Digital nomads did not prepare for this


There are also visa issues. In years past, digital nomads crossed and re-crossed borders as needed to avoid staying too long. It’s not that easy in a closed-border pandemic.

In March, Ryan McCumber, a business consultant, was stranded in Portugal. He had traveled to Europe, and a comedy of errors and the sudden continent-wide lockdown left him stranded in a seaside town in the Algarve with just four days of clothes while his dog and the rest of his luggage stayed in Warsaw, a previous stop.

The pandemic has made its conference activity unsustainable. While in Portugal, he decided to create a start-up accelerator focused on sports technology. The biggest challenge, Mr McCumber said, wasn’t making his partners in the United States too jealous while he was taking calls from the beach.

Although an assailant assaulted him, leaving him with 15 stitches and a scar over his eye, he fell in love with the cheap sangrias from Portugal and the sea air, and in the beginning of the summer, when his airline finally offered him a return flight, he didn’t want to leave. With his visa already expired, Mr McCumber went to the immigration office and applied for political asylum.

“I said, ‘Trump is a dictator, my city is on fire and people are dying,'” he said, quoting the president, protesting against police violence and the virus. “They joked that I was the first person since the Vietnam War from America to ask for this.”

Government workers laughed, he said, then approved an extension until the end of October. (Mr. McCumber has since returned to the United States.)

Others struggle with the same vacation fatigue experienced by Mr. Malka, the Cabo-London-maybe-Bali vagabond. According to research conducted at Radboud University in the Netherlands, it takes eight days of vacation for people to reach the peak of happiness. It’s downhill from there.


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