With the start of the new millennium, conditions for mobile work got better. The number of Deutsche Telekom DSL connections grew from 0.6 million in 2000 to 13.3 million in 2008. The introduction of Skype in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis made it possible for the first time to make video calls without having to pawn house and home. So I (finally) had video at my disposal in addition to telephone and email, which had become prevalent by then. My laptops became lighter and more powerful and had integrated modems.
But the real leap forward came with the introduction of WiFi hotspots in public spaces. In 2010 Starbucks was the first company to announce free WiFi in all US branches and rolled it out worldwide in a very short time. Starbucks set an example that many others had to follow. Suddenly I had an alternative to the expensive data rates of the mobile operators. I’d rather not go into the typical transfer rates (GPRS, 3G). When I was on the road, most of my conversations and video conferences were conducted in a cafe.
My wife and I undertook our vacation trips at that time on our motorcycles, mostly spending the night in a tent. No matter if Vietnam, Oman or Central Anatolia, WiFi and enough bandwidth for working was available everywhere. Travelling this way I noticed how little it takes to be happy. However, work requires not only a stable data connection but also a lot of self-discipline.
Our travels have made us think. Each year before New Year’s Eve we both made a list with the things that were important for us and which we wanted to implement the coming year. Spending more time together and living more sustainably was always at the top of the list. For many years these issues had actually been a priority, without us ever managing to implement them to our satisfaction.
So we needed a radical decision. At the beginning of 2017 we resolved to give up our residence in Switzerland, i.e. to sell or give everything away. Since September 2017 we have been living and working in an (analog) LandRover Defender with a roof tent and have traveled to more than 21 countries in Europe and North Africa. No matter whether in Croatia, Serbia, Albania, Greece, Spain, Morocco or Romania, I can easily communicate with my customers and business partners from anywhere. 4G mobile network coverage feels much better in countries like Romania or Morocco than in Germany. All I need to work is my MacBook Pro with SSD drive, a mobile hotspot (with alternating local prepaid data SIM cards) and an external microphone with noise cancelling.
Thanks to fast mobile networks, flexible data rates (including roaming in other EU countries) and our “radical decision in 2017” we were able to implement the two most important points of our personal to do list. A digital nomadic life means doing without a lot of security, but it rewards us every day with freedom and more time for the really important things in life.
Original text: PSC
English translation: BCO
- Digital_Nomad_Teil2: PSC