Museums of Seoul

A quick Google search will show you that Seoul alone has dozens of beautiful, interesting museums. I’m willing to go on a month-long trip to Seoul just to explore the history that’s captured there. Unfortunately, we were only able to stop by one museum on this trip, but I list a few other museums I’d like to visit on my trip  back.

Note: Amazingly, museums in Korea don’t have an entrance fee (unless it’s a special exhibit). Most museums, palaces, and other historical sites are closed on Mondays. The museum we went to is open 7 days a week.

National Museum of Korea

The National Museum of Korea has three floors of artifacts and stories, so wear your walking shoes. There are plenty of cafes scattered throughout where you can take a break, and the museum has free WiFi for when you want to enjoy afternoon tea and reconnect with the world.

In addition to the main museum, they have a special exhibit and children’s museum. If you want to see the current exhibit in particular, I recommend going there first, or you may find yourself too exhausted after making your way through everything else.

When you’re done exploring the exhibits, head outside to the nearby Yongsan Family Park and go for a walk.

Other Museums of Seoul

Seoul has so many amazing museums I doubt I could visit them all (comfortably) in less than 2 months. When I return, here are the top 3 on my list that I’d like to visit.

  1. The War Memorial of Korea – It’s fascinating to see how different countries’ museums depict wars. I love the soberness of it all.
  2. Dongdaemun History & Culture Park – I caught a quick glimpse of this on our last night, but sadly the museums had already closed.
  3. Cheonggyecheon Museum – We took a free walking tour along the stream, where we learned a little about its history, but we ran out of time for the museum. I recommend taking a walk along the stream after your visit.
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Old City Walls and Samcheong Park

Nearby the cafe-lined streets of Bukhon Hanok Village is Samcheong Park.

Whenever you go to a new place, it’s always a good idea to visit a museum and a park to get a glimpse into the past and present life of the place you’re visiting. Plus, parks are awesome.

Samcheong Park is a great place to go with kids, pets, or alone. They have a library/cafe, mulitple playgrounds and hikes, and an awesome place for people to work out. Most of the people who came to exercise were “ajumas” (grandmas), but I guarantee they were more capable than I was.

There’s a mountain trail that will bring you to a section of the old wall that used to surround the city.

The climb up to Bugaksan Seoul Seonggwak-ro had a lot of steps, but the view was worth it. It takes you up to a section of the wall, past tall trees through old sentinel lookouts. By the time I was out of breath, multiple older couples passed me, and we met a couple who were 70+ and did the hike every week! Putting me to shame.

From the top of the mountain, you can continue on Waryong Park, or continue on yet another hike.

It could take weeks to explore the entire place, and was an awesome find just strolling past. If you’re in Seoul, the park is a simple pleasure but a must-do for my list.

Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa

Taman Sari is a charming spa in Central Jakarta. It has locally inspired decor, and a great menu of services. We were welcomed with hot ginger tea, got papaya milk scrubs (I recommend it), and ended with local orange juice and tropical fruit; today was watermelon, papaya, and green melons. I find their price and service really good, and I was happy with the treatment.

Tips: If you get a scrub, ask them to heat it up. They put their scrub mixture above a candle so it’s warm when they apply it.

What do you gain when you give something up?

I originally wrote this article as a volunteer writer for the CCF Magazine. I’m republishing it here, because I’m doing a mobile phone fast for the upcoming week. I’ll be using this booklet to guide my reflections throughout the week.

prayer-and-fasting

The subject of fasting comes up approximately 77 times in the Bible, according to Donald S. Whitney of Lifeway. Jesus fasted when he was tempted by Satan, King David fasted when he was mourning his young son, and Queen Esther fasted before she put her life in danger to protect the Jews from Haman. We consistently see the players in the Bible demonstrate the importance and power of fasting.

The loss of appetite is a natural response to hardship or depression. However, fasting is different in that it’s purposeful. When we fast, we aim for growth.

How to Approach Fasting

But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 6:17–18)

The verse above makes sense when you realize that fasting is not always meant for times of mourning, sadness, or trial. Christians are encouraged to fast regularly, not because God wants us to be periodically in mourning, but because he wants us to continue to grow. Fasting is a form of spiritual devotion, not something that should be done to “impress” God.

In the Bible, many people fast for a number of reasons. They may be repenting, strengthening themselves spiritually, purposefully sacrificing to demonstrate their desire for God, or waiting on God to answer a question or need.

Food vs. Lifestyle

One of the most common ways to fast is to give up food. You can only have one meal a day, you can eliminate something from your diet, or you can give up food completely. However, fasting isn’t exclusively about about food. It’s a lifestyle discipline, designed to remove temptations and things that aren’t good for you, with the end goal of bringing you closer to God.

For example, if you find yourself on Facebook for much of the day, commit to taking a break from social media. If you’re usually on your phone when you’re out with friends or at church, try going a few days without your phone (it’s a little extreme for our society, but not impossible). Do you spend time on Reddit and Imgur at work? Uninstall the apps and un-bookmark the websites. There are a lot of things you could do, but take a while to identify what is pulling you away from more important things and taking up your time. At the end of the day, what’s important is your intention and what’s in your heart.

Prayer and fasting

When you fast, you give up something with the aim of gaining something. This could be an answer to a question, an improved relationship with God, or peace in a time of trial. When we fast, our goal is to enjoy time with God through prayer. Fasting without prayer is fasting without purpose.

When you give something up, you gain time. Instead of browsing social media for 20 minutes before bed, you can read a book, take a walk and talk to God, read your Bible, have quiet time, or do a devotional.

You may not realize it immediately, but the time you’d normally spend eating (or doing whatever else you decide to give up) adds up. By fasting, you turn that time into an opportunity to become closer to God, even in as little as 10 minutes a day.

Fasting as a group

If you want to fast with others to keep you accountable, reach out to some friends and ask if they’d be willing to do a week of fasting with you. The advantages to doing this with a group of friends is you can reach people who haven’t accepted Christ yet, and you can arrange to meet up regularly to encourage each other and talk about how God is answering your questions and otherwise working in your life.

You can also fast as a family (although don’t force anyone to join). It’s likely that you spend a lot of time with your family, and doing a fast together will help remove temptations. For example, if you have dinner with family but are giving up one meal, you could use that time to go through a devotional as a family instead.

Finally, you can fast with your church. The church I’ve been attending has regular weeks for fasting, such as Intercede in January and other events mid-year.

Being grateful for 2016

Downtown Queenstown

As 2016 comes to a close, I’m taking a few moments to look back and be thankful for the year so far.

This year was a test and a blessing, as I lost one of my favorite clients and gained four. I have amazing clients who teach me new things at every interaction.

I worked from the beaches of Coron, city streets of Taipei, ryokans in Kyoto, museums in Auckland, and old towns in Jakarta. Before the year ends, I will also have worked among snowy backdrops in Seoul.

I turned 25 in Tokyo, got my first jellyfish sting, learned to snowboard on The Remarkables, rediscovered my fear of heights while paragliding, and wrote more blog posts than I can count.

I went on a church retreat (despite detesting crowds), tried and failed at TRX, joined a bible study, and still cannot cook.

Through the ups and downs, God has remained a faithful and masterful manager, taking away responsibilities I can’t handle and challenging me enough to grow.

Overall, it was an amazing year. Cheers to the next one.

Thank you 2016 and see you soon 2017!

Getting Remote Work Done on an Adventure Trip

So I’ll tell you this now; it’s not going to be easy. Especially if you’re traveling with others. I had to figure out where to fit work in while jet boating, paragliding, taking a flight over Milford Sound, and eating my way through Queenstown and Auckland.

Here are my takeaways. I’ll elaborate on them a little more further down.

  • Follow the WiFi
  • Have set office hours
  • Find work havens
  • Get a VPN
  • Bring the right gear
  • Enjoy the local sights

Follow the WiFi

Before you go, book accommodations with WiFi. I had a scare before we left, because I thought one of our hotels only offered Internet in their lobby. Given that the entire trip I could only do serious work in my hotel room late at night after everything closed, this would have been a problem.

The Sherwood in Queenstown not only had good wifi and weather, it also had some great outdoor seating to take advantage of it.

Working at Sherwood | Getting Remote Work Done on an Adventure Trip

If there’s no way for you to access reliable WiFi through your accommodations, don’t just rely on a coffice. Get a local data plan and tether your phone and laptop, or purchase a device that allows you to access the Internet from anywhere.

Office hours

Designate two hours in the morning or evening to dedicate to work. Don’t schedule any activities during this time frame, and let your travel companions and clients know when your reliable office hours are.

My office hours were always in the evening, because everything in New Zealand closes fairly early. Unless I wanted to get a drink, there was never much to do after 8 p.m.

Research spaces to work

Look at your accommodations in Google Maps and see what is within walking distance. Are there any cafes or coworking spaces?

Research their hours, and try to find out about wifi speeds and plug availability. To avoid crowds, don’t go to cafes or breakfast places in the mornings unless you plan to go upon opening.

There was a delicious coffee and chocolates shop called Patagonia downtown that I frequented. It overlooks the downtown courtyard and water, plus has free wifi.

enjoying-the-wifi-and-tea-at-patagonia

Data security

I like using Tunnel Bear for my Android and Browsec on my laptop as a Chrome extension.

This may be overkill, but you need it especially if you deal with financials for work. You could go a step further and pay for a VPN, but the free ones work just fine for me.

Bring the right gear

The outlets in New Zealand are different from the American standard, but my travel laptop bag always has a universal adapter, extra chargers, a mouse, usbs, and a powerbank.

If you travel often as a remote worker, keep a convenient “go” bag to make sure you don’t forget anything when it’s time to explore.

Enjoy yourself

The remote work lifestyle doesn’t usually come with health insurance and benefits, but it comes with unparalleled travel perks, so enjoy them.

My favorites from the trip were seeing a kiwi (bird), paragliding, and stargazing. I saw the Southern Cross for the first time 🙂

Paragliding above Queenstown

“Disrupting” for the sake of it? Think it through better

Innovation, disrupt, pivot… These buzz words are used so much in today’s business world that you could create lorem ipsum text that would sound like a lot of blog posts out there. There’s a focus on innovation and reevaluating how we’ve come to accept the world around us. Did you know there are devices that can turn any surface into a touch screen? If you prefer not to push virtual buttons, you can use a voice-enabled tool that can even order you an Uber (yet another disruptive player in the startup game).

This forward-thinking is great, and it’s changing the world. But when we read the stories, we see the results, not all of the hard work and failures that led there. We also miss out on most of the stories of failed startups, because who wants to read about that? This is a dangerous cocktail for young professionals entering the workforce, who think that they can achieve success with one good idea, or by “disrupting” an industry.

When an industry shifts because of a new player, it’s because new solutions met an underlying need more efficiently than whatever other services were available. Amazon Echo uses voice-controlled AI (her name is Alexa) to help you manage your home and life. Airbnb shook up the hotel industry with peer-to-peer short-term rentals. Ride sharing services like Grabcar are changing the game for public transportation and traditional taxicabs. These are amazing innovations, disruptive startups, and they solve problems beautifully.

But if you’re trying to create a “disruptive startup” just for the sake of it, you’re wasting everyone’s time.  Picture this conversation between yourself and a young professional.

“What are you working on right now?”

“I’m trying to create a disruptive startup.”

He doesn’t know which industry he wants to focus on, or even what his startup would do aside from ‘be disruptive.’ If he got a team together right now and told them to go to work, he would be wasting everyone’s time with the lack of direction.

“To provide remote teams with simple, efficient project management tools” is a mission statement. “To disrupt the [BLANK] industry” is not.

The bottom line here is you need a good idea, solid strategy, and persistent execution. Even if you have all those things your business may or may not disrupt any industries, but it 100% absolutely will not disrupt anything without clear vision and planning. Instead of focusing on disruption, focus on utility.

Similarly, I’ve seen pride and idealism get in the way of education. Someone thinks they will completely change how an industry works by doing everything differently, so they don’t even bother learning the basics because they find the rules too rigid. It’s like trying to be a chef without learning the various basic chopping skills. If you want to change something, at least learn it first so you can decide whether it needs changing–before you declare you’ll find your own way. Don’t let the experience of the professionals who came before you and passed down their skills go to waste.

If I could draw, I would include a little graphic here that shows;

You + Education = Your years of experience + History of the industry

Versus

You + Grit and an ‘innovative mentality’ = Your years of experience + Failures that others may have already made before you

What should we even be doing at 25?

​Some of us are married with kids, some of us are Tinder veterans. Some of us are virgins, some of us have an intimate knowledge of all of our fetishes. Some of us are living at home trying to figure out what we want to do next. Some of us are young professionals with promising careers trying to figure out what we want to do next.

Many of us are turning to travel to help find ourselves and our purpose. Sometimes it’s a success, sometimes it’s just an escape, but it is one of the more popular things to do in my circle of 20-something friends. Many of them have moved away and found themselves happily occupied with learning how to succeed in a new city; finding their favorite bakeries, making friends with the local baristas, and learning the ropes in a new job.

I don’t associate new locations with new opportunities for myself, because the work I do is location-independent. As a remote worker, I can be as productive in Taipei as I can be in Portland.

The way my quarterlife crisis manifests itself isn’t by wanting to change my settings, see new things, or live somewhere completely foreign. I want to create something valuable. Not just to make money, but as my contribution to the world and my ‘out’ for myself. I can say, “here world, take this great thing I built and let that be my legacy. Don’t ask about marriage or kids, dont ask about my income. Look at this, and be satisfied, so I dont have to play the game or keep up with my generation of amazing innovators anymore.”

I don’t think we are the first generation to experience the ‘quarterlife crisis,’ but I think we are unique in that we can share it. The Internet connects us all, so that we read articles like this one, where someone your age going through relatively the same emotions can spill their guts and you go “so I’m not the only one who feels like I should be doing more at 25? Young enough to do so much, old enough to feel like time is running out.”

How have you been dealing with your quarterlife crisis? Tell me about where you are right now and what you want to do. I’ll do my best to reach out and help, even if the best I can do for you is be a listening ear. And, if you have an exciting side project idea for a remote marketer, especially if it’s in the renewable resources sector, please get in touch 🙂

How to travel the world without sacrificing your career

Seeing the world is something that appeals to many of the most impressive people I’ve met. There’s something special and valuable in learning how to live somewhere and somehow else. However, your 20s are the most valuable years for investing thanks to compound interest. Also, my 20s and 30s are the years I’d like to learn the core skills I’ll be using in my career down the road (not that I won’t pick up more along the way).

Would you believe me if I told you I traveled around four different countries last year and my career and bank accounts are still in good shape? I just returned from a two month working trip across the West Coast. Before that it was exploring temples in Tokyo, before then a jaunt to the beaches of the Philippines, and before that it was watching New Year’s fireworks in Bangkok on the Chao Phraya river.

Travel as education

One of the biggest reasons I’m able to travel and work is because I don’t go sight-seeing on these trips. Well, I do, but more than that the goal of these trips are to learn. I observe the ads in different countries, check out what companies are doing with their email newsletters, how they’re getting new clients, and look at the copy and marketing efforts in different places.

These trips are also designed to help me find my perfect work balance while I travel. I learn what country I can work best from, what type of accommodations suit my work life balance, and how to stay in touch with a distributed team from whatever timezone I’m in.

How to work while doing it

So, getting down to how I make remote work work. I’m in the marketing industry, which encompasses a lot of things these days. My main focus is on content; copywriting, editing, distributing content and strategically placing content on various channels. I have training in SEO and social media, and I basically just love to write.

This factors into remote work pretty well, I don’t need anything other than a laptop and an Internet connection to research and write my articles. I make sure to track my time with Hubstaff so I can bill clients appropriately and make sure I stay on track with work. When I’m traveling, I try to aim for 5 hours of total work a day with 80% or higher activity levels.

The tools I used

Here’s a snapshot of the tools I use when I work from anywhere in the world.

  • A Lenovo ideapad – My current laptop. My very first laptop was a ThinkPad tank laptop from IBM. I’ve tried to stick to IBM and Lenovo every since. I find their laptops to generally be fairly reliable, but a little prone to the dreaded blue screen of death.
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 – My trusty water-resistant phone that I’m comfortable taking to the beach with me. I downloaded all the apps and widgets I need to fix my schedule and work from my phone.
  • Hubstaff – Time tracking software with randomized screenshots and activity levels. This tool shows proof of work, proof of productivity, and tracks time accurately down to the second. I just select my task, hit start and begin working. I also get paid automatically.
  • Skype – Calls and instant messages to anyone around the world, as long as you have an Internet connection. It’s easy to catch up with team members, start your own company “water cooler” chats, and make quick calls to discuss work.
  • Trello – A free project management tool that uses virtual kanban boards to organize tasks. There are boards, lists and cards where you can attach files, due dates and assign different team members.
  • Google Drive – I could not live without my Gmail account and all the great things that come with it. All of my files and spreadsheets are there, even my resume! I keep folders for different clients and store everything I need to know for them in my Google Drive.

The career choices you can take

The first step you can take towards working and traveling is to propose remote work with the position you have now. If that’s not an option, the most common professionals I see doing remote work are writers, programmers, graphic designers and customer support specialists.

Below are a few places to start if you want to get into those fields.

Originally published on my Reddit account.

A collection of stories from my “working” trip across the West Coast

Hey, thanks for checking out stories from my trip! Feel free to use the table of contents below to navigate through this insanely long post.

  1. An experiment in remote work and travel
  2. Pre-Flight Checklist
  3. I love airports
  4. Producntivity and ergonomics on the go
  5. The Lure of Adventure
  6. A week in transit
  7. Would you like some coffee with your WiFi?
  8. My digital nomad horror story
  9. No company is better than constant company
  10. Floating pods, productivity and a creeper in Seattle
  11. To work in the morning or at night?

An Experiment in Remote Work and Travel

Wanderlust — An irresistibly strong desire to travel.

In a few days I’m saying goodbye to the Philippines and flying to Seattle, USA to begin a two-month journey across the Pacific Northwest.

Goodbye (for now) to the Manila traffic

Goodbye (for now) to the Manila traffic

Don’t misunderstand; I won’t be hiking across the country to find myself. I’ll be catching up with friends and family, drinking Oregon Pinot Noir, enjoying some tax-free shopping and, yes, hiking and camping.

Hellooooo, beautiful. I can’t wait to see you again

Hellooooo, beautiful. I can’t wait to see you again

Most importantly, I’ll be doing all of this adventuring while I work.

I’m a remote worker, which means I can work virtually from anywhere I want. In theory.

A tiny origin story

My love story with virtual work began in 2013 with a company called 237 Marketing + Web. We built and managed WordPress websites and marketing efforts (everything from email newsletters to print brochures). My official title was Virtual Content Coordinator, which is still my favorite one even though I’ve been a “Marketing Director” once upon a time.

Today, I work with fabulous clients from around the world from the comforts of my home office. My baseline of tools include a Lenovo laptop, an Internet connection, Hubstaff and Google Drive

My Home Office

This is what my home office looks like on most days

I’m productive in my home office, but how feasible would it be to make the world my office? Would my work suffer or benefit? Would working habits improve under pressure or completely bust into spastic pieces of panic?

The beginning of the experiment

Digital nomads — Individuals who leverage technology to perform their jobs while conducting a nomadic lifestyle.

Remote work isn’t a new thing. There are completely virtual companies out there who are kicking butt and taking names. Digital nomads aren’t completely new either; there are whole communities of them all over the world — including online.

So, how do they do it? And can I do it, too?

Can I do this - An experiment in remote work and travel

Can I do this?!

Stay tuned to find out as I document my travels, working habits, important lessons and what works best for me as a digital nomad.


Pre-Flight Checklist

My personal and professional to-do list before I take off for 2 months

I have less than a week before I fly to the West Coast for 60 glorious days.

FYI Louise is hands-down my favorite character from Bob’s Burgers.

FYI Louise is hands-down my favorite character from Bob’s Burgers.

BUT, here are some of the things I took care of first. If you’re traveling out of the country for a long time, maybe you’ll find the list useful to prep for your trip as well.

For Work

  • Informed all my clients I’ll be on the road for two months, but I will still be working and they can reach me virtually (no big change there).
  • Automated everything I could. I’m talking social media posts, email reports (check out Thunderbird’s send later add-on) and blog posts.
  • Wrote and pre-scheduled blog posts into September to give myself some cushion in case I can’t write an article every week while I’m traveling.
  • Researched the best places for digital nomads to work in the cities I’m staying.
  • Warned the friends I’m visiting that I’ll need a few hours every day to work.

For Fun (and because I’m a grown up)

  • Saw as many friends as I could the week before departure.
  • Deep-cleaned the entire apartment.
  • Unplugged everything and cut electricity to the unit.
  • Cleaned my fridge and put in a box of baking soda to deodorize it while I’m away (it’s empty. I don’t cook. Things happen).
  • Informed my banks I’ll be traveling for the next two months.
  • Automated everything I could. This time I’m talking utility bills, rent, any other recurring payments.
  • Suspended my phone service (I won’t be using it, so I don’t want to be paying for it).
  • Went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. All the routine health checks and assurances.
  • Took a photo of my travel documents and emailed it to myself and my mom. Just in case.

Thats all folks

Is it just me or does that list seem kind of short?

Tell me what I missed in the comments below!


I love airports

Airports hold the promise of something new, signify the beginnings of a journey, and are a great place to work.

Airports make great offices for digital nomads.

Hello from Taipei! I didn’t look that closely at my itinerary so this 8 hour stopover was a nice little surprise. I’m not even being sarcastic. The airport has wonderful free WiFi and I am going to get so much work done.

I love airports

This is how fast the Internet is in TPE airport. Are they accepting tenants?

I’m about to hyperventilate over how fast the Internet is here. I’m physically excited to get to work.


Productivity and ergonomics on the go

Musings of a digital nomad on her journey

The Spokane River

The Spokane River

The first leg of my two-month journey took me to Spokane, Washington, where I’m staying with a friend from college. Here’s what I’d tell my pre-trip self;

1. Pack your tools

“I won’t bring my USB mouse, the cord will get tangled and it’s just another thing to drag around with me.” -me, one week ago while packing

I miss my mouse. I realized it when I was trying to work during my eight-hour stopover in Taipei, and miss it even more now that I have a desk to work from.

My laptop has a nifty touch pad that allows me to work pretty well, but my productivity levels are relatively low compared to when I had a mouse. I track my time using Hubstaff, which shows me how active I am while I work so I can gauge my productivity. Check out the difference.

Hubstaff creates automatic reports of my activity levels

Hubstaff creates automatic reports of my activity levels

I customized my reports in Hubstaff to filter by project for the past two weeks. As you can see, the week before I left (with mouse) I was consistently hitting high 90s. The week I’ve been in Spokane (no mouse) I was in the 80s.

I would also appreciate a lap table pillow, so I can work on a bed without my laptop overheating on my legs.

2. Find a good working spot

Ergonomics help you work well, but find the position you’re comfortable in.

When I was growing up I always worked on my bed, instead of at a desk. All the posture/ergonomics articles I’ve read say you should have a nice chair, screen should be eye-level, your desk should be at a certain level, etc.

The kitchen counter I worked at in Spokane

The kitchen counter I worked at in Spokane

I alternated working at my friend’s kitchen counter and on the air mattress they set up for me. I found I worked for longer periods of time when I was sitting on the bed.

3. Sleep on the plane

Sleeping on the plane helped me adjust to the timezone change. In my previous trips, I always tried to stay awake for the entire 16-hour flight and ended up passing out at 3 p.m.

Here’s what my ridiculous sleeping schedule was so far;

  • Sept 1: Slept from 2:30 a.m. and woke up at 7 a.m. (I was still insanely sleepy, but had something to do for work at 6 a.m.)
  • Sept 2: Slept at 1 a.m. and woke up around 4 a.m.
  • Sept 3: Passed out 7 to 8 p.m., slept at 10:30 and woke up at 4 a.m.
  • Sept 4: Tonight we plan to go out, so fingers crossed I don’t fall asleep at the bar.
  • Sept 5: Slept around midnight and woke up 8:30 a.m. (yay! Normalized!)

4. Bring an unlocked phone

The awesome Samsung Galaxy S5 that I use for work in the Philippines is locked to a local provider, so I can’t use it with any other data networks. I knew this coming over, yet I still didn’t bring an unlocked phone.

Next time, I will bring an unlocked phone, get a sim card and make sure I have data.


The Lure of Adventure

Being a digital nomad on the Oregon countryside

This leg of my journey took me to Walterville, Oregon for eight days of productive adventures and a quick stint to Portland for a bachelorette party.

The McKenzie River close to Lee’s house

The McKenzie River close to Lee’s house

I stayed with a woman named Lee, whom I lived with for a year in 2013. I fell in love with her dog and her exciting stories.

The most interesting difference between this friend and the last is the change of schedule. When I stayed with Sam in Spokane I was jet lagged and the days didn’t follow any particular pattern. Lee, a new retiree (she was the Director of YCAP when I lived with her), goes to bed and wakes up at roughly the same time everyday. I’ve adopted her schedule of sleeping between 9 and 10 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m.

Lee Means

It’s been way more productive in terms of getting into a comfortable routine and not having to worry about when I can work. I’ll get a few hours in during the early morning, we will go do things during the day, then I’ll work more before bed. We take advantage of the daylight.

Because I knew we were going to be busy during the day, I had to be more responsible and wrap up all my work every time I left the house instead of putting it off to the next hour.

And wow we’re we busy. I was able to do things I never imagined. I fed a mule! I helped harvest honey, picked plums, gorged on vine-ripened tomatoes and kayaked down a canal. We also went on beautiful hikes along the McKenzie River and wine tasting in Central Oregon.

Proxy Falls, Oregon

Proxy Falls, Oregon

Not having data has helped me focus. I don’t have a phone plan in America, which is alright because almost every place I visited had WiFi. However, not seeing all my emails come in in real time has been helping me work better when I do sit down to work seriously. I don’t have to check my inbox multiple times worried that something slipped through the cracks.

Here’s what September 7 to 11 looked like for one of my clients.

September work weekI typically like to put in at least 10 hours a week for this client, so it wasn’t too bad considering all the other things I did!

Oregon is beautiful

Oregon is beautiful


A week in transit

Why digital nomads shouldn’t travel mid-week

This week was tough! It was awesome in many ways, including relaxing by the McKenzie River, exploring Portland and wine tasting in the Willamette Valley. However, for work it was tough.

A gorgeous view of the northern Willamette Valley from Durant Vineyards

A gorgeous view of the northern Willamette Valley from Durant Vineyards

I would not recommend traveling on days you have to work. I had to write transit days off for the most part, but sometimes I could get a few minutes of low-level tasks finished.

My Hubstaff time report for the past week

My Hubstaff time report for the past week

My work week was broken in half for this leg of my trip, traveling from Central Oregon to the Portland area on Thursday. When I look at my hours, I spent roughly the same amount of time working as I usually do, but that was only accomplished with a lot of scramble and stress. I always felt like I was behind on something at work, even if I wasn’t (you’d be surprised how much you can do in an hour).

My takeaway from this week

Pack and prep on Saturday, travel on Sunday, begin work on Monday. Even if you work virtually.


Would you like some coffee with your WiFi?

You can work in America with just a laptop and a love for coffee

This morning I got up in a tent in the middle of the woods, set up a mobile hotspot, opened my laptop and connected to work. It was a pretty productive morning until my laptop ran out of battery. I thought the theme of this trip might be “where there’s a will there’s a way,” but I think it’s shaping up to be “where there’s a need there will be tools.”

As I type this blog post I am in the middle of a camping trip and am wearing the same sweatpants I had on yesterday and last night. We’re staying at a hike-in spot in LL Stub Stewart State Park and are on our way to see the Tillamook Cheese Factory to get my ice cream fix for the week.

The Trailhead Cafe in Banks, Oregon

The Trailhead Cafe in Banks, Oregon

We’re in Banks, Oregon at The Trailhead Cafe grabbing coffee on our way. Banks has one stoplight in their entire town, yet their coffee shops (I saw two) have WiFi and outlets.

Earlier this week I sat in three coffee shops, some in metropolitan areas and others in tiny towns, but all of them had free (and fast!) WiFi.

Throughout my entire trip so far (approximately 25 days) I’ve worked in about 10 coffee shops, a bookstore, seven restaurants and three airports with free WiFi. It’s absolutely great.

Want to find a space to work from? Start here.

Moral of the story: Oregon is pretty remote-work friendly. Yay!


My digital nomad horror story

The importance of having your own space

I was kind of waiting for this, because almost every trip has at least one awful-at-the-time, hilarious-in-retrospect story. This two-month trip across the West Coast is no exception.

This is my tale of bug bites, camping with lady problems, getting caught up in a drunken breakup and trying to get my work done along the way.

Digital nomad horror story

Itchy bug bites are bad for productivity

Have you ever tried to work while being eaten alive by cat fleas? I HAVE! The friend I’m staying with right now either has a spider infestation, or her outdoor cat has fleas that love me. Here is the situation on these infernal bug bites.

The flea scenario: My friend says flea medicine is too expensive, so she’s been routinely checking her cat herself, instead. This cat is allowed outdoors.

The spider scenario: There is a tree on their back porch that’s infested with spiders. We opened the door to step outside, screamed and locked it forever. I thought about getting a photo, but no blog post is worth that risk.

I don’t know which one I would prefer, honestly. Either there have been spiders all over me while I was asleep, or there are fleas hopping around me as I type.

Whatever is biting me needs to stop, because it’s incredibly hard to concentrate on work while trying not to scratch your skin off.

Don’t go camping when you’re on your period

Too much information? Too bad, you’re in my horror story.

I love hiking, and I still love hiking, but I don’t think I like camping anymore.

This point needs no further explanation.

Always have an escape plan

I didn’t know I needed one until I got caught up in an emotional breakup. The friend I’m staying with now lives with her long-term boyfriend, who got drunk and made some mistakes, which ended up in an angry alcohol-induced breakup. They are never the prettiest scenarios, and it’s worse when you’re in the way of it all.

This is the awkward moment Sealion, and my face as I tried to teleport somewhere else.

This is the awkward moment Sealion, and my face as I tried to teleport somewhere else.

They are still in a state of limbo as I type this blog post. Tomorrow, I check into a hotel in McMinnville and can hopefully get caught up on some work. Ideally, they’ll figure everything out once they have some time to talk privately, without me trying to disappear into their couch.

Moral of the story

Always have your own space when you travel, or at least have a contingency plan for unexpected horror stories.

If I had been more prepared, I would have checked into a hotel the day I realized where the bites were coming from, or the night of the breakup. I would have also avoided the camping trip a little better.

I haven’t tried booking with this website yet, but resources like HotelTonight can help you find good deals on last-minute hotel bookings in a pinch.


No company is better than constant company

The importance of alone time

In my fear of being alone for any leg of my journey, I made the mistake of spending a little too much time with people.

I need my space

Part of the problem I have now is that I haven’t been truly alone for a month and it’s starting to grate on me. My first two stops were 100 percent wonderful, and I suspect my last two stops will be great too, but this strange in-between where I am constantly with someone is taking its toll.

When you’re traveling, especially if you need to work, it’s hard to have consistent company with you for an extended period of time.

There’s something precious about being able to explore a town alone and selfishly selecting the cafe that you want to work in. I’m beginning to miss my little studio apartment that’s just mine.

Working in all these places and grabbing my precious alone time has been a life saver on this leg of the trip, when I’m more comfortable surrounded by strangers than people I know.

The fault for this weird funk lies with me. I was so excited to be traveling I forgot to schedule in lonely parts of my trip.

Hubstaff time reports

Last week was the least productive week of my trip so far. My working times were broken up and I spent less than 15 hours working. This week is shaping up to be similarly unproductive, so I think I’m going to sacrifice some of my weekend to get caught up.

The biggest issue that I’m dealing with is my stress level. I’m in one of my favorite places in the world and the weather is beautiful. I should be living it up, not trying to sneak away without offending anyone (not that that’s working).

On the up side, I just got 10 bottles of Longplay Wine. I’ve always loved Lia’s Vineyard, so I’m pretty excited to bring some home and share it with the folks at Planet Grapes and Wine Story.


Floating pods, productivity and a creeper in Seattle

The next leg of my trip took me to Newcastle and downtown Seattle. I split the past week or so between two old friends and have some stories for you!

First off, my Mondays have been great. I’m surprised at how productive I was in a nice quiet house with a clean desk and ergonomic chair. I stayed with a friend who works at a hotel, so I timed much of my work to coincide with her time out of the house. Productivity-wise, I would definitely do this again.

Seattle productivityI got 6 hours of solid work in and my activity levels were in the 80s — 90s, which means I was pretty much doing work consistently during the time that I logged. I’ve been unintentionally front-loading my weeks, but that’s been working out well. I was in transit today (a Thursday) so I wasn’t able to get that much done.

I stayed in Newcastle with one of my best friends from college and we tried out floating therapy at Urban Float.

Urban FloatHere’s a tip if you every try it — do not touch your face! The first time I got in I made the mistake of wiping my eyes, and it burned. So I was spray-bottling my face with fresh water, which did nothing but drench my face and get water in my mouth (those salts taste disgusting and the flavor was burned into my tongue for the rest of the day). I tried to just ignore it, laid back down and it got into my nose and burned even more! Once I took a second shower and dried off my face it was wonderful.

I also spent one weekend with an old friend from high school and we went dancing in downtown Seattle. There was one creeper who would not leave our friend alone, even though she was running around our circle of friends to get away from him. I finally just told him she doesn’t want to talk to him and he said three things; I have a girlfriend, I work for Microsoft (who doesn’t in Seattle?) and I just wanted to talk to her about video games. #creepycreeper #eww

Fun times in Seattle.


To work in the morning or at night?

I’m chasing Eastern Time for Hubstaff and Sherish, which means in Manila it’s go time at 9 p.m., but on the West Coast I have to be awake and productive at 6 a.m.

Did I mention I’m not a morning person?

Garfield and I are not fans of the morningThe past few weeks I’ve found myself waking up at 6 a.m., struggling to keep my eyes open and then passing out at 7 a.m. after doing all my time-sensitive tasks.

However, when I wake up again around 10 or 11 a.m. I have a nice chunk of work done that I don’t have to worry about anymore. In the Philippines I’m awake and caffeinated by the time the sun rises on the East Coast. However, sometimes I stay up until 3 or 4 a.m. getting work done.

I can’t figure out which scenario I like better, so I put together this list. Help me add to it if you have some time to comment 🙂

Working early in the morning

Pros

  • I get a lot of stuff done
  • I don’t have to rush at the end of the day
  • More time in the afternoon and evening to explore and hang out
  • Sunlight makes me more productive
  • I seem to be generally the most productive 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Cons

  • I am SO not a morning person
  • I have to put ice on my eye lids to make myself wake up (pro tip)
  • I drink two extra cups of coffee a day

Working in the evenings

Pros

  • I can sleep in
  • I’m not working while groggy
  • In Manila, the Internet is typically faster in the middle of the night
  • I’m used to staying up late, so on weekends out with friends I don’t pass out by 2 a.m.

Cons

  • I’m thinking about work all day
  • My sleeping schedule gets flipped occasionally
  • It’s less healthy

What do you think?