Becoming a digital nomad – dropping your daily routine to travel while working remotely – was supposed to be about cheap living and out-of-the-box adventure. Years after the trend caught on, its original purpose seems to have gotten lost. People are shelling out thousands to work all over the world in expensive, homogenous culture bubbles.
Since Remote Year launched in 2014, numerous pricey programs have cropped up to facilitate work/travel for the gainfully employed, including WiFi Tribe, WiFly Nomad, Hacker Paradise and WeRoam. They charge (usually young) professionals to work in “breathtaking” locations around the globe for roughly $2,000 per month… or more.
The Nomad Cruise costs €2,000 for 13 days of “networking”, keynotes, talent shows and yoga classes. Unsettled hosts happy hours and “urban scavenger hunts” for $4,000 monthly. And don’t worry, there’s wi-fi on the Trans-Siberian "Nomad Train”, but day trips cost extra.
These lavish perks are intriguing, but are they conducive to working? Furthermore, do they offer authentic experiences in travel destinations? Places like Canggu, Indonesia are rapidly gentrifying due to the digital nomad trend, and trip participants have noted a troubling lack of diversity in their groups. With the 'cheap' and the 'out-of-the-box' elements removed from commercialized digital nomadism, what’s left?