Barcelona, Spain

Should i go to Barcelona?

Definitely. I had planned to stay for a week and ended up there for almost 3. Barcelona is the first city i’ve visited on this trip so far that i could really imagine myself living in. It’s got all the standard amenities you’d expect in a modern metropolis but comes with the added bonus of a fantastic climate (i was camping on a beach in December) and a super laid back culture – all set against a backdrop of beautiful vistas and some bloody tasty munch. (Tapas / paellas etc)

Also, you can’t turn a corner without stumbling on some Gaudi masterpiece or gothic wonder. As usual though for me Barcelona was all about the folks as i met some really beautiful souls.

What were the best bits for you?

 People, weather, laid back culture, remote working setup

Can i see more pictures?

Of course: http://www.instagram.com/how_not_to_travel

Where should i stay?

I stayed in quite a few different hostels during my time. Itaca hostel (9/10 Hostelworld) was good for the community vibes, St Christopher’s (8.9/10 HW) was essentially rooms built over a bar so good for socialising but it felt a tad touristy and if I’m honest, rather smelly.

My favourite place to stay without a shadow of a doubt was Born Barcelona. (9.6/10 HW) Walking into this gem you felt like you were the newest member in an incredibly eccentric family all bouncing around one giant apartment. The staff were fantastic, the location was central and the facilities were one step up vs the usual fair. We’d eat/drink together on the balcony each night and usually end up exploring some part of the City together.

In retrospect the team at Born really did go above and beyond for pretty much every aspect of hostel life from joining us on excursions around the city which i’m sure they’d seen a million times before, to helping us out when we were lost or stuck (daily) and introducing us to the groups favourite (low key/budget) bar in central Barcelona. Go to Mariachis for good vibes: lots of people making music, laughing and smoking weed in the street, plenty of tourist-friendly Spanish peeps and competitively priced alcohol. They even sell mead!! (Fermented honey)

Where can i work? 

If you’re not feeling particularly social then working within the hostel itself is always an option as there are usually quiet places you can settle down and get on with things.  One of the advantages of Barcelona, however, is the plethora of Co-working spaces available to nomads. There a good breakdown of spots here: https://www.shbarcelona.com/blog/en/live-barcelona-digital-nomad/ and i agree that the  Sant Martí district is the place to go. There are loads of beaches, parks and various co-working spots including the trendy Valkiria Hub.

Is Barcelona good for remote workers?

 Very – I completed a few different pieces of client work, managed to get a good volume of teaching done and spent a happy few days kicking off my latest ecom project. I’ll start sharing more info on how i’m marketing / scaling these projects as they grow.

What should i do when i visit Barcelona? 

Go check out the view of the city from bunker hill (It’s here: Carrer de Marià Labèrnia, s/n, 08032 Barcelona, Spain) you look down on the city from some bunkers built in in the 1930s and it’s the best view you’ll get of Barcelona. You’re welcome. 😀

Also while you’re here obviously you need to check off all the basics: Watch some flamenco dancing (they start dancing at a very young age and the performance is incredible) and check out all the Gaudi stuff especially Park Guel and Sagrada Família (a cathedral),

Oh, if you’re into working out check out the calisthenic park on the coast. It’s awesome getting a pump in the great outdoors surrounded by waves and like-minded people pumping hench portable speakers. (Here: Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 17, 08003 Barcelona, Spain)

Right, booze – Go drinking in the gothic quarter as there are quite a few trendy bars scattered through the meandering streets, definitely hit up Mariachis… Oh and you’re in Barcelona so obviously do go clubbing, there are quite a few good ones right next to each other on the coast by the marina. (DO NOT TURN UP LATE, THE QUEUES ARE HORRENDOUS)

Barcelona Cock up count: 2

Deleted my Instagram in a drunken moment of madness so there go 1k followers, gah. Also, my wallet was stolen which meant going almost a week with NO money and NO cards in a foreign country. Eep. (I was saved by the kindness of a gentleman called Juan who also happened to be a complete legend)

Learn from me

  • There really are LOADS of pickpockets in Barcelona, watch yourself, i had my wallet and some cash go missing on separate occasions.
  • Book Born Barcelona hostel
  • Escape the city
  • Don’t delete your Instagram account? … *Facepalm*
  • Scooters are to be avoided at all costs (Context below)

Barcelona story

The best bit of my stay in Spain was actually the moment i ventured just outside Barcelona. The plan was to escape the rush and camp out on a beach we’d discovered a few days before at this place called Garraf.

But… This wouldn’t be how not to travel if things went smoothly…

Juan and i heard a rumour on the grapevine that there was a man with a tent we could use. After a suitable period of procrastination and several drinks, I set off to pick up this up without closely checking the route on my phone. (Obviously)

What had seemed ‘close’ in a moment of madness was actually a brisk 2-hour walk. I didn’t realise this until 25 mins in and because i had no cards or cash and only 15% battery i had no option but to run.

I arrived just in time, overheated and disgruntled with a dead battery. After some kerfuffle asking random people in broken Spanish to borrow a phone and message the gentlemen in question i finally got hold of him on facebook.

Unfortunately he’d lost the bloody tent.

We rustled around his basement for an hour and I had to do most of the searching because the poor lad was hobbling around on crutches having clearly had some sort of recent accident. After an hour it was decided that the fabled tent of destiny was clearly contemplating a warmer climate at his parent’s place ‘around the corner’.

Thus began a completely unnecessary but undeniable exhilarating break-neck race through the mean streets of Barcelona on the back of ‘tent man’s’ scooter. Suddenly it became all too clear why my man was on crutches.

We tore it the whole way there nipping through every minuscule gap in traffic. Bear in mind that throughout this entire ordeal my arse was hanging off the back of the bloody thing – i’m too lanky to own a scooter let alone ride shotgun. Terrifying.

After 3 near misses, several excited ‘wooooooops!’ and more than a few drops of wee, we made our way unscathed into the mountains at the back of the city and safely arrived at our destination. I peeled my shaking hands off the scooters flimsy handles (the only thing preventing Britain’s finest export from flying off a ‘road legal machine’ the size of his left bollock) and crossed my fingers.

SUCCESS! Unfortunately, tent guy needed to go, so i was left with a 3 hour walk across Barcelona to get back to my hostel and rendezvous with Juan. You wouldn’t believe how dark the internal monologue got at this point – BUT WE HAD A TENT!


The week we spent on the beach was fantastic, it was a real break from hectic city life and a dose of what freedom could really taste like. Every day we’d rise with the sun and every night we’d stumble home in the dark to build a fire, then play guitar, sing and talk until the alcohol hit us and we passed out to the sound of the waves.

We climbed a couple sketchy mountains without serious incident, slept on a boat thanks to a lovely local woman we met in a bar, slept in the back of a van one particularly freezing night (thanks to another new acquaintance) and spent 5 serene/hilarious days messing around on the beach. Beauty from the chaos!

A particularly memorable moment was hiking through the hills to a Buddhist temple to meditate. Before this little break from the madness I’d never had much time for the concept but I’ve kept the habit since and find myself indulging more and more. I know it sounds a little hippy and ethereal but i can’t recommend enough taking a little time every day to stretch, meditate and just .. Be.

One final note on the fine people of Garaff: they were without exception incredibly friendly and helpful. When it became clear over the days that we were on a shoestring budget we were given gifts of food, tobacco, accommodation and beer at various points. Even without this kindness though it was clear the locals were a good sort. Approachable, intelligent and very eccentric. Case and point the nutters annually welcome the near year by holding hands and running into the freezing waves together. I’ll add the vid below in the next few days..

Suffice to say i was sad to leave and i will definitely be back.


So there we are – more cock-ups, more memories and more ‘learnings’ . Fellow and aspiring nomads, you could do a lot worse than Spain for a home from home!

That week in Garraff was particularly poignant for me because it was during this time i knew i’d made the right decision, that i was going to be travelling for a while and that things just might be okay after all.

The blog is on temporary pause as I’m kicking my heels in the UK for a few weeks before heading off to NZ, Australia then working my way through Asia.

Thanks for reading! See you soon. :D>


Amsterdam, The Netherlands

How not to travel Amsterdam

Summary: As expected Amsterdam was fascinating. The vibe was an intoxicating blend of beauty, subtext and liberality. Like any city, there are definite shifts in ‘vibe’ (from luxurious to underworld in the space of a street or two) but i never felt unsafe and was caught off guard by the cities beauty.

I got a fair bit of work done including teaching, building out the base for Instagram, pulling together a business plan for the site and planning my next few weeks of travel.

Nomad list: Nomad list score for Amsterdam is 3.1. The city scores well on almost every metric but according to peer review misses the beat on cost, weather and AC/heating availability.  (Although the weather was beautiful the whole time i was there)

Best bits: The diversity, the canals, the liberal culture.

More pictures: http://www.instagram.com/how_not_to_travel

Good for work?: Kind of. Plenty of places to do it but plenty of distractions.

Where to work: There are loads of cafes and bars with Wi-Fi. I liked The Plantage (http://caferestaurantdeplantage.nl/en/#home) for the environment and food. I also liked white label coffee for decent java / work environment, available at: https://whitelabelcoffee.nl/

What to do: So much: Clubbing, bars, coffee shops, bike rides, liquor tasting, free walking tours, canal rides, museums, galleries etc.

Cock up count: (5) One accidental train ride to the middle of nowhere at 1am, two fails at finding train platforms,  one lost pair of headphones and one case of severe overspend.

Learn from me

Sprinter and Intercity trains have different stops. (Gah) Also if the train station you’re trying to get to won’t appear on the self-service ticket machines try typing ‘Amsterdam’ first. I.E: Amsterdam Muiderpoort.

– There is a massive range in Hostel quality and the free inclusions you get as part of your package (Breakfast, bar crawls, walking tours etc) so pick with care. Always check out the reviews on http://www.booking.com http://www.hostelworld.com etc first. Also for the cheapest price, get a quote from a comparison service then ring the venue directly and see if they can beat it. (They usually can)

– Don’t leave stuff out your locker / unattended in a hostel that you’re not prepared to lose. (Duh)

– Buy a protective case for your laptop – especially if you’re like me and completely dependent on this for earning money. (Duh)

– It’s easy to spend loads of money and burn a lot of time in Amsterdam, so pace yourself and make sure you don’t go too crazy.


Amsterdam story

So having arrived in Amsterdam late after very little sleep and a cramped 4 hour bus journey i did what any overexcited 26 year old traveler would do and immediately set out to find the closest coffee shop.

Unfortunately, sleep deprivation kicked in en route and i managed to catch the wrong train which meant an amusing but very frustrating jaunt into the middle of nowhere and a hefty wait for the last train of the night back into town. (Original ETA had been under 10 mins)

Anyway, my take on the must do’s: You’ve gotta check out the red light district just to experience it. (Just don’t buy anything off the street hustlers kids, these drugs really don’t work)

amsterdam red light district

| Snap of the red light district, taken from pixabay and posted with permission |

Whilst we’re discussing the socially questionable: For those smokers in the blogosphere drag yourself to Prix D’ami the afternoon after a night on the town and spend the day mooching on the TV’s and smoking/eating your troubles away. Thank me later. The place is central so easy to find and spread across 3 floors. It even has a gaming section with pool etc as well as several American diner style smoking dens. Check out some photos and more info on their site here: https://www.prixdami.nl/pics.php – it’s the one.

There are obviously loads of other Coffee shops to try: Ibiza coffeeshop was good but Barneys coffeeshop and Grey area were better. (Y)

Coffeeshop

| Generic coffeeshop snap lifted from Pixabay and posted with permission |

Definitely rent/borrow a bike. It’s an integral part of the Dutch experience. I was chatting with one of my Air BnB hosts about how people from all social circles use bikes in the dam. Seriously: everyone from suited n’ booted financiers to the odd maniac jamming hectic folk-pop fusion on his guitar whilst hurtling down the street ‘no-handing’.

My host said she’d even once seen people moving home using their bikes – one MATTRESS at a time. (Two people to balance it on the seat – lol) Anyway, there are loads of nice parks to go to and it’s so much quicker, cheaper and healthier to get around the city on two wheels. I’ll be doing this from day one next time around.

Bikerideamsterdam.jpg

| Snap of the bike i borrowed from my Air BnB hosts |

Moving onto beer… You can wipe out an entire avian species with one stone by trying a range of beers and simultaenously check out one of amsterdams famous windmills at the famous Brouwerij Het Ij.  https://www.brouwerijhetij.nl/?lang=en

Instead if you fancy a decent club, head to ‘The School’, it’s 24/7 depending on the act with a lavish restaurant, chic vibe and a great atmosphere/sound system. More info on the official site here: https://www.deschoolamsterdam.nl/en/

Finally on the libation front: Go tasting at the Wynand Fockink liquor distillery. You can really it push it on the number of samples you taste before purchase and the customer service/product knowledge is top notch. Take your time and try a large spread of flavors. I enjoyed the coffee blend and a mix of cinnamon, peach and apple. (Wow)

liquortastingamsterdam

| Snap of Wynand Focknik taken during my visit |

To work i’d recommend The Plantage, a beautiful building right next to Amsterdam zoo. The location is wonderful, the decor chic and there’s all the usual nomadic bells and whistles: Wifi, decent coffee, plug sockets etc.    (http://caferestaurantdeplantage.nl/en/#home)

thecafelaptop

| Snap of the Plantage taken during my visit |

For somewhere less foody I’d also recommend White Label Coffee – a non-smoking cafe with good wifi, plenty of plug sockets and everything you need to get on with work. (https://whitelabelcoffee.nl/)

I split my stay between both an air bnb and hostel as i liked the variety this gave me. (Local knowledge from the Air BnB + privacy vs party vibes and cheap living in hostels) My Hostel experience was clouded somewhat as i did have some money and headphones nicked off me which has meant downgrading to some truly abysmal black mp3 player things. They look and sound 20 years old and are the size and shape of small plates – but at least ive got my tunes.

Hostels, in general, are great for the record it’s just important to choose wisely. Thanks for reading, the next post #4 – Berlin will be live next Monday.


Soundtracks for the stay:

Rae Sremmurd – Bedtime stories (R&B / Hip-hop) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_JyXaL2myI

Lil Wayne (Ft kendrick) – Mona Lisa (American Hip-Hop) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk4ionKGeeE

John Mayer – Gravity {Live} (American Folk / Blues / Rock / Soul blend) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo4746XZgw8

Ghent, Belgium

How not to travel Ghent

Summary: I had a great time in Belgium and Ghent was so much better than i had expected. The week was pretty light on the work but I did manage to get the project well and truly started. This was my first week actually working on the road so it was a big test!

It’s a classic start for the blog because i managed to miss Brussels and Bruges entirely.

Nomad list: Nomad list rates Ghent 3.5/5. Why bad? No serious adult night scene and tepid weather. (Similar to that in the UK) Why good? Ghent had high scores for Safety, Happiness, Healthcare and internet speed. 

Best bits: The people, the beer & the architecture.

More pictures: http://www.instagram.com/how_not_to_travel

Where to work: Plenty of coffee shops and bars with Wi-Fi along the main high street. I liked: Take five espresso (http://www.take-five-espressobar.be/) – very cozy upstairs to sit and work. Also the coffee is awesome + it’s close to the town center.

What to do: Get on with some work in Take five, kayak through the city waterways, give Be Virtuals virtual reality experience a go and eat the sushi at Sushi Plaza.

Cock up count: (3) One interview fail and Two missed buses, (currently tipped as flixbus customer of the year)

Learn from me:

  • Arrive at long-haul bus stops at least 15 minutes early (Duh)
  • Make sure your phone is set to the correct time (time zone shifts) + set appropriate reminders for work commitments that take this into account
  • Work a little bit every day – momentum people, momentum!
  • Don’t overbook: The nomad life has constant opportunities to go out – I can already tell saying ‘no’ is going to be vital in order to make this lifestyle sustainable.

The trip has started suspiciously well. Free stay at a friends place meant an incredible host and a place to stay 10 mins walk from the city center.

| Dom introducing me to Belgian fast food |

Everyone is really nice here, I was constantly having conversations with people on the street without any awkwardness and was never alone for long before someone asked me where I was from and we got talking.

A classic example was when i was on my way out of Belgium having just missed my second bus of the trip. I was sat at a bar ringing sweat out of my t-shirt (i’d ran to arrive 5 minutes late, obviously) when a bloke sat down next to me and offered to buy me a beer.

An hour of increasingly loud conversation later and bus no.3 almost left without me because by this point half the bar was wrapped up in a debate about the best places in Amserdam to visit.

| I’ve been obsessed with Duvel for the last week |

Whilst we’re on the topic: The beer was soooooo goood. Honestly. Peng. Most of it is 8% ABV though so be careful chucking them back. For my English friends – the large ‘head’ is for taste. Just trust the Belgians and drink – quality over quantity is the name of the game here.

If you like a tipple then there’s loads of good bars (even a comic book / gaming bar: https://comic-sans.business.site/) and Ghent even has a few small clubs which were fun in a group.

The scenary is fantastic. I’m a terrible photographer but you can get a taste for the architecture and waterways below. It’s one of those cities you can really let yourself get lost in. It’s extremely safe, small enough to have personality and big enough to offer variety. Watch out for the trams and bicycles though.

Also – If you like to run like me then there’s a long canal route you can head down.

| Ghent riverscape |

There’s plenty of stuff to do in Ghent. Kayaking in the sunset through the city waterways was particularly awesome.

43557448_341795996590064_1241230645007482880_n

| Credit: Dominic Crossland | Insta: @dcrossland | http://www.instagram.com/dcrossland |

I also really enjoyed the 4 player co-op virtual reality experience at Be Virtual here: https://www.bevirtual.be/ – The picture below doesn’t do it justice, you’re attached by your headset to the ceiling but once the goggles are on the immersion is crazy. The blue mat’s you see in the picture below are as far as you can walk within the environment and then, to get further you need to ‘teleport’ which starts to feel natural and become reflex within 20 minutes of play time.

Virtualreality.jpg

| Taken in Be Virtual, Ghent |

If you’re in Ghent go get some Sushi from Sushi Plaza (http://sushiplaza.be/) – Fantastic service and fresh fish delivered every day. The sashimi was some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

IMG-1994

| Taken in Sushi Plaza – Ghent |

Ankara was also a very good place. A  Turkish / Mediterranean restaurant they served up perfectly cooked medium-rare meat and way more food than we could eat. Definitely, recommend the shared platter. The 4 person platter had lots of food left over though, you could definitely get away with splitting a 3 person between 4.

sumitfood.jpg

| Taken in Ankara – Ghent |

Progress with work was good overall, it was easy enough to find different cafes to sit in and the calm nature of Ghent makes it relatively free of distraction. As mentioned above i recommend Take five here: http://www.take-five-espressobar.be/ and it’s also worth checking out Koffeiene: https://m.facebook.com/koffeinegent/.

This part of the journey was a soft start really as staying with a friend i had the luxury of privacy and a workplace free of distractions. Even still I got less done than i had intended this week. But progress is being made.

The writing has started, Instagram is ticking over and the adventure has begun.  Join me Next Monday for stop #3 – Amsterdam.

Soundtracks for the stay:

Paolo Nutini – Better man (Soul / Pop) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y4_Mi0fCz0

Eminem – Fall (American Hip-Hop) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfTbHITdhEI

Keith Ape – It G Ma (Japanese Gangster Rap) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPC9erC5WqU

Who the hell are you?

Its weird to start writing a travel blog before I even leave but in the narcissistic spirit of the age, I thought I’d kick things off with a little about me, where I’m planning on going and why you should care.

Who are you? 

Hey, i’m Seb, a 26-year-old mess with good intentions, big ambitions and a reckless streak.  After a recent life event, i paused a promising career working in a major London e-commerce team, boxed up my things and left the country to reassess.

I needed to find a bit of meaning in the wider world, I wanted to travel and I had to find a way to earn money as I did it. This was all rather ominous and confusing like that 3am post kebab burp or when your Uber driver swerves up smelling of Sambuca at 11am. Fortunately, upon these realisations I did (kind of) have a goal.

Go Digital Nomad: Live the dream, earn the bank and explore the world. 😁

If the hype was legit and I played my cards right all i’d need was my laptop, my phone and a bucket load of tenacity. Right?

Step 1 – Money

So, this particular life event left me down several thousand pounds across different credit cards and in a pretty terrible physical and emotional state. It felt like I was starting back at square one. This life that I’d built over the past 4 years was in tatters. I was depressed and spent a month getting my head together, watching the debt pile up as I defaulted on repayments and continued to spiral out.

I had to pay off that debt but I didn’t want to go back to the old job, so I started doing anything I could to earn money and try new things. Gardening, DIY, pub shifts, cleaning, ANYTHING. It sucked and at first I was barely scraping together enough for repayments let alone working down the debt. But it was also quite liberating, I was doing things I’d never done before, learning useful skills, and paying my way bit by bit.

It didn’t take long for me to drift back to one of my key passions for inspiration: The internetz. ❤

I tried loads of different ideas which required 0 capital. User testing, (really sporadic), surveys (awful), VA work, (too competitive, poor pay) affiliate marketing and dropshipping via shopify amongst other things. The dropshipping in particular was a useful learning experience but ultimately it still required money to advertise (SEO being a slow burner) and unfortunately, i was impatient and had been hoping for a short term play.

I decided that I needed to educate myself more so bought a few udemy.com courses to sharpen my digital marketing and financial skills and this was when my mum suggested taking a TEFL qualification. I looked into this and realised there were jobs where you could teach English online from anywhere in the world and earn an ok paycheck. I had a starting point.

I got a distinction in my TEFL qualification in about a month, tailored my CV and started applying. Another month later and i was teaching 3+ hours a day and the pay was double what i’d been getting in pub / gardening work etc.

tefl.png

Step 2 – More money

Square 2 was to step further away from the ‘take anything i can get’ mentality. I found real joy in teaching and this gave me the boost I needed to get take the next step. I started offering my services to small companies to improve their digital offerings – this meant an hourly rate slightly better than the teaching. (I charged a low rate initially to build up a client base through case studies)

Now i had two revenue streams and had managed to get myself to a position where i was debt free AND had money in the bank.

Step 3 – Full Nomad

Square 3 is the shift into full nomad and it’s still ongoing. There’s the kit, the route, the people, the writing. the different projects and the beautiful locations all still being worked through. This is where both the adventure and the blog begin.

Cool story bro, but why?

This is my first proper stab at blogging. I know there’s nothing new about the idea and my biz head winces at the idea of diving into such a heavily saturated market. Fuck that though. I want to do it, it makes me happy to have a creative outlet and i like the idea of connecting with people and spreading some positivity.

Where you go, bro?

The rough plan is to explore Europe working my way through Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany,  Hungry, Austria, Croatia, Poland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and then briefly back to the UK through France to explore Scotland, Ireland and Wales. I’ll be doing this in the winter because this is how not to travel not a place in the sun ffs.

Then in early 2019 the real fun begins, NZ, Aus and as much of Asia and America as I can fit in.

Ok, but why?

This project is fundamentally about two things: Freedom (Be it financial, physical or spiritual) and fun.

Every week i’ll bring you lucky sausages:

– An update on what i’ve learned and seen on my own nomadic adventures. Including Tips, tricks and pitfalls for you to avoid on your own journey.

– The latest cock up – what went wrong and why?

– I also want to get a short interview with someone from a different part of the world with their take on life, love, music and/or business… But we’ll see if I can convince people to buy in to a random interview with a quirky British bloke.

Who are you writing for?

I’m writing for people who want to escape the 9-5 and people who want evidence that this ‘digital nomad’ thing is actually workable. I’m writing for the trapped, the hopeless and the unprepared.

I’m also writing for myself. The project is a creative outlet, a way to document my development and a way to give back after years of passive content consumption. In the spirit of transparency If the unthinkable happens and this project takes off then I do plan on monetising at some point down the line, but it will only ever be with affiliate links and ads that are relevant.

But what about us, bruh?

It’d be jokes to hear about your own adventures and get your take on mine – please join me for the ride in whichever medium you prefer, Instagram: (how_not_to_travel), YouTube: (Coming soon) or of course the blog here.

Tomorrow i leave on my adventure. Loads will go tits up, but that’s part of the fun.

Stay groovy, stay tuned and observe how not to travel.