Remote Year: Month 2

It’s been awhile since I had a moment to get to posting a blog.  I am hoping that this isn’t a pattern for me.  The moment we got back home we renovated two rooms in our house (just because), traveled to see family and friends, and the program that we are a part of just took off on us which was great! We are in the process of meeting all 30 students to see how we can help them in their next chapter of their careers.

But I wanted to make sure that we keep our eye on Amanda as she just finished month 2 of her Remote Year life to see what she has been up to, what she is learning, and of course where she is and her adventures.

For the month of March, Amanda left Malaysia and flew off to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She let me in on how an entire group of 75 make that journey and other aspects of her journey as a remote worker.

Again, I am not an affiliate of Remote Year nor do I sell anything for them.  This blog is solely for the purpose of bring remote work to life through Amanda’s journey.

TRL: How you prepared to leave your first location and got to your second location.

Amanda: Preparing to leave Malaysia for Vietnam is similar to watching an Olympic team travel together as half of us were sporting our Remote Year t-shirts. Overall, the RY team had the travel day all planned out and organized for us to make it as smooth as possible.

Our day started at 10:00AM in the lobby:

  • Line up single file to collect your boarding pass
  • Return hotel key card
  • Return work-space key card
  • Get into one of the buses (each held 6 passengers)
  • Arrive at Airport, walk in like a herd and take over the baggage drop off counters lol
  • Wait at Gate – or in some cases premium lounge
  • Share some laughs
  • Board flight and nap for an hour (hehe)
  • Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Wait outside of Arrivals for everyone to make it through
  • Share some laughs
  • Get into one of the busses
  • Receive your new SIM card on the bus and hotel information kit
  • Share some laughs
  • Check into hotel and “negotiate” with your roommates on who gets the big room haha
  • Then go find the closest place for dinner and relax

TRL: How has work been going (Fibernetics) and how have you been structuring your day being remote and on a different time zone.

Amanda: I have a good little routine going on for being on the opposite time zone. I usually start the day off by checking messages right when I wake up, because I might still be able to catch people online in EST zone. It also allows me to scan for any higher priority items to handle first which helps me to decide where I am going to work from that day, whether it is from the apartment/hotel, the work-space, or another comfortable location.

Most days I stay on the SE Asia business hours routine, and this is because I will do my best to schedule any EST phone calls into one evening in the week. I can’t say I work a true night shift, but I will work more of an afternoon shift on that day, or a split shift. And as always, since technology allows for it and remote work continues to be the way of the future, I have my smartphone glued to me at all times.

TRL: What fun things have you been doing since we’ve last spoken?

Amanda: Some fun things we have done are had a farewell party in KL, arrived in HCMC. Since being in HCMC I have made a trip to Vung Tau where we climbed the 800+ stairs to see the Jesus statue and then inside the statue up some more stairs to stand on His shoulder. We ate lunch at a fish market restaurant on a floating dock.

Amanda_Vietnam_Jesus stairs

I have been staying alive darting in and out of the traffic of scooters, riding on UberMotos, checked out the Benh Thanh market, and had a custom dress made for me.

Amanda_Vietnam_Custom made dress

I decided not to do too many side excursions because I am taking 2 weeks to visit Australia.

So as I type this, I am on a layover waiting to board my plan into Gold Cost. This is going to be so much fun! I sent the flight itinerary to our Remote Year friend who is already there (he’s from GC) and he sends a message saying he will pick us up at the airport; we’ll drive to Brisbane, boat over to Morton Island and stay there for the first 2 nights.

My friend and I will make our way to Melbourne and Sydney too, and then meet up with the rest of the remotes in Cambodia.

TRL: What are you learning as a remote worker vs. a 9-5 worker that you didn’t expect?

Amanda: I am learning that I need less as a remote worker, which tells me I really didn’t need those things to begin with. I barley use any stationary supplies, I am able to do my work from a laptop or smartphone, I don’t need a second monitor, fancy keyboard or mouse.

As long as I have a good Internet connection I can work. Another thing I am learning is that quantity of hours doesn’t necessarily = productivity. There are many people who put in time at a physical office because they are required to fulfill a certain number of hours in a day, but they aren’t working the whole time. If you can remove yourself from positive and negative distractions you suddenly work faster, more efficiently, and smarter.

I am living vicariously through her right now! You to can follow Amanda’s adventures at http://amandalittle.ca/ and on her Instagram @adaniellelittle.

If you have any questions for Amanda that you would like me to ask her please let me know and thank you for reading!

Make sure to follow me on Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter and of course here at The Remote Life blog.

Cheers xo

Inside Scoop: Remote Year – Getting Started

I will let you know that I am in no way affiliated nor do I sell for Remote Year.  I looked into this program and it wasn’t for me but I have a friend who did get accepted into their 4 month program and I thought it would be cool to interview her monthly and follow along with her journey with Remote Year.  This will allow everyone to get an in-depth view on what she is doing with the program and to see if it right for you.  There are several companies such as this that exist and you can click on this link to look into others:

https://www.theremotenomad.com/blog/2016/5/10/travel-the-world-and-work-remotely-with-these-10-companies

Remote Year “brings together communities of interesting professionals, entrepreneurs, and freelancers from across the globe to spend a year working, traveling, and exploring 12 cities around the world.” (This was taken off of the Remote Year website.)

You do not have to be with them the entire year but can opt to do segments with them.  Currently Amanda is doing 4 months with Remote Year and is traveling with them on their Southeast Asia adventure.

I asked Amanda a series of questions and if there is a question that you would like me to ask her in our next interview round please let me know.

Let’s begin…please welcome Amanda, and Human Resource professional from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

TRL:  Amanda, give us a bit of background on yourself; your life before starting the Remote Year program.

Amanda: I am Canadian and work as a Human Resource Professional in Ontario.  Other things about me:  I have a new love for travel, I have a love for yoga, I am a pet parent to a standard poodle, and I have a hobby knitting business during Canadian winters.

I would say that I had the typical Canadian lifestyle that is ingrained in us to achieve from a young age.  Go to University, get a profession, buy a home, car, etc.  I worked the typical 9-5 office environment, lived alone with my dog in a 1425 sqft. townhouse.  I would go to yoga, or hangout with friends after work and on weekends.

TRL: How did you hear about Remote Year (RY)?

Amanda:  I saw an ad on a social feed, clicked the link, and then started to read about RY and follow them on other channels.

TRL:  What was the process like to apply to RY?

Amanda:  It was professional, organized, and relatively simple process.  Simply fill out the form on their website and if you qualify for the next step they will reach out to you for more information about the process.

TRL:  Was the company you’re working for happy about your decision to do RY?

Amanda:  Yes – I felt that they were excited for me and secretly envious 😉  I was actually quite nervous to approach my company about my desire to work remotely, but when my proposal was received with openess and excitement I remembered why my company is so great!  We came to an agreement that the 4-month option was the best route for the company and for me.  Plus, if all goes well, I suppose there is always room to extend it down the road!  RY has some flexibility for us to join in on another 4-month option down the road.

TRL:  Was your role already a remote role at your company?

Amanda:  No – I typically worked from the headquarters and would work remotely on occasion either from home, a coffee shop, or one of our other office locations.

TRL:  Tell us a day in the life of you while at RY.

Amanda:  Where do I start!!  Each day is different, but a few things remain the same…I know there is always someone to have breakfast with, walk to work with, have lunch wth, or hangout in the evening.  The RY team has an official calendar of events that they organize for the remotes, and then there is an unofficial calendar of events where the remotes organize our own outings and share it with the group.

For me a day in the life includes spending time at the work space to get some core work done in an office setting, grabbing a bite to eat with some fellow remotes, touring the city or discovering a new place to eat (Malaysia is all about the food!).  Some days will also include time at the pool, gym, or an offsite adventure.

No matter what the day entails I know it will be full of good company, lots of laughter, and discovering new things about the country I am in.

TRL:  What support do they (RY) offer you while traveling with them?

Amanda:  So much support!! The on-boarding is on point; from the portal where all of our information is stored, to packing tips, to an international help line.  I know that the RY team is here to support me like a family member.  RY also does a great job at building up the remotes to be a strong community where we know we are here to support each other.  Already, in just 2 weeks, I have seen so much support between the remotes themselves.

TRL: How many people are with you at any given time during RY?

Amanda:  My group consists of 65 remotes, program leaders, and city guides.  Some events are for the entire group and other events are for smaller groups that are capped at 20.  It is easy to find at least  4 people to hangout with at any given time.  If someone’s preference is to hangout in a small intimate group or a large group both options are there.

TRL: What other jobs are people working in while doing RY?

Amanda:  Oh let’s see…Web development, Graphic Design, Business Development, Sales, Marketing, Social Media (vlogs/blogs), Matchmakers, Recruiters, Architecture, Building Construction Business Owners, Photography, Fitness, Health & Wellness, and Human Resources.

TRL:  Tell us the set up the RY provides to you. (How do you live? Internet? Travel Arrangements, etc.?)

Amanda: The set up may vary from place to place, but my current (Malaysia) set up includes living in the downtown core – a short 15 minute walk to the office.  Currently, all remotes are living in the same serviced apartment building in two bedroom units with a roommate.  We have internet at the our apartment as well as the office.  RY does there best to meet everyone’s needs based on the information we fill out in the on-boarding surveys regarding our living and working preferences.

We may not all live together in other countries as the set up can change.  RY takes care of all travel between the countries and remotes are responsible for obtaining their own travel visas where required.  We walk a lot in Malaysia as everything is close, but if we need a ride somewhere Uber is very reliable and easy to use here.  We can also take public transit.

TRL: What part of the world are you traveling with Remote Year?

Amanda: My four month itinerary is based in South East Asia and I will spend a month living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Bangkok, Thailand.

The remotes on the 12 month option will also spend 4 months in Europe, and 4 months in South America.  RY has itineraries launching at various times throughout the year – all which are slightly different.  So there should be something for everyone.

Amanda is starting month 2 and will be back to let us know how she is doing.  She has done a trip to Bali so I am excited to hear all about that.  If you have any questions about this program, about what she is doing or anything else please leave me a comment and look for it in March.

You can also follow Amanda’s blog at http://amandalittle.ca/

And of course please follow me as I continue my adventure of my own Remote Life journey.

xxoo

 

 

New Orleans ~ Our first taste of beads, Mardi Gras, and all that jazz!

Bucket list item has been checked! New Orleans was a weekend that I won’t soon forget. The music, atmosphere, food, drink and everything else can be summed up as one epic adventure.

We arrived at our AirBNB crash pad and literally that is all that it was.  A small living room area, a bar fridge with a coffee maker, a bed and a bathroom.  No television but it was needed for this weekend that we were there.  We were only there to sleep, shower and go.

Our night began by walking to Bourbon Street.  As we walked we both couldn’t stop looking at the unique, small, narrow homes.  Each one was different from the other.  Some in vibrant colors where as others kept brick but ALL beamed Mardi Gras pride!  Wreaths, mask, and beads all hung from trees, balconies, gates, fences or wherever they could be hung they were.  It was fantastic.  As we walked we on you would find a tiny bar, pub or restaurant at the end of a corner nestled in to a neighborhood.  Bars and restaurants here are open 24/7 so the party never stops for some people.

As we got to Bourbon Street the music came from every direction.  Piano bars, jazz bars, street performers all playing their tunes. Neon signs lit up the street and people hung out of the windows or balconies throwing beads of every shape, size and color at you.  No boobs required! LOL!! We found a great restaurant called the Cornet and sat up on the balcony over looking Bourbon Street.

cornet-dinner

The street is somewhat closed to vehicles other than the ones that are trying to cross over which is almost near impossible and requires an amount of patience that I do not have.  The emergency vehicles are supped up ATV’s and are quick and speedy.  Police are at every corner so you don’t feel unsafe but obviously that doesn’t mean that you should keep your wallet or purse close.  You can drink openly in New Orleans from bar to bar and restaurant to pub.  They just put your drink into a to-go cup and just about every establishment sells booze.  You could walk into a t-shirt store and they will serve you a pina colada…it was crazy!

We drank our way down the street and were headed to catch a parade on Canal St.  We were smart to wear our rain jackets as it began to rain around 7pm and continued the entire night.  But that doesn’t shut anything down.  You party no matter what!  And so we did!  We watched the parade, caught the toys and beads thrown at us.  Matt was smart and went to a Walgreen’s and bought booze there instead of the bars.  So much cheaper!!

We took a break from the rain and stopped into the Hard Rock Cafe and I warmed up with a Irish Whiskey coffee.

From there we started to head over to Cafe du Monde for beignets!! You could smell this place 3 blocks away.  I was so excited!!  Along the way I had my tarot cards read.  Tarot card readers are everywhere.  They don’t bother you and you pay by a donation.  My lady was great and I had a great reading.  She hit dead on with a few things which made my night.

tarot-cards

Cafe du Monde is 24/7 and it was always packed when we got there…and yes we were there a few times!! LOL!! Those beignets are AMAZING!!! You get three of them and a coffee for $4.95 USD and I swear they are covered in an inch deep of powdered sugar.  Matt who isn’t a sweets person always had a bite of one, and then I would eat one and take the other two with me to eat as we explored.  It was a cute in/outdoor cafe that just serves coffee and beignets.  That’s it.  It is a MUST do when you visit New Orleans.

After that we walked and window shopped.  We hit up our last place of the night…I was able to rally back as I am not a huge drinker and when I drink I like the fun and fruity drinks.  That means sugar with some added sugar.  My tummy hated me that night but I made it! We stopped into what looked like a tiny home but it was a very cool pub called Lafitte’s Blacksmith shop ~ Piano bar and lounge.  It was a very cool, dimly-lit, old pub vibe.  They had a piano in the back where you could sit around with your drink and belt out the songs that where being played.  On the cups it says that it is the “Oldest Bar in the USA since 1772.”  We had a nightcap, laughed and got warm by the fire.  We were soaked from the rain and still had a 15 minute walk back to our place.  But none of that mattered!! Our first night in New Orleans was awesome!!!

After we got somewhat dry we started to head home.  It was still pouring rain but it didn’t bother us.  I had two beignets stashed away safe from the rain that I was going to devour and Brady was waiting for us back at our crash pad.  Night one was a success!!  Day two is on its way so stayed tuned!

 

Countdown to MARDI GRAS!

With New Orleans only a 5 hour drive from Panama City Beach we decided that we would do a weekend road trip to experience MARDI GRAS in New Orleans!!  So we found an AirBNB a block off Bourbon Street that is pet-friendly and we are on to our next adventure!!

If you don’t know what Mardi Gras is all about – well first come out from under the rock you’ve been living under LOL!! and read on…

Mardi Gras is all about music, parades, floats, beads, food, drinks, and all the excitement that you can handle.  People will typically wear costumes or at the very least wear purple, green and gold! I plan on wearing as much purple as I can get away with LOL!! It is my signature color.

On the subject of colors of Mardi Gras, do you know what the colors mean?  Purple represents Justice.  Green represents Faith and Gold represents Power. “The official Mardi Gras colors [were chosen] in 1872 to honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Alexis Alexandrovich Romanoff, whose house colors were purple, green and gold. The 1892 Rex Parade theme “Symbolism of Colors” affirmed the colors’ meaning.”  http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/mgcolors.html

bourbon-street-beads

Pretty interesting, right? You can’t really imagine any other colors for Mardi Gras.  Now, what I notice here at the grocery stores are these desserts called “King Cakes.” I’ve never heard of them but the week before we go I do plan on trying one.  I will also indulge in another “real” King Cake while I am there.  From what I have read about these cakes is that there is a plastic baby inserted into them.  Back in the day, whoever received the piece of cake with the baby in it would then host the next King Cake party.  Sounds like my kind-of party…eat cake, find a prize, repeat!

They are a pretty cake…dazzled in the Mardi Gras colors.  They’re round in shape and sprinkled with sugar deliciousness.  I am sure that they are calorie-free during Mardi Gras as with any holiday desserts. 😉  I have even found them as k-cups for my Keurig coffee machine at home!! I will be bringing back a few of those LOL!!

king-cake_8017

Well…this is all that I am going to tease you with for now…next up will be Bourbon Street!!

And I promise you that I will be taking a ton of pictures and video while I am there!!  I want to make sure that you feel all of the Mardi Gras excitement with me!

15 days and counting…

 

Building the Remote Life

Well, it makes me beyond happy when I receive messages letting me know that they love my blog and when will my next post be.  I apologize there has been some time lapsed from my introductory post but building the life…the remote life…has taken my attention away from my blog.  I didn’t think that I would struggle to find a balance but it is something that I am working on everyday.

I am happy to announce that Matt and I have landed a sweet remote contract within our hometown Kitchener-Waterloo.  We are happy to say that we are both consultants for the pilot program called DISC.  DISC stands for Digital Innovation Skills Certificate.  It is a new graduate diploma program to help small to medium businesses in the area bridge the digital media gap.  Students will go through the program and then be able to get placements with local businesses to get their digital media started or enhanced.

We (Matt & I) get to consult the business owners and students throughout the program.  Its been awesome!! Our first remote role!! We work from here, Panama City Beach, and have Skype meetings, and teleconference calls to discuss the projects we are working on.  We have flexibility to start our day at any time and finish at anytime.

What I am recognizing is that working remotely I get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time.  I am not at a desk for 40hrs.  I don’t have distractions taking my attention away from what I am working on and everyone involved respects each other time.  We schedule time to talk and keep to a reasonable time when we have our meetings.  The support has been nothing short of amazing!!

The downside of the remote life so far has been the internet.  One would think that in 2017 WiFi would be plentiful, strong and always there when you need it.  This hasn’t been the case.  It has been a daily pain in our ass.  Although today, we are those people at Starbucks…on laptops! LOL!  Love it!!

I am also a squirrel.  So, I have to work hard on keeping my focus on the task at hand and not stare at people, the TV, play with our dog – Brady, go and take a gander at what is going on outside or let the fridge distract me.  When I was working from an office  I was in an office and people would ask if I would leave.  Not the case now.  I leave and I could be gone for hours.  But then I also think of that as a plus too.  If I need to step away I am able to that at my own leisure, clear my head and then return to what I am working on.  It is a balancing act for sure.

Four months ago, we took this leap of faith.  Don’t get me wrong…I was scared.  We were scared.  I think people were scared for us…but looking back, it has been one of the best decisions that we have ever made.  I can’t imagine ever going back to a desk and working 8am – 5pm.  As a business owner those hours didn’t even matter…we worked early mornings or late into the evening.

I am doing what makes me happy.  Every. Single. Day.

Well, we are going to head off to lunch.  Going to try Five Guys.  I’ve only heard of awesome things about this place.  Across the way Target has been calling my name too.

Until next time, make sure you are living your happiest life possible.  Whatever it may be – be HAPPY.

Make sure to follow my blog and soon I will be launching my own Facebook page – The Remote Life.  Here, I will share travel pics, other bloggers that I follow as well as remote life tips.

xoxo

Panama City Bound!

Matt and I tossed this idea around to become Jr. Snowbirds.  It was something that we joked about it…until we realized that we could make it a reality.  Throughout the process of selling our business we focused on putting this daydream into motion.

First, we figured out when we could go and January seemed like the right fit.  After the holidays and it gave us ample time to prepare.  Our business finally sold officially in October but our last day of work was September 30th.

We were able to find a great condo on the beach for a great rental price.  Especially since we were going in the low season we could afford two months! SOLD! Now, we did do something smart – we rented out our home for the two months that we would be away.  How?  Well there are people, couples or families that need short term rentals.  We happen to find a really great couple who needed a place for January to the end of February.  It was a match made in heaven.  We met with them, ran background and credit checks and viola! We currently have renters living in our home.  To prepare our home is another story on its own for another time LOL!  But it has offset the cost for us to come and live in PCB.

Our condo is in the resort community called Shores of Panama.  We are on the 8th floor and have an incredible view right on the water.

image1

It is very spacious with a large master bedroom with en-suite bathroom.  A large and open concept living room/kitchen/dining room area.  It has a second bedroom with two small bunk-beds that also has an en-suite with a washer/dryer.  It’s great for the two of us and our small fur-baby, Brady.

It does have a large balcony that over looks the gulf and pool.  We love just sitting out there and just staring into the vast blue water and listening to the endless waves.

The trip down was easy.  We left early in the morning on Dec. 31st and drove to Nashville, or somewhere outside of Nashville and stayed in a motel.  We didn’t make it to midnight…not even close! We were exhausted!  We ate Shoney’s and crashed.

The next morning we slept in a bit and drove right to PCB.  Again, no issues driving.  It rained a lot but nothing horrible.  We did have a cute co-pilot helping out as well.

image1-2

Having our vehicle while here has been great too, but we have plenty around us to walk to which is nice as well.  The neighborhood is great!  They have a cute dog area set up where its grass and bushes which makes it easy for Brady.  We have a nice, flat 2.5km walking loop that I try to do 2-3 times a day.

Well, we will be here for the two months so stayed tuned for many more outings and pictures to follow.