Ever since I became a permanently remote employee, I knew I had to take advantage of this freedom to work from anywhere, even if temporarily. I’d been leaning towards working remotely in Latin America, due to the time zones, to keep working on Eastern Time for the US. I can’t remember how I initially discovered Remote Year (perhaps an Instagram ad, which I’m a sucker for) but I had been daydreaming of going on one of their one month programs since 2021.
I was torn between their Antigua, Guatemala and Medellín, Colombia programs and knew I wanted to travel during the winter months to escape the bitter cold winter New England provides every year. The Antigua program was offered first during the month of March, which led me to spontaneously book that location. March was also the first month in 2023 that I did not have anything planned, so what better way than to spend it a month away in a warmer climate?! I had previously done a Q&A call with a Remote Year representative a year prior to booking, but was surprised I didn’t need to apply to the program. Other remote travel programs, including Hacker Paradise, WiFi Tribe, WiFi Artists, and Noma Collective require you to submit an application for the program to determine if you’ll be a good fit for the community. But with Remote Year, I was pretty much ready to go as soon as I paid. I received an invitation to join their app a month prior to the arrival date and received my address a week before departure. With some slight nerves of the unknown, I was as ready as I’d ever be!
Remote Year picked me up right from the airport in Guatemala City and dropped me off at my new condo in Antigua, an hour drive away from the airport. I chose to book my own accommodation, as I’ve had horrible experiences with previous long-term roommates that I lived with. Plus this was my first time living alone in almost 8 years without my partner, so I was welcoming some solitude for the month. I started my digital nomad experience working immediately the next day from my condo, and settled into my home for the next month.
It wasn’t until Monday night with Remote Year’s orientation meeting and dinner that I started meeting everyone in the group, as I chose to work remotely from my condo my first few days instead of the workspace. There were about 40 people in the program, with most of them on the one year program. I was surprised there were only a handful of us “one-monthers” and with the one-year program members already having traveled together for a few months, the dynamic led to some cliques. But I got to know quite a few one-month RY members and even built close friendships with a few of them!
I continued to work my East Coast hours, which meant wrapping up my day at 4pm Guatemala time for the first week, then after daylight savings time at 3pm for the rest of March. That left plenty of time to explore or run errands in the afternoon, and grab dinner and spend time with new friends in the evenings. Remote Year also hosted a handful of evening activities during the week but unfortunately quite a few of them were cancelled for various reasons. During the first couple of weeks, I ended up spending more time working from my condo due to work’s middle of the fiscal year deadline chaos. But despite my hectic work schedule, the weekends were filled with plenty of adventures (more on those to come in a future post)!
Overall, I enjoyed my one month experience as a digital nomad! Even though I was dealing with a hectic workload and recovering from burnout, I was still able to see quite a bit of Guatemala and felt like a local in Antigua. Next time I’ll plan my month abroad more meticulously, with my anticipated workload and will hopefully put myself out there more to create more friendships. And while I would definitely try another one-month program with Remote Year (I’m looking at you Colombia!), I will also be trying out other companies that specialize in one-month only programs.
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