In our blog series ‘Online Job of the Month,’ we share the most interesting online jobs with you. You might think only web developers and graphic designers can be digital nomads. But there are actually a wide variety of interesting (and profitable) jobs out there for aspiring Digital Nomad Girls. This month we will tell you all about working as a Translator.
We talked to Federica Bruniera, Martina Russo and Maria Sokolova who are successfully working as Translators while travelling the world. So let’s get straight into it!
What exactly is a Translator? What do they do?
Maria says that as a Translator, “I translate websites, newsletters, documents for fashion and travel brands from English (sometimes Spanish) into my native language (Russian).” Alongside that, Maria says that she also edits (proofreads) other translations.
Federica clears up an important misconception. “There’s always a bit of confusion out there between the roles of translators and interpreters. Translators work with written texts, whereas the interpreters’ job is mainly spoken.”
Federica gets specific about the types of awesome hobbies that would not be possible without translators: “We are basically the ones that make possible for you to browse websites, watch your favourite Netflix show and read the Harry Potter books in your native language.”
How awesome is that!
So how does translation work? Which languages do you translate from? Federica says, “we normally work from the foreign language(s) we know into our native one. So, as an Italian native speaker, I could know 10 foreign languages but I can only translate from those ten into Italian.
Translators usually work also as reviewers/proofreaders (revising someone else’s translations) and sometimes as transcribers, subtitlers, game testers, copywriters, depending on their specializations.”
What kind of skills do I need to become a Translator?
Both Federica and Maria agree that the most important skills are:
excellent command of at least two languages (your native and a second language)
good writing skills
Learner & researcher skills
knowledge of cultural backgrounds
Federica also adds that, “Specializing is also of paramount importance. Knowing another language doesn’t mean you can translate everything (I don’t understand legal jargon in my own language, imagine in a foreign one!).
It’s important to pick fields you are passionate about, that you know well or that you are willing to study. In my case, for example, I do:
(obviously) Travel related stuff because I love it and it’s something I have a good experience in,
Football/soccer for the same reason,
Mangas and Japanese fiction because it’s challenging and fun, and
the Medical sector because it seemed interesting, and I started taking online courses on the subject.”
That’s awesome! Specialization is one of those tips that carries across many different types of online jobs, for sure. Specialization allows you to become an expert in a topic and become well known for that specific field!
Do you need any qualifications or certificates?
Maria has a diploma in translation which comes in handy, but says that actually, “I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary if you have good command of both languages.”
Federica also has a translation degree but agrees with Maria that it’s not absolutely essential. She notes in particular though that “Some countries require certification to do official translations (for example, in Canada you need to be certified if you want to translate official documents for immigration purposes), but overall what you really need is expertise in a certain field and excellent linguistic skills.”
Where do you find jobs as a Translator?
Martina has a few suggestions up her sleeve! Firstly, “You can go to industry specific conferences (another reason why it’s important to pick a niche), contact companies directly etc. but when starting out it’s probably easiest to get in touch with translation agencies.”
Maria says that she has been working with an agency for a few years, but that she also finds jobs through her personal network. Federica similarly suggests that when you are just getting started, “it’s easier to work with agencies than with direct clients.”
Federica has more tips for you for finding jobs! “Translation portals have good visibility and a lot of jobs get posted on there every day. I would recommend using those portals to look up agencies that have good ratings and then check their websites and apply directly there.” Martina, Maria and Federica suggest the following websites for getting started:
Martina specifically says: “Use the directory at https://www.proz.com/business to filter agencies according to specific criteria, e.g. score (on a scale o 1 to 5, I wouldn’t touch an agency with less than 4.5 with a barge pole – double check every agency’s score here: https://www.proz.com/blueboard), location, language pairs, and once again niche.”
Okay… what about applying? How should you apply?
Martina says: “ Once you have a list of agencies (or companies), you want to reach out to them. You’re better off sending up to 10-15 highly personalised emails rather than blasting off 100s per day that all starts with DEAR SIR / MADAM.
An agency gets dozens of emails and CVs a day – even I do, and I’m not an agency – and most of them look like spam, and I promise no one is going to bother and open your email or read your CV if it’s not to the point and attention grabbing.
As with everything marketing related, make sure you speak to them and about them, how you can solve their issues etc rather dwelling on your skills and qualifications.”
Federica agrees with Martina and adds that, “CV spamming at the beginning is normal, but do your research first and make your CV and emails relevant and personalized to improve the chances to get the attention of the project managers. Then, of course, networking is a gold mine. I got my best jobs from colleagues, people I met at conferences and events, friends of friends. Never underestimate the power of networking!”
So key tips are: attend events, use translation portals, find agencies to work with and don’t forget to network!
How much can I earn as a Translator?
As with any job, it really depends!
Martina says: “The money you can charge will depend on your experience, your confidence, the market segment you’ve positioned yourself in, your client’s budget and willingness to pay / invest in translation and how efficient you are at communicating your value. Obviously, you can’t command 10K from a company that makes 30K gross per year. Hence the important of positioning and market segments.”
Federica says, “I would recommend asking at least 0.06 – 0.07 euros per word when starting out and then working your way up. The higher-end translators charge up to 0.50 euros per word in their fields, there’s really no rule. It’s totally up to you to study your market, decide where to position yourself, your value and charge whatever you’re comfortable charging.”
Martina specifies: “Specifically, To start out with agencies, I would recommend NOT going below 0.07- 0.08 € per source word, but would aim at 0.10 €. Always best to start higher to allow room for negotiation. From there, depending on your niche, you can go as high as you want to and your market allows.
What you charge is up to you and do not let anyone dictate what you should do or tell you you’re ruining the market, there is not such a thing as ONE market. To convert these amounts into hourly fees, you should know your productivity and output. Generally, unless you use MT and other technologies, you’ll translate around 300-350 words per hour.”
“Money is a big taboo among translators and I don’t know why, I feel that if we were all more open on the subject it’d be easier to help others navigate through what’s possible and out there. ” – Martina Russo
Maria says, you can make around $2,000-$2,500 on average, up to $5,000, and Federica knows translators who make 6-figures doing translation work!
So overall, Martina, Maria and Federica all agree that you can make great money doing translation!
How do Translators price their services? Hourly, per project, per word?
Long story short: “It’s usually hourly for proofreading, and per word or per page for translations” says Maria.
Federica says it really varies, but agrees that “most translation projects are priced per word (or per line like in Germany). Asian languages are often priced by character, since there’s no space between words and getting an actual word count would be extremely time-consuming.
There are many exceptions though and ultimately it’s up to the translator to choose the best format depending on the project. For example, in manga translation we define a price per page, in video game testing it’s mostly by the hour, subtitling is charged by minute of video.
When you are starting out and have less negotiation power, try to have a price per word and an hourly price ready. Then, as projects get more complicated, you can start considering other solutions. For multi-services or multilingual projects, a price per project is totally acceptable as well.”
Is it easy to work as a Translator while travelling?
So… what’s it actually like to work as a traveling Translator? Are you able to balance traveling and working set times?
Federica says absolutely! She says as long as you have your laptop and Wifi, you’re good to go. Additional things that might come in handy may be “two monitors, external keyboard and other equipment, but I’m extremely minimalist, so my laptop and electronic dictionary are enough.”
Do you need any specific tools or softwares?
Federica suggests: “In terms of tools and apps, the so-called CAT tools (translation software) can make the translation process faster and your texts more consistent, so investing in one can be a good idea (most agencies require one anyway).”
Maria gives one word of warning – be mindful of time zones! As with any nomad job, always be mindful of your clients’ time zones and delivering your work on time – aka. on the client’s time!
Woo! Looks like overall, being a Translator is officially a nomad approved job.
What would you recommend to other nomad girls who’d like to get started working as a Translator?
Martina has tons of amazing advice for girls who are thinking about working as a translator.
Here is the step-by-step process that Martina recommends!
1. Pick a Niche
Martina says, “When you start out, it’s easy and normal to just go for general translations. However, the more you’re specialized, the less of a commodity you become and the higher of a rate you can command.
It’s not necessarily an easy step but it’s one you need to take at some point, so try to focus on one area or more you’d like to work with in the future and start from there. (legal, medical, marketing and so on).”
2. Think Carefully about Market Segment & Positioning
“Make sure you determine which market segment(s) you’re comfortable working with from the start, that will save you lots of frustration in the long-term. How do you position yourself? By putting yourself out there as the authority in your niche and by using specific language.
For starters, if you want to position yourself in a higher paying segment, I’d avoid using the word “freelancer”, which is widely associated with sites like Fiverr, and replace it with “professional” wherever possible. Which one sounds more authoritative to you – freelancer translator or translation professional / professional translator?
3. Don’t forget mindset!
Martina writes, “You do not work FOR anyone. You work WITH someone, as a partner, you add value and work with them to make them successful.
That’s crucial and it took me a few months to figure that out, coming from an employer when I started out. It might seem trivial now, but you’ll see these little details creeping up when you write your first 100s cover letters writing stuff like “I’d be honoured to work for your company…”
4. Build up your online presence
Martina says on this: “If you don’t want to be just anther translator, build up your online presence. Googling you is the first thing everyone does to make sure you’re legit these days, so you want to have social proof up and running…
CV / RESUME: use a template from a platform like Canva.com to make it visually appealing.
Generally, you want to include details such as the obvious ones (contact details, name, nationality etc), your language pairs, your experience and education, and so on. Refrain from mentioning anything that doesn’t have to do with translation, unless you have worked e.g. as a sommelier and now you translate about wines.
You’ll probably also want 1 CV for your agency clients and 1 for your direct clients, or 1 for each different niche.
If you’re starting out and have nothing to put in your portfolio, think of creative ways to assemble one. E.g. provide some free work (make sure you have clear conditions in place) or translate publicly available copy under CC (look it up on Google) to get samples for your ideal portfolio.
Creating a portfolio based on copy isn’t easy, look up the web for some inspo.
This doesn’t have to be fancy, you can put up a one page site from WP or Squarespace or the like. In fact, Martina built up www.theactionsportstranslator.com herself (with a few tweaks from a WP dev). Also, register a domain for your email address, @gmail domains and the like look fishy and end up in spam most of the time.
You probably don’t need to be on EVERY platform out there, just pick the ones you think would work for you best (AKA where your clients would hang out) and stick with them.
Do not do the mistake most translators do: don’t talk exclusively about translation from a translator’s perspective for other translators, because the only ones who’ll be interested in you content will be – you guessed it – translators.
Federica adds to this and says, “Getting the first clients could take a bit of time, but that should not discourage you. Keep studying, hone your skills, build up experience in the fields you’re interested in and don’t give up.
Consider doing volunteer work at first for organizations like Translators without Borders or the TED Project (subtitling TED Talks can be pretty interesting). The most fascinating part of the translation world is that you learn something new every day. It’s hard to get bored!”
On a side note – subtitling Ted Talks sounds SO fun!
Maria gives you some extra advice as well, “I would recommend choosing a niche and building your portfolio around it, don’t take just any translation job.
If you never worked as a translator, check out other translators’ portfolios for your language pair to see what a good translation looks like — it’s not about translating the words, it’s about getting the message across. And don’t forget to read a lot in your native language.”
Martina leaves us with some amazing resources for getting started. Here they are:
And… there you go! If you’re a persistent person who is fluent in at least 2 languages, translating might just be the perfect digital nomad job for you. I hope we answered all your questions, if you have any more, please leave them in the comments and our girls and I will try our best to answer them all.
Are you an interested in becoming a Translator? Please share below!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others who might like it, too, and to find out more about the girls you can find their author bios below:
Maria Sokolova is a Translator and Proofreader. Originally from Krasnodar, Russia, she has been travelling almost non-stop for the past 5 years. You can get in touch with her via her Facebook or her Instagram.
Federica Bruniera is a Translator originally from Italy, and is currently in Colombia. You can connect with her on Instagram or her Website.
Martina is an Italian professional translator, business owner, outdoor enthusiast, and true world citizen. She’s been making premium products and brands accessible to the Italian, Swiss Italian, and European markets for over 8 years. Her work can be found online on Linkedin, Website and theactionsportstranslator.com.
Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, is quickly making a name for itself as one of the most popular Digital Nomad destinations around. Some even go as far as calling it the Chiang Mai of Europe.
One thing’s for sure, Las Palmas is a great place for remote workers and nomads, and I would know, because I spent more than a year living there.
Las Palmas for Digital Nomad Girls – The Ultimate Guide
In our Digital Nomad Girls Ultimate Guide series, we introduce cities from around the world that are great places for location independent ladies. From Chiang Mai to Prague, we’ve got you covered. Today we’re paying Las Palmas in Spain a visit.
If there’s one city in Europe that is particularly hot for Digital Nomads right now, it’s Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The capital of Gran Canaria is becoming a mecca for location independent workers, and for good reason.
Affordable prices, year round sunny weather and a bustling coworking scene make Las Palmas the perfect place to be, especially when it’s starting to get colder in mainland Europe.
Having spent more than a year in Las Palmas over the past few years, I know the city pretty well and am excited to share my experience with you. I’m probably a little biased, but I think Las Palmas really is one of the best nomad cities in Europe.
In this Ultimate Guide, you’ll find everything you need to know to make your stay in Las Palmas easy, productive and fun.
Where is it?
Las Palmas is the capital city of Gran Canaria, one of the Spanish Canary Islands, which is located in the Atlantic Ocean just off the West African coast, near Morocco.
With a population of just under 400,000, Las Palmas is the ninth largest city in Spain and the biggest EU city outside of the European continent. The city is located in the northeast of the island of Gran Canaria and has a long coastline with many beaches to enjoy.
The official language is, of course, Spanish and the local Canarian dialect is easy to understand. In general it’s easy (too easy) to get away with English and just the Spanish basics. I’d definitely recommend taking Spanish classes, not least because they’re really affordable. We paid €130 per month for 3 x 1.5 hour lessons per week in a small group class.
If you’re new to Spanish, then don’t be surprised to hear the locals drop the “s” from the end of words, for example “Gracia” instead of “Gracias”.
What is Las Palmas known for?
Las Palmas is also known as the city of ‘Eternal Spring’ due to its perfect climate year-round. An American meteorologist who studies city climates around the world even went as far as claiming that it has the “best weather in the world”.
Another claim to fame is that Christopher Columbus lived here for a while, with his old home now housing a museum.
Las Palmas is also host to the annual Nomad City event, which takes places each fall.
Climate/When to go?
Located off the West African coast, the Canaries are the warmest place in Europe during winter. Summers can be scorching hot, while during June, July, August there’s an almost constant cloud cover, locally known as the “Donkey’s Belly”.
The best times to visit Las Palmas are the spring, autumn or winter. In September, the clouds and heat disappear and the weather is mild and comfortable, perfect for exploring and sunny beach days.
Importantly, it can be much harder (but not impossible) to find accommodation during high season (November to April) compared with the rest of the year.
Safety for Women
In general, Las Palmas is an incredibly safe place for travelers, female and male. Violent crime is not a big problem here, while pickpocketing, unlike in Barcelona, is not common at all.
But, as always, make sure you to use common sense. Know your way home after a night out, carry enough cash for a taxi home (they are very affordable here) and don’t walk along the beach on your own at night (on the actual sand, walking along the Paseo is totally fine) .
EU residents are covered by their EHIC health card in case of emergency. There are English-speaking health centres in case you get sick while in Las Palmas.
Dental care is great quality and very affordable, that’s why many people come to the Canary Islands for a dental holiday.
In general, no vaccinations are needed to travel to Las Palmas. Dengue fever, malaria and Zika are not present in the Canary Islands at this time of writing, but do your research in case you have specific health concerns.
As the Canary Islands are part of Spain, EU residents can travel there without having to worry about visas, which is another great bonus of Las Palmas as a Digital Nomad hotspot.
Non-EU residents will have to apply for a Schengen visa, which allows you to stay in the Schengen Zone, including Spain, for up to 90 days every 180 days. Make sure you check Spain’s visa regulations for your country’s passport before booking your flights.
How much does it cost?
As always, budgets vary greatly from nomad to nomad, but generally speaking, Las Palmas is an affordable city, especially for Western Europe.
On average, I think you could live quite comfortably in Las Palmas for around €1000 per person, probably less if you don’t need many comforts. A room will cost around €300–400 to rent, while an apartment on Airbnb will cost around €800–1500.
Cup of coffee: €1.20
Beer in a local bar or restaurant: €1–2
Lunch at a local restaurant: €8–12
Dinner for two at a nice restaurant: €30–40
Bus ride in the city: €1.40
Bus trip to the south of the island or to other beaches: around €8–16 return
Taxi ride from the beach area to the old town: €5
1GB on a prepaid SIM: around €10
I’m ironically writing this post while on a flight from Las Palmas to the UK, but there are only two ways to get to the Canary Islands, because they’re, well, islands.
The best way to travel to Las Palmas is to fly into Las Palmas international airport, which is located in the east of the island around 25 minutes drive from the city. From the airport, you can either take a bus for €3 to bus stations at San Telmo (in the old town) or Santa Catalina (in the beach area) or hop in a taxi, which will cost between €25 and €35 depending on the time of day and where exactly you’re travelling to.
As Las Palmas is a very popular holiday destination for Europeans, there are tonnes of affordable flights from almost every European country.
Most people fly and it’s only worth taking a ferry from mainland Spain if you’re travelling by car or motorbike. The ferry takes 2 days and leaves from Cadiz in southwest Spain.
One of my favourite things about Las Palmas is that it’s very walkable. Most nomads stay in the northern beach area of the city, where you can walk anywhere within 30 minutes, which usually takes you along or past the beach.
Buses are super cheap, costing around €1.40 per ride and even less if you buy a Guagua card (Canarians call buses guaguas, don’t ask me why!?!).
There’s an awesome new city bike rental scheme called Sitycleta LP, which anyone can use. Download the app, create your profile and you can rent a bike from any of the locations in the city. Half an hour of cycling costs €1.50 and if you sign up for an annual plan you get half an hour free every day.
There’s no Uber in Las Palmas, but it’s not really needed because taxis are really affordable. We used to take a cab from the beach to the old town for brunch and it costs around €4–5 for the 10 minute ride.
And if you want to explore the island with your own wheels, you can rent a car very cheaply.
Most car rentals cost around €30 for 24 hours, which usually comes out cheaper than taking the bus if there’s two or three of you. Tirma rent-a-car is my favourite car rental place, they speak English and full insurance is included in the rental price.
Where to stay? The neighbourhoods of Las Palmas
There are only really two or three neighbourhoods that most nomads and expats stay in. That doesn’t mean that they’re super touristy though, Las Palmas is a pretty local city.
The beach area around Playa Las Canteras is my absolute favourite and where most nomads decide to stay. There’s just something special about living so close to the beach and being able to walk, run or lay on the beach every day. Most events and coworking spaces are also in this neighbourhood.
La Isleta is the little round peninsula that sticking out of the north of Las Palmas, and is also a popular area, albeit a little more quiet and rustic. Rent here tends to be a little bit cheaper, so if you’re on a tight budget it’s definitely worth a look.
The old town areas of Vegueta and Triana are the other popular neighbourhoods. Most nomads don’t tend to stay there because they love being close to the beach and the action. Architecturally, it is definitely the most beautiful part of Las Palmas, with old cobblestoned streets and colonial buildings.
Depending on how long you’re planning to stay, you can either rent an apartment or room on Airbnb or find a long-term rental through real estate agents. Most flats come with 12-month contracts, but there are some exceptions, so it’s worth asking if you find a flat you like.
Coliving is a becoming more and more popular, and Las Palmas has some awesome spaces to check out if you’re looking for a little more than just a place to lay your head.
My favourite space in Las Palmas is ReStation, which is run by my friend Maria, and is the heart and soul of the digital nomad scene in Las Palmas. ReStation has three different apartments, all in the Las Canteras area and a coworking space that’s within 2–5 minutes walk of the apartments.
Maria puts on no less than four (!) weekly events for digital nomads: Monday Mastermind (a goal-setting and accountability group), Wednesday breakfast club, Friday local lunch, and Nomad Coffee every Friday afternoon (check out their website in case any of the dates have changed).
And if you’re in town on the first Tuesday of the month, ReStation hosts a monthly DNG coworking day and lunch. You’re invited to work at ReStation for free and afterwards all the girls head to Basal restaurant by the beach for lunch and a chat.
If you’re looking into heading to Las Palmas this summer, we’d love to have you at the Coliving Summer we’re hosting with Restation!
Aside from Restation, other coliving spaces are cropping up, including The Roof and The Pool, which are run by Coworking C coworking space, and are really popular and stylish spaces. They are located a little outside the beach area, but only a 15–20 minute walk.
The Roof is the coliving space run by Coworking C. It is a very modern space with a big roof terrace and en suite bathrooms for nearly all of the 7 rooms. While not as conveniently located as other spaces, it’s still close enough to the beach and city that you can easily walk.
If you’re planning to rent an apartment on Airbnb, it’s always worth contacting the host before booking to ask if they’d be happy to give you a discount for a longer stay.
I’ve managed to knock off €500 off a €1500 apartment (which we didn’t end up taking) just by asking whether they’d give me a discount for a three-month stay.
Where to work?
There are new coworking spaces popping up all over the place, so you’re spoilt for choice. Here’s a list:
In addition to coliving, ReStation has a coworking space that is available even to those not living in their apartments. The space is only 5 minutes from the beach and has great wifi and probably the best community vibe in Las Palmas.
One of the first coworking spaces in the Canary Islands, CWC can be found on the port side of the Las Canteras neighbourhood. It has an open floor plan and is spread over three floors, with a separate bookable meeting room that can come in handy.
Go Coworking is located in the old town in a beautifully refurbished colonial building. I absolutely adore their space and roof top, but only checked it out once because of how far it was from my apartment. However, if you live in the old town area it would be the perfect option.
Most spaces offer a free trial day, so take the time to explore a little and pick your favourite.
Las Palmas has a bunch of great cafes to work from, but in general it doesn’t have the coffee and laptop scene you might be used to from Southeast Asia.
If you’re not sure if the cafe owners are cool with you working from their cafe or whether they even have customer wifi, I’d definitely recommend asking before setting up your mobile office for the afternoon. Of course, make sure you order drinks or snacks regularly, and order food if you’re planning to stay over lunch.
A new juice bar on Las Canteras beach, Juicy Avenue has (you guessed it) juices plus wifi and lots of power outlets! They also serve bagels, waffles, wraps and pancakes, which are not easily found in Las Palmas, so it’s become one of my favourite spots to have breakfast and get some work done.
A great and friendly little vegetarian and vegan place on Calle Ruiz de Alda, Llevame al Huerto has great food, juices and an adorable interior. You can also sit outside and work on the pedestrianised street.
This is a curious little Swedish cafe that has been around for over 50 years. The decor looks like it might still be the original, but their cakes are awesome and they have cute little booths to work from.
What and where to eat
Now to the good stuff! Canarian food is quite similar to Spanish food in general, but has its own quirks and specialities.
While you can get the usual tapas and Jamon Iberico, you won’t find any Patatas Bravas in the Canaries (unless it’s a very touristy restaurant), as the preferred potato dish here is Papas Arrugadas, or wrinkly potatoes. Don’t worry, they taste much better than they sound.
Seafood lovers will also be happy here as there’s no shortage of delicious fresh fish and seafood to be found. For vegetarians and vegans, more and more vegan cafes and restaurants are opening all the time, with most places other restaurants offering vegan-friendly options, just make sure you ask.
One of my favourite restaurants ever, this Indonesian spot is the real deal. It’s very hard to find good Asian food in Las Palmas and Casa Ari has saved me many times when I was craving a bowl of noodles or a curry. Super affordable, authentic, and giant portions too.
An indoor and outdoor food market with tonnes of different stalls where you can try tapas, seafood, international dishes (reindeer at the Scandinavian stall anyone? it’s delicious), drinks. Mercado del Puerto is generally just a fun and happy place to spend a Friday or Saturday night with friends.
A classic among the locals, I wouldn’t go as far as calling Pachichi a restaurant, more of a little bodega, but it’s one of the cheapest places to enjoy some local tapas with friends. Their flaming chorizo and mojo (spicy red sauce served with basically everything) are definitely worth the visit. You’ll struggle to spend more than €10 per person including drinks.
A cute little Mexican place right on the beachfront, this is one of the few hipster places in town, with a delicious Mexican/Asian fusion menu.
What Not to Miss & Day Trips
There’s always something going on in Las Palmas, so just keep an eye on the posters around town and you’ll find something to do.
Some weekly favourites are:
Ruta de los Pinchos happens every Thursday in Vegueta. Local bars and restaurants along the street serve cheap tapas, so you can move around grabbing bites and cheap beers/wine here and there.
It’s fun, but I prefer Mercado del Puerto for a more grown up tapas experience and better food, but that might just be the food snob in me.
Every Saturday afternoon/evening many of the bars and restaurants along Las Canteras beach put on live music, which slowly makes its way down from La Puntilla to the Auditoria. It ends with a big party at Plaza del Musica at the southernmost part of the beach.
Gran Canaria is a beautiful and diverse island, but sadly many of the package holidayers who flock to its southern beaches never stray far enough to appreciate it. Make sure you you take the bus or hire a car to explore Gran Canaria on your days off. Hopping over to a different island is also easy, with flights taking only around 30 minutes.
Here are some of my favourite day trip ideas:
Roque Nublo and the mountains
Roque Nublo is Gran Canaria’s most famous rock formation and is smack bang in the middle of the island. The drive up is quite adventurous if you’re not used to windy mountain roads, but it’s so worth it.
Make a day trip of it, hike to Roque Nublo and then treat yourself to a lunch with a view in Tejeda, a picturesque town in the mountains.
Puerto de Mogan
Puerto de Megan lies at the end of the highway in the southwest of the island. If you’re looking for the perfect Instagram shot and some beach fun, then this town is for you.
Despite being purpose-built over the last few decades, it has charming white alleys lined with pink and orange bougainvillea flowers. Try the ice cream at Gelatomania, it’s a must!
Maspalomas Dunes and Southern Beaches
The climate of Gran Canaria can vary greatly, even on such a small island.
So if it’s a cloudy day in Las Palmas, jump on a bus and head down to the south. Maspalomas is as touristy a town as they come, but the sand dunes are pretty cool, the beach is expansive, and it’s always sunny in the south.
Agaete Valley and Wine/Coffee plantation
Agaete is a cute town in the northwest of the island with a port area (called Puerto de las Nieves) that is super picturesque and great for a bit of beach fun and seafood. If you drive into the Agaete Valley, you can visit a wine/coffee plantation called Los Berrazales.
They provide tours and tastings for around €6 or €7, which include 3–4 wines, cheese with banana cactus jam, chorizo and bread, plus coffee and some local fruit.
There’s certainly no shortage of festivals, public holidays and religious celebrations in the Canary Islands, and no matter when you come you’ll probably catch one or the other.
By far the biggest event in the festival calendar is Carnaval, which is celebrated for a good four weeks and travels all over the different islands. Each year there’s a different theme (for example Flower Power or Fantastic Creatures) and Canarians love to celebrate and get dressed up almost every day. There are parades, shows, parties, drag queen competitions, kids carnival, and even dog carnival (yes seriously), so you can pick and choose your favourite events.
A really fun one is the traditional carnival held on a Monday in the old town, where locals and visitors all dress up in white and throw baby powder at each other.
Exercising in Las Palmas is easy and fun because there are so many outdoor options. Personally, I don’t like gyms, so I used to go for morning runs (and the occasional swims) at the beach, sometimes with a bit of beach yoga thrown in.
You can find free exercise equipment at the south end of Las Canteras beach and on the port side of the city.
There are many outdoor and indoor yoga classes that you can choose from, my favourite is run by Olivier at Playa Chica Work every Monday and Thursday at 7pm.
Every Wednesday there’s a popular free Beach Volleyball meetup on Las Alcaravaneras beach, organised by nomads and expats.
Spanish classes are obviously the most popular choice, with a tonne of language schools to choose from. I went to World Language School near Plaza Farray, which has classes for all levels. I paid €130 for a month of lessons (1.5 hour lessons, 3 times a week).
Loneliness amongst digital nomads is real, we all know it. But Las Palmas is the perfect city to meet new nomads and make friends. The nomad community is still fairly small, but growing all the time, and there are so many events every week that I’d be surprised if you felt lonely for more than a day.
ReStation is really the heart and soul of the community here, so if you’re unsure how to get started, just follow them on Facebook and go to one of their four weekly events (I wrote about them in the Coliving Section above).
There are also some friendly Facebook Groups that you can join before you even arrive.
Today, let’s talk about coworking and why I love, love love virtual coworking (and what the hell it even is).
First off though, I want to say that I’m a huge fan of coworking. But I hardly ever use coworking spaces. Sounds a bit weird, right?
The truth is, I totally get why coworking spaces work for some people. And in the past, they’ve worked very well for me too.
But now my work is very heavy on live calls, and it’s hard to find a coworking space with private Skype rooms. Plus, I am really extroverted and often I end up chatting more than actually working. #counterproductive
But I also struggle with the same challenges that most Digital Nomads encounter: loneliness and lack of motivation or feeling really unproductive.
I simply miss having colleagues, people to bounce ideas around, vent when I’m having a crappy day at work or share my wins when I’m having a good one.
Thankfully, I found an awesome way to get all the benefits of coworking, without having to change out of my pyjamas or pay hundreds of dollars for a desk every month.
Enter: Virtual Coworking.
Virtual or online coworking is a new trend amongst remote workers and freelancers and I think it’s here to stay. In the DNG Inner Circle we virtually cowork together all the time and I get so many questions about it that I thought I’d share why it’s awesome.
Here are 5 reasons why we love virtual coworking – and you will, too!
First, what the heck is virtual coworking anyway?
Virtual coworking means meeting online with one or more other real people (no robots involved… yet) to get some work done, hold each other accountable, and ideally make some new friends and build a professional network.
In the Inner Circle, we meet via Zoom for 2 hours at a time, set our goals and then work in Pomodoros. It’s fun, it’s productive and it’s totally location independent.
And here’s why this is so awesome:
1. Accountability from anywhere
If you’re anything like me, you might have days where you feel super motivated and get lots done before it’s even lunch time.
But on other days, I end up binge watching the Gilmore Girls until 2 pm or meet friends for a 3-hour brunch. On a Tuesday.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this flexibility and it’s great to be able to do this once in a while. But when it gets a habit, it’s not productive anymore and I start to feel guilty.
The lack of structure and accountability we have a digital nomads is super exciting in the beginning, but after the novelty has worn off, it can actually be a huge burden.
Virtual coworking is a great way to add accountability to your life, no matter where you are, how long you’re staying or whether there’s a big nomad scene.
Knowing that there are other girls working at the same time, getting their work done, is extremely motivating. And by incorporating virtual coworking sessions into your days, you start creating a bit of a routine, which can help so much with feeling overwhelmed or unproductive.
2. Make new friends
This is definitely my favourite part of virtual coworking, it’s a fantastic way to make new friends.
When I say loneliness is one of the biggest challenges not only digital nomads face, but most people who are self-employed or business owners, I’m not exaggerating.
Working by yourself every day sucks a bit, but it’s not always avoidable.
Over the past year or so I have made so many new friends during our coworking sessions, I can’t even count them.
Girls from all around the world join in and they all understand each other’s struggles, help each other out, ask for feedback, hire each other and yes, make friends.
When I used to work in a lab and hit a road block, the first thing I’d do was to share it with my lab mates. Sometimes they had faced the same problem already and could point me in the right direction, other times we tried to figure out a solution together.
It was fun to be able to bounce ideas around, get and give feedback and generally work together, even if we all had totally different projects we were working on. We still had each others’ backs.
When I started working online, I very quickly realised that I was pretty much alone with my questions. That’s why I started DNG in the first place. And virtual coworking spaces take this concept much further than a normal online community could.
During our coworking sessions, we see each other face to face but we can also share screens and links. We’ve audited each other’s websites, helped design workbooks, tweaked web copy and tonnes more.
It’s so great to have a space and bunch of women to ask these things in real time.
4. No more bye-bye’s
If you’ve been around the digital nomad block for a little while already, then you’ve probably tried out a few coworking spaces.
But they are really quite peculiar if you think about it. We want nothing more than escape the cubicle and once we have, we then pay good money to go work at an office.
Of course, I totally get the pros of coworking, I’ve had many a coworking session which was fun and productive.
But the big problem is, as soon as you say goodbye to your current location and move on to new shores, you’re gonna have to start totally from scratch.
It can be quite disheartening and even take a while to feel settled again. You have to reintroduce not only yourself every time you move, but also your business.
I found it easy to lose momentum.
What I love about virtual coworking is that you never have to say your bye-byes anymore. Because you can work together from anywhere in the world, you can stay up to date on each others projects and challenges and help each other out.
5. Get sh*t done
And last but not least, you get lots done. Even though our sessions are just a few hours long, we get tonnes done because we set goals together, check in regularly and also get much better at judging how long certain tasks actually take.
The girls use the virtual coworking sessions for all sorts of tasks, from boring admin tasks that need to get ticked off, to creative work. Others have written whole online courses over multiple sessions, or used the time to pitch new clients.
It’s totally up to you what you work on and the focused time can be beneficial to all sorts of tasks.
For example, I love writing my newsletters during virtual coworking, but I also often do customer support, emails or batch social media content.
After a few sessions, you’ll get the hang of what tasks you like to tackle.
So, is it time to try out some virtual coworking yourself?
There you have it, virtual coworking is awesome and definitely a trend that’s here to stay.
So where can you try out virtual coworking? You can either make a virtual coworking date with a friend, of even better, join our virtual coworking community, the DNG Inner Circle!
We have coworking sessions almost every day now, hosted either by myself or a member. Plus we do other fun ways to foster real community for us nomad girls, like live Q&As, Virtual Mixer Parties, our Book Club Meetups, Monthly Goal Setting and lots more fun stuff.
Settling in is hard. I know this sounds crazy for someone who’s been travelling for over 5 years, but whenever I arrive in a new place, the first few days I’m a bit uneasy, questioning why I even left the last place because I liked it so much and thinking I’ll never like this new place as much.It usually doesn’t last, but I know now that this feeling is quite normal for me, so I give it time to pass.
It takes me a long time. Even if I’ve been to the place many times before, it’s just an adjustment and for me it takes a long time.
It’s important to make the best of your time in a new place. A few years back, I spent 6 weeks in Berlin. We split our time in different apartments and neighbourhoods, and I never fully felt settled. I didn’t have the best experience, and I think part of it comes down to me never feeling like I’d settled properly.
Thankfully I’ve come up with a few tips, routines and exercises that help me settle into a new place when I arrive which I hope you’ll find helpful!
As always pick what works for you and ignore the rest!
10 Rituals, Exercises and Tips that Help Me Settle into a New City
1. Travel Slow
The rule to rule them all: TRAVEL SLOW. I repeat: Travel Slow.
I’ve met dozens if not hundreds of nomads over the past years and one thing most of us learn eventually is that attempting to travel to fast is the worst you can do. I’ve met girls who travelled to over 40 cities in 6 months!! How they get any work done in the meantime is beyond me… but the point here is, it’s not sustainable.
Eventually this kind of pace will take its toll on your health and your productivity.
I know there’s a whole world out there and you want to see it all. right. now. But try to slow down as much as possible.
I now try to stay at least one month, better 3 – 6 months in one place. You’ll have to find your own pace, but remember, slower is usually better as a nomad.
2. Plan ahead as much as possible
One of the keys to settling into a new place is to plan ahead as much as possible.
Some people are planners, other more spontaneous, it’s up to you how much prep you want to do, but a certain amount of planning will not only make the actual travelling part easier, but also settling in once you arrive.
Things I like to prepare:
Figure out what the sim card situation is. Will you need a new one, or can you use your Sim and roam (like in most the EU now), where can you buy one once you arrive. For me, knowing I’ll be able to connect (and use Google Maps) is super important as it helps me feel more relaxed in a new place.
Where are you staying? Sometimes you don’t want to book ahead for your whole stay, but booking a place to crash for at least the first few days will help ease any anxiety you might have about arriving in a totally new place. Then once on the ground, you can find a more permanent solution.
Make some friends pre-arrival. How do you make friends before you’ve even landed? Facebook Groups of course! Whenever I plan a trip to a new place I reach out to other nomad girls in the DNG Facebook group and also join a few local digital nomad, expat or traveller groups. Not only can I ask some question about the new place, but I might even set up a coffee date with a potential new friend or coworking buddy on one of the first days after I arrive.
3. Take your time
Another important rule when it comes to settling into a new place, is to take your time. Some people only need a day or two, others take a week or even two or three. It’s ok. You can’t really change this about yourself, so accept it and be kind to yourself.
My boyfriend for example arrives at an Airbnb or flat we’re renting, rearranges the furniture to his linking, puts away his stuff and finds a cosy working space to set up his laptop stand, mouse and keyboard. Et voilà, he’s arrived!
For me, it ain’t quite that easy.
It can easily take me a week or two to feel like I’m even halfway settled, even in places I’ve been to multiple times before. I know that now and just take it easy.
And despite being a total extrovert, I don’t force myself to be sociable too early on. I need a couple of days just for myself, to feel comfortable at home, buy my favourite groceries (and tea!) and walk around the neighbourhood to get my bearings.
4. Plan your ‘perfect day’
This is a relatively new ritual of mine that I started when we arrived in Medellin, Colombia after living in Las Palmas for over a year and it really helps settle into a new city, plus it’s fun!
If you’re not familiar with the perfect day exercise, it’s a simple visualisation exercise where you write down in great detail what your perfect day looks like, from the moment you wake up, to the moment you fall asleep at night. It’s a great exercise to find out what’s important to you and what you want your ideal life to look like.
As much as I love this exercise, as a nomad I’ve found it really tricky as my perfect day wasn’t always feasible. For example, I love to channel my inner Moana and spend time by the ocean, but in Medellin that wasn’t possible.
That’s why I now go through the perfect day exercise every time I arrive in a place that I’ll stay for longer than a week or two.
For example, in Las Palmas I like to go for a run along the beach a few mornings a week, but in Chiang Mai I’m landlocked, plus there’s a lot of traffic, air pollution and a lack of proper pavements or a park where I could run. So running wasn’t really an option for me there (I don’t like gyms much).
Instead, I made sure the place we were staying had a pool (I wish I could have a pool everywhere!) so I could go for a swim in the morning.
Once you have explored the new city a bit and know your neighbourhood, go through your whole day and come up with a perfect day. This will also help you adjust your routine to your new surroundings. Planning to eat dinner at 5:30 pm ever night might work well in North Carolina, but won’t fly in Spain where you might starve by the time your tapas are served at 10 pm.
I created a free checklist for you which also includes a worksheet with the Perfect Day exercise, you can download it here > >
5. Tell Google you’re ‘Home’
As soon as I arrive in a new apartment I whip out my iPhone and do a wifi speed testset my Google Maps address to ‘Home’.
This is super crucial as I have a terrible sense of direction and knowing I have my new home saved, means I can always find my way back without the need for breadcrumbs (couldn’t help myself, sorry!).
If you’re not quite as “orientationally” challenged as me, then you can skip this step.
6. Actually do a speed test
Most of us do this anyway, but knowing I can rely on my wifi at home makes me feel so much calmer. I like to also do speed tests in cafes to see if this could be a good potential working spot.
7. Walk everywhere
Now that I can safely find my way home, it’s time to go explore a bit. In order to get your bearings, it’s really best to just walk around your new neighbourhood, get a bit lost, find cute cafes or shops and your nearest grocery stores.
If you’re in a big city, find out what the deal is with public transport, do you need a monthly pass, what are the operating hours etc.
Also check if there are any local bicycle shares like Mobike in Chiang Mai, if there’s Uber or Grab available and how much taxis cost. Knowing how to get to different places in town will help you feel much more independent and if there are any events or meetups you want to go to, the barrier will be much lower already.
I even do this in places I’ve been to before as things change, restaurants disappear (rest in peace ‘Los Girasoles’), new tram lines appear and it’s just nice to get the lay of the land.
8. Make friends
There’s no way I’d ever really feel settled and comfortable for longer periods than maybe a couple of weeks if I didn’t have any friends to hang out with.
Of course, you can’t expect to make new ‘best friends’ (best friends are a tier, remember, not a specific person) everywhere you go, but I do find it important to have some buddies to explore local markets with, go on adventures and meet up for a bowl of ramen or three.
If you’re more introverted and don’t find it so easy to make new friends, you can also plan your trips around your friends.
So either travel somewhere together or visit friends in different places. It’s always easiest if they’re fellow digital nomads as you’ll get each other’s lifestyles and they won’t be disappointed if you have to, uhm, say… work.
Personally, I work mainly from home for a few reasons which I’m gonna share in a separate post with you soon.
Suffice it to say, I’m a bit of a couch potato when it comes to my work set up, but I do like working outside a few times a week because I find it helps me focus. I prefer working from quiet cafes (or better: tea houses), ideally ones that also serve food as I can then use the need for pasta as a motivator to leave the house and work outside.
Find a couple of places you feel comfortable working so you know where to go when you feel like a change of scenery.
A lot of my nomad friends swear on coworking and even if you don’t want to join a full-time coworking space, you can still cowork privately or virtually.
In many nomad hotspots (and plenty of other cities too actually), you can find local coworking groups, usually freelancers who meet up regularly at cafes or libraries and get some work done together. I love this concept as it’s a great way to combine meeting new friends with being productive and getting out of the house.
If in-person coworking isn’t feasible for you, then virtual coworking might just be the perfect fit.
What is virtual coworking?
Basically it’s like real-life coworking, just that you meet on Zoom or Skype; you can take a look at what that looks like right below!
Sounds crazy? I personally do virtual coworking multiple times a week in our DNG Inner Circle, and some of our members are so hooked, they do it almost every day and plan their schedules around the sessions.
It’s awesome because the barrier to join is extremely low (hello, I sometimes show up with a towel on my head) and it can be very productive and sociable at the same time. Win win win.
Bonus: Have a leaving routine
This is more about settling out than settling in, but knowing what you need to do before you leave a place is equally as important as knowing what to do when you arrive.
I’ve got a new personal rule that I need to know minimum one month in advance what I am doing, otherwise I get super anxious and am not able to focus on anything. That also means know when I’ll be leaving, how I’m getting to the new place and what I need to prepare.
Getting all my travel ducks in a row means I have to stress less which in turn means I arrive less stressed in a new place.
I also allow myself to take the day before travelling off if possible, so I have enough time to pack, say goodbyes, and do any chores that need doing (like last minute mani pedis or equally important stuff).
Phew, who knew I had so much wisdom stowed away about settling into a new place. One thing’s for sure though, as I continue to travel and adjust my travel style, I’m sure my settling in routine will also change.
I hope a few of these tips will help you settle into a new city quicker and with more ease and if you need a bit more help, you can download our Settling In Checklist for free right here.
The Settling In Checklist includes a full checklist of everything to do before you arrive to a new spot, once you arrive and even how to plan your departure and will help you settle into a new city quicker. Plus – just for fun, I threw in our Perfect Day Exercise worksheet so you can get to planning your perfect day in your new city.
In this series, we’re chatting with our Digital Nomad Girls Retreat Alumni about their experiences at a DNG retreat! We’re so excited to feature these amazing ladies and to invite all of our old and new members to join us at our retreat taking place in Javea, Spain this year in June!
Hi Sienna – please tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Sienna Brown and I’m an entrepreneur and expat dedicated to helping others build lives that they love, no matter where they are in the world. I’m originally from New York but have been living in Spain for the past five years.
I’m the founder of Las Morenas de España which is a platform and community that provides resources for women of color looking to move abroad and build a life they love. I also work for Sun and Co., one of the leading coliving spaces in Europe (and home of the DNG retreats) as the head of communications and business development!
Apart from all of that, I also have a personal brand that focuses on teaching entrepreneurial women how to advance in life through mindset, discipline and habits without burning out. Phew!
While I’m not 100% nomadic (I like routine too much), with my work I have a ton of flexibility to work remotely and hop around from place to place as I please.
Why did you decide to join us at the retreat? What motivated you to join?
I joined the first DNG retreat almost three years ago for a few reasons. I had been in Spain for a couple of years already but was really missing the entrepreneurial, driven community that I used to have back home. I don’t remember exactly how I heard about the retreat, most likely on Facebook but when I saw that it was only two hours away from where I was living at the moment, it was an immediate yes!
I was excited to not just meet likeminded women doing great work but also to explore another part of Spain, which I now call home!
One year later when DNG came back to Javea, I was actually then working at Sun and Co. so I got to attend the retreat again and help on the organizational side of it all.
How has the retreat impacted your life as a digital nomad?
The retreat has impacted my life in so many ways!
To be honest, if I had never gone to the DNG retreat I probably wouldn’t have the life that I do now because it introduced me to Javea and Sun and Co. Not only that but the DNG retreat brought together so many wonderful girls who I have since collaborated with and become friends.
What were your biggest takeaways from the retreat?
Some of my biggest takeaways from the retreat is the importance of learning and growing with other people outside of your field. It was really nice to be able to connect with a ton of women in different sectors but also in different parts of their journey.
What’s your favourite memory from the retreat?
One of my favorite memories from the retreat was probably laughing hysterically with Anna Le Constant in so many different moments. It was such a freeing feeling to be in a comfortable space and to truly be yourself with a support group of ladies.
Are you still in touch with any of the girls from the retreat?
For sure! It’s been almost 3 years but some of us are still in touch and support one another personally and professionally.
It’s been really cool to also see how everyone has grown since we first met as well. Post retreat I have also traveled to visit some of the ladies that I met and we’ve also had new experiences together as well.
Would you recommend the retreat to a friend?
I’d absolutely recommend the retreat to a friend. It’s an amazing experience and I think it’s a great fit for anyone looking to expand their circles, learn from others and have a good time in paradise!
I’ll actually be at this retreat (but on the organizational side) so I can’t wait to meet you there!
Thank you SO much Sienna for sharing your experience with us! If you’d like to find Sienna online, you can contact her via her ! If you want to find out more about the Digital Nomad Girls retreats, you can find all information here.