Ask a Digital Nomad: What Are Your Favorite Places?

Feb 16, 2017    /    digital nomads + full-time travel

Photo credit.

Welcome back to my digital nomad series, in which I ask 4 – 8 location independent professionals to answer a question about the digital nomad lifestyle. The point? We all do it a little differently. There’s no right answer. Our unconventional lifestyles are distinctly our own.

Today’s topic is what are your favorite places? For those who spend their years bouncing from place to place, which ones make it onto our most-loved lists?

Here’s what a handful of location-independents had to say:

Gigi Griffis

Hey again, it’s Gigi—a long-time (almost 5-year) digital nomad, architect of this little slice of the internet, book author, and content strategist/copywriter/coder. I travel the world with my pint-sized pooch, Luna, and my boyfriend, Chad. In my free time, I swoon over new foods, hike tough trails, take too many photos, and read a lot of books. I’m currently in Rome, probably stuffing my face with artichokes and gelato as we speak.

Traveling full-time since: May 2012

Continents visited: Six (all but Antartica)

I spend most of my time in: Europe

What do you look for in a place?
I usually pick my destinations for their beauty, mild climate (at whatever time of year I’m traveling there), and access to good, fresh food. I prefer small towns or mid-sized university cities over big, bustling metropolises. I almost always choose mountains over beaches. I’m not a big fan of driving, so I try to choose places where I won’t need a car (read: Europe). And, of course, since I work remotely, I can’t get too far off the beaten track unless I’m on vacation, as I need good Wi-Fi.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for food? 
Italy is my top pick in the food department, followed closely by Paris. My favorite food experiences—tasting real balsamic vinegar in Modena, having the best pizza of my life in a tiny hill town above Cinque Terre, eating Roman-style artichokes, being led to that hidden-away artisanal gelato place, and eating crazy, experimental meals by chef artists—have almost all happened in those two places.

In Italy, food is very regional, so if you’re traveling there for food, know what you’re on a quest for and plan accordingly. Looking for the original pizza? Naples is the place. Cannoli and granita? Head to Sicily. Balsamic vinegar, real parmesan, and parma ham? That’s the Emilia-Romagna region.

And Paris is the place to be for amazing baked goods and creative, top-tier restaurants.

If I had to pick some honorable mentions, I’ve also had amazing food in Costa Rica, Austria (schnitzel, darlings), and, to my surprise and delight, Slovenia.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for views and scenery?
Well, there’s a reason I chose to live in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland for two years. If there’s an ugly corner of that region, I couldn’t find it. You’ll find everything from vast fields of wildflowers (with distant snowy peaks towering above) to cool, green forests to treeless mountaintops with views that seem to stretch into eternity.

I also fell in love with Botswana’s Okavongo Delta for its landscape and animals. Think lines of elephants outlined by the sunset, blue-water marshes full of tall, thin, green reeds, tree trunk canoes floating in the shallows, and more stars than you’ve ever seen in your life.

Other places that have charmed me with their beauty include Slovenia (think: fairytale castles overlooking mountain lakes, mountain walkways surrounded by mossy rocks, and winding bright-blue-green rivers where you can see all the way to the bottom), Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast (where the rocky mountains nestle right up against the sea), and Germany’s Black Forest (for a haunting experience of twilit forest pathways and fog-wreathed hills).

Where’s your favorite place to travel for nightlife?
When I need evenings out with the girls, Paris is the place I think of, both because I have some lovely girl friends there and because I’ve been to so many excellent bars there. In general, I’m not a nightlife person (I’m usually in bed early and up at the crack of dawn), but when I think of going out, I think of Paris.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for culture/the arts?
I don’t spend much time in museums or art galleries, but I do love great theater. And for that, there’s no place like New York.

Where have you encountered the nicest people and/or had the easiest time making friends?
Ghent, Belgium. There are nice people to be found all over the world, but for me there was just something special about Ghent. The whole town was full of artists and chefs, singers, dangers, creative types. Everyone was open and thoughtful and of all the places I’ve been in the last five-ish years, this is the one where I made the most friends and felt the deepest connection with those friends in a very quick timeframe.

What are your favorite beach towns?
I found Saint-Jean-de-Luz, along the basque coast of southwestern France, truly charming and, while more rock than actual beach, the coastal towns of Croatia (particularly Brela and Split) had some stunning sea views.

Outside Europe, Sayulita, Mexico, was probably my best beach experience. Think cheap living, plenty of sunshine, live salsa music (and dancing) beachfront, surfers, yoga, and a multi-cultural community.

And if we’re counting oceanfront areas that don’t have much by way of beaches (because they are rocky or cliff-studded), Cinque Terre, Italy, and Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast make the cut, as well.

What are your favorite mountain towns?
Home to 72 waterfalls and just as many hiking trails, views of some of Switzerland’s tallest peaks, and an international sports community that ebbs and flows in the town, Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, located in a valley between two popular ski towns, has always been a favorite, as is the ski town of Murren just above it on the cliffs.

Kobarid, Slovenia, is also stunning, with its views down the valley and over the turquoise Soca River and Lake Bled is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

What are your favorite big cities?
I spend most of my time in smaller places, but I do have a special love for Paris (especially the charming Montmartre neighborhood) for its food, culture, ease of getting around, beautiful streetscapes, and quiet lesser-touristed corners.

I also adored Ljubljana, Slovenia, which won me over with its pretty cobbled streets, enormous green spaces, unexpected little jazz clubs, and wonderful food festivals.

If you had to settle down somewhere tomorrow, where would it be?
I think Slovenia would be my top contender if I had to pick a place tomorrow. I love the scenery, the food, and how close it is to everything. I love that it has some tourism, but it’s still a bit quieter and more affordable than its other EU counterparts. And I love how tiny it is…how easily I can get anywhere in the country and anywhere in Europe, really.

What are the three places you’ve spent the most time (outside your home city/country)?
Switzerland (having visited many times and then lived there for several years), France (probably 6+ months scattered over the last five years),  and Italy (which is probably around the 6- or 7-month mark after this current trip).

You can find more from me here at gigigriffis.com, on Facebook, or via Instagram.


Stephanie & Celine

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Celine and Stephanie have been living a nomadic lifestyle as mixed-race lesbian couple for over a year. Celine grew up on Hong Kong and London and is a former civil servant turned English teacher. Stephanie is German but a self-proclaimed Londoner and has been location independent as a translator and writer for over five years. We both prefer to travel to non-touristy places (think East Asia over South East Asia, the Middle East over the Mediterranean). Somehow, most of our time is spent on islands famous for being somewhat eccentric. Japan and Ireland are among our favorites. We erratically and unprofessionally blog about our experiences at queernomad.com.

Traveling full-time since: 2015

Continents visited: Five (Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia)

We spend most of our time in: Europe and Asia

What do you look for in a place?
We are both city girls and are really drawn to big, busy, multicultural places. Good wi-fi is a must, as is good public transportation or walkability and a large variety of at least semi-healthy food options. Good running routes are also a bonus for us.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for food? Why?
Stephanie: Seoul, South Korea! Korean food is amazing, with such bold flavors, very fresh seafood, and lots of veggies. There is also a very social and creative cooking and eating culture…from Korean-style sashimi to BBQ to cheap chicken and beer joints to meals that consist entirely of side dishes, food stalls, markets, Buddhist temple cuisine…

Celine: Japan is definitely one of my favorites. There’s such a great variety for local and Western-style food. That said, I think nowhere can beat London! You can get authentic versions of just about any cuisine at a good price. I grew up in Hong Kong, which many call a foodie mecca, but in comparison to London, food is actually very low quality and overpriced (there’s better Chinese food in London than in Hong Kong).

Where’s your favorite place to travel for views and scenery and why?
Ireland, especially the northwest of the island. The Irish countryside offers a unique mix of wilderness, amazing locals, and food, as well as layers of history. If you are extremely lucky and there on a lovely sunny day, it’s marvelous! If you’re not so lucky, it’s grey and cloudy, maybe a bit cold, but still prettier than the city’s concrete buildings and grey sky. If you are extremely unlucky, then perhaps brace yourself from gale force wind and showers. But even in the rain and mist, it’s worth it.

Iceland comes close second for Celine.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for nightlife and why?
So, we are not very nightlifey people, but London is good for that, with its pub life, independent theaters, and a lot of cultural venues that are truly outside the box, including LGBT-friendly venues. Osaka comes a close second for cheap drinks and food and teensy little bars that sit only up to five people.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for culture and why?
This is a tough one, culture is our main motivation for travel, alongside food (isn’t that culture, too?). We go to museums and theatres and explore all things cultural everywhere.

Looking back on 2016, this year’s culture highlight for us was Ukraine. There is so much to explore there, from ancient history to opera and ballet, different food traditions to folk art, churches and modern hipstery stuff. Especially in the east of the Ukraine (nope, it’s not all a war zone), people create amazing things to deal with the issues their country is facing.

In general, South Korea and Japan both do a very good job promoting their traditional cultures, i.e you can try on their traditional clothing and explore temples or palaces.

Where have you encountered the nicest people and/or had the easiest time making friends?
Stephanie: Osaka, Japan. People are willing to bend over backwards to help a stranger. I’ve even had people offer to drive me to my destination when I just asked for directions (multiple times). People are more extroverted and less shy here. “Saving face,” consumerism, and appearances are not so important to people here as elsewhere in east Asia.

Celine: This is a bit different for me, since I just blend in with the crowds in Asia and don’t receive any special treatment. I find people in Ireland and Ukraine very friendly!

What are your favorite beach towns and why?
We’re not beach people, but enjoy beaches along the Irish coast (which are virtually always too cold to swim). Strandhill in County Sligo is a lovely place with high quality, modern pub food, coastal walks, and a unique seaweed bath/spa. It’s also popular among Irish surfers, so worth checking out if that’s your thing. The surrounding county is amazing, too.

What are your favorite mountain towns and why?
Celine: The best so far that stays in my memory was Yoshino in Japan (famous for cherry blossoms, but also good for a hike all year). It was so beautiful when we were there during the low season!

Stephanie: If I had to pick one, I would say Cusco, Peru. It’s quite touristy because of its proximity to Macchu Picchu, but people are incredibly kind and it’s one of the best places to get to know Andean culture.

What are your favorite big cities and why?
Stephanie: I like cities that are a bit rough around the edges and are at last a thousand years old. London, Osaka, and Hamburg (Germany) fit the bill there and are places I consider livable (for myself). I keep going back to Seoul and Hanoi (Vietnam), as well.

Celine: All the big cities that I like have rivers/canals or are right by the sea! Hamburg (Germany), Basel (Switzerland), Osaka (Japan), London (UK), Galway (Ireland), and Verona (Italy) are my top picks.

If you had to settle down somewhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Hamburg, Germany. We were trying to make Osaka happen as our base, but Japan is not very welcoming to minorities of any kind, so it’s unlikely for us as a mixed-race lesbian couple.

What are the three places you’ve spent the most time (outside your home city/country)?
Stephanie: I consider London my home city, although I only moved there in my late teens, so not sure if that counts. Apart from that, Osaka and Belfast (Northern Ireland). As a teenager, I spent many weekends in Paris because it was quite close to where I grew up.

Celine: I lived half my life in Hong Kong and the other half in London before we started traveling. I guess Osaka is now the one place that I have stayed for longer than a month. The second longest place would be the Netherlands when we were dog-sitting south of Haarlem.

Find Stephanie and Celine at queernomad.com.


Philippe & Chonticha

Chonticha

Hi, I’m Chonticha: a half-Belgian, half-Thai graphic designer who’s mostly lived in France. I’ve been a digital nomad since March 2014 (six months after my graduation). I travel full-time with my partner, Philippe.

Traveling full-time since: March 2014

Continents visited: Two (Europe and Asia)

We spend most of our time in: Europe

What do you look for in a place?
Good weather tops our list (we prefer cooler weather to hot), alongside food, good coffee, walkability, good Wi-Fi, and things to discover (architecture, nature, culture, business…). Of course, cost always matters and we also look for a bit of a nomad community and a good vibe (Chonticha particularly loves Ljubljana and Belgrade for this).

Where’s your favorite place to travel for food?
We both love Thailand (Bangkok) for its crazy street food and range of cost options, Japan (Tokyo) for its seemingly infinite delicious options, Czech Republic (Prague) for cheap, high quality eats, and Italy for the kind of cheese and cold cuts you won’t find anywhere else. For nice cafes and restaurants, our picks are Bali and Belgrade.

Philippe also adores France (for the cheeses and cold cuts) and Porto for good petiscos.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for nightlife?
I’m not a party person, but Ljubljana has a chill vibe that made me feel like having cocktails every night beside the river (Chonticha says).

Where’s your favorite place to travel for culture?
We’re big Europe fans. It’s small, but culturally very dense. Chonticha also loves Japan for cultural travel and Phillipe adores Italy, Portugal, and France with their historic buildings still in use, archeologic remains.

Where have you encountered the nicest people and/or had the easiest time making friends?
We’re not super social, so it’s hard to say, but we met cool people in Bali (locals and travelers are great and the Couchsurfing community is very active there), Thailand (it’s a bonus that Chonticha speaks Thai), Hanoi, Serbia (where we were constantly getting free stuff from the local shops), Portugal, and Japan (so welcoming).

What are your favorite beach towns?
Canggu, Indonesia, is a bit crowded, but the weather was great June to October, pretty quiet, strong surf, semi-local vibe, and great food options.

What are your favorite mountain towns?
Philippe lived in Megève, France, before being nomad; it’s posh, has historic architecture and most amenities while being small. Grenoble (France) is a real city at the foot of mountains. Sofia (Bulgaria) is cheap and at the foot of mountain, too. Kamnik, Slovenia, seems nice, though we passed through quickly. And Taroko (Taiwan) is wonderful.

What are your favorite big cities?
Tokyo, Japan! We loved everything about it. In our three weeks there, we didn’t find a single downside.

Aside from Tokyo, we really liked Bangkok, Thailand, with its craziness, street food, and total chaos, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, (a very livable coastal city), and Singapore, which Chonticha can’t get enough of (though the weather isn’t great).

If you had to settle down somewhere tomorrow, where would it be?
In the Alps, if we could afford to travel frequently, in a cheap and cool place. And if finances were tighter, it’d be a struggle to pick between Canggu, Belgrade, Prague, Tokyo, Harajuku, or Venice.

What are the three places you’ve spent the most time?
Canggu, Prague, and Lisbon.


Aniko Villalba

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I’m Aniko, a 31-year-old Argentinian-Hungarian who has been living as a digital nomad since 2008. During these eight years, I’ve traveled alone, with friends, with my family, and now with my husband. I’ve backpacked, couchsurfed, and hitchhiked. I’ve been a housesitter. I’ve traveled by boat and by bus. Right now, I choose slow travel, which is what fits me best at this moment. I work while on the road, as a writer and photographer. I write two blogs. I publish in magazines. And I have self-published two books. I’m a fan of big cities, stationery stores, swimming pools, and walking.

Traveling full-time since: 2008

Continents visited: Five (Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America)

I spend most of my time in: Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

What do you look for in a place?
My requirements change moment-to-moment. If I’m working while I travel, which is most of the time, I look for a nice workspace, some privacy, and good wi-fi. I really enjoy being in big cities, and in that case I like to be in a place with good food. If I’m traveling in smaller towns or the countryside, then I look for views.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for food? Why?
Malaysia! I love Malaysian food and can’t get enough of it. When I was living in Asia, I went to Malaysia five or six times and I always found very friendly people and a good excuse to try a new dish. As Malaysians say: “It’s all about food.” I’ve been dreaming about roti canai and teh tarik since 2011, the last time I was there.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for views and scenery and why?
I’m an ocean person, so for me the best views have some water in them. I love the Caribbean and it’s turquoise color, but at the same time I enjoy walking around very small towns in places like China, where the scenery is almost always beautiful. But if I had to choose a country, I think Iceland is one of the greatest places for scenery: it’s amazing anywhere you go.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for nightlife and why?
Spain, especially Barcelona and Madrid. I spent a few months in Barcelona and went out almost every night, even if I had planned not to. There’s something about that city that makes me want to wander the streets and go to bars with friends. Madrid is also great for that and it reminds me a lot of Buenos Aires, my hometown, which is another great place for nightlife.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for culture and why?
I went to New York for the first time a few weeks ago and I loved its cultural life, especially all the bookstores, design shops, and stationery stores. Tokyo is another favorite for this, as well as European cities such as Madrid (I love to go to El Prado Museum just to see “The garden of earthly delights” by Bosch), Paris, and Barcelona.

Where have you encountered the nicest people and/or had the easiest time making friends and why?
The first time I went to Perú I was surprised about how friendly the people were and how much they reminded me of Argentinians. Now, two of my best friends are Peruvian and I met them during that first trip. Spain is another place where people are really outgoing and where I’ve made many good friends.

What are your favorite beach towns and why?
It’s hard to choose, but I think my favorites are Barcelona, Penang (Malaysia), and Biarritz. Barcelona is by the sea and it’s full of things to do, I never get bored of it. Penang’s beachs may not be so great, but the food is amazing and the people are very friendly. And Biarritz is one of my places in the world, I love the ocean, the food and the basque macarons (I don’t like the rain, though!).

What are your favorite mountain towns and why?
I’m not too much of a mountain girl, so I don’t really have a favorite spot, but I would definitely go back to any mountain town in Iceland.

What are your favorite big cities and why?
Big cities are my thing. I really enjoyed my time in Tokyo, where I spent almost two months, and Kuala Lumpur, a city I visited many times. Both places are very different but equally great to just walk around and explore whatever catches your attention, which is what I like to do in big cities.

If you had to settle down somewhere tomorrow, where would it be?
In Biarritz, right by the ocean.

What are the three places you’ve spent the most time (outside your home city/country)?
I lived about a year in France (my husband is French), I spent about eight months in Indonesia (it was my base for traveling around Southeast Asia), and I’ve been many times in Perú visiting my friends.

Find Aniko on Instagram, Facebook, her travel blog, her creative writing blog, or her portfolio site.


Elena Rego

Elena Rego

Elena Rego is a writer, soul cultivator, and digital nomad committed to creating work that elevates humanity through conscious living where it applies to food, feminist spirituality, and life design.

Traveling full-time since: May 2016

Continents visited: Four (Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia)

We spend most of our time in: Asia (mostly Thailand and Bali)

What do you look for in a place?
This is something we are constantly refining. Finding what we need is still a bit of a crap shoot, but we look for all the following equally:

:: A culture and country we are interested in

:: A home base (usually through Airbnb) that has high speed internet and comfortable spaces to sit and work

:: An area that has good local food as well as coffee houses we can hang out and work in during the week when we want to get out of the house

Nightlife (bars and clubs) aren’t as important to us as cultural events or sights to see when we’re exploring the country. It is also a bonus if there is a co-working space and community nearby to work and meet others living similarly. One of the ways we create community wherever we go is by going to co-working spaces, meet ups, and other social gatherings that center on one of our interests.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for food? Why?
Italy, hands down! Though next year we are going to spend some time in Mexico and I suspect this answer will change.

Italy was both a surprise for me and a beautiful revelation. I have a huge gluten intolerance and was so afraid I’d not be able to eat anything. But the beauty in Italian food culture lies in the belief that to eat is to live. It’s both sustenance and a celebration. If you’re afflicted with an illness that makes it near impossible to eat about 75% of the cuisine, you better believe they are all going to work hard at finding a solution to this, and they have.

While traveling through the country not only did I have zero issue with finding gluten free pasta and bread, but it was by far the most delicious and well-made gluten-free food I’ve had anywhere else in the world.

Beyond that, Italian cuisine is intensely regional, so there was a great variety from region to region, and each cuisine had a story that reflected the region we were visiting. The food is simple, clean, bursting with flavor, and I honestly had never really had a good tomato until stepping foot in that country. I could go on and on about all this.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for views and scenery and why?
I can’t think of a single place we have been to so far that didn’t offer amazing views and scenery. When I leave a place, I invariably declare it my favorite only to change my tune when I’ve gone to the next place.

That said, highlights for me include:

:: Cinque Terre in Italy. The light across the buildings all built into the side of the cliffs was spectacular and never the same from day to day.

:: Cortona, Italy, was that way because of the medieval structures and the rolling hills filled with farms and old structures that made it seem as if we were living in a completely different time.

:: Cuba was another major highlight for us. There is likely no other place in the world like it and being able to take in both the countryside and the city (which seems to be suspended in time) was both a delight and a shock to the system. It’s beautiful in its decay, neglect, and celebratory color zipping about town in the form of 1950s vehicles. It’s definitely a must-go-to destination, especially now before the rapid changes create an entirely different world down there.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for nightlife and why?
My current answer for that is Seminyak, Bali. It’s not as loud and crazy as Kuta, but a great place to go out for drinks, live music, and great food. Shops are open late and it’s close enough to the resorts and Kuta, which are heavily touristed areas, that you get a really urban feel with loads of people walking around at night hopping from place to place.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for culture and why?
Europe. I’ve only been to Bulgaria, Spain, and Italy, but there is so much history, art, and architecture. I could spend a month just in Florence, Italy, alone taking in art and historical landmarks.

Where have you encountered the nicest people and/or had the easiest time making friends and why?
I’d have to say Bali. We have been fortunate enough to make friends everywhere we have gone, but Bali has an extra level of sweetness and warmth that both Jon and I fell in love with. Everyone is very friendly, eager to meet you and learn about where you are from as well as share their own story and extend help if needed. It’s a beautiful culture.

What are your favorite beach towns and why?
Our home base in Maui was in the town of Haiku. Down the way, along the famous Hana Highway is a sweet and well-known beach town called Paia. Good food, nightlife, small enough to not overwhelm and big enough to have a bit of variety in activity. If you keep going from Paia, you can catch the best surf (some would say in the world) both at Ho’okipa Beach and further down at Jaws (Peahi). However, for me, just between Paia and Haiku was this little beach only really known to the locals with small access that I just loved…it’s quiet, very little surf, and perfect for escaping all the usual crowds that flock to Maui’s famous beaches.

My best beach days in my life have been on this beach. Quiet, gentle tide as it’s protected by a reef, blue waters like nothing you’ve ever seen, and always just a handful of people scattered about. I’m pretty selfish about my beach time this way. I don’t like crowds, noise, or, worse, people laying out next to you blaring random music. This beach lacks all of that. It was a dream come true and one I miss all the time. I’m not going to tell you the name because…well, you get it.

What are your favorite mountain towns and why?
My favorite mountain town is Idyllwild, California. We have a family cabin there and it’s a lovely, artsy, small town, with a great eclectic group of people that make it easy to stay and never want to leave. The cabin has been in Jon’s family for over 35 years now, but he and I together have been going for the last 13. We actually spent four years living there before moving to Maui and just loved it. It now serves as our repacking station between trips and when the weather is perfect, which means cold with a chance of snow, we stay a little longer to enjoy the fireplace and catch up with friends.

More than anything for us, Idyllwild is our preferred pace: slow, quiet, enough time and space for meaningful conversation, and the kind of population where, no matter where you go in town, you always run into someone you know. It’s also beautiful!

What are your favorite big cities and why?
Rome, Italy! It’s got a great combination of history, modernity, great shoes, and amazing food. The city never sleeps either. You get just as much entertainment from being out at a club as you do just sitting on the steps at a piazza people watching. There is a constant energizing pulse going on through the city and it makes you just want to stay up and wander ’round the clock.

Washington DC: If all I could do in a city or town is spend my days going from one museum to another, I’d be the happiest girl in the world. Throw in beautiful scenery, history, and great pubs and restaurants? I’m a goner. I’ve gone to DC on my own three times just to get a hit of the culture and vibe going on there. Interestingly, I like it alone. There is both this frenetic energy going on under the surface because so much is going on there, but there is this beautiful and contrasting privacy that allows you to wander alone and never feel lonely.

If you had to settle down somewhere tomorrow, where would it be?
If it had to be tomorrow, we’d likely stay in Idyllwild, California. We love it there and have a community established there. But one of our running conversations takes place each time we land in a new place: Do we like it here? Could this be the place we settle down? We haven’t found that place yet, likely because for both of us, there are still so many places we want to see.

Find Elena at Walking the World Together, Facebook, and Food Practice.


Linda Dorman

linda-dorman-lyon-france

Hey there, I’m Linda. I help organizations explore growth opportunities in new markets across the world, focusing on food and travel trends. Since 2003, I’ve lived and worked in more than 40 countries, primarily in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. I recently graduated from Le Cordon Bleu’s Culinary Arts program and am also a Certified Culinary Travel Professional by the World Food Travel Association. Prior to my culinary career, I led global strategy for Experian, an information services provider of data, analytics and software solutions.

In 2017, I’ll be launching a new food and travel-oriented website for consumers so I’m currently spending a lot of time scoping out emerging gastronomic destinations.

Traveling full-time since: 2012 (and off-and-on long before that)

My path to becoming a full-time digital nomad has been a winding one. From 2003-2012, I spent 50% of my time outside the U.S. working with international teams to open up new markets for Experian. I was “on loan” to the Asia Pacific region for 5 years and worked mostly in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. During that time, I also visited Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. When that region was up and running, my focus was re-directed to the Americas where I worked in Brazil and Mexico for 2 years and in Canada for a year. Throughout this period, I had been travelling to Europe and the U.K. but hadn’t really spent much time in any one country. So when I started DSA Global Advisors in 2012, I decided to explore more of Europe and have been doing that for the last few years.

Continents visited: 5 of 7 (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America)

I spend most of my time in: Europe

What do you look for in a place?
Since much of my client interaction is conducted online, fast and reliable Wi-Fi is a must. There’s a lot of information available on well-known food cities, so I’m more interested in discovering the next tier of up-and-coming destinations that are creating unique local food experiences. On a non-work note, I personally prefer mid-sized walkable towns over big cities or rural areas. I like to be close to markets, shops, cafes, and public transportation. Beyond that, finding cities with great food halls and a super low cost of living are my top priorities.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for food? 
Right now, it’s all about food for me. My favorite place to travel for food is Lyon, France. It’s like foodie heaven because they take it seriously and, really, the whole town is designed around the love and appreciation of good food.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for views and scenery?
I’ve always thought Venice, Italy, is the most beautiful and charming city. There’s just a special magical feeling about it, especially at night. It’s a great walking city and there are lovely squares all over where you can sit and talk by the fountain or have coffee in a local café. If you take the local water bus (vaporetto), you can enjoy all the sights along the canals and hop off whenever you want, including on the islands of Burano, Murano, Torcello, Giudecca, and the Lido.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for nightlife?
Right now, it’s Barcelona because there are a lot of autumn festivals and the city really comes alive after the sun goes down. Just this week, I walked 10 minutes from my apartment to find an orchestra playing and people dancing in the square. Then I attended a colorful street parade and 3D projection light show at the town hall and, finally, encountered a lone violinist playing a sweet tune next to the cathedral. It’s totally safe to walk around by yourself, even late at night, and the people are friendly and helpful.

Where’s your favorite place to travel for culture?
I think maybe Shanghai because, although it’s fairly Westernized and has a vibrant energy comparable to New York, it has managed to retain some of its original Chinese culture in terms of art, design, music, and fashion. I remember on my first trip to Shanghai I asked for a street map (this was before apps existed) and was told they don’t print them because as soon as they’re printed, they’re out-of-date. That’s how fast things change in Shanghai.

Where have you encountered the nicest people and/or had the easiest time making friends?
I’ve been so fortunate to meet the nicest people wherever I’ve been. I can’t even think of a city where I’ve encountered rude or inconsiderate people! Maybe it’s because of my age; I find that most cultures outside of the U.S. show a great deal of respect for older people. I also try to learn to speak a little of the local language, adapt to their customs, and be kind to the people I meet. I’ve kept in touch with many of my Airbnb hosts and friends that I’ve met in each city.

What are your favorite big cities?
I still adore my hometown of Chicago and, in the US, San Francisco and New York are my favorite big cities (although they’ve become way too expensive to live in). They all have incredible food communities and there’s always something to do and see.

In Europe, I enjoy Barcelona and Stockholm for the same reasons.

In Asia, Shanghai and Hong Kong are my favorite big cities. In all of these cities, there’s a real energy and intensity you can feel.

If you had to settle down somewhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Lyon would be my first choice, if I could afford it. As the third largest city in France, it’s just the right size, not too big nor too small. It’s only an hour from Geneva and a couple of hours by train to Paris or Barcelona. I’ve been there in June and in December and both are great seasons, plus I love that the whole town smells like fresh flowers and trees in the summer.

In the morning, I’d go to Marché Saint-Antoine street market to buy meat, fish, and produce and to chat with the vendors. In the afternoon, I’d walk along the Presqu’ile, the center of Lyon between the Rhône and Saône rivers and visit charming boutique shops in the Old Town (Vieux Lyon) or explore some of the less touristy neighborhoods like Brotteaux to the east or Croix-Rousse to the north. And in the evening, I’d enjoy a meal at one of Lyon’s famous “bouchons,” a typical restaurant that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, and admire beautiful tree-lined streets like Rue de la République, Rue Édouard-Herriot, and Cours Franklin Roosevelt.

What are the three places you’ve spent the most time (outside your home city/country)?
Spain, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.


Now to you, dear readers, what are your favorite places for food, landscapes, mountain towns, beach vacations, city breaks, and more?

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