The pandemic has taken working from home to a new level. Remote working has become a way of life and for many people it is not possible to go back to the traditional 9 to 5 in the office. Some people have seized the opportunity to work from anywhere, leaving the United States, settling in a new country or becoming digital nomads, traveling the world from one fascinating place to another.
Since arriving in Ghana in February 2020, New Yorker Rashad McCrorey, author of âThe 10 Commandments of Expats,â says he has learned a lot about repatriation and has become a digital nomad. What’s one of her biggest tips? âSee for yourself. Do your best to see and physically experience where you will be living before committing to a lease. Most people tend to organize their accommodation in advance and end up being disappointed. The location may be in the middle of nowhere or what could be a death sentence for a digital nomad, inconsistent WiFi.
Here are the stories of trendsetters embracing the unconventional.
Corritta Lewis and his wife Shimea Hooks and their son left Ohio in August 2020. âWith the overwhelming trauma black people faced last summer (and still face today), we couldn’t living in a place where we felt hated. Being in the United States was difficult. Even walking down the street, we would be very anxious. We are law-abiding citizens, but from our past experience with the police, we felt like targets. We didn’t want our son in this environment, so we moved to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, âsays Lewis.
After more than a year there, they don’t see themselves returning to live in the USA.
âWe love our neighborhood and the people of our region. Our son has been adopted by the local community in a way that brings tears to our eyes.
They love to be digital nomads. âIt’s a freedom we’ve never felt. Being two black women in the workplace is difficult, especially in my job. I was the only black person in my field for most of my career, which spanned over 10 years and several companies. It’s hard to walk into an office every day and never see someone like you, âsays Lewis, HR Systems Analyst, who also runs theâ It’s a Family Thing âblog with Hooks.
Hooks was a preschool teacher. She is currently working on starting her own business, which creates lesson plans for children aged 2 to 5.
Of their new lifestyle, Lewis says, âHonestly, it was a gamble that worked for us. Mexico was the only country to allow Americans at the time, so we gave it a shot. We had been to Mexico, never to the Caribbean side, but thought it was hot and we could afford it.
So far everything has been positive. âMy family can experience life without being in constant fear. Being a digital nomad, as a black person, means freedom to me. Release from anxiety, fear and hope for my son. I hope he doesn’t have to live in a society and experience the collective trauma black people have faced for hundreds of years.
Lisa Marie Jackson
âI have leaned into being a digital nomad since the pandemic for a variety of reasons. Like many, I stayed anchored for the first six months of the pandemic until I took to the streets to protest the waves of injustice which reached a critical peak over the summer. After going with Equality Should Be Normal to take a cohort of Chicago-based youth to the March on Washington, I decided to continue working remotely as far as WiFi could take me, âJackson said.
She has worked remotely in Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica. âI also started a BIPOC and LGBTQIA + remote worker travel lifestyle business while continuing to work full time to pay for portions of the onward journey. There are an abundance of pros, but the cons include technical issues when working and taking classes abroad and lacking physical closeness to loved ones.
The globetrotter is nothing new to Grider. He left Dallas in 2017 to travel the world for a year and didn’t stop. You can follow his adventures at ABrotherAbroad.com. When the pandemic started last year, he was in Bali, preparing to leave for South America when countries began to lock down.
âMy travel insurance company gave me the choice, take an evacuation flight to Texas, or I should try my luck on my own during the coming pandemic. I loved the life here in Bali, the sun, great people, I surfed everyday, and I thought being locked up here was better than being locked in the concrete jungle of downtown Dallas , so I stocked up on the essentials (just in case) and decided to stay here in Bali. It was the best choice I made in a long time.
During the first six months, the Indonesian government automatically extended humanitarian visas, so it did not have to travel. After six months, Grider moved to another part of Bali, Canggu, where the digital nomads congregate. âAs tourism died out and expats left, all DNs and expats naturally came together there and life returned completely to normal. We were allowed to go out and eat, go to bars and surf as usual. A friend even came up with the idea of ââthrowing an open mic night of comedy to make up for the lost entertainment. It was a year ago and since then it has exploded. We all just figured out how to do a stand-up comedy afterwork and ended up performing in front of a crowd of over 250 people for months straight.
Grider praises the digital nomadic life. âIt was amazing, except I didn’t see family on a regular basis, but I’ve made so many families here (and all over the world) that I can’t complain! I see the DN path as such an opportunity to own our own future and create the job and lifestyle we want in a way no business will ever give us. I hope that more of the black community sees this as an option and jumps on the path to get around the obstacles. “
In January of this year, Gabby Beckford, 25, left her mother’s house in Fairfax, Virginia and began to travel the world. She visited 12 countries from the United Arab Emirates to Mexico and Poland. She is currently in Germany.
âI started traveling first because it was my plan for a few years to become a digital nomad and try to take my digital storytelling full time,â says Beckford, content creator and travel influencer at Packslight.com.
There are some advantages to traveling now: âIn this crazy time in history, there are usually a lot less tourists, so there are fewer people. I also feel like I see a lot of destinations as they were before over-tourism, which is an incredibly unique experience. Being African American and traveling at the moment, I have also noticed a marked decrease in micro-aggression and outright racism. Tourism and foreign dollars are extremely valuable at the moment and it has been interesting to see how this has had a huge impact on the quality of my experiences.
However, every day on the road is not a panacea. âTravel logistics are difficult and changeable, although a vaccination card is extremely valuable at this time. Another downside of being a digital nomad right now is having to explain over and over again what a digital nomad is when people ask me “why am I sitting in a cafe all day on my vacation!” It is still a way of life still unknown in many parts of the world. Overall, I love being a digital nomad and never see myself going back to a normal 9 to 5 office job. The opportunities for remote work and lifestyle freedom are too plentiful. “