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The people who pay $27,000 to work abroad

Kate Smith had been working nine-to-five at an advertising agency for three years when it dawned on her one day: “Is this the next 50 years of my life?”

凯特·史密斯(Kate Smith)在广告公司过了3年朝九晚五的生活,直到有一天,她开始思考一个问题:“这就是我今后50年的生活吗?”

While she enjoyed her work, the 28-year-old Canadian wanted to see the world. So, she set her sights on quitting her project manager job in the Toronto area to travel, while she planned her next steps. It was then that she came across Remote Year, which puts together groups of 75 professionals to hop across three continents for an entire year, one city at a time, all while working remotely as digital nomads.

虽然很喜欢自己的工作,但这个28岁的加拿大人还是想去看看这个世界。所以她决定辞掉多伦多那个项目经理的职位,一边出去旅行,一边规划接下来的计划。就是在那时,她遇到了Remote Year。这个组织会集合75名专业人士组成一个团队,花费一整年的时间游历三大洲,每次前往一个城市。整个过程中还会以数字游民的方式远程工作。

The programme of long-term travel comes without the need to take time away from work or lose out on pay. For Smith, the idea of travelling with a group of likeminded professionals who were also keen to learn about new cultures and ideas was appealing—particularly since someone else would take care of the logistics.


Of course, having someone else handle the details of a nomadic work life comes at a pretty steep price. Smith was one of 25,000 people who applied to be a part of Remote Year’s inaugural in 2015. When she was accepted, she flew to Prague (the first of 12 pre-arranged destinations) and found a remote job as a digital marketing consultant. She says the pay was on par with her previous work, but Remote Year’s fee was a hefty $27,000.

当然,要让别人为自己处理游民工作生活的所有细节,需要付出不菲的代价。在 Remote Year 2015年刚刚成立时,史密斯是2.5万名申请者中的一员。接到录取通知后,她便飞往了布拉格(这是12个预定城市中的第一个),然后以数字营销顾问的身份找到了一份远程工作。她表示,这份工作的收入与她之前的工作相当,但Remote Year的年费高达2.7万美元。

“It’s a hefty price to pay,” she acknowledges. “But what made the programme worth it for me – and what I miss the most now that I’m on my own – was the community.”


A 2014 study from MBO Partners, a consultancy, found that 22% of all independent workers they surveyed reported less than 10% of their revenue came from their local area. And with a growing number of people who can work remotely — either for one employer or in a freelance role—this is expected to grow. And last year, Bridge Street, a research firm, found that while most workers were tied to a location, 75% would prefer to live as digital nomads.

咨询公司MBO Partners 2014年发布的研究显示,在他们调查的所有独立劳动者中,有22%的人只通过其所在的地区获得了不到10%的收入。随着越来越多的人可以实现远程工作——既可以为雇主工作,也可以充当自由职业者——这一数字有望继续增长。研究公司Bridge Street去年发现,虽然多数劳动者都被固定在一个地点,但有75%却希望能像数字游民一样生活。

But the idea of curated digital nomad experiences has proven popular and spawned a handful of similar programs such as Wifi Tribe, WeRoam and CoWorkTheWorld, all of which have stringent vetting processes (including lengthy applications and numerous interviews) to foster a sense of exclusivity and help would-be digital nomads break free from the traditional office space.

但这种提供数字游民体验的想法已经广受欢迎,还催生了几个类似的项目,包括Wifi Tribe、WeRoam和CoWorkTheWorld。这些项目都有着严格的审批流程(包括漫长的申请过程和大量的面试),以此营造一种尊贵感,帮助渴望数字游民生活的人摆脱传统办公空间的限制。

The fee Smith paid included $5,000 upfront and $2,000 per month for the first 11 months to cover monthly professional development events, private accommodation, shared workspaces with Internet access and travel between all 12 destinations (participants move to a new city each month, largely due to 30-day restrictions on tourist visas). Smith says she earned enough to cover her costs, but the $27,000 fee took a financial toll and limited her ability to see as much as she wanted in each location.


A new breed



Dutchman Pieter Levels is the founder of Nomad List, a social network for digital nomads that connects travellers through chats, forums and meet-ups around the world. He says the various “tribes” that nomads can join are frequent topics of discussion on the forums.

荷兰人派特·莱沃斯(Pieter Levels)是Nomad List的创始人,这是一个专门针对数字游民设计的社交网络,可以通过聊天、论坛和世界各地的见面会帮助旅行者建立关系。他表示,数字游民所能参加的各种各样的“部落”是这些论坛里经常讨论的话题。

“I think the people paying $2,000 a month for group travel are very different than the digital nomads we’ve seen up until now who enjoy the solitude, random adventure and serendipity of travel,” he explains. “Many of them are corporate workers who use it as somewhat of a sabbatical year.”


Levels says organising travel, workspaces and accommodation yourself, all while being alone for long stretches of time, can be a daunting endeavour. These programmes remove traditional barriers, including the intricate travel planning and social isolation.


“This isn’t what you traditionally think of as your digital nomad with a freelance or flexible-by-design lifestyle,” explains explains Greg Caplan, founder of Remote Year. “These are people who have figured out a way to make it work within their current vocation.”

“这并不是我们传统上认为的拥有自由职业或者可以灵活设计生活方式的数字游民。”Remote Year创始人格雷格·卡普兰(Greg Caplan)解释道,“这些人希望在现有的职业框架下实现这种模式。”

Participants in Remote Year come from 40 different countries and most are in the 25 to 35 age group, though it ranges from 22 to 65 years old. And while the archetypal digital nomad may work in technology, Caplan says the majority of professionals on Remote Year have marketing jobs. There are also consultants, accountants, journalists, lawyers and salespeople.

Remote Year的参与者来自40个不同的国家,多数都在25至35岁之间,但年龄最小的只有22岁,最大的达到65岁。虽然最典型的数字游民可能来自科技行业,但卡普兰表示,Remote Year的多数专业人士都从事营销工作。还有一些咨询师、会计师、记者、律师和销售人员。

Remote Year and WeRoam both have corporate partnership programmes aimed at HR departments who may be looking for non-monetary benefits to offer employees.

Remote Year和WeRoam都设计了一些企业合作项目,专门瞄准那些希望为员工提供非现金福利的人力资源部。

Study abroad for adults


Jennifer Deal, senior research scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership in San Diego and author of the book What Millennials Want from Work, likens programmes like Remote Year and WeRoam to a post-collegiate version of studying abroad.

圣迭戈创造性领导中心(Center for Creative Leadership)高级研究员、《千禧一代想从工作中得到什么》(What Millennials Want from Work)的作者珍妮佛·蒂尔(Jennifer Deal),将Remote Year和WeRoam等项目比作大学毕业后的海外留学。

“Years ago if you wanted to study overseas you had to arrange it all yourself, but now, most universities have built this option into the school,” she explains. These remote working programmes serve a similar purpose for professionals, and “are like taking a year abroad except you’ve finished school and are getting a paycheque.”


Deal also thinks it makes perfect sense that organised work-travel schemes would appeal to Millennials, particularly ones who don’t yet have a family and work in professions conducive to remote work. “It fits their desire to do the work they want to do where they want to do it,” she says.


For Smith, the biggest thing travelling with Remote Year did was expose her to a way of living she didn’t understand before. She says she’ll never work in an office again.

对史密斯来说,随同Remote Year一起出行的最大好处在于,她可以通过这种方式体验自己之前无法体验的生活。她表示,她今后再也不会在办公室里工作了。

But that doesn’t mean Smith would sign up for a second time, likening it to going to university.  “It’s the best years of your life and you learn so much about yourself, but you’re not going to go back and do all over,” she says.

但这并不意味着史密斯会再次参加Remote Year,她认为这就好比上大学。“这是你人生中最美好的时光,你对自己有了非常深入的了解,但却不会回头重来一遍。”她说。
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