Using your Weekends to Explore
Weekends are special, they are holy in many religions for a reason: one or two days to disconnect from the material world, explore, have fun, be aware, get lost. As a Jew (and atheist, who believes rituals connect us to ourselves), my holy day is Saturday. It is a day of increased awareness, and where I can get close to the concept of שכינה, a Hebrew word with the meaning of feeling one with the creator and universe. Nomads are hard workers and due to our own obligations (clients, etc.), so often the only time we have to explore our base locations is during the weekend. I find that doing this also boosts my energy levels for projects and work during the following week. This article will present my own personal rules, mindset, and routines for traveling on the weekends. Happy travels!
Using the weekend to Explore:
Reasons to Travel
In the weekends I always go somewhere. As a digital nomad who usually stays in each location for two months before switching locations, I have found that the best weekends for me happen when I get away from the place where I live and work during the week. Because of this, I always try to travel and stay a minimum of one night away from my base.
It is much easier to be self-aware and happy in a new place; that’s what the travel drug is all about! Following this strategy, it’s common for me to hear from locals that, after staying in their countries for only 2 months, I know more places to visit than they do.
Before we go deep into the preparations and routines, lets discuss the mindset. My life during the week is efficient. I optimize time, avoid uncertainties, and work hard all day. The mindset I adopt in the weekend is the reverse. On the weekend, I try actively to get lost. Basically, I walk until something interesting happens (and in a new place, something interesting happens 100% of the time). On weekends, I look for adventures, stay open-minded to interactions, enjoy making mistakes and revel in “wasting time,” as long as it doesn’t spill into the work week. So in a nutshell, try to get lost!
Being in a mindset of “getting lost” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for the weekend in advance. Here are some tips to ensure you will have a cool weekend:
While staying in my digital nomad base during the week, I interact with locals and tourists and get tips from them about the most interesting places around my base. I build a list while staying in each location that contains all the interesting travel spots nearby.
Sometimes, when I am feeling adventurous, I simply go to the the train station on the day I wish to travel and take the next train to anywhere that appears on my list or even just something interesting that appears on the “Departures” board. I usually search for the destination on Wikipedia or Trip Advisor to see if there is something interesting there. (If traveling in this way, I usually just book a room on the way).
However, if you know in advance which destination are you interested in visiting, it makes sense to book the tickets online in advance so you don’t waste time waiting. You get better rates this way (last minute rates are not always good). It is better to purchase a return ticket too, if possible, so you don’t get stuck in the place and start your work week on the wrong foot. If you can’t reserve return tickets, make sure that you know your full itinerary upon arrival and will be ready to find transportation back to your destination.
I usually book a room for the weekend during the same week that I am traveling and make sure to check out of my other space (unless I am renting long-term) on the same day that I will leave to travel for the weekend. This gives me a push to go travel, even if I am feeling lazy on a certain weekend (nothing beats laziness better than knowing you don’t have a place to sleep unless you move).
I prefer to arrive at my destination when it is still light out, so I can explore a bit right when I arrive. This also ensures that sure I can locate my housing much more easily.
Before booking a trip, I also make sure that I will arrive in time to check in, and take a screenshot of my invoice, as well as the address of the location where I will be staying. One more thing I look for when booking is the number of reviews a place has and the last booking date. I do this for one important reason: to make sure the place is still open (depending where you go to, places can close for the season without even notifying the site from which you are booking). Here is a list of the Best Digital Nomad Platforms for Booking Accommodations.
Don’t forget to take the weather into consideration when traveling for the weekend; check that the weather conditions in your destination are hospitable before booking. If you like getting to know a place well, rain and extreme temperatures should probably be taken into consideration when deciding where to travel, as well as which equipment to take with you (warm clothes, sun hat, umbrella, etc.).
Maps and Knowledge
It’s always good to have a data package on your mobile, just in case you need to contact your hostel/hotel or to check google maps online. If you don’t, always save the offline map of the location, including directions to your accommodations. Check out this article about Improving Your Orientation While Traveling!
You are traveling TO somewhere. To know this new place as well as possible in a short time, I recommend reading the relevant Wikipedia entry, but don’t stop there! At minimum, I also read the chapter about it in Lonely Planet guides (PDF or e-book) and the “Things to Do” list of the destination on Trip Advisor.
If you are checking out of your regular accommodations for the weekend (it makes sense: why pay double?), traveling with all your belongings for two days before returning to the same place just doesn’t make sense. You can sometimes leave your luggage with a friend in your home city, but to gain a bit more independence, you might also consider asking whether you are allowed to leave it at your hostel or other accommodations (ask in advance as most only allow leaving luggage during the day). My preferred option is to leave my extra luggage in my current co-working space, which is usually allowed.
Traveling with Someone or to Someone
Happiness is truest when shared? Maybe. A nice thing you can do before going on your weekend getaway is to find someone with whom you would like to travel. If you don’t have a trusty companion, you can also travel to someone. Check Facebook or your contacts list to see if you might know someone in one of the locations on your weekend travel list, or try being hosted by locals there by using Couchsurfing.
Beginning Your Weekend
I usually try to avoid traveling early in the morning on the first day of my weekend. I use this time to meet friends in my city for coffee, go shopping, or do chores that I usually don’t have time for during the week. However, I do like to arrive in my destination before dark; you have to find a balance that works for your schedule.
Arriving at Your Weekend Destination:
Each of us enjoys different things. Over time, I have learned that doing certain things during the weekend makes me happier. For me, this list includes a long, exploratory walk in my destination, preferably in nature (I always check for walking routes or paths close by). I listen to interesting lectures and podcasts while walking, and try speaking and interacting more with locals. Among other things, you might find me on a weekend giving a bit of money to those in need, reading a book, taking a free city tour, calling my parents, writing (for the blog or free-style), Skyping with a friend, working on my language skills, attending a Meetup, taking awesome photos, or just screaming into nature.
I hope this helps you spend some nice weekends away from your base; comment below about your own weekend adventures. Or, if you prefer to stay home, then go out, meet friends, sleep a lot, and just do whatever makes you happy.