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I Didn’t Get on the Plane.

I was supposed to fly to Sydney, Australia today. In fact, I am supposed to be on the flight right now as we speak. But instead, I am writing this from a less-than-mediocre hotel across the street from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get on the plane.

Let me rewind a little and please excuse any spelling or grammar errors. I’m still a little nerve-wracked.

I was so excited to go to Sydney, I even got to the airport 5 hours early to relax and enjoy dinner before my 8 hour long haul flight. I was ready to rock and roll!

As I was laying on the floor (as per usual) at gate P8 minutes before the first boarding call, I had my phone out scrolling through Facebook, killing time, and slowly I started getting “bad vibes.” Dismissed, I continued swiping through various apps and chalked it up to pre-flight nerves. But as boarding approached, my negative feeling crescendoed until I had to call my Mom because, well, Mom’s are designed to make you feel better about everything, amirite?

She listened to me as my face began to swell holding back inevitable tears, but after a few minutes on the phone, she knew I didn’t want to board and so she gave me “permission” to stay seated and not get on the flight. But I couldn’t just not board, ya know? I had already went through customs, immigration, sat there for 5 hours. Who does that?

“Last call for Sydney! Last call for Sydney!”

I heard overhead while I was on the phone with her. “Gotta go, bye!” I panicked and hung up. I made the normal procedural steps and handed the Gate Attendant my boarding pass and passport while the kind Malaysian security guards kept reassuring me. “Relax” … “Breathe” they said. Those calming moments gave me enough reassurance to basically force myself through the cooridor to the plane.

I hurriedly made one last call to my Mom. “I can’t do it, I really don’t think I can.” I was paralyzed. Full-blown panic attack. I don’t remember exactly what she said in return because I was in all sorts of emotion, but she laid down the law and told me to trust my intuition and so I made a 180 turn and walked my butt back to where I came from:

To the gate…

To immigration…

To customs…

To the main terminal

To the arrivals hall…

But I didn’t care.

Maybe something bad was going to happen on the plane, maybe something bad was going to happen in Sydney, or maybe nothing bad was going to happen at all. Either way, all I know is that I feel much better sitting in this less-than-mediocre hotel room across the street and I am glad I listened to my gut. And I’m sure whoever is sitting next to seat 49K is glad they’ve got the whole row to themselves now 😉

I mean, anyone who knows me knows I am the most frugal person you will ever meet and hate wasting money with a passion. But even with the hundreds of dollars already spent on round trip airfare and hostel costs plus not knowing where I was going to sleep tonight, as soon as I made my resolve, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief flood over me.

This whole trip and my life motto in general is to simply do what you want and not getting on that plane was exactly what I wanted to do.

Although I won’t land in Sydney in 6 hours, I’m sure I’ll check the city off my list soon enough.

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Goodbye Thailand: What I’ll Miss the Most about Chiang Mai

what i miss most about thailand

I have little butterflies in my stomach right now as I’m writing this. I can’t decide if it’s from the Grande “Brewed Coffee” from Starbucks, the excitement for my next adventure, or the anxiety of leaving Chiang Mai after living here for 2 months. I’m gonna go with all 3.

It’s funny, I had this exact feeling while on the plane to Thailand (well, to China then Thailand) but those butterflies felt differently. They were a mix of oh god what the heck did I just do??? and similar variations of that. And now… I’m sad to be leaving! That trepidation of my heading to my first long-term solo trip as a Digital Nomad is gone and replaced with feelings of gratitude for landing in such an amazing town and meeting so many incredible strangers and getting to experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

And with that, there are so many things I’ll miss about Thailand and Chiang Mai. These are just a few, although I could probably go on forever.

200 Baht Massages

This, I think I will miss the most. Ah, the ‘ol 200 baht (appx. $6 USD) hour long massages in Thailand. I’ve never known a world so pure, so generous. I’m now officially spoiled in that I’ve been averaging a massage a week. I’ve had 2 already this week and will probably get another before flying out to Kuala Lumpur. Don’t hate the player.

I’ve found a new love for the Traditional Thai Massage, which is a little different than what I am used to in the U.S. The Thai massage manually manipulates your muscles and there’s various stretching elements involved and usually ends with a fabulous back crack. Damn, if I’ve never felt so zen than here in Thailand.

The Smiling Thais

lanna-thai-woman

I’ve met friendly locals from many places, but I’m 100% serious when I say the Thai people are the friendliest and most welcoming group of people I’ve ever interacted with. I know it varies from person to person based on their experience, but for my 2 months here, I’ve never seen more smiling faces who go out of their way to accomodate someone, even with the language barrier.

I love it when a Songthaew driver or cafe barista wants to practice their English so they strike up a conversation. My favorite was a driver who wanted me to sit in his front seat so he could practice his English skills. It was the most adorable thing in my life. We talked in basic english about the weather (Hot, Cold, Rainy), where I am from (Oh, America! New York!?), and navigational phrases that would help him as a driver (street, highway, traffic light). I had such a great time that I gave him the last 100 baht in my wallet just ’cause. Worth it.

Meeting Rad People

chiang-mai-nomad-ladies

I am confident when I say I wouldn’t have had such an incredible time in Thailand if I didn’t fall into such a strong nomad community in Chiang Mai. My first week, I joined about 7 women for a Nomad Ladies lunch and by the next week it doubled, and the next week after that, we had 2 full tables of nomad women who were sharing stories and delicious Shan Burmese food at Free Bird Cafe.

If you’re traveling to Chiang Mai and want to meet new peeps, definitely join these Facebook groups and try to go to as many meet-ups as you can:

Chiang Mai Nomad Girls

Chiang Mai Digital Nomads

Street Sounds and Smells

chiangmai-street

If you’ve been to Thailand, you know there is absolutely no way to describe the smells of Thailand. It’s not bad at all, just unique. I would say it’s a mix of: spices, meat, motorbike exhaust fumes, and a hint of lemongrass. It’s distinct.

Walking down Nimman Street or the Old City, the sounds are also roaring with life. Close your eyes and you’ll hear unmistakably a few thing every time. Cars honking, motorbike engines, street food stands, tourists negotiating with vendors over souveniers, and for some reason, bells. Seriously, where are all these bells coming from? Am I the only one who hears them?

Ancient Temples

chiangmai-temples-wats

How crazy is it that you’re just a Songthaew away from ancient temples and structures that are hundreds of years old? You don’t need to travel more than a few miles or meters to stumble upon a beautiful, intricately designed wat. The thing that’s most incredible to me is that many of these wats are still active and in use for housing and teaching monks.

I still want to have a Monk Chat before I leave – this is a session at many temples where you donate money and can sit down with a monk and ask them questions and they can practice their English language. Having a conversation with a Monk is definitely something I never thought I’d be able to say I’ve done. If you’re a woman, just do your research beforehand. There are different rules for different areas of Thailand and temples, women usually cannot interact in public with Monks so doublecheck the rules of the particular temple you want to visit.

The Hilarious Translations

thailand-signs

Man, I am going to miss the quirky English translations and methods of communcation. For example, my friend was talking to a maintanence man for her apartment when the plumbing wasn’t working. She was exasperated trying to explain what was wrong over the phone, she resorted to “Toilet! Ping ping! No work!” and he understood perfectly. I laughed for a solid 10 minutes after hearing that one.

I think after a certain amount of time being in Thailand you learn speak how you think a Thai person would most understand. This leads to a lot of conversations like this: “Hello, coffee, big, YES!” or other broken versions of regular sentences.

7-11

7-11-thailand

Okay, I know we have 7-11 in the United States but it’s just. not. the. same. Convenience culture is at a premium in Thailand and I swear it’s a social gathering everytime you step inside. The density of 7/11 is insane here. Think of it like Starbucks being on every corner in New York City, then maybe add a bunch of additional 7/11’s and there you go.

Once you’ve had the cream filled bread or toastie sandwiches, you’ll never be the same. The Ham & Cheese toasties are a staple and I’m embarrassed to admit how many I ate here.

7/11, more like 7th heaven amirite?

Goodbye Thailand

With that, goodbye Thailand. I will miss you, but I will not miss the ants and geckos who want to live in my apartment with me, the street food squid, or the fact there is no damn cheese in this country, but other than that, you were awesome. Thanks for making my first big solo trip unforgettable <3

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Why More Companies Are Embracing the Digital Nomad Work Culture

Attracting better talent has never been more lucrative for businesses and why the Digital Nomad work culture has never been more within reach.

We’ve never been more accessible than we are now. Coworkers, clients, employees, and potential business relationships have never had more access to each other, thanks to incredible advances in technology. Technology grants us the ability to be in constant communication, and with that, many companies and employees are inquiring if an employee must spend 40+ hours a week in the office in order to be successful.

Those seeking the Digital Nomad lifestyle aim to challenge those antiquated requirements by spending part-time of full-time working remotely, often from exotic corners of the world.

Traveling new landscapes and seeking adventure beyond the cubicle of course has an appeal to employees, but what makes this arrangement attractive to companies and employers?

Attracting High Quality Talent

If your company doesn’t have an unlimited hiring budget, most hiring managers have to get creative with incentives to motivate top candidates to work at their respective businesses. Many young adults view perks like having a healthy work/life balance to be non-negotiable when it comes to choosing new opportunities.

Kristin Messina, the Founder of Yonderwork, an international traveling experience for professionals says work flexibility is essential in 2016:

“Flexible hours is now the #1 desired job benefit in the United States and 92% of millennials polled desire the ability to work remotely (oDesk) so I think more companies acknowledge that they need to consider remote working to attract and retain top talent. I think we will see this trend continue to grow over time as employers continue to realize the benefits of remote working.”

Hiring the most qualified and inspiring employees often leads to an energized staff brimming with new ideas, which greatly contributes to the success of the business as a whole.

Not being in a physical office full-time means you have the ability to hire anyone in the world. If your operation is based in a rural area, you may still have a shot at hiring the candidate you’ve had your eye on, but who is unwilling to relocate from their current fast-paced city.

Higher Productivity and Less Turnover

When your employees are happy, they are your best ambassadors, and are 12% more productive and often go above and beyond what’s expected of them. And, of course, happy employees keep turnover rates low.

One of the most common frustrations of today’s work culture is the time it takes to commute to and from the office. Just think, instead of spending up to 2 hours a day commuting, your employees could be spending that time devoted toactually working by working from home.

Other benefits for employers include saving money on office space and office supplies.

From The Telework Coalition‘s Wired Working As A Lifestyle Report:

  • Businesses saved an average of $20,000 a year for each full-time employee who worked remotely.
  • Employee productivity increased by an average of 22% when remote working was allowed.
  • Remote working reduced employee turnover by 50%.

Why More Innovative Companies Are Letting Their Employees Become Location Independent

Increased Network of Experts All Over the Country and Beyond

By having employees cultivating their lives beyond one permanent city, working remotely offers advantages of reaching potential markets and customers. Having a “man on the ground” promoting your brand from all corners of the globe is especially fruitful for salespeople or affiliates.

You now have the capability to obtain knowledgeable insights from competing or potential markets, making your niche that much more competitive worldwide.

Clearly, working remotely is the way of the future. Just ask these companies who are thriving from embracing this new culture:

Amazon

American Express

Adobe Systems

Apple

Kaplan

Buffer

Upworthy

SXSW

Alternatives to Working Remotely Full-Time

remote travel digital nomad

Yonderwork Founder, Kristin Messina, also advises that for some companies, it’s simply not feasible to allow employees to become full-time nomads. But there are alternatives that are just as exciting! She goes on to say,

“The transition to a remote working culture doesn’t happen overnight. I would advise companies who are considering remote working to do a test run. Set expectations up front (starting with how, how often, and when you will communicate) and then allow remote working a few days a week or for a specific project. Monitor your results so that you can build on what is working and you can tweak what isn’t. Remote work and travel programs like YonderWork offer a great trial platform. For two-months, employees work alongside other remote workers and learn about best practices and the communication and collaboration tools that are available to support success in remote working.”

 

What I’ve Learned from the Digital Nomad Work Culture

After two months of living the Digital Nomad work culture and almost two years of working with The Modern Connection, I can confidently agree to all of these benefits. As a millennial, our generation is job-hopping more than ever and having the flexibility to work and grow beyond the office walls has inspired me to thrive as an employee and I am happy to call The Modern Connection home.

I think work perks such as working remotely has incredible potential and is the ~*way of the future*~ that modern businesses will have to adapt to – or fear being surpassed by employees or clients in favor of companies who are trailblazing in unique ways.

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Top Digital Nomad Concerns and Fears – and How to Handle Them

most-popular-fears-digital-nomad

Congratulations! You’ve decided you’re ready begin a Digital Nomad lifestyle and are about to embark on your first long-term trip. It’s daunting, I know. Especially if you’re not self-employed and work for a company in a 9-5 setting. Not knowing what to expect or potential situations that could arise are major stressors and Digital Nomad concerns.

Questions that kept me up at night before my first trek included “How will I make calls and be in touch with my co-workers and clients overseas?” and “What if my boss resents me for being an inconvenience?”

These doubts and questions are totally normal, although many of these problems are easily solvable and MUCH less stressful than you think they will be.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

How DO I stay in touch with clients and co-workers?

top-digital-nomad-concerns

This one’s easy. There are endless programs and apps dedicated to providing seamless communication between parties, whether it’s internationally, or just in different timezones. Prior to leaving the United States, my company used a program called GoTo Meeting to communicate with clients, but since then, I’ve discovered UberConference, which has changed my life. Such clear quality (and free!) conference calls across the globe. Highly recommended.

Did you know you can make audio and video calls through Facebook for free? Well now you do. Again, Facebook Messenger calls are extremely clear, in fact, they’re clearer than when I use my regular data calls to my mom when I’m in the U.S. The easiest part is, most people already have the Facebook Messenger App already downloaded so there’s no confusing sign-up process involved.

The Time difference

First thing’s first: Manually change the time on your phone to your destination’s time zone as soon as you board the plane. This will exponentially help ease jet lag and get you in the right frame of mind once you touchdown.

As a personal preference, I have found that it’s also easier to keep my laptop clock set to EST, the timezone of the agency I work for. I have found it’s sooo much easier to open up my computer when I’m working and automatically know what time it is in the States – especially since all of my meetings are still scheduled in EST time.

Also, add the World Clock Google Calendar widget to your desktop. I spent far too many hours looking up time changes and counting forward and backward on my fingers before I learned about this secret.

Feeling Isolated

digital-nomad-chiang-mai
Meeting new people at a Chiang Mai Nomad Ladies lunch!

I am generally a pretty social gal, so you can imagine my trepidation when I realized I’d be traveling 8,000 miles away where I didn’t know a single person. The best and easiest recomendation I can give to someone in that situation is to join as many Facebook groups for expats and nomads as possible. If you’re a solo female traveler and haven’t joined the Digital Nomad Girls Facebook group yet, what are you waiting for?!

Not only will you meet and connect with fellow Nomad Ladies, but you’ll gain useful insight on things like health insurance for travelers, where to find tampons (Yep, in some countries, they aren’t plentiful), how to vote abroad, and other expert advice.

If you plan on making Chiang Mai your first trip as a Digital Nomad, join these Facebook groups first:

The Break Room

Chiang Mai Nomad Girls

Chiang Mai Digital Nomads

Nomad Coffee Club – Chiang Mai

Your Clients Hate You for Leaving

digital-nomad-concerns

Let me tell you, the Digital Nomad guilt is REAL.

Even if you complete all your necessary tasks on your to-do list, you’re going to feel guilt about not being in the office and accessible at all moments of the day by coworkers and clients.

But you know what? It’s a blessing in disguise.

I think the American work culture makes you feel like you have to be “on” at all times and always available when a client needs something and it’s simply not true. Whether you’re sitting in an office, or working from a rooftop overlooking the mountains of Thailand (like I am now) you are not required to be at the beck and call of others 24/7. And you shouldn’t feel bad about it if you decide to take a stand against it.

Now that I’m not so available, those who work with me have adapted and now respect my time more. No longer are the texts at all hours of the day interrupting me, expecting me to drop what I’m doing, but now I get consise emails outlining what specifically they need from me in a professional format.

I’ve never been so efficient as I have been while working 8,000 miles away! How crazy is that?

Company #FOMO

FOMO = Fear of Missing Out.

If you’re lucky, you get to have co-workers you become incredible friends with, like I do. FOR REAL. Come work at The Modern Connection in Charleston, SC and you’ll find a rare team of individuals who genuinely like each other and work together to create awesome projects.

But with having a bomb work culture, comes with terrible FOMO when you leave.

The most popular worries when it comes to not putting in daily face time include: not getting a promotion, your peers will respect you less, or feeling forgotten. When I decided to be a Digital Nomad full-time, the hardest part has been preparing to ask my supervisor and boss. I put some feelers out to a co-worker on Gchat about what she thinks and if there has been any animosity or noticeable difference in my work and she said:

Well other than the fact that we miss you, I don’t think there’s any difference. In fact, I feel like you being away has seriously improved your work ethic. Like you can just tell that you’re super happy in everything you do now.”

And that’s when you know you’ve made the right decision, folks.

Tuning out Distraction

digital-nomad-blog

This is a biggie. I was convinced, as were my parents, that I was going to be too distracted trying new restaurants, walking the night markets, checking out temples during the day, that I would forget my actual purpose: to work and keep earning a paycheck to afford this nomad lifestyle.

But I’ve found that it’s the complete opposite! Because I am so thankful and appreciative of this opportunity, I make sure to go above and beyond so that I can keep doing my thang around the world. Actually, I have a secret (don’t tell my boss, shhhh) I usually get the same amount of work done in about 75% of the time. Meaning, because I’m not distracted by gossiping with coworkers, taking coffee breaks, unessesary meetings that could be emails – I get an 8 hour work day finished in about 6 hours and sometimes it’s even less than that.

It turns out I had a right to be fearful of distraction as one of my Digital Nomad concerns, but it certainly wasn’t while I was traveling…

How to Turn “Off ” Work

There’s obvious benefits to leaving the 9-5 office culture, but one of the biggest drawbacks is how to draw a line between when the work day starts and when it stops. This is especially true if you work with a team in another time zone. You have to decide with your team if you will be working on your destination’s time zone, office time zone, or a mix of both. I chose the latter.

At a 12 hour time difference in Thailand, I begin my work day around 4:00pm and work until around 12:00am midnight. This gives us an overlap of 4 hours where we can communicate with each other in real time with no difficulties.

It’s important to outline your avaibility time and let everyone know when they can reach you. This will maximize efficiency, and for lack of better words, force others to write everything they need from you and your tasks in one complete email. Instead of a text here, a Gchat there, an email here, and a post-it note left on my computer there…. which was an average day when working in the office 😉

Not Having Office Materials

Meh, I’ve rarely found that this is a problem so far in my journey. That’s the best part of technology, right? Everything is digital! If you do need access to traditional office materials or machines, your best bet is to join a coworking space. For a relatively small fee, you can pay monthly or daily to work and have access to a printer, desk, private Skype rooms or conference rooms to hold meetings remotely.

I hope this eases a few of your Digital Nomad concerns and if you’re considering becoming a Digital Nomad just BUY THE TICKET ALREADY!

 

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Why You Shouldn’t Waste Your Money on the AT&T Passport Package

att passport package- review

I thought I was prepared

When I landed at the Chiang Mai Airport, I thought I was prepared. I spent hours reading the best options for cell phone plans and recommendations for communication between Thailand and the United States. It was very important for me to be accessible at all times, as I have clients and coworkers who need to reach me throughout the day.

Lesson: Unlock your phone before you arrivedigital-nomad-travel

Update: AT&T won’t let me unlock my phone anyways because it’s on a payment plan

I had packed two phones with me in my carry-on so that I wouldn’t have to wait at baggage claim and promply headed to the AIS Sim Card kiosk at the arrivals area of the Chiang Mai Airport. I had the iPhone 6s which is my everyday phone from the U.S. and an old iPhone 4 I brought, specifically for the purpose of having a backup in case a tuk-tuk runs over my phone and to insert a local SIM card to have data no matter where I was in the city.

At the AIS kiosk at the airport, I was told my iPhone 6 was locked by my carrier (rookie mistake) so I took out the iPhone 4 which was unlocked, but little did I know, the iOS was too old to be compatible. *Major sigh of frustration here*

WELP. OK. So now I am stuck relying on WiFi at cafes and my apartment only. After a few days of just connecting to wifi when it was available I start to think “do I really need a SIM card, anyway? I seem to be getting on fine.”

Wrong.

Getting stranded with no wifi or data

Everything is great until I make plans to meet friends for Wine Night near the Old City (I live in Nimman). When I hop in the Songthaew, I notice language barrier with this particular driver is REAL and the Songtaew driver drops me off at night in an unfamiliar part of town. While trying to find the restaurant, stray dogs are following me angrily barking and since there’s no city-wide WiFi I cannot communicate with my friends or look at Google Maps to route my destination.

Needless to say this situation put a fire in my belly that I needed to find a solution immediately so in the mean time before I can figure out the sim card situation, I hastily decide to download the AT&T Passport package to hold me over.

Bad idea.

Pay attention to 1-star reviews

att-passport-review

I should have known better when I downloaded the app from iTunes, which is required when you buy the add-on package (which, is most certainly an add-on on to your current package) because the app only had a 1 star rating. *WARNING BELLS RINGING*

I rationalized the bad reviews by saying that nobody is ever satisfied with anything, but I, too, have joined the masses of unsatisfied customers.

The AT&T Passport package is not like data where you can use internet or texting anywhere, but it is a network of hotspots in any given area. So please look on the website and confirm that the country you’re visiting offers the program. And honestly, even if the country does host hotspots where you’ll be, you still might not be able to find solace.

This is a hotspot map of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Look at all the green pins! So many hotspots! This is great!

at&t passport app review

Well friends, I’ve not been able to connect to ANY hotspot except when I am sitting in the bottom floor of one particular Starbucks. 99% of the time I get this notification:

att-passport-app

Do me a favor, skip this expensive, inconvenient package and spend a fraction of the price on new sim cards in each of your destinations if your phone is unlocked.

There is an alternative, though. Throughout my travels there has always been one constant recommendation: Use T-Mobile. For $60 a month you can get unlimited texting and data in over 140 countries.

I plan on switching as soon as I land back in the United States.

If you’re still interested in the AT&T Passport Package, here are their packages that are listed on the website.

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-11-06-44-am

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

That Time I Took a Vomit Smelling Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai

Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai Cost: 150 Baht

Getting to the Bus Station in Chiang Mai

arcade-bus-station-chiang-mai

Most likely your bus or van from Chiang Mai to Pai will be leaving from the Arcade Bus Station in the upper right hand corner of the city if you’re looking at a map. This is the older bus terminal, not the updated Terminal 3. So if you think the station looks really clean and modern, this is not the place you’re supposed to be at.

Yes, You Need Dramamine

Whether you get motion sickness or just want to pass out to avoid hearing the Thai man snoring next to you, you’re gonna wanna pop some pills either way  on the bus from Chiang Mai to Pai

I had heard rumors about the drive to Pai from Chiang Mai. I was also warned to take the big bus instead of the smaller passenger vans. A friend was in charge of getting the tickets and I thought we were luckily riding on the charter bus until 10 minutes before departure  when we learned we were in fact in the smaller passenger vans – which are notorious for speeding, accidents, and overall little regard for basic traffic laws.

OK, Dramamine was needed. I headed to the nearest little shop at the bus station and asked for what I needed, but the language barrier made it difficult to communicate what I needed so I started swaying my shoulders back and forth and articulating “motion sickness” the best that I could.

Suddently the woman knew exactly what I needed and handed me 2 pills and said “5 Baht” — wow, that’s a small price to pay to prevent the massacre of my insides. Ring me up!

Thank goodness I snagged those before we loaded up the van because I would not be able to handle the…

762 Hairpin Curves from Chiang Mai to Pai

bus-chiang-mai-to-pai
Notice the “sick bag” ahead. There’s 4 of us cramped in the back row.

Seven hundred and sixty two. Ugh, I’m getting dizzy just thinking about it. Being knocked out for the majority of the drive was a godsend. But honestly, I’m not sure what was more uncomfortable: the bends or the severe lack of personal space between me and my fellow travelers in this van – which coincidentally smelled like vomit. I guess not everybody before our trip had the forethought to pack motion sickness medicine.

Aside from the drive itself, what was also super fascinating to me was the military checkpoints we had to pass through. Apparently this is common throughout Northern Thailand. The drivers pull over and wait for a Policeman? Military Personnel? to open the van and check inside. I’m not sure what they’re looking for, maybe drugs, but luckily we had no problems and it was a very efficient process.

bus-to-pai-checkpoint
Checkpoint from Pai back to Chiang Mai

 

Don’t want to take a van?

Other options to get from Chiang Mai to Pai:

Motorbike

Cost: Between 200 and 300 Baht per day

Taking a motorbike or scooter to Pai from Chiang Mai is a popular option for many travelers who have either lived in Chiang Mai for longer than just a “vacation” or have experience on scooters. The first half of the drive to Pai is reasonable for a novice, but be prepared for those 762 curves on a motorbike. Busses and vans are notorious for recklessly speeding past motorbikes around these curves and if you get motion sickness, you’ll feel the affects of every curve down to the pit of your stomach.

This may be why you’ll see AT LEAST one tourist a day walking around Pai in a cast, crutches, or some sort of large bandages. These are called “Pai Tattoos” … very fitting.

BUT, for pros who love this method of transportation, I’ve heard it’s an amazing way to see the countryside first hand and at your own pace. You’re likely to use 2 tanks of petrol on your journey so refuel whenever you have the chance to avoid being stranded on the side of the road.

Plane

Cost: 3800 Baht

If saving time is important and you’re not on a limited budget, flying to Pai might be your best bet. Served by Kan Airlines, these small prop planes will have you there in about 30 minutes. These flights book up fast so be sure to book well in advance or coordinate with a travel agent.

Private Taxi

Cost: 3,000 to 4,500 Baht

If you’re staying in a hotel or guest house, ask your host to recommend a private driver who can take you to Pai. This is usually more economical when you are traveling with 3+ people. A private driver will usually drive slower (aka more safely than busses) and provide a more pleasant experience.

You will most likely be charged at an “all day rate” and therefore, feel free to ask to stop at certain tourist destinations or temples along the way and make the roadtrip part of the experience!

Bonus points: Your car will most likely not smell like vomit, unlike my bus from Chiang Mai to Pai… 😉

Anyway you get to Pai, you’re going to love it once you get there

– I sure did!

bus-to-pai

 

pai-thailand-canyon

 

pai-thailand-waterfall

 

pai-cat-hostel

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Solo Female Travel Quotes- Part II

Solo Female Travel Quotes

These are the best quotes to inspire your next solo female travel adventure! Now, pack your bags and hit the road… or plane!

“Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.”

travel quotes women

 

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

solo female travel quotes

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you.” – Caroline Myss

solo-travel-quote

 

“You are the one that possesses the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your own happiness.” – Diane von Furstenberg

solo female travel quotes

 

“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.” – Mae West

solo female travel quote

 

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

solo female travel quotes

 

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

solo female trave quotes

What are your favorite Solo Female Travel Quotes? Let me know in the comments!

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

How to Grow Your Business by Traveling the World

grow your business by traveling the world

What if I told you one of the best ways to grow your business,  leadership skills, your startup, or professional network was by traveling? Yes, really! Many entrepreneurs are trading in the 9-5 office for a nomad lifestyle in a unique way to grow both personally and professionally.

Well, the phrase ‘pounding the pavement’ has never been more adventurous or prosperous.

More startups are being built by Digital Nomads – location independent workers – than ever before. What is triggering this phenomenon? I’m so glad you asked…

Business Meetups

Meetups offer the opportunity to network and converse with like-minded people in a myriad of industries and niches.

Websites like Meetup.com or private Facebook groups allow travelers and entrepreneurs access to thousands of specific groups, whether you want to literally meet up with fellow small business CEO’s, website coders, marketing gurus, or any other field, the possibilities are endless.

How to Grow Your Business by Traveling the World

The photo above is from the weekly Chiang Mai Nomad Coffee Club. Each week, Digital Nomads join to network, drink coffee (obviously!) and hear stories from entrepreneurs throughout the world. It’s a great way to learn new skills and make friends.

Cheaper Living Costs

digital nomad and grow your business
Spacious living accomodations in my Chiang Mai Airbnb

Living cheaply allows professional nomads to spend their money on sources like webinars, conferences, or investing funds back into their business.

Cost of living varies from country to country, but in startup hotspots such as Chiang Mai, Thailand you can live comfortably on ⅓ of the average living budget in the United States.

In Chiang Mai, I rent a studio apartment from Airbnb. It’s right in the trendy Digital Nomad part of town on Nimman Rd. with several cafes, eateries, shops, and coworking spaces. Per month it’s $420 USD, but I know I could find much cheaper accomodations if I didn’t rent through Airbnb. However, I like the security it provides me in case something happened to the property and knowing exactly who I’m renting from and if they have positive reviews.

digital nomad and grow your business
My workspace in my Airbnb studio apartment.

More Productivity

Working your own hours allows for a ‘plug and chug’ mentality that allows the entrepreneur to work hours that they are most alert and engaged. Being constantly exposed to different scenery also provides a more creative landscape to find your “a-ha moment” or spark new ideas.

How to Grow Your Business by Traveling the World

Having access to the most inspirational scenery and freedom unleashes the creative mind in ways being in an office doesn’t for many people.

Become a Thought Leader

As a Digital Nomad, you have the opportunity to meet the most bold, like-minded people in your industry from all over the world. Collaborating and networking  with these people grows your personal brand and sharing your experiences leads to you becoming a thought leader.

There are so many different niches that you can grow your personal brand in. Whether that’s Dropshipping (a popular form of earning income for Nomads in Chiang Mai) or being a photographer, blogger, website developer or – anything, really. Networking abroad expands your professional circle far beyond Linkedin every could 😉

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

The Best Cities in the World for Digital Nomads

Dreaming of becoming a Digital Nomad and don’t know which city to kick off your world tour? Or are you an experienced nomad and in search of your next destination? Try out one of these hotspots for remote workers + best cities in the world for digital nomads!

#8 Budapest, Hungary

Best Cities in the World for Digital Nomads

City of Spas, the Good Life

  • Its rich spa heritage make Budapest a destination to relax your soul and body. Spend the day working at numerous cafes and exploring excellent public transportation, and your evening relaxing at a bath.
  • Budepest celebrates art, architecture, history, and life’s best indulgences – take in all the city as to offer on weekends. Use Foursquare to find places to work and attractions to visit.

#7 Medellin, Colombia

best cities to be a digital nomad

Eternal Spring, Live the Latin Life

  • Modern infrastructure and mountainous region makes it a paradise for both hikers and digital nomads. This city is equal parts caribbean oasis + haven for location independent entrprenuers.
  • Celebrate the traditional culture during annual holidays such as Christmas  and the Flower Festival. Experience Latin music, food, nightlife and more in Medellin!

#6  Ubud, Bali

best cities to be a digital nomad

Live like Royalty, Work in Paradise

  • Exchange rates fluctuate, but you will more than likely have more Indonesian rupiah than you’ll know what to do with. This means you can swap hostels for lavish apartments for less money!
  • The center of Ubud is very walkable, or rent a moped. Fresh produce markets and yoga classes are abundant and a nice break during the work day.

#5 Prague, Czech Republic

best cities to be a digital nomad

Where the beer is cheaper than water!

  • Prague is perfect for solo females, nightlife, co-working spaces, safe and affordable living. Find friendly and cheap rentals on Airbnb.com
  • Prague is a modern hotspot that boasts a bustline  tech epicentre, paired with historical arthitecture and plenty of streets perfect for Instagramming.

#4 Split, Croatia

best cities to be a digital nomad

Sunshine and Tech, Panoramic Views

  • Fast internet, beautiful history, and unique architecture and scenery make Split a rising city for DM culture.
  • Locals speak excellent English, although nighlife is fairly non-existent Monday through Thursday, but bring your bathing suit and hit the beach instead.
  • Virtually untouched by WWII, Split blends a trendy city with Instagram-worthy skylines and 360 degree views.

#3 Ljubljana, Slovenia

best cities to be a digital nomad

Untouched and Invigorating, Laid Back 9-5

  • Ljubljana is incredibly clean and relaxed. There’s great city-wide  internet access and a lively nightlife on weekends.
  • Locals speak English and Ljubljana is a central spot in Europe to take the train to many nearby countries and landscapes!

#2 Chiang Mai, Thailand

best cities to be a digital nomad

Startup City, Popular for First Timers

  • Super affordable living and a strong community of Digital Nomads make Chiang Mai a popular destination for newcomers to the Digital Nomad lifestyle.
  • Stay in the Nimman area to meet other expats expanding their business or startup. Chiang Mai is a coffee capital of the world, so get your work done in one of hundreds of cafes.

#1 Lisbon, Portugal

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Europe’s San Francisco, A Warm Welcome

  • Lisbon features a growing tech scene while retaining it’s local charm and spirit. Travelers from all over the world rave about this seaside town.
  • Cosmpolitan, vibrant, and bursting at the seams with Digital Nomad culture. Hit the beaches and surf the internet here in Lisbon. Brand new world-class hostels make it easy to find a short-term home here.
Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

How to Convince Your Boss to Let You Be a Digital Nomad

convince-your-boss-to-let-you-be-digital-nomad-1

Unless you own your own business or freelance, the biggest hurdle facing you and your dreams to becoming a Digital Nomad is most likely asking your boss for permission. 

Ultimately, working remotely is a priveledge and it’s best for everyone involved if you’re on the same page.

I did all these things to prepare to ask my boss and, thankfully, because I work with a group of kickass women, everyone was thrilled to oblige. If you’re reading these tips in preparation to ask your own employer, good luck on your first step to becoming a nomad!

chiang mai digital nomad female
I made it! Working from a rooftop in Chiang Mai.

Schedule a Meeting

Don’t go into this proposal as a casual chat by the water cooler. Firmly, yet politely, as your boss if he/she has availability to meet with you in the next week. This will give you time to prepare and create an outline of your presentation.

Request at least 30 minutes of their time so they know to expect a serious conversation and if you use an internal calendar system, add your meeting as an event so both parties don’t forget the upcoming meeting.

Create a formal proposal of what the next months of your life look like with your job involved. How will you remain in communication? Will you have high speed internet?

Have a Plan

digital nomad desk

Create a digital or printout document outlining common problems or questions regarding working remotely and have a plan of action for each obstacle.

Some aspects you will want to address include:

  • Outline your “office hours” aka will you modify your work day to be reachable in the same time zone as your company?
  • Show a list of 24 hour cafes and coworking spaces.
  • Resarch ommunication methods such as GoTo Meeting or UberConference to prove seamless reachability.
  • List the skills you will learn from from networking abroad.
  • Offer a weekly, monthly, or quarterly “catch up” session.

Answer This: How Will This Benefit the Company?

Most bosses and supervisors are only concerned with how you working remotely will benefit the company, not your own personal growth.

Confidently come prepared with answers, which should be easy because being a Digital Nomad has endless benifits for any employer!

Benefit 1: If you usually have a crazy long commute, working remotely cuts your commute time and allows you to spend more hours brainstorming or working at your computer rather than being stuck in a car or train.

Do you have a 30 minute commute to and from work?

1 hour in a car per day x 20 days a month = 20 hours a month wasted that will now be utilized!

Benefit 2: I’ve joined coffee clubs and nomad ladies lunches and have networked with intelligent like-minded entrepreneurs from all over the world!

Being a Digital Nomad has strengthened my networking and leadership skills like never before and has given me endless inspiration to take back to my office when I return.

Offer a Trial Tun

You never know if something will work until you try. Simulate a longterm nomad exprience with a short term time frame by doing suggesting a trial period. Ask to take a few weeks and work from home or do a some light traveling to nearby destinations.

Once you prove that you are just as successful as ever professionally, you will gain exponential trust with your employer to get the green light for a more permanent nomad lifestyle.

How to Handle a “No”…

If all that preparation still doesn’t work and you know in your heart becoming a digital nomad is what you want, consider taking a remote job or research freelance opportunities.

Here are some remote job ideas to work and live abroad for free.

I saved $5,000 to travel in 5 months before my adventure to Thailand, and you can too! If you’d rather try your hand at freelancing, here are some helpful websites to get started!

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!