- After spending three weeks working remotely from Barbados, I’d love to try the digital nomad lifestyle in other countries when it’s safe to do so.
- It felt like such a privilege to be there that I was motivated to work extra hard, and many digital nomads told me they felt the same.
- Being so close to the ocean did wonders for my mental wellbeing, and it also inspired my work.
- Travel is currently discouraged to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but when it’s safe again, I’d love to explore more of the world while working remotely.
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As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of digital nomads in the world is on the rise.
And some remote workers are taking advantage of their new lack of physical office ties to travel the world with their laptops.Countries from Barbados to Georgia are capitalising on this new trend by launching special visas designed for digital nomads, while also ensuring they manage the spread of the coronavirus.
The Barbados Welcome Stamp Visa, for example, requires applicants to fill out an online form, upload their birth certificate, confirm their salary (which must be over $US50,000), and pay a $US2,000 fee, and they can then come to the island for a year.
In October, I went to Barbados for three weeks (following the necessary safety protocol and quarantining upon arrival) to meet some of the island’s digital nomads and experience the lifestyle. It’s made me want to become a digital nomad myself â€” here’s why.
Digital nomads told Insider that they feel so lucky to travel that it makes them work harder
Many of the digital nomads I spoke to in Barbados told me they were working harder than they did at home but were happy to do so.
They said that working in a location as desirable as Barbados, there’s a certain need to prove that they’re not just lying around on the beach all day. Many of them also had jobs where they could be somewhat flexible with their hours so many chose to start work early, break later in the day to go to the beach, swim with turtles, or go surfing, then go back to their laptops later on.
“I feel so blessed that I know I need to protect my lifestyle by working hard,” digital nomad in Barbados Cris Torres, 35, from Barcelona, told Insider.
After living the digital nomad life for three weeks, I agreed that it made me work harder. Watching turtles swimming through the turquoise ocean from my makeshift desk in my Airbnb also did wonders for my anxiety and inspired me to write.
It’s a great way to travel without taking all your vacation time
For a lot of people around the world, travelling to Barbados for the weekend isn’t possible. But if you’re already living there, you can be a tourist on Saturdays and Sundays, and do all the things you might pack into a two-week vacation over the course of months.
Of course, this will look different during the coronavirus pandemic. Official government guidance in Barbados currently states that bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues must have hand sanitizer at the entrance, take customers’ temperatures upon arrival, and ensure face masks are worn when walking around.
Some tourist attractions in Barbados had special measures in place when I visited in October due to the pandemic, such as requiring pre-booking or having limited opening hours, but it was still possible to explore and maintain social distancing measures.
You meet like-minded people from around the world
While some digital nomads arrive in their temporary home with a friend or in a small group, it’s very common to travel solo because it gives you the ultimate freedom.
However, Barbados locals told me that despite the influx of remote workers, the island is still a lot quieter than usual due to the lack of tourists during the pandemic.
But I found that people who were there on the Welcome Stamp seemed to be making the most of life in Barbados, experiencing the culture, giving back to the community, and welcoming newcomers into the group.
It’s not all easy â€” adapting to working across different time-zones can be tricky
For workers in Europe or America, Barbados’ time-zone is very manageable. Some digital nomads I met shifted their workdays earlier or later to tie in with colleagues at home, others were able to work largely 9-5 as long as they got their work done.
If you do have to work the same hours as your colleagues, however, not every location in the world would be viable â€” unless you’re really dedicated to the lifestyle.
When Torres first started her digital nomad journey in Bali, for example, she ended up having to work from midnight to 6 a.m. some days, but, she told Insider “it was absolutely worth it.”
The coronavirus pandemic has also made the lifestyle more complicated
While in many ways, the coronavirus pandemic has facilitated more workers to become digital nomads, it also means that travel has never been more difficult or dangerous.
Take my trip to Barbados as an example. Arriving on the island was difficult, especially if you’re coming from a high-risk country like the UK or US, which I discovered when I went through the process of taking my two COVID-19 tests, quarantining, and taking my temperature twice a day for two weeks.
Although coronavirus rates in Barbados are low â€” there have been 305 cases on the island and seven deaths since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins data â€” and the Minister of Health and Wellness said in November there was no evidence of community spread on the island, the risk certainly isn’t non-existent.The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention currently warns that “travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.”
Your experience will also look different during this time. For example in Barbados, some restaurants and tourist attractions in the country are only open on certain days of the week, so the current digital nomads there aren’t able to have the same experience they would have done pre-pandemic.
Despite these challenges, chances are that the digital nomad lifestyle will likely remain an option for many when travel restrictions relax in the future.
- I travelled to Barbados from the UK to cover the country’s new remote work visa. Here’s what it was like to quarantine in paradise.
- Barbados is officially letting people move there to work remotely for a year, and all you need to do is fill out an application
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