The digital nomad lifestyle is built on the freedom and flexibility that come with being able to live on the move, with very few constraints. But there are certain things that even the most independent globetrotters just can't live without. In fact, our memories of the places we visit are shaped enormously by the quality of the amenities available — both throughout the local area and at the digital nomad accommodation itself. This article provides a checklist of the must-haves, and must-avoids, to ask your accommodation provider about before you book.
For some, it's a handy bonus. But for a digital nomad, rock-solid internet is a top priority when choosing where to visit and how long to stay. If you can't work productively online, paying for your stay can quickly become an issue. Of course, most digital nomad accommodation providers are well aware of this, and their website will usually feature their broadband prominently.
When asking your hosts about internet access, there are four main things to think about: download speed, upload speed, wifi stability and back-up plan. Download speed is the big number most people tend to think and talk about. In digital nomad accommodation, this will probably be in excess of 100mbps. For those who work online, though, upload speed is just as important. This is used for syncing and uploading to the cloud, and it's important for glitch-free conference calls, too. If you're sharing the broadband with several other people, upload speeds in the double figures will help to avoid any annoying lags or interruptions in your call quality.
If your livelihood depends on your ability to keep working online no matter what, it could be worth contacting your accommodation provider and asking "what happens if?". Do they have many outages or disruptions? And when these happen, what's the backup plan? In other words, is there a second line available (on a different network) if the first one goes down? Small details like this can make a huge difference to the quality of your stay.
If you're planning on staying for less than a month, it doesn't make a lot of sense to choose accommodation that's a week from the nearest airport. That might sound like an exaggeration, but lots of digital nomad accommodation is on the coast. Sun, sea... what's not to love? But if you choose to stay on an island, it can be a lot harder to get there and a lot trickier to rush home if your circumstances change unexpectedly.
If you're looking for a smooth transition with minimal downtime between locations, look out for an easy-to-book airport transfer service that's available at all times of year.
They're different for everyone, but we all have those little things that we can't live without. Whether it's your morning CrossFit® or your morning croissant, access to local amenities can be a huge factor in how you experience your stay in the area. Here are just a few of the things that lots of digital nomads like to ask the accommodation providers about before they book.
As a digital nomad, you probably keep your livelihood in your backpack. And even when you're fully insured, it's never a good feeling to know that the next week is going to be taken up trying to source and set up a new laptop and all its accoutrements.
When you book your accommodation, be sure to ask your hosts about security. Where can you store your possessions safely, while you are out enjoying the local attractions? A good laptop lock (e.g. Kensington) will definitely help. But a safety deposit box for your documents and cash can give you peace of mind.
The digital nomad lifestyle can be expensive and, for most, budgeting and controlling costs are a feature of everyday life. Once you have chosen your accommodation, perhaps the most significant financial variable is food. If you're looking to control costs, it's essential to avoid eating out all the time. That means a good kitchen is a must.
Before you book your accommodation, ask your hosts what facilities are available in the kitchen. Will you have storage space for your food in the cupboards and fridge? What are the rules and responsibilities when it comes to cleaning up? Is there even a fixed-cost catered or semi-catered package available?
You are what you eat. And if you're going to be living and working in the same place for several weeks or more, easy and affordable access to good healthy food can be a total game-changer.
Digital nomads are unusual in the travel industry in that they often stay for several weeks and they usually travel alone. When you're booking your accommodation, this throws up an interesting if obvious question. Although you may be travelling alone, do you want (or can you afford) to book a room or apartment by yourself?
Shared rooms are widely available and they can really help reduce the cost of your stay. That might mean that you can book more luxurious accommodation. Or it might mean that you can afford to work less and explore more.
Private single bedrooms are also a common feature of digital nomad accommodation (and it's easy to find them on AirBnB, too). If you're an introvert, single rooms are a dream: they give you guaranteed me-time and a quiet place to work with no distractions. The obvious downside is the cost.
Whatever your budget and other requirements dictate, the best accommodation providers will offer a range of rooming choices to fit your needs. Of course, the earlier you book, the more choice you will have.
The logistics of working while travelling the world can be challenging enough as it is. The last thing you need is a bunch of uncertainty about where you're going next, how you're going to get there, and how much it's really going to cost. When you're ready for the next step on your nomadic journey, it's great to know that booked means booked, and there are no hidden costs.
If you're unsure what you get with your digital nomad accommodation, it might be worth asking your hosts what is NOT included, i.e. what else you might have to pay for when you arrive. For example, here at Heyday Chalet, we have an optional drinks bundle and an honesty box for laundry. A winter stay with us includes a semi-catered service, but in summer we offer breakfast only.
Finally, before you book flights or other transport, be sure to confirm that your booking is finalised. You should have paid at least a deposit to get to that point. If you're booking with an intermediary, they may still need to confirm the details with your actual hosts. Better to know for sure and avoid booking flights that might not fit with your finalised stay.
Some digital nomads are just looking for a small desk with a view. Others need a soundproof booth with an audio interface and a green screen. Whatever a proper day's work means to you, don't be afraid to do the due diligence and check that your accommodation provider can facilitate your needs.
Lots of places will have their own in-house coworking-style office spaces, complete with desks and external monitors. Here at Heyday Chalet, visiting guests can work in relative quiet in our main office room. The breakout spaces and the bookable call booth enjoyed by our guests are also fairly common features of digital nomad accommodation. But everywhere is different. Some places might have a working arrangement with an off-site coworking facility where you can work for free or at a reduced rate.
Whatever you need, don't be too polite to ask in advance. After all, this is not just the adventure of a lifetime — it's also your livelihood.
Whether it's a new laptop charger or a long-awaited birthday present, waiting around for a parcel that's come half the way around the globe is nobody's idea of fun. But, when you don't have your own transport, driving to a far-off depot to collect a failed delivery is surely worse. Some digital nomad accommodation will have a reception-type area with staff who can sign for your deliveries if you're out. Be sure to ask in advance.
You may be on the journey of a lifetime but, as a digital nomad, you're still here to work. And the more productively and efficiently you can work, the more time you will have to explore the local area, right?
A common and important feature of digital nomad accommodation is the emphasis on quiet times and quiet spaces. Unlike regular 'holiday' accommodation, coliving and nomadic spaces usually ask their guests to respect quiet time after around 23:00. And, while Zoom meetings and work calls are a mainstay in communal areas and breakout spaces, the main 'office' rooms tend to be reserved for quiet, focused work.
For many, the digital nomad lifestyle is as much about the people you meet as the places you visit. In some cases, that means meeting the locals and getting to know the regional culture. In others, it's about connecting with a fast-growing global network of like-minded people who, like you, have chosen to ditch the rat race and see the world.
This is one area where purpose-built digital nomad accommodation has a clear edge on a simple AirBnB. Arriving in a coliving space for digital nomads, you're instantly plugging into a ready-made network of people whose outlook, hobbies and skills are a perfect fit for your own. They're in the same boat as you, so it's easy to say 'hi' – or even ask for help and input based on their skillset.
The digital nomad life is not a holiday. It's way better than that. After all, how many people do you know who go on holiday and see nothing more exciting than their sun lounger?
Digital nomads are people who have chosen to combine work they enjoy with a life filled with enriching experiences. So, when you're choosing your next nomadic destination, make sure it has plenty of opportunities to do the things you love. Or the things you might love, when you finally get a chance to try them!
Whatever floats your boat, make sure that the digital nomad destinations you choose provide enough distraction to make all your friends jealous.
Questions about digital nomad coliving in The Alps? Please just get in touch, we'd love to hear from you. We also have a detailed guide with lots of articles about living, working and playing in Morzine. Here are some recent favourites...