Charles Du left his career as an award-winning product manager in Los Angeles to travel the world.
But that doesn’t mean he stopped working.
Now, the 32-year-old, who has designed apps for NASA and Ticketmaster, teaches other people how to follow in his footsteps. He’s become a “digital nomad” who works everywhere from Portugal to Peru.
Through trial and error, Du has figured out how to make this unique lifestyle work for him. Here’s how he does it:
First, he went to Costa Rica and Colombia, and then he made a separate trip to Chile.
'The first experiment failed,' Du says. 'I joined a surf camp in Costa Rica and did all this adventurous stuff in Colombia. I did a lot of playing but didn't get a lot of work done.'
The second time around was much more successful after he found a coworking space in Chile. 'Being surrounded by a community of people working helped him be more productive,' he says. It gave him the confidence to take a longer trip.
Once he figured out how to work and travel at the same time, he signed up for a yearlong program to help him do it.
That yearlong program is Remote Year, which invites 75 professionals to work in 12 countries around the world. Du plans to continue travelling after it ends.
'I felt like I was plateauing,' Du says. 'But when I travel, I have these growth spurts. I wanted to travel for long periods in a sustainable way, and the answer was to create my own online business.'
Du considers himself a digital nomad. 'I've always been an early adaptor,' he says.
He relies on video chatting, Slack, WhatsApp, and other tools to schedule meetings, stay organised, and keep in touch with clients.
'These tools help me communicate in ways there weren't possible just a few years ago.'
Remote Year members pack up every month and move to a new city. Although housing and a workspace are provided, members have to establish new routines.
Regardless of where Du is -- Hungary, Portugal, Peru -- he tries to stick to the same schedule: waking up when the sun rises, making his favourite 'Nomad Charles' breakfast (two medium-boiled eggs and salad), meditating, and then working for a few hours. After lunch, he naps and then works some more before exercising.
'One of the coolest things about Remote Year is getting to meet interesting people who think differently,' he says, referring to the time he gave a talk in London and befriended two attendees. 'Within 48 hours, I went from a stranger to a friend to a wedding guest.'
'When you're travelling for long periods, it can get lonely,' says Du. 'For the first few months of Remote Year, I think I had homesickness but didn't recognise it.'
To help alleviate this, he calls his parents every week and posts his travel schedule so that friends can visit and stay with him when they travel.
By creating online video courses -- for aspiring product managers (Product Charles) and people who want to work remotely (Nomad Charles) -- offering career coaching, and leading in-person workshops, Du hopes to empower other people to land the career of their dreams, at home or abroad.
'I think we're going to see more people who want to become digital nomads,' Du says. 'Many people's careers are evolving into location-independent roles.'
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