What Happened to Digital Nomads During Lockdown?
Covid 19 has thrown a population of location independent workers into relative turmoil. Those who have been pioneers of a working in a way which enables a nomadic lifestyle the world has rapidly become a very different place. No longer are they free to work wherever they pleased travelling and working from the hidden places and wonderful corners of the globe.
For Digital Nomads, without a base as far as earning an income and meeting their employers or clients expectations it’s business as usual. So when sudden closing of borders and flight cancellations left travellers and nomads in unusual circumstances…
Perhaps stranded in countries they had not expected to be spending so much time in.
Potentially unprepared and far away from friends and family, some with no homes to go back to.
In financial jeopardy
So What Did They & Where Did They Go?
Well we want to know if you have a story about your experience during this time and what came out of it then follow the instruction at the bottom of this blog we would love to hear from you.
The co founder of the RisingSoul Retreat was one of those people…
On her way from Catalonia to Bulgaria, to set up a Yoga Retreat Venue in her disused Bulgarian holiday home. Rowena decided to take advantage of a cheap flight to Morocco from the on route airport Perignon. Excited to break up the drive, she set off in Arnie the Audi packed to the roof with her Freefilly life. She had said goodbye to her quirky historic flat, colleagues and friends and left the sunny bohemian village of Rupia in the Girona district (visit on a Sunday for live music and fab local food) to begin the next chapter of her freelance lifestyle.
Arriving at the airport a day early it did cross her mind that the universe was perhaps indicating that she should just continue on her way but Morroco was calling and so she stayed what she thought would be an extra night in a hotel and turned into a seven month journey that would reshape the Yoga Retreat Venue into the RisingSoul Community.
Arriving in Marrakesh to a fab central hostel it was clear that there was an air of unease as one by one her roommates received text messages from their airlines reporting flight cancellations. On the 13th of March Ryan Air informed her that her flight was cancelled and rescheduled for 10 days later. With no commitments and a relaxed spring and summer renovation schedule ahead she decided to make the most of the situation and got the next bus to the coastal town of Essaioura, not wanting to risk being locked down in the city.
She made the most of the few free days she had before the world crisis state caught up with the Moroccan coast taking advantage of horse riding on the beach and trips to the market. However, for many younger travellers it was a time of anxiety and distress parents were in states of panic advised by their embassy’s to pay extreme prices for Emergancy flights to get their children home.
It wasn’t long before other hostels and accommodation closed and anyone who couldn’t get home came to the Beach Hostel. They were soon to become a family of international travellers and nomads COVID refugees, stranded and held under military and police watch for the coming weeks and for some weeks that turned into months.
For Rowena it was an experience that exposed her to realisation that many people including herself don’t call there passport country home. For here life was complicated a UK passport yet she had dissolved all her commitments and left the UK for good no home to go to and a family in lockdown, a car in a French airport full of her belongings, a house in a country where she did not yet have residency and residency in a country which she had just given up her job and apartment and left.
It was complicated and she was not the only one in a predicament some could not afford emergency flights others were not offered any, many had decided Morroco was a better option to be stranded in than where they could get back to and a few just had nowhere else to go.
Eventually Rowena was offered an Emergancy flight by the Spanish embassy as a solo female traveller and a resident she was given a last minute spot that a Spanish national had turned down and ended up travelling from Essaioura to Casa Blanca by taxi with other rescued travellers. A surreal journey followed an airport only open for this flight, followed by arriving in Madrid to an empty airport and parents and loved ones arriving with gas masks to usher their children directly into the perceived safety of their cars.
When everyone had dispersed there was left Rowena and he Argentinian comrade from the hostel, empty streets no taxi’s and no where open they were about to accept that it was going to be a night on the streets before the next train to Barcelona the following day. When her comrade received a message to say an Uncle of his was out of town but they could collect keys from a hotel across town and stay in his bedsit for the night.
Rowena laughs and remembers that they hadn’t eaten since Morroco and that the security guards had taken the water off them at Casablanca so the frozen pizza and half a bag of spaghetti they found in the apartment were like finding gold. Having a sofa to sleep on was a luxury that she felt very grateful for and the next day she travelled in a first class coach alone all the way from Madrid to Figures and eventually after getting special permission and having Perpignan airport opened just for her to get her car it was time to go back to the only place she was allowed to go her “place of residence”.
Luckily a compassionate landlord let her take back her old flat and groundhog day in reverse unveiled as she unpacked the car and replaced her belongings back where she had packed them from seven weeks earlier. It seemed like she had come full circle and remained impossible to get to Bulgaria without a residence card for several more months.
Eventually Rowena arrived and decided that she was for now home and wanted to share and provide a place where others could also call home. For those who loved to travel yet now felt a need for a base should the world turn upside down on them.
In this way the idea of the RisingSoul Community and the BalkanNomads was formed with the ideal being a community of Nomads that can act as a family looking after the base in their friends absence, managing properties for each other allowing each other the freedom to enjoy a home base and be able to fly away ravel, see family go and explore or self discover with the comfort of knowing that what they had left behind would be well cared for and that they had somewhere to come home to.
As lockdown forced a way of life that reverses our normal social and working patterns we want to hear your story. How have you adapted? Whats changed? Have you become interested in community living? or did you decide to settle and become a resident of your non native country?
Get in touch with your story at firstname.lastname@example.org with Nomads tales in the subject.
For anyone who has read all the way then we have a special gift for you if you are a nomad influencer or blogger get in touch we will be offering a free weeks accommodation, to the top three nomads that best explain how they can support us to grow our online presence and followers.