Alison Ward is a PR specialist from the USA traveling the world with Remote Year Libertatem
Why did you decide to come on Remote Year?
To shake up my routine and be challenged. I'd been in the same city for 6+ years and was craving adventure, something different. I wanted to go somewhere and become more independent -- something that traveling will certainly teach you.
What are you working on for the year?
I work for Toptal, an amazing, 100% distributed tech company and an advocate of working from anywhere. When I'm not thinking of ways to tell our story through public relations, I'm dodging tuk tuks, writing my personal blog over at www.nomadalison.com, and attempting to learn Spanish.
How did you find yourself a remote role?
I found out about Toptal through my own research, but was ultimately connected through the Remote Nation network (a testament to the strength of the community). I accepted the position about one week before I left for Malaysia. My team at Toptal was incredibly understanding during my first couple of weeks with the 23 hours (or something ridiculous) time difference. I got really lucky to be able to work for a company that recognizes and appreciates the digital nomad lifestyle and embraces the future of work while living it myself.
What would you say to others looking to bring travel into their lives?
It's better to feel like you really know a country, city, then to travel to a bunch of places in an attempt to check them off your list. The months I've really enjoyed so far on Remote Year are the ones where I actually stayed put and got to know the city and surrounding areas like a local. Sidetrips are fun and a new country every weekend is cool, but can be a bit draining (financially and mentally).
Who do you hope to be by the end of Remote Year?
Better at navigating public transportation. I still get on the wrong lines, in the wrong direction, all the time. But it's a learning process, I tell myself, as I'm doubling back on the tram for the eighth time. I also hope to become a better listener, friend, and independent traveler.
Where does your passion for travel come from?
Carmen Sandiego (I mean, where in the world, is she, anyway?) And my parents. They both lived overseas in their 20s and didn't really stop. They took us on International trips with them when we were kids and made it a fun, family affair.
If you had to be stuck on an island with another Remote, who would it be and why?
Gonna go with a mix of Britt, because she's resourceful; Michelle, because she'd somehow find the only other two people on the island and we'd become friends; and Alexandra, because I'd finally learn how to Salsa.
What is your secret talent?
I can open a banana from the opposite end and then eat out of it like it's a boat.
Where have you lived and traveled to previously?
Born in England; have lived in Washington, D.C., Guam, and Tokyo. In college, I studied abroad in Ireland so guess we can count that, and the 358 Guinnesses I drank while there, too. Before Remote Year, I had traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Hawaii, and Germany. Through Remote Year, I've added Malaysia, Croatia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and the Maldives to my list. Does the 4 hours I spent sleeping on a purple velour chair in the Singapore airport count?
What book should everyone read?
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.
Your favorite digital nomad hack?
Cook breakfast and lunch for yourself at your apartment. It saves you money and helps keep your weight under control. Plus, trying to find coffee at 8AM, blearyeyed and hangry, is always tragic and probably scares the locals.
3 things you can't live without on the road?
Kindle, Mophie battery pack, Dramamine.
Where is your favorite place on the globe?
Tokyo is still my favorite city that I've both lived in and traveled to. Good food, chaotic yet organized, a reverence for Hello Kitty.
Describe your Remote Year experience in 3 words?
Crazy. Weird. Necessary.
Where are you in 30 years?
Probably on some Thai island, eatin' coconuts, still living that digital nomad life.
What is the best part about being a digital nomad?
How you can author your day in the most fantastic way. In Thailand, you could take a boat to another island to explore a beautiful beach, and still be back in time for your 6PM conference call. Each day is different, and it's totally rad.
Who is the most interesting person you've met while traveling?
The lady who gave me 300 Baht (like $8) massages on Koh Phangan. I once saw her successfully balance her 3-year-old toddler, dinner, and a small ladder on her scooter.