Welcome to Workavel: Work and Travel Combined

Welcome to Workavel
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July 23, 2018

After some long time setting up the blog ecosystem it is time to start introducing the blogs in jprdv.com formally. Each one of them is presented with an introductory/welcome post, and this one is for Workavel: Work and Travel Combined. Welcome!!

Workavel is the ultimate guide/resource for travel and work combined: digital nomads, workations, location independence and leisure/work traveling.

It covers (but not limited to):

  • Traveling (travel hacking, safety, and money-saving tips).
  • How to become a digital nomad and how to maintain the lifestyle: well-being, safety, health, strategy/planning, organization, entertainment, and motivation.
  • Techniques, methods, advice on how to combine work and travel.
  • Best tools, guides, and resources to be productive at work and getting the best of your experience abroad.
  • Best destinations for budget and luxury traveling.
  • Accommodations (rentals, hotels, hostels, couch-surfing, co-working/co-living spaces), food, attractions and entertainment for all incomes.
  • Adventures and great stories.
  • And more…

Each blog in jprdv.com represents one aspect of Juan Pablo Rodriguez DV interest, identity, expertise and passion which, as everything that evolves into something that becomes part of who you are, it has a background. 

I lived in the United States of America for more than ten years (my complete engineering studies plus a couple of years working in the high-tech industry before becoming a location independent freelancer, between other things), but I am not an American. This means that I have lived most of my adult life being a foreigner: learning and adapting to a new culture, outside of my comfort zone.

Fortunately, the U.S. cultural influence can be found all across the globe, so in many ways, I knew what to expect. But sometimes, it was an adventure, because there are a couple of things that you get to learn the hard way only by experiencing it yourself in the location. Those challenges helped me grow enormously. Nevertheless, I have been particularly lucky to have known excellent people along the way, which have made my transition to the culture considerably easier.

There were a lot of times when I had to improvise and figure out things on my own since I was not in the same situation as the locals, nor had the same priorities. For example, I always had to make decisions considering that I  might, or might not, stay in the U.S. to live. Many times, I wasn’t even sure I was going to stay in my same residence for too long.

Not being local gave me a considerable advantage when it came to looking for work. In my case, priorities were education and professional experience (in that order), not in finding a place to live (although I was open to the idea of living in the U.S. given the circumstances). Although it was convenient to stay put (i.e., I already was familiar with the area, many friends around, etc.,), the truth is that being able to relocate on demand to pursue an opportunity gave me all sorts of possibilities professionally.

So, during the time I lived in the United States, I have moved a lot between states: from Pennsylvania to Texas, to Georgia, to Texas again, to Arkansas, etc. Note that these are not places that I visited as a tourist, but where I had to establish myself (from months to years). As we go along, I will be sharing more about my personal life and where I have been, although jprdvTheCorner is the place where I will do it in greater detail. Here at Workavel, I will share own experiences to establish a point when necessary and useful.

In the beginning, moving around was really expensive. The reason was that relocating that much was something that I didn’t foresee since as you are in college, you are relatively static. And I say relatively static, because even during that time I had to move from living on the dorms to a couple of places off-campus, and although it is not as complicated as relocating to another state, it has its challenges.


Uncertainty was always a constant: I really didn’t have a bright idea of how long I was going to stay; therefore I still needed to be flexible enough to relocate fast if required. Nevertheless, the more I moved from place to place, the better and more practical I became at it. It got to the point that I could leave a location in a couple of days (from the start of packing to moving anywhere) and could make the whole operation cost close to half of what cost me before each time I did it. 
 
In the end, I knew what I had to do when relocating, based on lots of lessons and experiences. For example, I had to avoid purchasing furniture (or buy lightweight furniture that I could disassemble, and assemble afterward). Also, by buying the type of furniture I mentioned before, I could ship it since most of the places you get (at least on the cheap) come with no furniture. And if they come with furniture, you can always store your own furniture temporarily, because sooner or later, you will end up in a place where you will need it. 

Also, you realize that the less you have, the easier will be to move. You learn to need less material things to live, which is something that becomes crucial when you become a digital nomad. But that is just the beginning of what it takes, because in a new place, even finding food or everyday items like batteries, envelopes, can become a real challenge, especially when people around don't speak your language. Also, knowing what to do if things go wrong is of crucial importance.
 
The truth is that I kept learning new tricks even until a couple of months before I left the U.S. definitively. The experiences, skills, and principles that I learned from moving around would become highly instrumental in my future digital nomad experiences, the ones that I will share with you, as I implement those lessons (and new ones) as I journey around the world.

I fell in love with moving to new places. Moving to an entirely different place was (and is) like injecting excitement, and adventure in my life. Like pumping life itself into my veins. And yes, in some areas tourist attractions are well worth it… but there are additional surprises that you only see when you stay in a place for some time: scenery, people, different routines, and experiences that have positively marked my life, and hopefully will impact yours when you experience them yourself. These can be enjoyed only by setting yourself in a place for a while and changing the meaning of "home" temporarily.

Each place feels like a clean start… like beginning a new life where you can be anything... where there are no pre-judgments, where there are just reasons to be amazed above it all. Although it is true that you can make that decision to change entirely right now, regardless of your location and what surrounds you, being in a different environment makes it easier to implement change because change is inherent in the situation.

The story about how I became location independent is part of the introduction for Freelanstyle and Magnobusiness. For the most part, it was a succession of fortunate, and unfortunate, events in which I had no control most of the time, but always did the right thing and recognized the opportunities and more than anything, I was bold when it was required. Also, timing, and lucky, had a crucial role. 
 
Let's go forward a couple of years to the point where I already established myself as a freelancer successfully. I got to the point, where it was actually economically feasible to do whatever I was doing from somewhere else, and have a great experience in almost any economy. It came to my mind that actually since I could do what I was doing from anywhere, I might as well do it from anywhere. 

As many of you might have guessed, as soon as I started doing research about this concept, I found the digital nomad culture... and that changed my life. For a moment, I thought I was going to be a pioneer, but it turned out that there was a well-established culture, and community, ready to support those who want to take the leap. 

Don't get me wrong, the previously mentioned were actually fantastic news because if other people were doing it, it meant that it was more feasible and practical than what I initially assumed. What really amazes me is how the digital nomad culture is shaping economies, businesses, policies, etc. as we will discuss it in future articles. 

The concept of combining work and travel is not new. Nevertheless,  because of "new" technology (laptops, smartphones and faster Internet speeds around the globe) and services (Airbnb, Uber, Tinder, Couchsurfing, Kayak, Upwork/Freelancer.com, Google Maps, just to mention a few), it is possible to do it more effectively, on a tight budget and with better experiences along the way.

Ten years ago, becoming a digital nomad would have been a hundred times more complicated than it is these days, and the experience would not have been as fulfilling as it can be now. In a certain way, the rise of all the previously mentioned services and technologies is the reason why becoming a digital nomad (working and traveling around the world) is not a dream that you might have while working at your desk… but a real and tangible lifestyle which you can achieve in many ways which can be compatible with your passions.

Digital nomad, nevertheless, is one of the most misappropriated terms there is, and it is because of the cool factor attached to it. Becoming a digital nomad is something that requires some discipline and planning. It includes a lifestyle, which consists of traveling long-to-middle-term, but most importantly, doing it sustainably (being able to generate income either passively or through remote work... preferably both). So it is not traveling only, and it is not just working. It is the harmonization of working and traveling.

So when you plan to work while traveling, both the dynamics of work and of traveling change entirely. How do you have to pack, what are the communities that can help you along the way, who are those that have experience in this, how long it is recommended to stay in places, how to know new locations, how to find the right balance between doing work and knowing a place, just to name a few.

So Workavel is meant to become a guide not only to travelers, or aspiring/current digital nomads but to everything related to combining work and travel (workations, work vacation, luxury vacations, budget vacations, etc.) It is about the tools, the main actors, the institutions, the logistics, maximizing your time, etc. 
 
Is Workavel going to teach me how to become a digital nomad? Yes and no. Workavel focuses mostly on combining work and travel once you can do it (a useful guide when you are actually working and traveling already), but will not cover how to make money online or achieve location independence in any great detail. 

But the good news are that, although Workavel will cover the different schemes in which you can become a digital nomad as an overview only, Freelanstyle (specialized in remote freelancing, for both clients and service providers) and Magnobusines (specialized in distributed/remote businesses and all passive/active remote/online income models) will cover them in detail.   

The reason for separating becoming location independent from the traveling and work logistics is that becoming location independent does not necessarily mean you might decide to travel. Many just want to make money from their homes: have the flexibility to enjoy their lives but stay put. So by not having Workavel cover the traveling aspect of being a digital nomad, and Freelanstyle and Magnobusiness cover how to become location independent, I make sure both crowds are served.

Note that all of our blogs have a dual identity, and some mechanisms have added for your convenience. Yes, they are blogs after all and are based on chronological entries, but through collections and topics, which is the jprdv.com way of categorizing information (categories are broad classifications, and issues are more specific classifications), we help you filter information that is useful to you and applies to your situation only.

Join me while I uncover the art of working and traveling for all of us. Hope you like the comment, and please, if you have any suggestions and/or corrections. Let me know, I am always happy to hear from you.

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