Working Remotely

Jeremy Orozco left his job as a firefighter and Sondra Orozco is an Elance-oDesk product manager. Follow this newly married couple as they transition into life on the road as Digital Nomads and learn more via their blog, Nomad Life.

Week one! We’ve been busy since we touched down in Hawaii last week. We’re in a gorgeous house with a view of the ocean on one side and Diamond Head on the other, the island is incredible and months of careful planning have finally paid off.

But there are things we’ll do differently next time. Here are some of the things we learned during our first week of Nomad Life.

1.  Take some time off when you arrive

Sondra: You’ll need some time to get settled and get used to your new surroundings. Jetlag kills my productivity; there’s no point in fighting it.  Also, don’t schedule your first video conference call at 5:30 a.m. the day after you arrive. Oops.

Jeremy: Jetlag? Not a problem for me — I’m writing a book on my own schedule. Sondra’s video conference flatlining at 5:30 a.m. was a problem, though. We went into five minutes of panic mode. Do we need to go home? Is this new surreal life not going to work? Nope, her computer just needed a restart. Hawaii life continues on.

2. Stress test

Enjoying the Hawaiian sunsetSondra: Stress test your Internet, so you don’t stress yourself out. You don’t want to find out the Internet isn’t good enough when it’s dark outside and you have no other Internet options.

Jeremy: Better yet, we should have asked our new roommates to stress test the Internet. And I don’t mean asking “is the Internet good?” That question is “leading the witness.” We should’ve asked: “Hi future roommate, can you do me a favor and stream five YouTube videos at the same time without your Internet slowing down?”

Sondra: The answer to that question will let me know if I can share my screen while I’m giving a presentation on a Google Hangout with seven of my colleagues. Is testing with five videos overkill? Not if you’re sharing your wifi with other people and they’re streaming Netflix. Five might not even be enough. But the best thing about this question is even a non-technical person can answer it for you.

3. Bring your own router

Jeremy: Why do wireless routers still suck? Half the places I’ve stayed while traveling have had the shakiest Wi-Fi. Like you need to sit on top of the router to get a signal.

Sondra: Our top-of-the-line Wi-Fi router, which we forgot to bring, has a reach the length of a football field (300ft). Just plug it into the existing modem and you’ll have a secondary Wi-Fi signal from the beach!

Jeremy: We got lucky this time; the Wi-Fi is good enough that we don’t need our own wireless router. But you don’t want to risk your career on something so trivial. We won’t forget it next time.

4. Pay attention to luggage constraints

Sondra: I wanted to bring all of my shoes…

Jeremy: We had to bring all of Sondra’s shoes… FYI, our airline charged $100 for bags over 50 lbs and $200 for bags over 70 lbs. So we had to divide up the weight of Sondra’s bag equally between our two checked bags — in the middle of the airport. Tip: Make sure your bags are under the weight limit. Jump on a scale at home with your luggage instead of freaking out in an airport line.

Sondra: I promise to pack less for our next stop: Spain.

5. Look up the nearest co-working space

Jeremy: You need to stay at a nice place with solid Internet or have a co-working space. is great because you can see reviews and email Internet questions beforehand.

Sondra: Or you could do both. Working from home can make our home constantly feel like work. Change up your environment once in a while. is the Airbnb of shared office space and is super easy to use.

Jeremy: I used during our 5:30 a.m. panic and found a top-rated co-working space in a few seconds that costs just $15 per day. We will definitely look at Airbnb and to find a place in Barcelona with an office nearby.

6.    Balance work and play

Sondra: When my family goes on vacation, my dad always says, “I need a vacation from our vacation.” In a new place it’s easy to overload your day with all the fun things you want to do. On day one of our nomad life I snorkeled, kayaked, ran on the beach, and ended up working an 11-hour day. Overload. I felt like I was going to die by the end of the day.

"Liquid Avalanche" on flickr by Floyd Manzano (CC BY 2.0) - Sandy Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

Sandy Beach, Oahu, Hawaii. By Floyd Manzano on flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Jeremy: I accidentally entered the Sandy Beach Bodysurfing competition. The current swept me over to the competition area where 10ft waves were breaking in 0ft of water. I’ve surfed my whole life and had no clue what I was getting into. Sandy Beach leads the country as the beach with the most broken necks and backs. “When in Rome” doesn’t always apply when you need to work the next day.

Sondra: That was scary. The competition announcer was yelling at Jeremy, “Get outta der, bruddah!” Jeremy came back to shore looking like he’d been beaten with a bat made out of sand. Being a Digital Nomad requires a delicate balance of work and play. You want to spend your days seeing and doing cool things, but you’re working full time too. Pace yourself in week one!

Sondra & Jeremy Orozco

Digital Nomads

Newlyweds Sondra and Jeremy are traveling the world as Digital Nomads. Sondra is a product manager at Upwork, where she focuses on onboarding new clients. Jeremy was a firefighter in California for 10 years and just quit to become a writer and entrepreneur. They’re documenting their adventures and tips for other aspiring Digital Nomad on their blog, Nomad Life, and here on the Upwork blog!