Why I Was Happy to Work During My Wedding Trip
Country #68. Montenegro. I’m here to get married—well, actually, I am already married as you read this.
We—my partner, Yuliya, and I—are down on the Adriatic coast, in the quaint seaside town of Budva. We’ve been here only a few days, but I can assure you we’ll be back. This is a beautiful, mountainous country that feels well off the radar of Western tourists, and there’s so much more to explore.
Alas, the weather gods have blessed us with days of rain so far, so we’re holed up in a great apartment we rented in the center of town. Yuliya, a Russian history professor, is working on research, while I’m writing this column as well as a couple of investment columns that I pen weekly for a smartphone app.
We are quite possibly the quintessential example of a new breed of human—the half-tourist, a breed that I think is on the cusp of exploding in number as COVID vaccines reopen global borders.
First, cabin fever has so many people eager to exercise their passport after nearly a year of being effectively imprisoned inside American borders. And second, the employment situation has shifted so that a large number of people are working remotely or have replaced lost jobs with online freelance, consulting, and/or distance-learning work that allows them to earn from anywhere.
Combine all that pent-up wanderlust with the ability to work anywhere on the planet and you have the combustible mix that will fuel an explosion of half-tourists skipping around the world for fun and profit.
Before the pandemic, this breed of half-tourist was lumped in with the term “digital nomad.” And I’m sure that sobriquet won’t change going forward. But the half-tourist is a different animal.
Digital nomads tend to alight in a country for several months—usually the length of a tourist visa—before skedaddling on to their next destination.
The half-tourist isn’t interested in living somewhere for several months, and, indeed, maintains their base of operations at home. Instead, the half-tourist pursues extended vacations that combine tourism with work obligations—much like Yuliya and I are doing here in Budva. We’re here for 10 days to explore a country we both wanted to see, but we have assignments to complete, as well. Fortunately, we’ve both found jobs that allow us a great deal of freedom to complete our work from anywhere in the world.
But ultimately, we’re headed back home.
I’ve read a good bit in recent months about the death of business travel now that the pandemic has shown that companies can survive, even grow, by way of online meetings and work-from-home employees. Maybe that’s true, though I’m not convinced it’s accurate. Still, I do know that migration experts I’ve been chatting with recently are telling me that they’re seeing a notable increase in the volume of emails they’re receiving from Americans interested in knowing more about obtaining residency and work visas. (Read more on this topic in the upcoming January cover story of The Savvy Retiree.)
And while that has nothing to do explicitly with the half-tourist (who isn’t pursuing a full-time life abroad) it tells me that the urge to venture overseas is heightened among my countrymen… which leads me to the belief that in a post-vaccine world, airplanes will be packed with half-tourists jetting about the globe, backpacks and briefcases stuffed with local guidebooks as well as work assignments.
All of which means that a half-tourist lifestyle can be a good way to segue into a more permanent life abroad. Living and working overseas, even if only for a few weeks, can give you a preliminary feel for whether you enjoy this life. And it can be your impetus for building online profiles that allow you to earn an income remotely. Through those profiles, you can find freelance jobs that allow you to fund your half-tourist adventures, and you can complete the tasks—or pick-up new assignments—even when you’re on the road.
So, find a map—and create online profiles at a few freelancer websites—and start plotting the half-tourist adventures you want to pursue in the new year. Maybe we’ll bump into each other out there somewhere the world—half-working, half-vacationing.
By Jeff D. Opdyke