Krista Elvey is a communications manager from the USA traveling the world with Remote Year Cousteau
Why did you decide to come on Remote Year?
I found RY through a design blog I follow, and doing something like this was something I thought I’d be able to pull off, years in the future, maybe after I fell into a lot of money. Full disclosure: When I learned they were opening applications, I cried. And then I applied. It’s been my dream to do something like this since I was a teenager.
What are you working on for the year?
I work full time for a Seattle-based nonprofit, and my biggest task for this past year was project managing the redesign of our organization's website.
On a personal level, I’ve put a lot of work into learning how to improve myself and manage my time better. When you work a 9 to 5 job, you tend to do the same thing and get into a routine that makes the idea of taking on a new project impossible. This year, I focused a lot of energy on trying to understand what I actually want and demystify that thing people refer to as discipline. I worked the same number of hours remotely as I would have sitting in the Seattle office, and traveled to 23 countries. Time management matters.
How did you find yourself a remote role?
My job has remained exactly as it would have been if I stayed in Seattle. If anything, my responsibilities actually increased because of a promotion I received right before I started Remote Year. So I am doing the same job I would back home, just from around the world.
What would you say to others looking to bring travel into their lives?
If you’re looking to take a short-term trip to a country or two, my advice would be to stop reading this and book your ticket right now. Take your vacation. Go. Have a blast.
For people contemplating long-term travel, be sure you really know why you want to. Travel is one of those things where you’ll get out of it exactly what you put into it. A lot of people travel to run away from something, but I find that when you travel, all of your problems and securities travel alongside you. It won’t always be fun, it won’t always look like Instagram photos; it’s real life, but with a nicer backdrop.
Traveling with a group is amazing, but it’s also important to go somewhere alone, even if it’s for a long weekend. Go live out your version of Eat, Pray, Love. You’ll be glad that you did.
Who do you hope to be by the end of Remote Year?
I’m a part of Cousteau and this is our last month. Sigh. Now, at the end, I’m finally learning how to take time for myself and understand the value of my energy and be more aware of how I spend that energy. In your 20s, you want to make a mark on your career and say “Yes” to everything. Spoiler: You can't do everything. This year I've learned how to dedicate time to self-reflection and then spend my energy on projects and events that matter to me.
What does your typical day look like?
We’ve travelled across seven or eight different time zones this year, but I’ve worked the same amount of hours (if not more) that I would back home in my office. Part of the reason my job let me go on RY was because I would keep some of my hours aligned with the Pacific time zone. I’ve gone from working 10am to 6pm one week, and then 5am to 1pm the next week when we changed continents.
Remote Year makes it very hard to keep any semblance of a routine, but I always work roughly the same amount of hours daily, just with shifting brackets. The chaos of my routine (balancing work, life, and everything else) made me better at discipline and making my days balanced, no matter when they start and end.
Where does your passion for travel come from?
I come from the Midwest in the U.S., and I was always curious about what else there is in the world, even though I wasn’t exposed to much outside of the region. Maybe watching Carmen Sandiego had something to do with it. Because of how my childhood went, I was never in one place for too long, so I like to believe that prepared me for how to be the adult I eventually became. I guess I’ve always felt more comfortable in places I’ve never been before rather than places I’m familiar with.
When I was 24, I won a design contest and moved to Italy alone as a result. Ever since I came back, all of my time has been spent daydreaming about heading out again.
How do you think traveling will affect your current work?
I’m absolutely hands-down more productive than I was back at home. And that’s for a couple of reasons. When you travel, you’re more inspired; traveling with a big group of people has allowed me to be exposed to different organizations and situations that challenge me to be more effective in different environments. Working from a variety of cafes and workspaces around the world allows me to always keep my surroundings fresh, and filled with new perspectives.
If you had to be stuck on an island with another Remote, who would it be and why?
This kind of question reminds me of the fact that I kind of “won” Remote Year. I convinced my best friend, who I’ve known since we were 6 years old, to apply with me, and we both got into Cousteau together. Emotional manipulation may have been involved.
Also, in the first couple weeks of RY, I met the love of my life. I got to travel with someone I’ve known for my whole life, and someone I feel like I’ve known my whole life.
So to answer your question: I choose Travis, Cousteau's Community Manager. Third option!
Or, all three. I am not giving you a straight answer, here.
What is your secret talent?
I know more about cars and fixing things than probably 95% of people my age. Also, I’m a pretty good handyman. Handyperson?
Where have you lived/traveled to previously?
Italy, Seattle, Chicago. I’ve lived in those places, and I travelled to seven countries before Remote Year.
What book should everyone read?
Right now? 1984. Also, here's a great recommended reading list.
Your favorite digital nomad hack?
When you first pack your bag to leave home, pack everything you think you need. Then remove half of it.
3 things you can't live without on the road?
Compression bags (not the Eagle Creek ones), basically giant ziploc bags that will change your packing life.
A french press. It's a travel version with a matching mug that nests inside.
A mouse for my laptop; it helps stave off the carpal tunnel syndrome.
Where is your favorite place on the globe?
Italy. More specifically, a cafe, in the morning, in Italy.
Describe your Remote Year experience in 3 words.
“Level 3 fun.”
Describe your perfect day.
Making a multi-course meal for people that I love.
Where are you in 30 years?
I don’t know what I’m doing next month. Right now, I’m working on my 5-year plan. So: TBD.
What is the most challenging part of being a digital nomad?
Figuring out life beyond travel. Social Media in general makes it seem like travel is the end point of a life well-lived. If my dream is to travel the world, where do I go from here?
I’ve always wanted to travel more but to me, it isn't the most important indicator of success; you always feel most fulfilled when you’re helping other people or in the company of people you care about.
What is the best part about being a digital nomad?
Being able to spend time in one place and really get to know it. When you go on vacation, you’re fully booked with activities, and you’re stressed out about trying to fit an entire country’s experience into a week or two.
Being in a city for a month lets you enjoy it at your own pace; you never feel like you have enough time, but you have a chance to breathe. I really appreciate that.
Who is the most interesting person you've met while traveling?
My partner Mike, the love of my life who I met and travelled with on Remote Year. We connected during the second week in Argentina over beers and watching locals tango in the square. Our lives are a Rom-Com.