For the next several months, i'll be bicycle touring around Europe as a digital nomad. With me, I'll have everything i need to live, work and stay creative. As the owner and designer of Oopsmark, this time is intended as a creative sabbatical from the workshop to both focus on marketing/business development as well as foster inspiration for new products or projects. I have no intended route or itinerary but plan on visiting 15 of the top cycling cities in the world and of course, cycle through vineyards to tests as many wine bottles as i can in the bicycle wine rack.
Obviously, not every job can be done remotely, but this is changing and can be seen in the rise of the freelancer. Even if you work in an office, working from home can be much more productive. Ask your boss and see what happens. As an environmental engineer, I used work from home once every two weeks and it worked out just fine. One can imagine how a computer programmer or graphic designer could work remotely, but how would a maker work remotely?
Oopsmark designs, makes, sells and ships Innovative Gear For People on the Go Internationally, so it wasn't clear at first how i could possibly be away from the workshop and continuing selling products. It certainly couldn't be as easy as just getting up and going. Although selling could happen from a laptop, products still need to be made and shipped. The solution was two fold. Last year we started using a local fulfilment shipper who stores and ships our inventory every time a sale is made on our site. To get ahead of production, my right hand, Zachery and I spent the winter building as much inventory as we could. With assembly help from local artists, we built enough inventory to cover expected sales while i'm away, This freed me from the workshop and set the wheels in motion.
Since starting bicycle touring, I've become much more of a minimalist, and my wardrobe has changed accordingly. Most notably, i've traded in my cotton clothes for an almost exclusively marino wool attire. It's designed for exercise, so it breaths and wicks moisture but also looks great when you're sipping lattes in a posh french cafe. Because marino is antibacterial, you can wear the same shirt 24 hrs a day for several days before the wolves start howling. At 80$-120$ a shirt, it's worth it because you need less and you're skin can breathe. So, up top, I'm sporting 2 shirts, 2 long sleeves, 2 tank-tops and a Canadian tuxedo top for good measure. My favourite marino brand is Ice Breaker, but i also carry shirts from REI and MEC.
For the legs, I'm carrying one pair of shorts, a pair of pants, marino long underwear and some cycling leggings. For the feet, I wear marino socks under my GIRO cycling shoes. These shoes are great because they have recessed clips in them so i can clip in while cycling or blend in in France. For weather emergencies, I've also brought full an Arcteryx hard shell top, bottom and mid layer. Funny enough, this is almost my exact wardrobe year round in Canada where temperatures can get down to - 30C or more.
Forget the tent, camping hammocks is where it's at. After a long day on your feet, there's nothing more relaxing then climbing into the hammock and feeling like you're back in the womb. I use a Hennessy hammock, made out on the west coast of Canada. It weighs nothing and takes up no space. A -5C sleeping and a mini inflatable mattress make it all the more comfortable. For luxury items, I have a frisbee because it's a great way to meet people, doubles as a cutting board and is the best way to fan a fire. It was hard to resist bring my Jabra Move Bluetooth Headphones, because they rock.
In my case, working on the road, means content creation, emails and phone calls. Like many who work abroad, I'll be doing marketing so I need a laptop and a phone. Unlike many marketers, I produce all of the content for my products, so I need to take pictures, record videos and bring the products i wish to market with me on the road. For photography, I decided on the Sony A5000 Mirrorless Camera. It's much smaller than a clunky DSLR and can take better pictures because it has less optics to blur the images. It also does a great job of recording video and is somewhat of a vloging camera. To record audio, I brought the Rhodes Lav mic so I can record audio right to my iPhone 5SE, on which i can direct edit all my videos from the comfort of the hammock. To keep the juice flowing, a Jackery travel battery pack that will charge my phone 9 times.
For marketing purposes, I brought Oopsmark products that i can use on the trip as well as show to potential retail stores. For this trip, I brought, the Bicycle Wine Rack, U-Lock Holster, Everyday Belt, Smartphone Bracelet, Opinel Sheath, I-Phone Holster and Mini Wallet. Lucky, these are all products I designed for myself and I mostly take them where ever i go anyways. So it all works.
To design and think I have Mole Skin journal and then a Kindle Paper White to read and get me out of my head. To carry it all, I'm using the Urban Bike Pack which doubles as a backpack when walking and a bicycle laptop panier when biking.
That's an office in a bike bag.
You might wonder if it's more or less expensive to live on the road like this. It depends on how you do it. Since bike touring takes up so much time, you don't really have time for spending money the way you do back home, going out for cocktails or hitting the movies. With no spare room in the trunk, you can't really buy much so spending is limited to food alcohol and accommodation.
Accommodation is the killer, but sleeping in a hammock is free and apps like warmshowers offer cyclist a free place to crash, get washed up.... and tap wifi. Airbnb is pretty expensive and isn't very sustainable on the budget.
On a 1.5 month trip bicycle tour in Argentina last year, I made almost as much airbnbing my apartment back home then i spent everyday camping and eating. In countries like Argentina, Norway or Sweden you're allowed to camp anywhere or 'free camp'. In other countries you're not allowed but do it anyways. :)
On this trip, deciding to dump my apartment was an easy choice. Since making the shift to a more minimalist lifestyle, i've purged the majority of my belonging so there was little left to store.
Food is food so that almost cancels out.
So, I can't say for sure yet how much it costs, but my previous experience lends me to believe that i'll be spending less money. I'll follow up later on with a more in-depth report.
I look forward to introducing you to the characters i meet along the way and the unknown adventures that await.