Even though it took me a long time to make the decision, it sounded so easy once I made it: just find a work you can do from anywhere (which for me was becoming a freelance graphic designer) and you can combine it with your passion for kitesurfing. It was definitely the right step for me but it would take me a few more months to figure out how I can get the best out of the kitesurf world and still work productively and professionally.
So here are 11 steps to help you find your personal kitesurf-work-balance as a digital nomad and combine both passions successfully.
1. Find the right kitesurf conditions
Since my main motivation for starting into the digital nomad lifestyle is that I want to kitesurf more, I knew I had to find the right conditions to be able to combine those in the easiest possible way. Which simply meant, for the kitesurf part: research is the key.
What do you expect from a kitespot?
To me, it is a high wind chance. There is nothing more draining than sitting at a spot, waiting for wind. This is why I personally choose spots, where I know I have over 70 percent wind chance. This way I know I will be able to work calmly during the day and can still go for a long kite session in the afternoon e.g. in Brazil, where the wind blows constantly the whole day. If you need spot inspiration in general, check out my guide on the Top 10 Kitesurf Spots.
Things to consider when finding the right kite surf conditions:
- high wind chance
- research when the wind is usually up (spots like in Cabarete are more the lunch/afternoon kitespots, which will give you plenty of time to work in the mornings, other spots like e.g. Limnos have wind from the early morning on until lunch time, the wind drops most of the days after lunch/afternoon, so it’s best to go out in the first half of the day)
- research how far from the spot you will be, if you need a car, how much the car will cost (if you need to drive to the spot like in Tarifa it’s additional time and cost that you should calculate if you want to work productively as well)
- you can also check out my kitesurf spot guides, in some I specifically add a lot of infos for digital nomads
2. Stay for a month or longer
Every time you go to a new place, the first days are the most exciting ones, it takes a while until you found out where to get your SIM-Card, your favorite coffee, the best wifi, where to go to the gym or which route to take for a morning run, where to meet new people at night or which supermarket has the right selection of groceries you need.
It’s always a new adjustment, so moving every week or so wouldn’t be manageable, at least for me. If you want to establish a productive work routine, you need some time at the spot to get into the vibe and flow of a place, get to know the kitesurf spots, the wind habits and the locals. Personally I enjoy staying for at least a month or longer to get the best out of my work routine and get to really know the place.
3. Find a kitesurf spot that is also “liveable” and “workable”
Some of the world’s best spots, like e.g. Los Roques have the amazing kitesurf conditions but don’t have a work friendly environment. It was the most memorable kite surf spot I have ever been at but I realized after a day I wouldn’t work the week I was there.
A good kitesurf & working spot might be different for each and every one of us
I met people, who can spend six weeks in the middle of nowhere in Hamata, since it has everything that they need: perfect kitesurfing conditions, fast mobile internet but you are literally in the middle of nowhere and except for your hotel and the small restaurant at the spot, there is just DESERT. I would go insane. It was a great spot for a week or two, but I couldn’t stay there longer.
So find out what you need:
- Do you love going to work in cafes? Or do you need a coworking space? Or do you want to work from your airbnb apartment and therefore need a bigger place to rent with wifi?
- Do you like tiny fisherman villages or do you need some city vibe? Or changing between those two?
- Do you need some nightlife in the evening?
- Do you have to do client work and need to work e.g. every morning, in which case you should also consider the time zone your kite spot is in?
All those questions that I also ask myself every time were the reason why I created a Facebook group called Kitesurf Nomads, so that you can ask other people who travel from spot to spot and actually live there, what it is like.
4. From wind chaser to wifi chaser
As least as important as choosing the right spot: inform yourself how the internet connection is there. At some spots you will desperately need your local sim card and stack up on mobile internet, at other spots you can easily use the airbnb’s or hotel’s wifi since it works pretty decently. I would always recommend to get a local sim card if possible, just so you’re independent – there is an overview of sim cards with data packages worldwide here.
I usually ask around in Digital Nomad Facebook groups like these ones:
- Kitesurf Nomads
- Digital Nomads around the world
- DNX community German (my favorite, a very active German facebook group, there is an English one as well: DNX community International)
- Digitale Nomaden (German facebook group)
There are also super active groups for digital nomads at kite surf spots, like these ones:
- Tarifa Digital Nomads
- Jericocoara Digital Nomads
- Cabarete Digital Nomads
- Everything Cabarete (not for digital nomads specifically but very active and helpful group with lots of expats)
5. Go with the flow
To be honest, it’s hard to plan ahead. You never know, if the wind is really blowing as it has been the last decades and if the wifi is as good as promised. Once you’re there, try to stay flexible.
The internet is just not working at your apartment? Ask around, look for cafes with wifi, try different locations. This is why I prefer staying longer at a place, because this initial searching can sometimes take quite long and it starts annoying me if I have to do it too often.
Sometimes I was lucky, like when I had an apartment in Cabarete and had perfect wifi on the terrace while having an ocean view to die for. Or when I came to Isla de Coche, Venezuela, and other digital nomads, who were staying there for already quite a while, told me which apartment to choose to be closest to the router (which worked out perfectly).
6. Find your daily routine
Routine is oftentimes a bit dreaded and seen as something negative. When I started into the lifestyle, I realized: too many options and all the freedom I could possibly have, weren’t good for my productivity. I guess it’s different for everyone, but it helps me to have a certain routine.
I love to have a morning routine:
- As soon as I get up I meditate, using apps like headspace or calm. When I’m in a hurry I just think of a few things I’m grateful for, which is a happiness-booster for me and then think about a few things I’m looking forward to today, which fires my motivation and gets me pumped for the day. We also created a facebook chat with a few people called “Daily Gratitude Group” where you have to write 3 things every day you’re grateful for. I love this since you don’t only have to think of something yourself but the other’s points spread the happiness over to you.
- Then I’m ready for some morning sport (run, swim, Yoga, 7-Minute-strength-training or kite session, depending on the destination). I just need some kind of movement in the morning since I will feel like a different person afterwards.
- Tea Time. I absolutely love Green Jasmine Tea. As soon as I have my cup of tea, the day can start. Sometimes I have breakfast, most times I don’t since I’m not the breakfast person. From here on my day is quite different.
- I try to start always with the MIT, the most important task. It works like 50 percent of the time. Sometimes I prefer doing 2 or 3 really quick small tasks that are on my mind and bother me otherwise and sometimes I then get carried away. And sometimes I actually manage to start right away with my MIT.
- Depending on the wind and how constant it is, I usually like to go for a session as soon as I had a few hours of work done. Clear the mind, get in touch with nature and then I’m good to go for another productive work session.
7. Find your distractions and reduce them
One of the things I find the hardest about being a digital nomad, is that you work where others vacation. And you will most probably be the only one working, people will ask you always the same questions and still not really believe you are working.
Find spots you can work at productively
So for me for example it is impossible to work e.g. at a platform or cafe directly at a kite spot if I already know a lot of people there because there is always someone coming by and chatting with you. Also, as soon as I see someone putting up their kites or seeing a lot of people on the water, I get nervous, extremely nervous. So I tend to find spots where I don’t get distracted so easily.
Have an offline to-do-list for the downtimes
Also, when I stay at a place where I mainly work with the wifi (since the mobile internet is not good) and the wifi connection doesn’t work for a reason, I sometimes used it as a reason to stop working completely. Now I have an “offline to-do-list” in my wunderlist, so the next time I loose internet connection or have a long flight, I know how to use that time effectively. I realized that during those times I’m super effective. I can edit photos, organize photos from the last destination, edit images, write articles I don’t need research for.
Find out what is distracting you or what helps you procrastinating and then eliminate it, make it as easy for you to be productive as possible.
8. Make good use of those no-wind-days
No matter how big the wind chance is, there will always be some no-wind-days. Usually I try not to spend the half afternoon at the beach, so if I see in the forecast there won’t be any wind or if I see at the beach, the clouds will kill the thermal winds, I go back to my workspace, really calm, since I know I will use the time for something more useful for the moment and then can kitesurf longer when the wind is actually up.
9. Your tribe pushes you to new horizons – Find like-minded people with the same interests
One of the most productive times as a kitesurf nomad were when I was living and working with Marcus and Feli, the founders of the DNX, in an apartment in Jeri. It pushed me immensely seeing them work as well, I learned a lot by watching how they worked and how they were productive, and we not only worked hard but also played hard, since we are all sports addicts and went kitesurfing or surfing after work or in the breaks.
How to find your tribe
Go to meetups or if there are none – organize them yourself. Visit talks, events and conferences. It’s incredible what kind of people you’ll meet there and which connections you’ll make that’ll last long time after those events.
I like to join some tribes and like-minded people every few months, see how others work, exchange knowledge, learn from the others and make contacts that stay for life.
10. Use the power of the online world
There have been countless times, when asking questions in facebook groups helped me immensely to resolve a problem or tackle something I was trying to find a solution to but couldn’t. The groups that I mentioned in point 4 are powerful tools, use them!
There are so many helpful people out there, who are more than happy to share their knowledge with you. A lot of times I met members of those groups later during my travels in person. It surprises me again and again what a strong and helpful tool those groups are to connect, exchange infos, help each other, network and finally sometimes even meet someone in person.
11. Find a long-term-balance
I haven’t found THE perfect spot that has it all: perfect kite conditions, great working conditions and a great life evolving around all of it. Every spot has its pros and cons. It’s also all about the balance: change “spot types” e.g. go to a tiny fisherman village and then try a bigger spot with some coworking spaces and nightlife. Same for the kitesurf conditions: I really liked switching from flatwater to chop and waves from time to time. Having always the same working and kitesurfing conditions will bore you after a while.
I hope this little guide will help you to find or improve your kitesurf-work-balance or give you a feeling of what it is like to combine both.
More Resources for Digital Nomads and Location Independent Remote Workers
- Why I became a Digital Nomad
- Digital Nomad Essentials: Must have’s for location-independent remote workers
- Why being a Digital Nomad and Kitesurfer is the perfect combination
- Q&A about the kitesurf digital nomad lifestyle
- Favorite gadgets, apps and tools I use for my kitesurfing, travelling and digital nomad lifestyle
Favorite locations to kitesurf and work online
- Tarifa, Spain
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Cabarete, Dominican Republik
- El Gouna, Egypt
- Jericoacoara, Brazil
Join the Facebook Group Kitesurf Digital Nomads
Join the facebook group for Kitesurf Nomads which I created for (digital) nomads who kitesurf around the world – to network, exchange infos and maybe even meet up at spots.