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What I've Learnt as a Digital Nomad

People often look at me with interest when they find out I’ve stayed for extended periods of time in seven different countries and many times I’ve jumped between three, or four, of those countries in a year. But what does it truly mean to be a digital nomad?

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For other people, the notion of traveling the world and turning any desk into an office, sounds romantic. Or maybe adventurous…exotic. Yet, those who travel the world, while they enjoy their nomadic streak, nod at each other, sometimes in pained recognition. There are perks with seeing the world. There are also downfalls with not having a home in one place where you spend the majority of your time.

Personally, I think traveling is something everyone should do, but I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a digital nomad. Here’s what I’ve learned from a lifetime of travels.

Strangers Are Angels in Disguise

There’s an inscription on a wall in Shakespeare and Co. in Paris that says that strangers are angels in disguise. I’ve found this to be true. While you’ll encounter grumpy bus drivers in London, lazy waiters in Cape Town and divas in Hollywood, as a traveler you soon learn that wherever you go, people can and will help you. If your car breaks down, if you need a couch for the night, if something else happens (I was once stranded in Paris without cash, for example), someone will come through for you.

I think this is one of the most valuable lessons as a traveler — if you ask for help you’ll receive it. Eventually. In one way, or another. People, as a general rule, have an innate wish to help others. That lost person with a map will receive random offers from strangers to assist them.

Problem Solving Becomes Your Second Name

Whether you’re lost, your car has broken down or you find yourself in some unexpected circumstance, you need to figure out a way to solve it. In a new place you also simply need to learn to figure things out, even if everything’s going splendidly. It’s new. You have to learn. Time and time again how to navigate your way in a new place.

If you’re uncomfortable with asking directions, think again. Soon you’ll be asking all sorts of people about all sorts of things to be able to get from A to B. Whether you need to find out how to operate the laundry machine, or find a restaurant, traveling means you’re constantly in need of advice from people whom you’ve, most likely, never met before.

I’ve always enjoyed getting lost in a new place. Not having too many plans. To experience what unfolds. You learn to deal with the unexpected.

You Learn to Say Please and Thank You

If you want to get anywhere as a traveler, people skills help immensely. By being kind, caring and polite to the people you meet, you’ll be greeted by lots of unexpected kindness in return. People will go the extra mile to help you out, be it with finding wifi, or giving you a free meal.

The truth is, how we approach people affects how they treat us. If you want them to treat you well, you have to treat them well.

Social Media Allows You to Keep Your Tribe

If it wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t know what most of my friends are up to. As I often spend different parts of the year in different parts of the world, it’s hard to keep track of friends and family. I would have missed out on a lot more if it wasn’t for social media. I get to see glimpses of people’s lives, even if I’m not there. I also get to keep everyone I know in one place and can reach out to them at any time, no matter where I am.

It’s hard to have a normal social life when you don’t stay in one place. It’s really hard. But at the very least you can reach all your friends with the click of a button.

Network Is Net Worth…Sort Of

There is an old saying that your network is your net worth. This is obviously related to career, but as a traveler, your network is who will help you out when you’re in a strange place. I don’t know how many people’s couches I’ve crashed on over the years. Friends who have lent me cars, homes… People who have been there for me when something’s happened. And the above mentioned Facebook has often been crucial for this — you update one status and someone leads you to someone, who connects you to someone…

When you grow up in a place, or go to college in a place, and stay there, you usually have a close-knit circle of friends who are there for you. The people you can call on for anything. But as a person traveling, you make new friends all the time. And these are the people who will do anything from showing you around town, to sorting you out when you need a ride.

You Adapt

Whether you’re renting an AirBnB where you put up with the host’s OCD, or messiness, you soon learn to adapt. Your office is a cafe, a hotel room, an airport…

What’s more, you’re constantly orientating yourself. Finding the nearest supermarket. Working out how the trains work. Finding a place for a haircut. Working out social codes in a new culture. Trying new dishes. Everything is about orientation and learning new things.

It can be terribly annoying sometimes. Not to have the exact environment you want. Not to have fast wifi. Not to know if you’ll have to cook amongst the remains of someone else’s dinner. But if you let it get to you, you’re soon in a bad mood all the time. So you adapt.

You Can Be Whoever You Like

There’s something liberating about traveling. No one knows you. You are free from the expectations friends and family have of you. By the time you return home, you’ll have changed.

You’ll Likely Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

At some point in your travels, chances are you’ll be forced to do something that’s beyond your comfort zone. And by breaking that kind of barrier, you learn that fears can be overcome. It’s liberating. It also takes a lot of courage. Makes you a braver person.

You Learn That There’s No Place Like Home

As many people as you meet during your travels, it can also be lonely. You have to meet a hundred different people, to find forty you gel with. You force yourself to attend Meet Up Groups and InterNations events, even when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes you meet people you have the most amazing connection with though. You realize that you have soulmates everywhere. Unique individuals whom you simply hit it off with. But that doesn’t mean that they know your history, your quirks…and that can be great, but it can also make you feel lonely. Home is a place where people do know you.

Stability. Coming home to a place you’ve decked out to suit your needs. The ability to be near those you love. Those are all things you learn to value. Heck, just the feeling of being able to relax because you know where you’re going is incredible. You don’t have to figure out how to get to the supermarket.

In Closing

I love traveling. I love all it’s taught me. It’s in my blood. I also really appreciate having a home to come home to. For me, I’m not sure I’ll ever have only one place I call home. I mean California is home in that it feels like home. But then there’s France. And all my friends in London. And my place in Cape Town. However, to have at least one apartment, or house, that’s mine somewhere, is crucial. I need to be able to know there is one place where I can just kick back. One place designed how I like it. One place that suits me.

I believe the world would be a better place if everyone spent at least six months traveling to learn about different cultures. To see what other ways of thinking exist. I don’t think everyone can handle staying on the road as a digital nomad though. I think it all depends on what you need to be productive and happy. 



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I get so much joy in helping fellow travel-lovers solve annoying problems and otherwise make their travels easier and more enjoyable. Toward this end, I’m indelibly on the lookout for noteworthy innovations that can resolve common annoyances and foster fun and functionality while getting from point A to point B. And, of course, I’m ever on alert for fabulous destinations that’ll proffer a pleasurable experience. Here are a few of my finds that fit the bill this summer season and beyond.

Southern California Hilton Hotels / The Magic Castle Partnership (Travel.Hilton.com/MagicCastle)

First is a truly amazing travel option for those traversing through Southern California this year. SoCal Hilton guests now have coveted access to the iconic Magic Castle in Los Angeles! This unique Hilton partnership allows hotels guests the privilege to experience one of the most extraordinary and exclusive clubs in the world, plus a highly sought-after fine-dining destination in LA.

While access to The Magic Castle is typically available only to members and invited guests, for the first time through the 2019 calendar year guests staying at participating Hilton hotels will be able to dine and see world-class illusion at the regal, Edwardian-era mansion in historic Hollywood. In addition to dining and viewing a variety of magical styles in multiple theaters, guests can also explore the property and enjoy drinks at one of five bars, including the Owl Bar or the Hat and the Hare Pub.

Magic Castle is the most-recent, elite Southern California partner secured by Hilton to curate unique local experiences for hotel guests. As part of the Hilton and Magic Castle partnership, patrons must book at least six weeks in advance of their preferred visit date through Travel.Hilton.com/MagicCastle.  From there, participating Hilton representatives will secure guests’ requested reservations at Magic Castle based on availability. 

The Hunger Games: The Exhibition (www.TheHungerGamesExhibition.com)

As Las Vegas is also a prime vacation destination to get your entertainment-game on point this summer, be sure to check out The Hunger Games: The Exhibition at The MGM Grand. The attraction celebrates the epic journey of the famed book series’ main character Katniss Everdeen from her humble beginnings in District 12 to her rise as the Mockingjay throughout the trilogy. 

The brand-new attraction features inspirational galleries straight from the scenes outlined in the novels like the Hall of Justice, President Snow’s Office, the Tribute Train, District 13 and a 60-foot wide interactive archery training experience, the first of its kind on the Las Vegas Strip. Showcasing original costumes, genuine props and set recreations from Lionsgate’s record-breaking cinematic series, the exhibition includes hands-on interactives inviting visitors to engage with the behind-the-scenes content that brought the books by Suzanne Collins to life.

Nokia 4.2 Smartphone (www.BestBuy.com)

The cutting-edge Nokia 4.2 has been designed to offer the latest in smartphone technological innovations at a truly accessible price. Complete with a sculpted-glass design, new display technology, an amazing dual depth-sensing rear camera and biometric face unlock system, this new device truly has it all compacted into one sleek design. 

Premiering the Google Assistant feature, the Nokia 4.2 will revolutionize the way you engage with your smartphone. Simply press the button once for instant access to all that Google Assistant has to offer, allowing for unfettered capability when you need it most. Whether it’s directions, making calls, listening to music or getting answers to some of life’s hardest questions, the Google Assistant can help get it done and find information faster than ever before. The Nokia 4.2 is an Android One device, meaning it just keeps getting better with time and ships with Android Pie out of the box. It is also available in two colors, Black or Pink Sand, so you can capitalize on your preference to make it your own.

Wearbuds Smartband-Housed True Wireless Earbuds (www.Kickstarter.com) 

Aipower, an innovative smart device developer, has launched a Kickstarter preorder campaign for Wearbuds—the world's first wristband-housed true wireless earbuds designed for ultra-portability, compelling sound and with fitness tracker features. Wearbuds are the world’s first true wireless HiFi earbuds that are actually stored inside a fitness band. Both earbuds can be placed perfectly in the fitness tracking wristband which can also charge them with no need for carrying a charging case. The earbuds also feature flawless audio streaming with an advanced Qualcomm chipset and Bluetooth 5.0 technology, reproducing booming bass and crisp highs through fine-tuned, graphene-augmented drivers.

Wearbuds are lightweight and ergonomic, providing a barely-there fit for unbeatable noise isolation performance with premium silicon ear tips. The band strap is made of silicone to enhance comfort while wearing and is able to maintain all-day dryness and cleanliness throughout various activities. Most true wireless earbuds don’t allow users to call freely using only one earbud due to the limitation of the connection technology. Wearbuds support Mono Mode, a feature that comes from the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology, allowing fast and easy, hands-free phone calls with one or both earbuds. 

The fitness band can automatically count your steps and calories burned and monitor heart rate and sleep pattern as well. A built-in touchscreen on the band allows for instant access to all fitness data and notifications (including sedentary reminder) on the wrist. All fitness reports will be saved in the Aipower app. The band features on-wrist smartphone notifications which are customizable for calls, texts, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Amber Wave Wearable Towel (www.AmberWaveFashions.com)

Next I want to tell you about an ingenious item perfect for your summer vacations and adventures. It’s the Amber Towel, which is actually much more than just a towel because it converts from a towel to a blanket to a robe. It’s perfect for the beach, pool or bathroom.

With the Amber Towel, instead of carrying one or multiple towels to and from your outing, plus a bag for personal belongings, you simply wear it and put your precious items in the pockets, keeping your hands free. So rather than having to carry a bag with a change of clothes, a towel and your essentials, you can just wear your swimsuit under the Amber Towel and be DONE. And it’s great to use as a blanket, because it spreads out to be a full 49” by 53”! I also love that it’s lightweight and 100 percent cotton. The Amber Towel has terry loops on one side for absorbency and on the other side loops have been sheared off for velour-like smoothness. So, it’s designed to be soft but also keep you dry and warm.

And, the Amber Towel is definitely comfy. The armholes are long so it’s easy to just slip on, and it has a very soft fabric that’s hand-stitched all around, including the pockets. When laid fully open it could actually fit two people. The hoodie also makes it easy to hang and helps your head dry off fast. The Amber Towel comes in one size and fits everyone from Small to Large and is available in four colors: white, navy blue, teal and sunset orange. Plus, it’s washer and dryer safe, too.

Solo New York Parker Tote (www.Solo-NY.com)

When seeking a chic carrying solution for more city-bound occasions, you can soirée and jet set in style all summer long with The Parker Tote from Solo New York. This is a hybrid backpack and tote designed for the working woman driven by her passions. The sophisticated, sleek gold and black style of the Parker Tote is inspired by the heart and soul of New York–creating a chic look that goes with everything. 

The bag itself is embezzled with gold hardware and interlaced through the zipper with golden undertones. It includes a fully padded, 15.6" laptop sleeve compartment, interior organizer section and padded hideaway backpack straps. The back panel of the tote also slides over the luggage handle for efficient transformation and all-around easy access to whatever compartment you need at any time. 

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As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority—a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers. She reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Source: https://research.skift.com/reports/skift-global-travel-economy-outlook-2019/

Photo Courtesy of Magic Castle.Ed Alonzo (Copyright Taylor Wong)

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