Temporary Story

The story of a 6 month journey, over 3 continents, in 13 countries — stretching across the United States, Canada, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

Epic!

southwest collective house

Southwest Collective: a Coworking Retreat in Portugal

I came across Southwest Collective, a one week coworking retreat later this year, and since readers here are generally the digital nomad type, I thought I’d share.

Where: Guia, Portugal
When: 11-18 September 2016

The house attendees will stay at:

southwest collective house

More info and application, head over to their website: http://southwestcollective.co/

Having spent 2 weeks at StartUp Abroad in Bali in 2012, I can confidently say a co-working retreat is good for the soul.

PS: Coliving is one of the public groups we’ve added to Horizon’s web version (http://api.horizonapp.co/groups/). For those interested in coworking/coliving, I recommend you join.

Apps

Best Apps for Travelers

As seasoned of a traveler as you may be, it’s hard to get through a trip without needing a little help. Sometimes plans go awry and you suddenly need to communicate in a foreign language, or book a hotel last minute. Download these free apps before your next trip to make sure you’re prepared!

Google Translate

One of the hardest parts of traveling abroad can be the language barrier. If you’ll be traveling through multiple countries on one trip, it can be hard to memorize all the different languages. Google Translate is a cure-all for this. You can translate text in up to 90 different languages, and can even take a picture from your phone to translate words in up to 26 languages.

OANDA Currency Convertor

Trying to figure out if that beautiful dress in Morocco is a bargain or will break the  bank can be a headache. OANDA solves this problem by giving you daily rates for over 190 currencies and even four different metals. You also have the option to add a percentage based on your bank’s fees to figure out what your total cost will be.

Hotel Tonight

Have you ever made a reservation, only to get to your destination to find out it didn’t go through? Maybe you like to pick up and head to a new place spontaneously, and figure out where you’ll stay once you get there. With Hotel Tonight, you’ll never be without a place to stay again. Just pull the app up to find the closest hotels near you with the best prices.

Gas Buddy

Maybe you prefer to travel slowly and see each country at your own pace in a car. Whether you’re abroad or doing a road trip in your home country, Gas Buddy shows you the best place to stop for cheap gas. You can also put in your route and calculate how much your trip will cost you.

Free WiFi Finder

One of the worst parts about traveling to a new area is not knowing when and where you’ll have wi-fi to upload those amazing pictures you just took to Instagram. With Free Wi-Fi  Finder, you can find where the nearest wi-fi locations are in over 50 countries.

Latin America

Should You Cancel Your Travel Due to Zika?

If you’ve been paying attention to the recent headlines, you most likely know that the Zika virus has become a problem. If you’re traveling to a country affected by it, this may be more than a little worrisome. What is it exactly, and do you need to cancel your future travel plans?

What is it?
The Zika virus was first documented in 1947 in a monkey from the forests of Uganda. It’s transmittable by Aedes mosquitoes, which can infect humans. A documented case didn’t appear again until the spring of 2015 in Brazil.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms are generally mild and not noticeable by many people who are infected. This includes fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. The symptoms only last as long as the virus is in the blood, which can be anywhere from several days to one week.

Should you be concerned?
The primary concern is for pregnant women. Zika can cause neurological problems and birth defects. Microcephaly was present in babies who’s mothers had the virus when they were pregnant. While the link has yet to be officially confirmed, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency due to the increased cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome and microcephaly.

How can you protect yourself?
Protecting yourself against mosquitos is your best bet for not becoming infected. This includes being vigilant about applying mosquito repellent, avoiding mosquito breeding grounds such as still water, and sleeping indoors with mosquito nets. Wearing dark clothing can also attract mosquitos more than light clothing.

If you’re traveling to Latin America, South America, the Caribbean, or the Pacific Islands, it’s important to be aware of the virus. It doesn’t mean you necessarily need to cancel your plans, but take extra precautions to protect yourself against mosquitos. If you’re pregnant and planned on going on a trip where you’ll spend a good amount of time outside, you might consider delaying your trip or changing locations for the time being. There’s currently no vaccine, so protection is the most important step you can take in the fight against the Zika virus.

cheap airline

The Truth About Budget Airlines

The United States hasn’t jumped on the budget airline trend yet, but countries like Europe and Asia have embraced it. If you’re flexible to what day and time your flight is, you can get a flight for much less than a train would be. Booking a flight through a discount company can save lots of time and money, but it’s important to be aware of how a budget flight can add up.

Be Flexible With Locations

Say you want to go to Zurich, Switzerland, but the flight is a little pricey. Consider flying into the cheaper option of Frankfurt, Germany instead and then taking the train down. It’s often much cheaper to fly into certain airports depending on the location. On that note, be careful you know which airport you’re flying into. There can be several within a large city, and you don’t want to spend the money you just saved on a taxi trying to get to your hotel all the way across town. Spend a decent amount of time researching your options.

Use Different Search Engines

There are many different ones to use, and all will come back with a different price. Use a variety to compare which one has the best price. Sometimes it’s cheaper to book directly through the airline’s website, so take a look at that as well when comparing.

Don’t Make Tight Connections

Budget airlines are not known for being on time. They can often be delayed by hours, or just flat out cancelled. If you have booked several budget airlines together in order to get to a farther destination, the airlines most likely won’t refund your ticket on your later flights because your original one was delayed. Space them out several hours apart, or consider exploring the city for a day before taking another flight to your next destination.

Beware of Hidden Costs

One downside of budget airlines is they charge you for almost anything extra. If you want to choose your seat in advance, there’s a fee for that. If you have an additional bag besides your one small carry-on, there’s a fee for that. It’s best to pack as lightly as possible for flights like these to maximize your savings.

Thailand

Expat Location Spotlight: Chiang Mai

As the amount of travelers working in foreign countries increase each year, so do the number of locations for them to settle in. Chiang Mai, one of these locations, is in a mountainous region of northern Thailand. It’s often rated one of the top 10 most livable cities in Asia. It has started attracting a large amount of travelers who come to visit, and end up settling there for months. There are several reasons for this.

Cost of Living

The cost of living is much lower than in other countries around the world. Even compared to Thailand’s popular cities Bangkok or Phuket, it’s cheaper to live in Chiang Mai. For a studio apartment on the outskirts of the city, you can expect to spend about 5400 Thai Baht (equivalent to $150 USD). Factor in basic utilities and the cost of food, and you’re only at $500-$600 USD per month, not including entertainment or any extras.

Increase of English Speakers

Due to a large amount of English-speaking workers coming in the past 10 years, there are now many businesses catered to those that don’t speak Thai. Although it’s recommended to attempt to learn some Thai, you can go to stores or even doctors’ offices that speak fluent English. Expat meet-up groups have also popped up all around the city, making it easy to meet fellow travelers. It provides a social outlet, and lets you connect with others in the same situation to meet up with in the future.

Jobs

In case you don’t have a job where you can work remotely, teaching English is a very common choice for foreigners.  You need to apply for a non-immigrant visa, good for up to one year. You can then apply for a work visa, and an extension of stay if needed.

There are a few items to factor in before considering an extended stay in Chiang Mai. A tourist visa is required, which can be used for up to 6 months depending on how many times you leave the country. You need to exit the country every 60 days though, which will run you around $30 USD each time you enter the country. Visa fees and transportation costs aside, it’s easy to see why Chiang Mai is an affordable, livable city for expats.

Best Websites for Remote Workers

KeyboardWhether you’re working as your own boss or for someone remotely, being organized is key. Without being in an office with coworkers, it can be easy to forget deadlines to meet or virtual meetings scheduled for the week. Here’s a round up of some of the top websites to help you stay organized and on track.

TripIt
When you travel often, keeping track of all your flights, hotels, and any other reservations can get overwhelming. TripIt lets you forward all your email confirmations to it and automatically imports the information into the calendar. One of the best features is you can view it all offline, so no need to worry about connecting to wi-fi in a foreign country while you’re trying to pull your hotel information up.

Buffer
For those working in social media or marketing, Buffer is a life saver. It allows you to add multiple accounts to schedule content for. Set a schedule for how many times a day you want to post and when, or let their tool analyze the best times to post. The extension you can add to your browser allows you to easily add articles you come across to your queue for sharing later, or posting it instantly.

Every Time Zone
If you’re working remotely, chances are you’re communicating with people in different time zones. Instead of trying to remember where your coworkers are, add Every Time Zone to your  browser. It gives you quick access to know what time it is anywhere in the world.

Evernote
This combines all your virtual post-it notes into one organized website. Evernote allows you to organize all your to-do lists and even sync them to your phone, so you can see what’s due on the go. You can also share your notes with others for faster collaboration.

Google Docs
With Google Docs, you  never have to worry about downloading a document from a coworker, editing it, and then sending it back to them. Create a spreadsheet and share the link with a coworker to edit. You’ll be able to see their revisions when you click on the link.

 

Bali

The Rise of Digital Nomads

Travel enthusiasts have encountered a common dilemma in the past. Do they commit to the few weeks of paid vacation they have with their typical 9-5 job to fit in all their traveling for the year, or do they somehow make enough money to quit their job and travel the world? Luckily, many travelers don’t have to choose any more thanks to the recent increase of location independent jobs.

Described as “digital nomads,” many passionate travelers are now able to travel where they please, all while working from their computer. This means the same job can performed from a hammock on the sunny beaches of the Philippines one week, and from a Bavarian village surrounded by snow-capped mountains the next. Workers are no longer chained to their desks or forced to work only within certain hours.

Difference in Living Expenses

Before making the move, consider how much you’re willing to spend each month on living expenses. These can vary drastically depending on the location. In the graphic below, it shows how almost $6000 is saved over a course of three months should someone choose to live in Bali over London. However, it’s also important to consider such factors as more remote areas might have a weaker Internet signal, or you might have to go to a cafe to do all your work.

The difference in living expenses can be huge depending on the location.

The difference in living expenses can be huge depending on the location.

Co-Working Spaces

While the freedom to travel and work on your own might be enticing, maybe you know yourself well enough to know you need a little more structure. That’s where co-working spaces come in, which are popping up all over the world. As seen on the graphic below, you can still choose a location of your choice, but will be in an office with other remote workers to encourage you to stay on task. It’s also a great way to gain some colleagues to hang out with after you’re done with your work for the day.

Coworking spaces

The best co-working spaces to work at around the world.

Is it for you?

There’s many obvious benefits to being a digital nomad. You have the freedom to travel where you want while still making money. You can choose where you want your office to be and make your own dress code. There tends to be an increase in happiness due to having such freedom.

With the freedom of working remotely comes the downsides as well. Contracts with online companies may end and not be renewed, leaving the worker scrambling for work. You must be organized and detail-oriented to make sure you’re leaving room in your schedule to get the work done that’s needed. It can be tempting to stay out late with the locals or spend all day at the beach, but it will leave you scrambling to meet deadlines.

Working remotely while traveling can be very rewarding, but it’s not for everyone. Consider your job skills, location, and budget before making the leap to join the increasing number of digital nomads.

Images provided with permission by https://www.bargainfox.co.uk.

ohw-whereareyoutoday

Looking for a Rails Engineer to Take Over Oh Hey World

OHWiconWe open sourced the entire Oh Hey World platform in early 2014. Since then, we’ve been working on Horizon, which is our 2nd attempt at making community accessible everywhere. (a 18 month recap can be found here)

We know location sharing is not a “problem” to the masses (one of our big learnings from the time spent building OHW) — but Oh Hey World is still a valuable offering to frequent travelers (digital nomads, travel bloggers, entrepreneurs, business travelers, and those on sabbatical or extended backpacking trips). It still gets new users every week who use it to track their locations, update their current location on their travel blog with our WordPress plugin, or text their loved ones upon arrival.

We’ve been on the lookout for the right full stack engineer to maintain and improve Ohheyworld.com.

Changes to be Made

Like many startups, we overbuilt. Oh Hey World is an amazingly powerful platform — but many don’t know what to do with it due to its complexity. The primary goal in the near term is to simplify the user interface to be 100% about the “check-in” and link off to partners/sponsors for everything else a traveler may need (finding friends nearby, things to do, hotels, hostels, vacation rentals, etc).

Revenue

I believe many people would pay for a native iOS or Android app that handles tracking their location with the correct privacy considerations. The travel bloggers using the OHW WordPress plugin may be a niche crowd, but they are the content creators of the entire travel industry – there is considerable value to getting new travel products in front of them.

Alternatively, a development firm could be built on top of the Oh Hey World platform. Considerable effort by travel startups (especially B2C) is spent getting the basic aspects of a travel offering up and running: user accounts, locations, social graph, city searches, and information tagged to those cities. Ohheyworld.com has built all that already. It could turn into a great developer showcase for the big travel tech companies such as Concur, Amadeus, TravelPort, or Sabre.

Long Term

In addition to the “travatar” opportunity (Gravatar, for current location), see my thoughts on how an open source project such as OHW could serve as a catalyst for a location based content delivery platform.

Why keep Oh Hey World running at all?

That’s certainly a legitimate question, given our focus is on Horizon. To be very transparent, the interest in keeping OHW running is the URL has good domain (aka SEO) juice built over 5+ years — as well as additional opportunity with increased distribution of the WordPress plugin. Lastly, every user who finds OHW is likely someone who would utilize Horizon’s offering to find people to stay with.

Who would be the ideal fit?

  1. A self taught Rails engineer (or one currently or recently enrolled in a bootcamp) looking for a real world product with users to work on as a portfolio/learning project.
  2. An engineer with a passion for travel looking for a side project with income potential down the road.
  3. Someone who wants experience overseeing & working on an open source initiative.
  4. Someone who believes in the power of travel, ands wants to be involved with Horizon team long term.

Are you an interested engineer? Shoot me a mail if so – drew at horizonapp co

Exploring the Wild Blue Yonder