Study Abroad for Grown-Ups: The Surprisingly Affordable Way 3 Women Took Their Offices Global This Year

published Aug 23, 2016
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(Image credit: Who is Danny)

There’s a common realization many remote workers are having, likely while sitting in front of a computer at home still in their PJs (I speak from experience). It goes a little something like this: “Hey, wait a minute… I don’t have to work from home. I could actually work from anywhere.

Recently, a handful of companies have built businesses around that epiphany, arranging all-inclusive travel packages, including co-working spaces, apartments and transportation, for adults who have flexible jobs and a thirst for adventure. Programs like The Remote Experience, Remote Year, and Terminal 3 aim to make the logistics of being a “digital nomad” totally doable. Participants aren’t saddled with the details, but instead able to focus on taking care of business while they’re shuttled around the world.

There’s plenty of time to sightsee and immerse yourself in the local culture, too. Take it from the people who know: We sat down with three of these digital nomads, currently calling the world their office, to discover how they’re making it happen.

(Image credit: Photo from Emily Kollmyer)

Four Months in Europe with Emily Kollmyer

Occupation: Senior Product Marketing Manager, Four Winds Interactive
Home City: Chicago
Destination: Croatia, Italy, Spain and Czech Republic
Program: The Remote Experience, June 2016—September 2016

Emily is nearing the end of a 4-month tour of Europe with The Remote Experience, an organization which provides all flights, private lodging, travel insurance and a 24/7 workspace to the people who apply to work abroad through their program.

(Image credit: Photo from Emily Kollmyer)

How do you balance work with exploring? I work an adjusted East Coast schedule, starting early afternoon, so I take full advantage of my mornings seeing the sights, then grab lunch at a great restaurant before settling into my workday. I also switch up where I work—the “office,” my apartment, friends’ apartments, or maybe a café by the ocean.

What do you wish you had known pre-trip? European summers are hot. Like, really, really hot. And they don’t use air-conditioning.

What turned out to be easier than expected? I had prepared myself to be exploring Europe by myself in case I didn’t click with anyone. And thankfully, the complete opposite happened. I feel so fortunate to have made fifteen great friends that I never would have crossed paths with otherwise.

What’s at home that you would love to have with you? My family. There have been countless times when I do or see something and think to myself, my Mom and Dad would love this wine tour, or I wish Patrick was here skiing with me.

Favorite moment of the trip so far? Our first night in Torino, our local ambassador, Chiara, invited us over to watch the Italy-Germany Euro Cup quarterfinal game. We sat with about twenty of her neighbors and friends in their apartment courtyard where the game was being projecting onto a wall. I looked around and couldn’t believe how lucky I was—not just to be in Europe, but to be so welcomed by these strangers into their everyday lives.

The cost of a trip like Emily’s with The Remote Experience is $2000 per month with everything included. You can see more of Emily’s travels by following her on Instagram and on her blog.

(Image credit: Photo from Jessica Safko)

A Six-Month World Tour for Jessica Safko

Occupation: Designer, blogger and e-course creator for Love Plus Color
Home City: Los Angeles
Destination: Morocco, Berlin and Budapest
Program: Terminal 3, June 2016—December 2016

Jessica is in Berlin at the moment, in the middle of a 6-month tour with Terminal 3. Participants can join their community of traveling workers for 3- or 6-month tours while Terminal 3 provides accommodations, travel, 24/7 co-working spaces, health and travel insurance, workshops, language classes and a local SIM card to stay connected.

(Image credit: Photo from Jessica Safko)

How do you balance work with exploring? Believe it or not, being in these new beautiful cities makes it easier to get work done. Instead of rewarding myself after a long work day with a walk to get coffee like I did back at home in Los Angeles, I can reward myself with an adventure in Berlin, Morocco, Budapest, or wherever we happen to be.

Are you looking for travel to feed your career in a specific way? I do want to have travel become a larger part of my blog. Up until now, I have only been sharing design and business tips, so incorporating travel has been an interesting opportunity. I am making shifts in my content, and so, far I’ve had a great response from my audience.

What do you wish you had known pre-trip? Honestly, a couple days before the program I started doubting my decision to leave everything behind to go travel the world. I wish I could have known that everything was going to work out perfectly, and if it didn’t, I would be able to handle it just fine.

What’s at home that you would love to have with you? My dog was probably the hardest to leave behind. I think it’s difficult because when you leave friends and family, they are just a phone call away. My dog has yet to get a phone or understand Skype!

Favorite moment of the trip so far? Visiting the Sahara desert. The desert is so silent that it forces you to really listen to your inner dialogue and thoughts, unlike how you feel in the city. When it got dark and I looked up at the sky, I’d never seen so many stars. It was one of those moments that gives you chills, reassuring you that this is exactly where you are supposed to be.

You can join Terminal 3‘s community of travelers for an upfront fee of $2000 or $3000, plus $1750 per month. To see more of Jessica’s travels, follow her on Instagram and on her blog.

(Image credit: Photo from Dana Reinert)

A Full Year Abroad with Dana Reinert

Occupation: Freelance, design strategy and product innovation
Home City: Seattle
Destination: The “Magellan” tour, covering 12 cities across three continents
Program: Remote Year, June 2016—June 2017

Dana is currently in Morocco, four months into her full year abroad, where she will travel through 12 cities across three continents with Remote Year. She spends one month in each location before hopping to the next, with Remote Year taking care of transportation, lodging and connected workspaces in each destination.

How do you balance work with exploring? At first, it took a little bit of finagling to figure out how to fit everything in, but because I’m project-based, if I want to put in longer hours one day in order to take a morning off to explore, I usually can. Thankfully, Remote Year also sets us up with 24-hour access to workspaces. If I’m up in the middle of the night working, there are usually a few others in the same boat!

Are you looking for travel to feed your career in a specific way? I am currently working on developing a blog and consulting platform for anyone who is looking to make travel, remote work, or freelancing a larger part of their lives.

What do you wish you had known pre-trip? That I wouldn’t need to bring so much clothing with me. There’s a certain freedom in realizing you don’t need a huge house filled with things to keep you happy.

What’s at home that you would love to have with you? My dog, Sadie. Last year she and I took a road trip from Washington DC to Seattle, so I feel like she’d be up for an international trip!

Favorite moment of the trip so far? Learning to surf in Portugal. I was sitting on a surfboard out in the water, watching massive waves crash against the shore and huge cliffs, and all the fog suddenly disappeared and the water became an intense blue-green. It was amazing.

You can take your own Remote Year for around $2000 per month. To see more of Dana’s travels, follow her on Instagram and on her blog.