- Sergi Benet is the co-founder of Balio, a financial education platform.
- He spends just over a month each year working in an exotic location with his partner.
- This is how they work remotely from another continent, as journalist David Vázquez tells us.
This is an edited and translated version of a test as said which originally appeared on May 21, 2022. It is based on a transcribed conversation with Sergi Benet.
My partner, Andrea Gimeno, and I always had the same thought when we went on vacation. We wanted to go beyond the normal tourist experience.
We thought you had to work and live like a local to really get to know a place. We put that thought aside for years until, at the end of 2019, we realized there might be a way to integrate it into our lives.
A professional and family crisis made us want to get away from it all and get away from it all, but it was too difficult for us to take a last-minute vacation, because we are both entrepreneurs.
So we decided to make a compromise: we would spend a month and a half living and working outside of Europe. In this way we could discover a new country, our customers and suppliers would not even realize that we had left Spain and we could travel without losing a single day of vacation.
We enjoyed the experience so much that we decided to repeat it as soon as possible.
Our first destination was Chiang Mai, Thailand
Located in the mountainous north, it is the second largest city in the country.
It seemed to us an ideal destination because there were a large number of cafes with WiFi connection. We thought it would allow us to work remotely without any problems.
It was one of our biggest mistakes as rookies. Cafes would be packed, making remote work particularly difficult.
In a coworking space, on the other hand, you know that the Internet connection will always be reasonably stable and that you will almost always have quiet places to talk with partners, investors or customers.
Apart from this small error, our month and a half in Chiang Mai opened up a world of possibilities for us.
But our routine was nothing special. We tried to get up quite early, around 8 or 9 o’clock. Then we would hang out at the gym or go for walks.
We started our working day around lunchtime to get closer to Spanish working hours. We were working well past midnight.
We tried to keep our routine in line with the usual working hours in Chiang Mai. The only exception was on weekends, when we took the opportunity to visit nearby towns or escape to an island.
We returned to Spain in early 2020 and any thoughts on our next trip were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the months passed, however, we thought back to our experience in Chiang Mai, and the more we wanted to get away from it all again.
For our next trip, we chose Bali, an island in Indonesia with a good internet connection and lots of coworking spaces
If there are a lot of coworking spaces, you can move between them if, for example, the air conditioning breaks down in the one where you work.
Our routine is very similar to the one we had in Chiang Mai: we got up early to have free time in the morning, started work later, worked until very late and booked the longer excursions for the weekend.
It’s a demanding routine, but it helps us get to know the place better than we would on a tourist vacation, and it allows us to keep working while we’re here.
The experience won’t be for everyone, however.
You have to be disciplined and set a routine, and it’s especially important to get started early in the morning. If you can’t do that, then this way of working is probably not for you.
You also need to get used to working in extremely hot and humid conditions, and you need to be passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of the places you travel, or you won’t get the most out of the experience.
For our trip to Bali, my partner and I set a monthly budget of around 1,500 euros, which included accommodation and food. The flights cost us around 700 euros each.
One interesting way we’ve found to stick to this budget is to adapt to the local culture, especially with things like food.
In Bali, it is often cheaper to eat out than to try to cook
So if one day we spend a little too much, we try to compensate the next day by eating in one of the local spots. It often only costs around 10 euros for the two of us to eat in the restaurant.
A disadvantage is the long working hours.
As the co-founder of a financial education platform, I am fortunate to have the trust of my business partners and investors. But it’s almost impossible to ignore the fact that I’m on a tropical island.
So, to show that my commitment to the projects is still the same as at home, I find myself working even longer hours than in Spain. I often work until well after 2 a.m.
But I assure you it pays off. So much so that my partner and I are already planning our next trip.
For the moment, we have Argentina in our sights. The country has a growing number of digital nomads and workplaces, and the standard of living remains more or less stable for those who are paid in euros.