Designing the Future of Work

Posts tagged ‘Global Travel’


No Place Like Home


It’s natural that I would take stock of my time in Seattle on the day of my departure. It’s been an impactful trip. I am glad my reintroduction to the United States was in a city I didn’t know well. I could say hello to my country with a fresh perspective. With the same sense of wonder I greet each new city in my travels.

For Digital Nomads a sense of home is always a challenge or at least a peculiar idea. Home in any traditional sense, the country of your birth, is often a storage space or friend’s and families basements and garages. It is always a conversation, at least in our heads, where is the place we should plant every last possession we own. Each city you visit is answering that question. Is it the place you want to get nest like in the old days. So, when I touched down on the land of my birth it was a test of belongingness.

It has been a wonderful adventure. I’ve explored the city just enough to want to come back. I’ve had brilliant surprises like running into a SWA friend at a coffeehouse in the city. I’d gone there to write and had forgotten my converter for my now Czech laptop charger and it was just about to die. I was lamenting how I would entertain myself for three hours, before I could head to Oyster Happy Hour at Flying Fish. And then, a miracle. A friend walked by, looked about, our eyes met and we screamed. “Ray?” “Robin?” We were both incredulous to see each other in a Seattle coffeehouse. He was in town for a wedding and I was in town for work.

Robin and Ray Take Over Seattle

We spent three delightful hours learning about each other’s lives. It felt like kismet and karma and a plain good time. Ray was my people. Someone who loves travel as much as I do and integrates it in his life in powerfully creative ways. Ray is a dancer who uses his body as an instrument, and treats it well so that he can dance all across the world. Ray shared the amazing video he had made in cities like Paris and we talked about the travel show he is born to do. You can see his brilliant work @ Ray Takes Over the World

I’ve enjoyed the city. It surprised me with its beauty. Seattle is a town begging the sun to come and doing it justice when it arrives. The city is filled with balconies, rooftop gardens and restaurants with outdoor seating. Seatlites are prepared to celebrate the sun. I shared several sunny days while nesting in this city. Every outdoor deck was filled with smiling citizens. And, I saw Seatlites tuck under when the rain came. Umbrellas optional. There are plenty of fun and funky places to shelter, so it’s not so bad.

Two Tech Cities on the Bay

Seattle has been an amusing opportunity to see another city built by tech, whether it was internet or aerospace. And, the one thing Silicon Valley and Seattle have in common is traffic. So, I’ve enjoyed Seattle. At the same time, I have felt good about moving on. Two minutes on any news channel in my 700+ channels of nothing to watch, the reminder of how things have become dark in America settled my thoughts on exploring other pastures. I packed all the goodies that I could only get here in my suitcase (astonished it all fit) to head back to the city I’ve fallen in love with. That’s the life of Digital Nomads, we can love many cities. We enjoy each one for its unique beauty, tastes, and entertainment.


When Everything Isn’t a Rainbow – The LGBT Digital Nomad

Rainbow Flag

Being a Digital Nomad takes vision and courage. And being an LGBT Digital Nomad takes it to a whole other level. It’s surprisingly something I have rarely written about. I suppose it was my border crossing, leaving Prague for Seattle, that compelled me to finally speak up. I was raised by Civil Rights Activist who moved our family to Tempe, Arizona because there was a law on the books that it was illegal for Black people to live there, and well, we were Black. (My family and friends are sick of hearing this story, except it defined me in so many ways).  I was raised by parents who not just supported, but kind of insisted that I protest the Vietnam War in eighth grade, even if it meant being sent home. Yet, I came out as bisexual in San Francisco way past the age when I should have known better. My exposure to homophobia is really still in its infancy, but has been heightened in the gay skittish Czech Republic. So, it’s not surprising that my hands tremble on the keyboard as I write this since I clearly thought I was a badass. But, a badass in San Francisco, hell, anywhere North of the Mason-Dixie line (sorry global citizens – that is euphemism for the South), is nothing compared to being LGBT out in the big wide world. And, this is the first time I’m outing myself on a global level.

That border crossing felt like a defining moment when I asked myself if I was just being smart or cowardly. My partner and I travelled through South America and constantly made judgement calls about how to behave in each new country. We were pleasantly surprised by the openness in Chile, and saddened by the distress of our friend in Bolivia who couldn’t be herself to her friends or family. Everywhere in between, until we got to Cuba, was somewhere in between, where it was best to leave it unspoken.

When I arrived in my new country, the Czech Republic, I was eager to participate in the 5th Annual Prague Pride. I was troubled by the stories of people whose families claimed to accept them, as long as they didn’t tell anyone else in the family, or the village, or the country. Their families were oblivious to the SHAME label they were tattooing on their children’s souls. My partners grandfather still wanders what I’m still doing here.

Since I have become a U.S. citizen subject to the laws and whims of other countries, quite frankly, I haven’t done much better. When I needed to get a Visa to spend Christmas with my daughter in India I was struck with a moment of guilt given the laws against sexuality in India. I had friends in Silicon Valley from India who shared what is was like to live in fear and shame. That was the context that had me completely deny my sexual orientation to get my visa at the Indian Embassy in Prague. When the Embassy official was scrutinizing my application and questioning my reasons for being in the Czech Republic he asked.

“You’re husbands Czech?”

“Yes, yes, he is,” I replied, without a moment’s hesitation.

I told myself it’s what you’ve got to do to get what you want.

India overturns ruling decriminalizing homosexuality

Shaded world map showing which countries punish homosexuality and what punishments they have; India’s Supreme Court has overturned a ruling that decriminalized homosexuality. MCT 2013 With BC-INDIA-HOMOSEXUALITY:DPA

It’s the fall back explanation for LGBT professionals. The one I didn’t need when I was in the gayest city in the world, but the one I had adopted in my new hometown, where I was so desperate to create success.

So, I was headed for a business trip, excited about my new job, grateful to be working for such an amazing company, and then I went through Immigration at the Prague Airport.

The Immigration Officer questioned me in Czech.

“I’m so sorry, I don’t speak Czech”

“What, you live in this country and you don’t speak Czech?”

“I’m studying. I have my Czech flashcards in my laptop bag.”

Dismissively, “Is your HUSBAND Czech?”

With only a moment’s hesitation, “Yes, yes he is.”

Czech Border CrossingThere it was again. This man for whatever reason he might make up in his tiny mind could stand between me and doing my job.

There was no joy in it, no satisfaction. I heard the voice of my parents as they pushed me in my stroller at a march in Chicago where we would listen to Dr. Martin Luther King. “If we don’t make sacrifices nothing will ever change.”




Universe grant me the courage to once and for all stop avoiding using pronouns, hiding behind the term “My Partner,” and say loud and proud. “Yes, yes SHE is Czech.”

This Digital Nomad wants to make the life of freedom, creativity and innovation available to everyone no matter who there are or who they love. One day, no matter where I plug in my laptop, no matter where I’m getting my WiFi signal, the world will support and celebrate my love the same way I support and celebrate love in any form, in any place.


Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Recently I joined the planning team for the 5th Pride Business Forum. Event details were flying fast and furious the email gateway. Two weeks away from the event my highly anticipated trip to London to meet my daughter, on her way back from the U.S. and headed to Singapore, arrived. The team was a bit frantic, but I assured them I wasn’t going offline, just out-of-town. Half of our planning team were in other countries . I would be back before they all touched down in Prague.

After all I am the Global Mobile Worker.

My daughter and I, like clockwork, met at London’s Heathrow and navigated the Tube to our AirBnb apartment in a trendy, formerly down-and-out neighborhood. The post had advertised WiFi, the truth was the AirBnb host expected us to bootleg WiFi from the apartment upstairs which she was also renting through AirBnb.

We tried to connect phones, laptops, iPads with zero results on my Asus laptop and Samsung smartphone. The winner in this really bad situation was the MacBook and the iPhone, but even they could only get connected in one spot in the kitchen.


TMobile GlobalTo the rescue TMobile Global. While my daughter had to search through London minimarkets for an iPhone sim card, I was connected the minute I powered up my phone at Heathrow.



                          So, my mobile global technology, WiFi at cafes and in WiFi zones, with the incredible support of dropboxDropbox and Adobe Acrobat, I was able to email, review, revise and keep moving forward all the critical to do’s for the Forum.


I postponed a few items knowing I could rely on my trusty superfast UPC Wi-Fi when I returned home. Euphoric from a fantastic trip to London; food, strolls, musical theatre, and the changing of the guard, I came home to find my dismayed partner pointing at a completely dark modem. No flashing lights. It was dead. Could not be resurrected.

Friends CafeThe next morning I fled to Friend’s Café to catch up on the backlog and the following day I was back working my smartphone until the UPC technician arrived with a new modem (they get 48 hours to respond).

Moral of this story. A Digital Nomad can go digital in remote villages in Guatemala, beaches in Belize, hotels in Havana. One thing we know how to do is stay connected!


The event was a smashing success thanks to Londoners, Evan Davis, BBC economic anchor, and business icon, Lord Browne.


Being Thanked at Prague Pride with arrow

Planning Team and Volunteers for 5th Pride Business Forum







See more photos at

Thank you www.



Collage of connectionDespite the social media generation’s confusion about the true definition of friendship Like Buttonpeople inwardly value physical connection.


Dropbox SyncI do feel a sense of connection when the Dropbox dialogue box shows me that my colleagues are being productive while  I cruise Facebook.


But, I too need occasional face to face interactions to fuel my creativity.Human Connection

A challenge for digital nomads – how much time people will invest in getting to know you is balanced against how long you’ll be staying in town.

So, it helps to focus on people with whom you have the most in common so you that no matter how brief the encounter your offer the promise of a beneficial exchange.

MeetupMeetup has been a lifeline for me. While, quite frankly, Meetup sometimes felt a little creepy when I was living in San Francisco, I did find my first Write-a-thons, groups where people get together and just write for hours – grateful for the discipline of a time and place. In Prague, Meetup is a valued resource. I joined Prague Entrepreneurs, Prague Women in Technology, and met some of my friends when I first arrived and joined Foreigners in Prague at my first Prague Museum Night.

creativemorningsCreative Mornings is another great option. There is a monthly global topic and then each city makes something creative, hip and fun happen. Sadly the Creative Mornings in Prague are mostly in Czech, but the people just feel creative and many of them do chat with me in English before the presentation.

I was able to score seats for this month’s Creative Mornings which will be in English.

Creative mornings DIYConnection is even harder when you’re on the road. But, there’s an App for that. Several actually.

There is an app that lets hotel guests find companionship on the road. Billed as “The Travelers Social Network,” guests can use the HelloTel app to check into their hotel and show whether they’re there for “business” or “socializing.”   Once checked in, users can search for happenings in the area and can reach out to people either on the public forum or in a private message.

Perfect tool to create a startup backpacker trail. Do the global tech events circuit, like the Dublin Tech Summit in November. Hook up with like-minded entrepreneurs passing through town. That is the idea behind Startuptravels which lets you connect with other local entrepreneurs on your next trip.

A number of new apps have launched that are designed to help backpackers find companionship on the Hostel trail.

Hostel TrailHallways launched in August of last year.

There is Gomio, backpackr and RM8 in beta.


RM8 is taking a smart approach to offer multiple value propositions to hostel owners in a bid to become their dominant mobile marketing platform. RM8 lets hostel guests  select their dormmates.

One hostel in Berlin is at the intersection of entrepreneurship and travel with their own app. Gulliver was developed by three German and Swiss passionate travelers. The App is brand new so the guys come by the hostel every now and then to see how guests get along with Gulliver.

Fear not Digital Nomads – you can still find connection on the road. And if it’s a love connection you yearn for there is always Grindr, Tinder and HER or Wapa for the lesbian and female bisexual community, and Hinge the dating app for educated people.

If you want more than a hookup apps like Plenty of Fish has over 50 million members and a lot of features to help you meet the right one, in the right place, at the right time. If you’ve already loved and lost with OkCupid, give a different sea a try.

If you fall in love and are still on the road here are 11 Ways to have romance in long distance relationships.

Remember, being a Digital Nomad really Improves How We Connect with People, so invite a Digital Nomad to dinner. We have a lot to offer, even if we are only in town for a month or two.

WE are spiritual beings having a human experience





Need A Break From Home, But Want To Keep Working? Take A Jobbatical | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

Need A Break From Home, But Want To Keep Working? Take A Jobbatical | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.

Crazy Foxes Rule the Day

A FoxAt the beginning of the year I asked the question are Digital Nomads Crazy or Crazy Like a Fox?

Now that the media momentum mounts – with people in the know predicting that the Future of Work is Freelancing Crazy Foxes are in a good position to ride the freelance wave.

Surfing Freelancer

According to a recent SAP and Oxford Economics report, 83% of executives say their companies are increasing their use of contingent workers. Intuit, apparently mining data from electronic TurboTax filings, reported that by 2020 40% of American Workers will be freelancers.

National Freelancer Day

This year there were more freelancers than ever on National Freelancers Day; the biggest increase was in the number of self-employed people working on a full-time basis as opposed to part-time. The practice is becoming more common and more powerful, good or bad.

San Francisco, ground-zero for this on demand economy is home to companies like the app-based Handy that will dispatch services workers to your house to clean, repair, even assemble you IKEA finds.

Young professionals who work for Google and Facebook can use the apps on their phones to get their apartments cleaned by Handy or Homejoy; their groceries bought and delivered by Instacart; their clothes washed by Washio and their flowers delivered by BloomThat.


Sites like HelloFresh, TaskRabbit and SpoonRocket are part of the RatRaceRebellion.

Even freelancers will tell you the secret to climbing the pyramid to wealth generation on the beach is to farm out some of the work to people in countries hungry for the hard currency you are willing to pay them to build your empire. Some online entrepreneurs insist you’re a Crazy Fox if you don’t take advantage of the global abundance of talent.

The upside for employers is they only pay for the talent they need when they need it. The risk is not having good talent ready when you do. For freelancers the benefit is a more flexible lifestyle, but they have to hustle to maintain income.

The freelance story is bigger than just digital nomads.  The salt of the earth American working class have been forced by job loss to create businesses of their own, like the former corporate IT guy who is doing tech installations in mall kiosks. Laid Off

Startups are competing to ease the transition. Take Work Market, a platform where former corporate workers can find their own work.

The big problem for freelancers in America is healthcare.  Even with better access to healthcare coverage, it’s more expensive, for example, the former corporate IT guy went from about $350 in monthly premiums in his old job to $600 per month on his own. He also is working many more hours — 60, sometimes 80.

That is where the digital nomad lifestyle can add value. If you can globalize your income, earn U.S. dollars or Euros working from a rented house in Colombia then the working more hours to get the same income diminishes.

Depending on the healthcare system in your location, the healthcare price tag can be much lower.  My annual healthcare bill in the Czech Republic is $600, and the care is excellent. Guatemala offers free health care to everyone, it’s a right, not a privilege. The owners of Hostel Captain Tom where we stayed in Antigua (with excellent WiFi) had received major dental and medical services in town, all of excellent quality.

Hostel Capitan TomRooftop party at Hostel Tom
That is why Digital Nomads aren’t just millennials. Seasoned corporate warriors, like Gray Wolf Survivor, Scott Kelley have taken to the road for life fulfillment.

Building A Digital Nomad Life is not a piece of cake.  We talk all the time about the challenges of packing and unpacking and being without a home to call you own.  Thankfully those who have gone before us are willing to share how to’s.

Freelancers More ProductiveA global executive said in Inc. that businesses need Digital Nomads. Happy, satisfied workers are stronger performers. Survey findings show that professionals who became digital nomads were 79 % more productive.

Maybe your company needs some adventure travelers on your next project team.

Still Crazy like a fox

“Modern” India Not Quite Ready for the Digital Nomad

I travelled to India for the holidays to meet my daughter.  We are both living a nomadic life and had not seen in each since she packed up all her things with one months notice and moved to Bangkok to pursue startup gold.  She needed to leave Thailand for visa purposes and we picked a place that had a Thai Embassy.  I won’t elaborate on the reasons that landed us in Goa, but there we were on the southeastern coast of India for Christmas.

There were many lessons to learn about travel in India and this time I could be a more casual observer than my daughter because I had chosen to leave my electronics at home for the first time in two years; only brought the mobile phone.

My daughter on the other hand was living off consulting contracts, having abandoned her start-up for freedom and independence, and needed to work to meet her deadline.  So, she would be the one working in hotel lobbies to get better Wi-Fi this time and not me.

Zuckerberg and Modi

We learned quite quickly why Mark Zuckerberg, wearing a suit I must note, had recently visited Prime Minister Modi to offer help on India’s Digital India initiative.  Wasn’t the country’s economic explosion due largely to the internet?  Well apparently that ability was limited to a few choice cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad. Outside the core using mobile data was an exercise in frustration.  While Modi is focused on terrorists using social media, a tool he himself uses to affect social policy (he used it during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat to track missing children with wonderful results)  Zuckerberg wants to save humanity.  He agree to start with building the Clean India Mobile App.

India Express – Prime Minister Meets Zuckerberg

The Prime Minister appealed to Zuckerberg to promote India’s rich tourism potential through Facebook.  Newsflash for Modi, the critical word is potential.  Only the heartiest of travelers is ready to see the sights outside Mumbai and New Delhi.

India’s power problems are public knowledge.  Nearly 300 million people in India have limited or no access to electricity, according to the World Bank. .President Pranab Mukherjee promised round-the-clock power for all by 2022.

WSJ: Scorching-heat-exposes-India’s-power-woes

The challenge is working with state-run electricity systems overseen by India’s national government and its 29 state governments.  Largely confirmed over a beer in a beach café on Kovalam Beach by local explaining modern Indian politics, I2014-12-25 10.01.57ndia is a fragmented country with powerful state governments and 20 officially recognized languages making getting things done impossible.

One also has to wonder if the sheer number of people national leaders must care for makes them less careful with their lives.  What else could explain the news upon our arrival that India had just stuck a deal with Putin to have Russia build four nuclear power plants?  This is the same Russian that is sweeping Chernobyl under a radiation blanket.


Bloomberg:  Putin Promises Oil, Weapons and Nuclear Reactors to India


Indian Summer - The Beaches of GoaAs we sunned ourselves on beach chairs and sipped fresh coconut milk from real coconuts we watched the locals struggle to serve the tourists needs during daily power outages.  We frequented the Café Hard Rock  in Goa (no official affiliation) because their generator keep the Wi-Fi humming and the drinks coming despite power outages.  The generator was paying off; they were often full while others sat sad-faced under their umbrellas waiting for the power to come on again.

The transportation system is largely offline for foreigners, a term you will often hear from Indians.  The outside world is tolerated in tourist ports, but foreigners seem to feel, well foreign to many Indians.

So, while Goa and Kerala provided us with digital nomad friendly prices and some of the most beautiful clean beaches of our world travels, they are best enjoyed without the need for mobile data or Wi-Fi signals.  India will just have to be the place digital nomads go to unwind, not to work.


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