If you’re a digital nomad (or even an aspiring one) you will know that your main priority on arrival anywhere is to find a good place to work. Ideally workplaces for digital nomads will be comfortable, quiet-ish, with access to food and coffee, and with amazing Wi-Fi. Realistically, you will often settle for somewhere that hits two or three of these, and occasionally you may be lucky if you get one.

Many digital nomads stay in Airbnb places nowadays, which often come complete with a desk or office area already set up. But if you prefer to stay elsewhere – like a homestay, guest house or, like me, a hostel – you’ll have to find somewhere to work. I was thinking about this while at my current ‘desk’… some of the places I’ve worked at would have never crossed my mind. And if you had asked me a few years ago, sitting comfortably at my old office desk and surrounded by everything I needed, I would not have even thought it possible.

Digital nomads adapt to all sorts of things during life on the road. So here are a few of the random and wonderful places that I’ve worked in, in case you need some ideas.

The home base

Nowadays I’m semi nomadic. I have a home base for part of the year, and I travel at different times to different places. I’ve done the whole living on the road for months on end, but for now a home base works well for me. Here, I have a good office setup in my kitchen, with an ergonomic chair and strong Wi-Fi. For the most part, it’s quiet – except when the neighbours are having a fight or the teenagers are playing basketball next door. The stray cats visiting the garden keep me company and, living in a popular city suburb, I have everything I need on my doorstep.

Typical workplaces for digital nomads

Next in order of preference, particularly when I’m on the road, are good cafes and libraries. Depending on where you are, your choices may be limited to Starbucks (or similar). While I wasn’t a fan to start with, they do have strong Wi-Fi, sockets for laptops, and food and drink. Whether you like the coffee or not is a personal choice. It’s also not frowned upon if you hang out for a while.

If I need complete quiet, then I head to the local library. Okay, not every country or every town will have one, so it may not always be an option. But any large city will have a university library, often open to the public at certain times. But in places like the USA, every tiny little town has a public library. They were a godsend while I travelled across the East Coast – and also meant I could escape the fierce summer heat of Maryland and New Jersey in July and the pelting Maine rain in September.  

Other ideas: hotel lobbies or business centres

Even hostels have workspaces nowadays, and some even have a business centre for nomads.

Cafe garden, New Jersey, USA

The weird and wonderful spots

As a digital nomad you know that travelling is half the fun, but it can also mean hours of waiting or sitting in one place. If you can switch off to background noise, waiting lounges are an option. If you can’t, a good set of noise-cancelling headphones are a good investment. Often you can park your laptop at a cafe or restaurant table in an airport terminal for an hour or four. I recently had a 6-hour layover at London’s Heathrow Airport, so I got myself a large coffee and got into some editing at a couple of different cafes.

Intercity and long-distance train and bus journeys are perfect for delving into some solid work without interruption. And airplanes, even without Wi-Fi, have been great for me to get through some proofreading without distractions. A 9-hour transatlantic flight is ideal for some proofreading on the iPad – in fact, perfect for some transcript proofreading. I can mark up things I need to check once I’m on the ground and it lets me sleep off some of my jet lag on arrival. I suffer from motion sickness, so boats are not an option for me, but they could be for you. The same principle applies for boats as with any other form of transport.

The unexpected digital nomad workplaces

I’ve worked out of the car a few times, often parked where I can still get a Wi-Fi signal. It’s not the most comfortable spot, at least not for me, but it works in a pinch. It’s usually late at night when I need to get something done urgently or send off an email that got stuck in my inbox. Like the time I finished a job but my phone signal hot spot wasn’t strong enough for me to email it out. Cue frantic drive to a Dunkin Donuts at a petrol station in Maine at 10 p.m. to jump on the Wi-Fi and get it out. (It worked!) More often than not, I proofread in the car while I’m waiting for someone or something. It’s harder to use the laptop and get into full-blown editing mode, though, but I have done it.

While camping on a road trip up the US East Coast, my tent very often proved to be a good proofreading spot. Particularly if it was pouring with rain and there was not much else I could do. It’s also a good opportunity to clear out some emails, catch up on industry news and blogs, or prep what I need to do in the coming days. But connectivity can be patchy, so don’t rely on campsites or leave things until the last minute. You could be driving around looking for that petrol station cafe Wi-Fi!

Other ideas: first business class airport lounges, and restaurants and bars during quieter periods. And don’t forget laundromats!

Waiting for the dryer to finish, Athens, Greece

You worked from where?

Once in a while, none of the regular places are available. But those deadlines are looming, clients are waiting and you must find somewhere to get things done. This is where you have to get creative…

There are two places I’ve worked out of that still amaze me and make me appreciate what a unique lifestyle I have. Both were in the USA, but on different trips. The first was while following my then-husband while he walked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. My job as the support team was to help with pickup and drop off from trailheads on resupply and rest days; the rest of the time I was either working or hiking. By the time we got to Maine, towns were few and far between. Library hours were limited and cafes were nowhere to be found. But we were staying at a hiker hostel. In a yurt! And with the best breakfast and bottomless coffee on hand.

The second is where I’m writing this and how I got the idea for this blog. I’ve got a week in Florida in an RV (recreational vehicle) park before driving it up to Georgia. It’s comfortable, with good power outlets and working air conditioning to beat the heat and humidity. I have to make my own coffee, but such is life! And best of all, my kind RV neighbour gave me the password to his Starlink connection, so I don’t have to mess around with hot spotting from my phone.

Working in an RV (recreational vehicle) in the USA

If I shut my eyes, I could almost be in my home base office! But I keep reminding myself that with a little imagination and a lot of patience, I really can work from anywhere.

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