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Employee stories: Life as a digital nomad

“Opstaan.”

Everyone in the room slowly got to their feet, and after a casual glance around I followed suit. Over the previous hour I had gotten plenty of experience with monkey see monkey do.

“You did great!” My friend Nathan came up behind me and beamed, “Feeling more awake now?”

Nathan and I met on my first day in Antwerp and we immediately hit it off. He had invited me to try a ‘morning stretch yoga’ with him and some friends the night before but forgot one key detail, “You didn’t tell me all of the instructions were in Dutch!” 

I don’t speak Dutch… and I’m not exactly a ballerina either. Doing yoga by parroting the person next to me probably wasn’t my most graceful moment, but I have to admit, it was fun and it’s great for a laugh now that it’s over.

You don’t need to speak Dutch or even French to appreciate Antwerp. The city is immaculate, the food is delicious and the locals are very friendly. I had stopped by the city to find out for myself if Belgian Chocolate lives up to its hype (full disclosure, it absolutely does) and was captivated by the city the moment my plane touched down.

Belgium was the fourth country out of six in my self-guided European tour and one week was definitely not a long enough visit. I worked during the weeknights and spent the mornings wandering the city.

My role in marketing is a little flexible, so last year I was granted the opportunity to work nights in GMT and I jumped at it. I spent about four months out with some of my best friends in Leeds, and after that visa was running out, jumped over the channel to mainland Europe to hang out a bit longer.

It wasn’t perfect, I worked 1 to 9 PM locally to keep a little overlap with PST time (so Australia and Asia were out of the question), but I had a blast working and hopping from country to country.

Traveling while working full time is a bit of a juggling act – you need to balance sightseeing and adventures abroad with finding a quiet place to actually get your work done. It’s not all beaches and colorful drinks like you see on Instagram – just try to use a laptop on a sunny beach. Good luck seeing anything, even on maximum brightness! 

But it’s absolutely worth the effort. I’m extremely grateful I’ve had this opportunity, and you can bet I’m already planning my next adventure. It’s absolutely mind boggling how many awesome people you meet when you put down your phone and get outside – I can’t wait to find out who I meet next.

The late great Anthony Bourdain summed it up perfectly, “Nothing unexpected or wonderful is likely to happen if you have an itinerary in Paris filled with the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.” Like doing yoga in a language you can’t understand, the best adventures are about enjoying the journey, and maybe taking a moment to laugh along the way at how hilarious life can be when you go with the flow.