What really happens when wanderlust meets work? Welcome to Digital Nomad Diaries, where we ask women to get real about the joys and challenges of remote work. Because even though this lifestyle is definitely a privilege, that doesn't mean it's not without its challenges and trade-offs.
Name: Dayana Aleksandrova
Industry: Copywriting & Mindfulness Coach
Countries/Cities You've Worked From: Spain, the Canary Islands, Portugal and Costa Rica.
When did you first start working remotely? Did the pandemic make this possible for you or were you way ahead of the game? Tell us about your first remote work experience?
I first started working remotely in the summer of 2017. I quit my last-ever 9 to 5 job at a tech startup and decided I was going to make money online but didn't know how. So to minimize my risks and give this a shot, I landed a volunteer position as a social media manager and blogger at a treehouse hotel in the Dominican Republic. They gave me free housing and meals, and I spent all of my free time applying for gigs online. I landed a $1,120 per month writing retainer for an HR company and this put the start to my remote career!
The close-second experience I got was in the fall of 2017 when Matador Network, an online travel publication hired me part-time to manage their app for travel planning. The company (to my delight) was 100% remote and has never made me go to an office once in 5 years.
What were the practical considerations of remote work? (Did you sublet your place, have to find a pet-sitter, make any arrangements with your workplace?)
I sublet the room I was renting and set out on the road. At first, I was earning very little so I would go on various websites to find hotels and resorts looking for volunteers. I lived in the Dominican Republic twice and in Tenerife for free in exchange for writing. I also entrusted my plants to my roommate. Any of my belongings that my roommate didn't want to be responsible for or had no room to keep, I stuffed in boxes and mailed to my mom's house.
Where have you worked around the world? Where did you spend the bulk of your time?
Having lived in New England for high school and college and being originally from Bulgaria, I was sick of cold weather and snow. My dream was to live somewhere cheap with tons of culture, good food, beaches, and palm trees.
This is why I made Barcelona, Spain my homebase for 3 years. As the city has an extremely well-connected airport, I'd take a week and go work from Curaçao, Hungary, and Italy.
I've also lived in Malaga, Tarifa (Spain), the Canary Islands, including Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote. I have been fully-nomadic since the beginning of 2021. I am currently in Portugal and moving to Costa Rica next.
How does remote work affect your productivity?
I'm highly-motivated because I grew up with really strict parents so I've got a solid morning routine that helps with my productivity. I wake up around 6AM, work, then do my workout, go for a long walk or a hike, return to work for a few hours, and take the evening off. I'm really experienced by now since I've been remote for 5 years, but my boyfriend who is new at this still struggles at times.
My biggest tip for anyone who's new at remote work is to take your time and organize your calendar. Put in your workouts, lunch, coffee breaks and deadlines so you don't miss anything. Make sure to schedule your rest time so you don't burn out. And if you're able to physically—I highly recommend that you wake up as early as 5-6 a.m. Trust me, when you wake up early, you feel like you live two lives! You're in control of your day and you're not running around putting out fires.
With all of your experience now, what are your current thoughts on remote work? Would you do it forever/indefinitely?
I strongly believe that remote work is the future. I would do it all day, every day for the rest of my life. It's crazy to be limited to four walls and an eight-hour schedule. I saw people getting a taste of remote work in the last two years, and now that employers are asking them to come back, they simply say no. I think for the majority of people, once you work remotely - you never want to go back to the status quo.
I would work remotely forever because I just can't imagine being told what time to wake up, work, and go home. Plus, as someone who's protective of her energy, I love the freedom of controlling my environment and who's in my space.
Digital Nomad Diaries: The PR Pro Who's Always Topping Up Her Phone Plan
Digital Nomad Diaries: This Shoe Designer Juggles Fashion Weeks, Trade Shows and Travel
Digital Nomad Diaries: This Business Owner Is Already Planning Her Next Adventure