. We marveled at the architecture and grandeur of the palaces and forts, chomped on delicious local food, and tapped our feet to the tunes of folk music. After our rendezvous with royalty in Rajasthan, we drove through Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra before reaching Karnataka.
One of the most exciting stays we had was in Hampi, Karnataka, an ancient village famous for temple ruins from an empire dating back to the 14th century. This little town that tells the tales of a battle between two empires is miles away from the city's hustle-bustle. While it offers tranquillity, it also demands a life without urban perks. The town has a patchy mobile network that makes it difficult to work, and even though we had four different sim cards, we had trouble logging in. But the explorer in me did not give up until we found some rocks uphill where we got a better network. We just had to trek a little bit to be back on the grid. So, our days in Hampi started with breakfast, followed by a trek and then some work. We came down for lunch and then hiked back to resume work.
We worked from mountains, cafes, beaches, backwaters, and tea stalls during these five months. After all, we had the freedom to work anywhere. In May, we stopped at our native place in Andhra Pradesh. It was a momentary break from the life of a digital nomad. We then went back to our home in Gurgaon. And two months later, we set afoot for a four-month-long stay in a Himalayan hamlet called Raison in Himachal Pradesh.
As exciting and spontaneous as it sounds, being a digital nomad requires extensive planning and discipline. We had to plan our days well in advance to explore the unseen, enjoy the sunrises and sunsets, learn new things, and still deliver at work without compromising quality. Even the excursions and activities required planning. When I approached a trainer for classes in Kalaripayattu, a martial art from Kerela, I was told that the only slot available was for 5:30 am. The next couple of weeks required early morning trips to the martial arts class. Waking up early was a bit tedious, but the joy of learning the art made it all worthwhile.
I have been traveling for years now, but these recent voyages have enriched my life tremendously. The freedom to work from anywhere allowed me to travel extensively without compromising on my travel plans for my work or vice versa. I feel proud having worked on several important projects even as I was cruising around. I went through critical project phases without any hiccups, and my team even won a project. I even had to travel to Dubai in between for a client meeting. I flew from the nearest airport and came back to join my husband at our temporary base in a couple of days. One thing that made it a lot easier was the continuous support from my team without any judgment. It certainly helps to be working in a place that allows me to explore my personal and professional interests equally.
The entire experience hasn't just nurtured my soul; it also gave me a new lens through which to look at the world and the people around me. Knowing different cultures makes it easier to know and understand people at work and in real life. I might not be an expert on the subject, but I have no qualms in saying that the option to work from anywhere has improved the quality of my life.