I did it! I completed a month or so of being a digital nomad (though the definition of a digital nomad is for another blog post. Did I even count as one?). I spent four weeks in Porto, Portugal with a group called Hacker Paradise. While I have worked while traveling it in the past – basically working remotely during road trips around the U.S. or staying at my parents house in NY – I had never attempted working from abroad.
Let’s see how I did on my goals for the trip.
GOAL #1: TAKE AT LEAST ONE VIDEO EVERYDAY
Success! I took at least one video each day. The following two videos are compilations of my trip. The first shows my time in NY and Amsterdam. The NY section features family and childhood friends, while the Amsterdam section focuses on the scenery and some new friends – other solo travelers.
The second video represents my entire four weeks in Porto, with a weekend trip to Lisbon, day trip to Sintra and day trip to the Duoro Valley. Rather than including a video from every single day, as I did for my One Second Everyday video, I chose the highlights and included clips to cover the essence of the trip.
GOAL #2: FIND VISUAL INSPIRATION
This was an easy one. I took photos and videos of many things I found inspiring throughout the trip, others I just let sink in. In Porto there was street art everywhere, homes were brightly colored, and Portuguese tiles covered the façade of every other building. In fact, I was inspired to create a series of icons/illustrations about Portugal – look out for that on the blog soon.
In a previous post I created color schemes from photos I took during my time in Amsterdam.
GOAL #3: SHARE MY EXPERIENCE
I could have done better with this one. Sure, I wrote a couple of blog posts and posted photos on Facebook and Instagram, but there was so much more I could have shared. I think the best way to get a true feeling of the trip is to watch the videos above, as these represent more than I could have captured in words.
THE REAL GOALS
Beyond the arbitrary goals I set above, I had some immeasurable, ephemeral goals for the trip. The real reason I took upon this experience was to:
- Reinvigorate my love for freelancing
- Make great friends and colleagues
- Get to know a new part of the world
- Inspire myself to re-explore my current hometown of Austin, TX
Surrounding myself with enthusiastic freelancers, entrepreneurs and remote workers really did reinvigorate my love for freelancing. After all, it was the flexibility of working for myself that allowed me to go on this trip in the first place. I was also more productive than ever, inspired by the passion of my new friends and colleagues.
Speaking of, the people in Hacker Paradise were fantastic, and it was easy to get to know everyone well. There was not a single person with whom I did not feel comfortable having a real conversation, and there were plenty of times we dove deep into our true selves. I would say the people made the trip.
While I got to know a new part of the world, I could have done better with this one. Spending a decent amount of time in one place allows you to immerse yourself in the culture, explore the city to its fullest and feel like a local. My four weeks were just the tip of the iceberg. While I got to know the vibe of the city, there was plenty left to explore. I think another few weeks would have helped further this goal.
Lastly, I wanted to inspire myself to fall back in love with Austin. It’s not like I truly fell out of love with the city, but things were starting to feel stale. I re-realize what a great city it is to explore. I’m trying to make new friends, go to new meetups and even give co-working a shot (it went so well in Porto!). Time to re-discover what this city can be.
Overall, I felt like my best self on this trip – productive, inspired and social. When I first got back to Austin I had a little breakdown, a little existential crisis. Who am I? Can I be my best self while I’m here? I’ve decided: yes. Or I can at least give it a shot. Here we go!