Earlier this year, Joe and I gave up our Brooklyn apartment and hit the road. We traveled from Montreal down to New Orleans over the course of six months, working remotely while we stayed in new places each month.
I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane. So Joe and I separately answered a few questions about our first year as digital nomads. Check it out below!
What are your favorite parts of this digital nomad life?
Joe: My favorite part of our digital nomad life has been getting cozy in a neighborhood. Spending an entire month or even six weeks in a city opens up so many doors for feeling like a local. Your barista knowing your order when you walk in, being able to recommend the best pizza/park/bar in the area, chatting with a neighbor on the way to downtown… these things don’t happen when you vacation somewhere for a (long) weekend.
Adrienne: Pushing myself to embrace the unknown. I’ve always been a planner and organizer; this year has pushed me to welcome one day at a time.
I’ve also loved finding a routine in each new place. Our cooking habits, working schedule, apartment layout, go-to coffee shops, transportation methods — they all work together to make each place feel like home. They’re all affected by the environment we’re in and so our routine in each place feels unique.
What have been the hardest parts of this digital nomad life?
Joe: I’ve found it difficult to stay in touch with family and friends back home. No longer can I just walk down the street or text the group to meet at happy hour. However, dedicating time to catching up leads to more one-on-one conversations and meaningful phone calls with everyone.
Adrienne: I almost always find myself stressed out the first three or four days in a new place. We call it the vacation/life paradox. As soon as we land in a new place, we want to jump into vacation mode. Explore all the things! But we also need to do our jobs, get groceries, unpack, recuperate from traveling, etc. Booking one ‘vacation mode’ adventure for the first few days — a walking tour, a great dinner reservation, a museum visit — can satisfy our craving to see the sights while we settle in.
What surprised you most about being a digital nomad?
Joe: It keeps surprising me how different the U.S. is! Every city we’ve visited or drove through has its own look, cuisine, people, and scene. It’s always an adventure as we try to identify exactly what makes each city stand out.
Adrienne: How awesome it is to spend so much time together! Despite dating for seven years before jumping into the digital nomad life, we’d never spent as much time together as we do now.
We’ve learned a lot about how to spend so much time together. We’ve learned about the power of dedicated solo time, for instance. And we’ve learned to differentiate between time we’re just physically together (like working in the same room) and time we’re present and invested in doing something together. We haven’t run out of things to talk about yet!
What were the best meals you had dining out this year?
Joe: The past six months have been filled with high-quality dining. Between eleven courses at Alinea in Chicago, grass-fed lamb at Joe Beef in Montreal, buttery grilled pompano at Antoine’s in New Orleans… the list goes on. But one meal that really stands out is a low-key night at Pizza Delicious. I had some college friends in town and Adrienne joined us for a rowdy evening of spilling wine and shoveling garlic knots in our mouth. Sure, the food was great, but the company made it amazing.
Adrienne: So many! Gnocchi and tomato sauce from the tiniest stand on a Mile End curb in Montreal. An all-around perfect dinner at Montreal’s Lawrence. Brown butter lobster rolls at Portland’s Eventide. Fried clams with my best friend, Kate, at Portland’s Two Lights. Fresh pasta with pork ragout at Rolf & Daughters in Nashville. Gumbo we made at the New Orleans School of Cooking. A four-hour 30th birthday extravaganza at Alinea in Chicago. Every breakfast taco we had in Austin, TX.
What were the best meals we cooked this year?
Joe: One of the best meals we’ve cooked was at a culinary school in New Orleans. We learned how to make gumbo, shrimp grits, and bananas fosters from scratch. Neither of us have made any of those recipes before and learning how to with quality ingredients and an experienced chef helped elevate it to an unforgettable experience.
Adrienne: Beef wellington on our Thanksgiving in Austin. We popped some champagne and spent all afternoon cooking. It was glorious. The most perfect fried eggs, pan-smashed potatoes, and bacon that Joe made for breakfast after a way-too-late night out in Nashville. A Sunday gravy Joe slow cooked in Montreal from leftover Osso Bucco bones. A bolognese I made one lazy Sunday and a lentil soup we made up a busy weeknight in New Orleans.
What are you most excited for next year?
Joe: I’m looking forward to exploring new cities that I know so little about. I didn’t even know Split was a city until we started to dig in to possible locations in Croatia! I’m also looking forward to challenging myself to learn a little of the native languages everywhere we go.
Adrienne: The views in Split, Croatia. The food in Bologna, Italy. A vacation with loved ones in Brittany, France. Being in London for the Royal Wedding (!).