Want to Travel the World Without Going Broke? Try Destination Coworking

Jul 17, 2019

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Are you ready to travel the world but, well, not quite ready to quit your day job?

Sadly, most Americans don’t get enough vacation days and statistics show that even those who do rarely use all their paid time off. But there is a growing group that attempts to make every day a vacation day. It turns out, you don’t have work from that mundane cubicle. There are options.

“Destination coworking” is certainly not a new trend, but as society grows digital footprints, it’s plausible for more people than ever before. If you are unfamiliar with term, just imagine this: doing your US-based job in a remote location overseas — albeit adapting to some odd working hours — with like-minded global enthusiasts.

And yes, there are employers that approve. It helps that many companies allow employees to work from home (at least occasionally) — a movement likely propelled by both studies that show employees can be more productive when working remotely, as well as the decreased office expenses.

Essentially, there are three arrangements for destination coworking:

If you are already working remotely, you have an advantage to popping the question to your boss. Just ask Kathleen Emery, a business analyst in San Diego.

She bluntly told her boss, “I’m going to go work from Indonesia for a month,” to which he chuckled and said “Cool, just make sure you hit your numbers.” She chose a travel program for a five-week adventure in Bali because the price tag was appealing.

“While I could have technically gone someplace by myself and worked remote, I thought that going as part of an organized group would add some legitimacy to the experience to help smooth things over with my boss,” she said.

She’s right. You can certainly travel and work remotely alone. Inclusive travel programs, however, such as Hacker Paradise, which offer trips ranging from two weeks in length to an entire year, are attractive to busy professionals that prefer someone else do all the planning. Emery said it’s worth the cost — at least initially. After that experience, Emery organized work trips to Marrakesh and Manila on her own, and estimates she was able to save about 30%.

Dojo Bali's co-living space offers accommodation for work, play and sleep.
Dojo Bali’s co-living space offers accommodation for work, networking, relaxation and sleep. (Photo courtesy of Dojo Bali)

If your boss trusts you, and you already work from home, you’re one step closer to destination coworking. But before shelling out thousands of dollars for an organized trip or going at it alone, consider these tips:

  • Having a job is key. Otherwise it’s really just a vacation. Most digital nomad outfits require a full-time job or sufficient self-employment to equalize all participants.
  • Weigh your daily work responsibilities and consider the impact it will have on your coworkers. If little will change, you are an ideal candidate.
  • Travel programs often receive more applications than spots, so put your best foot forward like you would for a job interview.
  • Check out the social feeds, mentions and reviews before applying.
  • Prepare for a cultural immersion. Interacting with locals is an essential part of the experience.
  • Know your visa conditions and how long you can stay in your desired country.
  • Check the distance between the hotel and workspace. Emery walked 45 minutes each way. A coliving space has the advantage of providing a place to work and live in the same spot.
  • Find a workspace where you can rely on strong Wi-Fi and a harmonious crowd to network and socialize with (check out coworker.com). In other words, you can skip the organized trip and still have that congenial atmosphere if you find the right coworking space. But to help the introvert, outfits such as Remote Year organize activities and parties.
  • Depending on where you are, the time zone can help or hurt you. Traveling to the shared workspace at night can be a challenge and internet in hotels can be spotty. “It helps to have a flexible schedule — not [an] 8am to 5pm job,” said Emery. “The time difference worked great … I didn’t start work until 10pm in Bali. It freed up the day to go sightseeing.” Either way, have a set work schedule and stick to it. Set boundaries with your boss so he or she doesn’t expect after-hour responses.
  • Look for a kitchen in your living space, as cooking together builds unity.

Popular Destination Coworking Organizers

Hacker Paradise

This outfit welcomes more than just coding geeks for trips ranging from two weeks to one year in duration. Hacker Paradise’s application process is innovative, with a required 15-minute video chat to ensure it’s a good fit. Some trips are localized to one city, while others skip from continent to continent. The average cost is about $2,200 a month and includes a private bedroom, a coworking facility within walking distance, local SIM card with data, workshops, some meals and activities. Destinations include Belgrade, Buenos Aires, Marrakesh and Cape Town.

WiFi Tribe

Don’t want to be locked into a set itinerary? WiFi Tribe’s Live-Around-The-World coliving membership offers 20-plus destinations sold by the month. Discounts are given based on how many months (it calls chapters) you reserve. For example, if you opt for three chapters in Tier 1 (Asia and Latin America) with a shared room, it’s $950 per month. The membership expires after one year and you don’t have to travel in consecutive months. Unlike outfits like Hacker Paradise, participants live and work in the same location.

Remote Year

As the name suggests, prepare for a year like no other flying to a new city each month. Remote Year touts its Around the World program as a transformative experience to “explore new passions, learn new skills, complete personal goals, develop meaningful relationships with your community and really change your life.” The down payment is $5,000 with monthly payments of $2,000, which includes airfare between cities, a private room, a 24/7 workspace, local volunteer opportunities and skill-sharpening classes. If 12 months is too long, Remote Year offers a four-month program, too.

Coworking on a Budget

Savvy coworkers around the world would be thrilled if coworking spaces coded as travel, so they could earn bonus points on those expenses.  However, most of the facilities you’ll run into code as something else.  That being said, there are still ways to save money when you need to visit a coworking space. Mike from Coworkaholic.com shares some of those strategies:

The best way to save is to use your Business Platinum Card® from American Express for a one year WeWork global membership (must enroll by 12/31/19). If that card is not in your wallet, many spaces offer your first day free and you can always sign up for a free first time visit to participating spaces on Coworker.com. If you already know how great coworking is but travel often and don’t want to drop $300+ on a desk at just one space, apps like Deskpass are awesome! Get access to 10 cities, 275+ spaces for one low monthly price starting as low as $49/mo. Deskpass, and a lot of other spaces, also partner with Salaryo – a company that helps you finance memberships or pricey deposits into affordable monthly payments.

Venturing Out on Your Own

Kolektif House
Kolektif House in İstanbul offers private offices, a meditation room, lockers, unlimited coffee, kitchenettes and even a post office. (Photo courtesy of Kolektif House)

Run much like Airbnb, there are websites that connect you with coliving and coworking spots. For instance, Coliving.com features 40-plus countries where you can lease a room in a shared house to “support a purpose-driven life.”  Already have a place to sleep, but still want that communal atmosphere? Coworker.com offers desk space in 165 countries where you may channel energy for that million-dollar idea. Many locations offer day passes, too.

Featured image courtesy of Hubud, a coworking space in Bali, Indonesia.

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