Over the past year, the world as we know it has changed. The norms and practices which defined our daily lives, turned out to be more malleable than we ever thought they could be. There is now a new-found outlook towards work, productivity, and time management, with a growing realisation that most desk-based workers can work from home and therefore, anywhere.
This has led to a resurgence of “digital nomads”. Traditionally, a digital nomad is someone who has no fixed place of residence or can easily move around from place to place, while still being able to complete their work responsibilities. Owing to COVID-19 and the resulting shifts, this definition now applies to many more people who have the freedom to work from anywhere. The real caveat is whether they are ready to leave the world they have setup in the cities behind.
For the last decade, I have been on a mission to remap the roads of India on my motorcycle, covering about 250,000 kms and travelling for at least a week per month. This meant that the seed for living outside the city, closer to nature, was always there but it was never the right environment or circumstances to truly embrace the nomad lifestyle. On March 6, I headed to Rishikesh for a weekend bike trip with a few friends. News around COVID-19 and sporadic cases had already started surfacing and I made the decision to stay back. Before I knew it, I spent a majority of 2020 outside Delhi. After a while, I visited the city, moved my residence to a cheaper rented accommodation, and then headed to Goa where I have been ever since.
More and more people are sharing similar tales. Many have been on the road travelling and working, and some have permanently shifted bases to remote locales, something they could never have dreamt of before, owing to their city jobs. Real estate markets in holiday hotspots and smaller towns are buzzing and many companies have announced work from home indefinitely. Moreover, with the advent of 5G and greater connectivity, remote working and the digital nomad lifestyle is the future.
If it is a viable option, I strongly recommend this new way of living and working. While we might still sit on a desk and on calls for hours on an end, having closer access to nature and new places to explore makes it easier to relax post work. Any situation or environment that lessens stress and lets you relax will lead to a healthier work-life balance. I am a big advocate of longevity of your working life and the only way to have a long and exciting work life is to be able to distribute stress. Moreover, having now lived in smaller towns I can also vouch that the cost of living is lower while the standard of living is higher – a happy and true contradiction.
I also believe working while travelling, not only increases your productivity and efficiency but it allows you to break free from the shackles of monotony and think freely in fresh and imaginative ways. Being able to explore and immerse yourself in another culture and another space is a rewarding and invigorating experience, breeding innovation and ingenuity. I truly think that in a few years’ we will trace back a new wave of entrepreneurs to these times.
For anyone who wants to give try out the digital nomad life, these are a few travel and work essentials I swear by –
My laptop and phone for work and leisure.
A high-speed portable Wi-Fi router to get online and always stay connected.
A good capacity power bank to never run out of charge even if you are away from a desk.
My KOGO Bot – to help me memorialise and share my travel adventures, while also helping me to chart out my next trip.
When it comes to location recommendations, Goa is currently leading the way as it already has the infrastructure in place and is close to both Bangalore and Mumbai. Himachal Pradesh is also a good option because of its enviable weather and good internet connectivity. However, I feel that every locale where there is proximity to air travel and clean air, water, and food as the potential to be a great workation spot.
It is all about taking the plunge, embracing new adventures, and leading a fuller and happier life, as I believe happy people make for a better world.
Praveer Kocchar is the co-Founder KOGO.