My Quest for the Perfect ‘Digital Nomad’ Office

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My Quest for the Perfect 'Digital Nomad' Office

To be honest, I just started taking these photos as a way to annoy my friends on Facebook. Now it’s turned into a bit of a quest to find the perfect office, that rare combination of beautiful surroundings, usability, and internet access. Here are my six favorite ‘offices’ so far.

Long Beach, Koh Chang Island, Thailand (above)
Pros: Amazing view, with cool sand to dig your toes into as you work, mango lassis or cold beer available.
Cons: No power or wifi, so you won’t work long. I didn’t really get much work done, anyway, because I was too busy IM’ing my friends, saying “Guess where I am!”

Practicality: 2 out of 5 | Gloat Factor: 5 out of 5

 

My Quest for the Perfect 'Digital Nomad' Office

Lonely Beach, Koh Chang Island, Thailand
Pros: Power and wifi available, cheap beer, waves quietly lapping the shore just beneath your feet.
Cons: Glare on laptop screen, annoying Trance music blaring in the background, strong smell of patchouli, no cheap tickets here — requires a bus/ferry/truck combo from Bangkok.

Practicality: 3 out of 5 | Gloat Factor: 3 out of 5

 

My Quest for the Perfect 'Digital Nomad' Office

Utopia Guesthouse, Kampot, Cambodia
Pros: Cold beer, power, wifi is only $1 per day, quiet and peaceful.
Cons: Temptation to say ‘to Hell with it” and just go swimming in the river is hard to resist. 7 km out of town, so transport is needed.
Practicality: 4 out of 5 | Gloat Factor: 4 out of 5

 

My Quest for the Perfect ‘Digital Nomad’ Office

Beach cafe 15km from Mui Ne, Vietnam
Pros: In the middle of nowhere, quiet, peaceful, owned by a friendly family.
Cons: No electricity, Net access only via tethered phone, commute is rather difficult
Practicality: 2 out of 5 | Gloat Factor: 4 out of 5

 

My Quest for the Perfect ‘Digital Nomad’ Office

Hotel room in Sapa, Vietnam
Pros: One of my favorite spots, real desk and chair, fast and free wifi, cool mountain breezes, incredible view.
Cons: At the top of a steep hill, workers began noisily demolishing a building across the street on the third day.
Practicality: 4 out of 5 | Gloat Factor: 4 out of 5

 

My Quest for the Perfect ‘Digital Nomad’ Office

Riverside cafe in Luang Prabang, Laos
Pros: Great sunset views over the Mekong River, amazing food, cheap beer, very quiet.
Cons: No wifi available, mosquitoes in the evening.
Practicality: 2 out of 5 | Gloat Factor: 3 out of 5

 

Where have you found your favorite work space while traveling?

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurence September 3, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Four out of five cats agree, offices with a beer are preferential to offices without.
.-= Laurence´s last blog ..Four amazing outback Australia film sets =-.

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wes September 4, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Amen, brother!

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Evan September 13, 2010 at 6:44 am

Seconded.
.-= Evan´s last blog ..Sick! =-.

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Michael September 3, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I thought my villa veranda on a Greek island was pretty good but your spots with wifi have it beat.
When I get around to it I will link to this post on my web site page about Work at home–at the beach — a collection of ideas to live and work abroad.
http://www.parosparadise.com/work-at-home.htm
Cheers,
.-= Michael´s last blog ..Use Olive Oil for better Genes =-.

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Rabah Rahil September 3, 2010 at 7:29 pm

This are all awesome! Thailand is definitely my favorite! Great idea I’ll be following the updates :)

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Justin September 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Love this idea, Wes!

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Audrey September 3, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I love how you evaluate each working place with a gloat factor! So funny, but so true.

Your first photo reminded me of our work situation at Haad Yao beach on Koh Pha Ngan. We had our first freelance writing/stock photography project and wifi wasn’t available so we worked in the bungalow cafe during the day and then hiked up the hill to the best internet cafe after dinner and spent hours uploading photos. Good times.
.-= Audrey´s last blog ..Vietnamese Summer Rolls- Keeping the Taste of Summer Alive A Video Recipe =-.

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wes September 4, 2010 at 12:30 pm

It’s all about the braggin’ rights, ya know ;)

I had the same situation at Long Beach — there was one cafe with a slow connection on top of a hill. They turned the generator on at 6pm, so I’d work during the day, then race up the hill to post everything. Really makes you feel like you’re traveling, doesn’t it?

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Cornelius Aesop September 3, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I could definitely see myself doing this too, the boasting power surely out weighs anything else.
.-= Cornelius Aesop´s last blog ..Things To Do in Japan in December =-.

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Eric September 3, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Wow those are amazing spots. They beat the crap out of my 15th floor coffee shop here in Korea, but I take what I can get.
.-= Eric´s last blog ..10 Reasons to Pack Up and Move Abroad =-.

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wes September 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Yeah, but I bet you have AC ;)

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Jenny September 4, 2010 at 12:00 am

That is awesome! I had a similar idea to do something like that but for my clients to see where I was working from. I want them to be involved and excited about what I’m doing and where I’m going… and not keep them in the dark about my Digital Nomad Location Independent status.

I like how you rate each one on practicality and gloat factor. el oh el.

Glad to see there are others out there like me!!! I leave in January for my indefinite trip around the world!
.-= Jenny´s last blog ..The Dog Dilemma =-.

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wes September 4, 2010 at 12:32 pm

That’s a great idea: have a sidebar photo with your current office :)

Hope your trip planning goes smoothly!

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Nancy September 4, 2010 at 11:00 pm

I’ve been thinking of doing that myself – take a photo every morning of my view so that people can have a better idea of what it’s like wherever I am.
.-= Nancy´s last blog ..Women Wandering Solo- Elena Sevastiani =-.

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Erin September 4, 2010 at 12:09 am

I love this! We are on a similar quest, but so far have not been able to find the perfect combination of views and wifi. We did manage to get lots done without internet though on Ilha Grande Brazil, and on a farm in Paraguay, but it’s not that practical all the time.
.-= Erin´s last blog ..August Update- House Sitting &amp Stuck in Salta =-.

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Beverly September 4, 2010 at 12:26 am

Love your offices! I must say, one of my faves was working from my veranda on the Regent Navigator in the Mediterranean but internet not cheap. I also like to work right in my own back yard when my gardens are in bloom. I’ll keep following to see what other offices you find. Cheers!
.-= Beverly´s last blog ..Sandals Resorts in St Lucia =-.

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wes September 4, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Thanks, Beverly! The Mediterranean sounds very nice. And blooming gardens don’t sound too shabby either ;)

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Casey Friday September 4, 2010 at 2:29 am

Wow, this is frikkin awesome! That Vietnam view is absolutely gorgeous. Inspiration doesn’t get much better than that.

Do you think it will be hard to transition to a single-location lifestyle, when your current RTW is over?
.-= Casey Friday´s last blog ..Friday’s Kickass Question- What Are You Good At =-.

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wes September 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Oh man, the idea of that transition terrifies me to be honest! I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I get there. The idea of a cubicle just does not compute right now…

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groucho September 4, 2010 at 2:36 am

fuck you Wes.

Favorite work spot? This demolition job I scored across from a Hotel in Sapa, Vietnam.

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wes September 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Don’t be bitter! ;)

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G @ Operation Backpack Asia September 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm

LOL.

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Casa de Hamilton Pool September 4, 2010 at 3:09 am

I hate you. ; )

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Kevin September 4, 2010 at 4:11 am

Hey, Wes — you’re getting pretty good at Photoshop. We know this is all for our benefit–part of the illusion to make us extremely jealous. You’re really working on a bunk in a windowless hostel dormitory, right? You sly dog. ;)
.-= Kevin´s last blog ..Different options for carrying fluids =-.

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wes September 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Shhhhh…. You’re not supposed to tell. When I’m not working in Photoshop, I’m busy forging stamps and visas in my passport ;)

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Earl September 4, 2010 at 7:15 am

The room in Sapa sure does look ideal! Rarely have I found all of the important factors – view, comfort and fast wi-fi – present in one location. The only problem is that the most inspiring ‘offices’ tend to inspire me to close my laptop and explore the area instead and so I must play catch up with my work from a worse location later on…
.-= Earl´s last blog ..How To Get A Job On Board Cruise Ships =-.

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megan September 4, 2010 at 9:06 am

Haha great idea, love the photos! I never have much luck working outside in the sun though – no matter how I angle the screen, it’s too hard to read anything!

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Matt September 4, 2010 at 9:27 am

Brilliant. Love the comments as well. Slightly jealous – beats the office I’m working out of in Queenstown but at least the views aren’t too far away!
.-= Matt´s last blog ..The Gen Y Travel Blog Carnival- 3rd Edition =-.

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G @ Operation Backpack Asia September 5, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Queenstown rocks! Where are you working? :D
.-= G @ Operation Backpack Asia´s last blog ..g-and-ray-year-1 =-.

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Jenny September 4, 2010 at 11:47 am

Great post. Just what’s been on my mind recently as I plan a trip to Thailand and am wondering about how I’ll go with internet availability and unexpected distractions. Nice to have found your blog. Fun reading the comments too.
.-= Jenny´s last blog ..Balm round-up 2 =-.

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wes September 4, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I think you’ll be fine with net access in Thailand. Distractions… well… there’s plenty of those :)

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Jenneil September 4, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Love the pics, love the tips, and love the angle. Nice post!

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Nancy September 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Other than the beer, these are all pros/cons that had never occurred to me before, but I’ll be thinking about them soon. I did end up with the MBP and that booq case so…gonna have gloating pictures like this pretty soon. And by “like this” I only mean Thailand, not anywhere remotely near a beach.

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G @ Operation Backpack Asia September 5, 2010 at 6:53 pm

This is awesome! Please keep doing these posts, as we’re going to run out of our savings approximately 7 countries prematurely due to staying so much longer in certain…offices…than we’d planned. Like this one: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=35690780&l=c26d2e7686&id=27700783

That one was fantastic (and came with a Porch Dawgg), but had that same problem as your first – and best – one on the list…no power or wifi til 3:30p. So we’ll be on the lookout for a new office sooner than later – we’re thinking Philippines or Indonesia maybe? Somewhere where we can, say, dive in the morning and work in the afternoon, you know. :) So yeah if you could get on it for scoping that out for us ahead of time, that’d be greeeaaat…
.-= G @ Operation Backpack Asia´s last blog ..g-and-ray-year-1 =-.

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G @ Operation Backpack Asia September 5, 2010 at 6:55 pm

btw how is that my last blog entry? Weirdo app.
.-= G @ Operation Backpack Asia´s last blog ..g-and-ray-year-1 =-.

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Jasmine September 5, 2010 at 9:44 pm

The Sapa office looks great to me! I have basically the same requirements… wifi, a nice view without glare, and a desk and chair. Much harder to find than it sounds! However, I am flexible… in lieu of a desk, a hammock will do :)
.-= Jasmine´s last blog ..How To Get To The Termales De Santa Rosa =-.

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SHABL September 5, 2010 at 11:51 pm

I think we stayed in the same hotel perhaps, awesome view.
.-= SHABL´s last blog ..Egregrious Evening in Bangkok =-.

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Candice September 7, 2010 at 10:55 am

I love that you have an alcoholic beverage in almost every photo.
.-= Candice´s last blog ..A Newfoundland Language Lesson Part 3- Improperly Pluralise Everything =-.

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Bill Gillepsie September 7, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Hotel room in Sapa, Vietnam is a clear winner to me.

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wes September 10, 2010 at 10:15 am

Good choice! My fave , too…

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Nomadic Chick September 13, 2010 at 6:36 am

Oh Johnny honey, been a while huh? If you’re photshopping you should at least include a cute gal draped over the computer, just like a car show. Remember those?
.-= Nomadic Chick´s last blog ..Worst Washroom of the Week =-.

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wes September 14, 2010 at 9:51 am

Shhhh…. It’s our secret.

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Gareth Leonard September 14, 2010 at 5:21 am

I can’t wait to see the office that gets a 5 out of 5 score in both categories! I hope you’ll be hiring at that point.
.-= Gareth Leonard´s last blog ..NEW PHOTOS- Salt- Rocks &amp Fun =-.

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wes September 14, 2010 at 9:51 am

You’re at the top of the hiring list, Gareth :)

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wanderingtrader September 14, 2010 at 5:48 am

This is great!! Its like your own Corona commercial! Looking forward to seeing the new locations
.-= wanderingtrader´s last blog ..THE ROCKY BEACHES OF VALETTA- MALTA =-.

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Theodora September 16, 2010 at 10:30 am

God, this is sooo funny, and a blast from the spring. Treehouse — your Koh Chang pic — was the second place we stayed in after leaving London in Jan. We stayed in that guesthouse in Sapa (down the market street, behind the church, right), your #4: I loved the view from your #5. Utopia looks even nicer than where we stayed in Kampot…
.-= Theodora´s last blog ..Rafting the Maiting River =-.

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Johann Thorsson September 16, 2010 at 7:55 pm

You put our own efforts at moving the office around to shame. Took our laptops (and oversized logo) downtown and sat in a cafe all day a while ago.

The next beachfront is too far, we fear (cold, cold Iceland).
.-= Johann Thorsson´s last blog ..Help us win… you know you want to =-.

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wes September 17, 2010 at 9:34 am

ha! I love that you took your logo as well — maybe I should do something like that :)

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Robert August 6, 2011 at 12:32 am

This is inspiring. I want a job like you have when I grow up. I look forward to seeing more posts like this.

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wes August 19, 2011 at 4:49 am

No reason to grow up. Just get out there :)

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Hannah January 6, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Anything beats our current office…Milwaukee, Wisconsin where we are counting down the days until we leave for our RTW trip 173 and counting! Plus we have our real jobs 50-70 hours a week and then coming home to plan this trip and build our website! It will all be worth it when we can enjoy all the offices around the world, like ones you captured, as we blog on our trip! I would give anything for Koh Chang office right now!

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wes January 22, 2013 at 10:33 am

Get out there! Beer’s on me.

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OCDemon March 31, 2013 at 11:24 am

This is adorable. I love the juxtaposition of serious commentary against envy-inducing bragging.

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Christoffer Moen August 3, 2013 at 5:36 am

Man, that Sapa window view is killer. If you won’t have it, I’ll take it. Teehee.

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