July 5, 2021

Is Being a Digital Nomad Dangerous?

Is Being a Digital Nomad Dangerous?

Thoughts on health, safety, and security for highly remote workers.

In this episode, Ryan and Heather discuss different considerations for traveling and working safely as a digital nomad.


  • Creating software for different personas
  • Ryan's 40th birthday
  • Medical and insurance considerations for digital nomads
  • What3words app 
  • Security tools for remote working

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Ryan Purvis  0:00  
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines, the problems they face and how they solve them. The years they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took, they will help you to get to grips with the digital workspace inner workings.

Heather Bicknell  0:32  
Okay, that should be better. It likes to grab the Yeti as my speaker and not my microphone, which, okay. I would like it to grab the microphone. It's a microphone, but you know, I can fix that.

Ryan Purvis  0:49  
I think there's there's almost a Microsoft plenty to keep you busy by making you reset up all the things that you set up once again, and then again. And then one more time again?

Heather Bicknell  1:07  
Yeah, well, not all the other platforms, nothing's flattened. Nothing is consistent. So if I go on, zoom, my settings are different than WebEx. And I wonder why that is. But just one of the joys of our modern age.

Ryan Purvis  1:24  
Exactly, exactly. We've modernized to go backwards. Supposed to be listening with less manual work a week or more manual work? So how's your week been?

Heather Bicknell  1:38  
just you know, wildly busy. But all good stuff happening? What about you?

Ryan Purvis  1:51  
Yeah, it's been a busy week, we, we released our new user interface last week, Friday. So this week has been everything about jumping or any bit of stability or performance that we need to fix. So that seems to be quite a good week. Because we found some some things and you know, when you do a UX revamp, and I think I've told you the story, we you know, we we've come from a very archaic dotnet, two templates to a more modernized end user experience, focused design. So quite, you know, having widgets that have contextual information in them. So So and you've really got to think like, how does your customer You know, when they come in who's, you know, use some of the jargon, but a persona? Who's that person that's going to be using it? What do they what's the questions I need to answer? So what do they need to know and they will hit that first screen. already quite a nice exercise, we actually used a tool called whimsical. I just, it was just a tool, we picked it. There's nothing special about the tool per se. But we took the business through a workshop over a week where we asked them like to explain who their personas were. So we kind of worked it out this three, we then tried to understand each of those three, what they would be looking for. And then we basically came up with a landing page. That's the center of everything. And when I say the center of everything, we took all our components, and we basically just wrote them all down on the system. And then we joined as we as we sort of talked about what the center is we sort of connecting all the things together. So now we have an interconnected system. Whereas before, what we had was very much a very bland landing page that just led to navigate around to get to the information. So it's been quite a good journey. You know, like any of these things, it's it's it's high pressure. And I don't want to say frustrating, but, you know, everyone goes does get uppity. When, you know, things aren't going quickly, or, you know, there's another problem. We found all that kind of stuff. But I think we've we've got over the major hurdles. At the same time. We have a quarterly report that has to go out. And that's supposed to be released this week. And that always takes longer than it should. So I got some meetings next week to post mortem them. But also next week, I turned 40. So Oh, my mind is on that.

Heather Bicknell  4:22  
Yeah, of course. So I didn't do anything fun.

Ryan Purvis  4:28  
I mean, lots of things. So when I turned 30 I had a week of things. And it's kind of the same thing. So I'm seeing that with some friends coming over for a Bri on Sunday. Then I'm playing golf on Wednesday, which is not my actual birthday, but my actual birthday is a Tuesday. But golf is typically a Wednesday or Saturday here. So we're playing on the Wednesday. And then for the long weekend, which is UK long weekend. We're going to go up to the bush to place called a Bula. Which is quite a well known lodge at the side of the world. And yeah, it's, I'm looking forward to it.

Heather Bicknell  5:12  
Sounds nice. I love that day a week or week of things. Makes it memorable.

Ryan Purvis  5:24  
Yeah. Yes, it's it's one of I suppose the personality trait. You know, when I was, I've always, I've always organized things. So that my 30th is just one of those matches organized, all bunch of stuff. So yeah, I'm excited. I'm excited to be doing it.

Heather Bicknell  5:46  
Do you feel so much wiser now?

Ryan Purvis  5:49  
It's funny, because you're the guys that are older than me. I've lost that kind of question. So have you noticed any changes in your body there? There was like, Yeah, I've noticed when I get out of bed in the morning, it's a bit slower than normal, or a little bit slower than I'd like it to be. But in the same token, I haven't noticed that much. I guess I'm yearning for things that I've done before. That's the one thing that I'm you know, like I wanted I've been dying to get back to to hockey and baseball again. Which is kind of weird, because, you know, I've got the time even to consider those. You got to be fit and all that kind of stuff. But But yeah, it's a little bit of, I guess, in some sense of a bit karma. And maybe that's the kids maybe the kids take it all out to us. You haven't got the energy to get to get angry at other stuff. But you learn patience through through your kids. So you put them up patients with your your team and your code your co workers.

Heather Bicknell  6:50  
He also I think, as age you get that perspective into things to realize what is a big deal and what isn't, and things that wouldn't, you know, fire you up at 18 just don't matter anymore.

Ryan Purvis  7:04  
Yeah, what's it this the, I think it's the 10 step program. We call it the the creed. God give me the power to worry about things I can control and the boat, whatever it is to do not worry about things I can't control. And I think it's exactly that. I think you just got to get to a point that you worry about the stuff that you should worry about, you know, your health, your your your family, and everything else just take care of itself. But it should.

Heather Bicknell  7:37  
Congrats on the UI launch and happy early birthday.

Ryan Purvis  7:41  
Yeah, thank you. Thank you. So why do you want to carry carrier and today I wanted to carry on with what you're discussing around the digital nomad? Or do you want to do one of the links or something?

Heather Bicknell  7:56  
Which they haven't gone through them all. So maybe, maybe we'll just be safer to stick with digital nomad?

Ryan Purvis  8:03  
Fine, no problem. So what I was thinking about that what we didn't discuss was some of the medical considerations you got to have when you do these traveling these travels. So, you know, obviously, I'm in Africa at the moment. And it's funny, it's one of the things I think that's that's actually helped South Africa cope with this pandemic, is that we've had so many diseases here that you have to worry about. Yellow Fever, TB, Ebola, etc, etc, that there's almost a natural gearing up for handling these diseases, temperature checks, and, and that sort of stuff. Again, you know, not wearing masks and not sanitizing at airports is obviously a new thing. But when we've when we've traveled, we've been fairly fortunate that they kind of used to hourly to have this vaccination, I need here, a tetanus I need a hepatitis A and COPD. Remember the Arby's be in the army. You know what a yellow card with my desk, kind of put it away with all the things that I've had have over my life. That's something to bear in mind when you go to some countries, specifically going to South Americas and even parts of Asia. We need to be aware of that as well. Because you don't want to get sick in a place where no one speaks the same language as you. And that leads me into you know, the other thought which is around insurance, having some level of travel insurance that covers you for where you're going.

Heather Bicknell  9:41  
Definitely, by the way, you're frozen for me Ryan, you've been frozen for a little bit, but I can still hear you.

Ryan Purvis  9:47  
Yeah, that's that's I'm gonna say unfortunately, is the Mac and teams. Just gonna refresh the camera because often it doesn't happen with zoom. So it's definitely a mock problem. So I'm not sure what the problem is, but, but I've noticed that with teams.

Heather Bicknell  10:08  
So I think you're, you know, that you bring up some really important considerations. Of course, I think, you know, whenever you're traveling, doing the homework, seeing what is recommended, what conditions are most common, you know, probably, if there's an outbreak somewhere your government will tell you before you attempt to travel to that place. But always good to make sure you're up on everything, even the things you know, that they might not point out, you know, get your tetanus shot and whatnot, if you're overdue, because you don't want to, you know, step on a rusty nail in Croatia and then have to wonder, what do I do now? Can I go to where what kind of hospital Can I go to? How can I get this taken care of? And then what's it gonna cost me? So definitely good to be, you know, overly prepared.

Ryan Purvis  11:07  
Yeah. And we've had those situations. I mean, I remember in Hong Kong, we, my brother, and we were on one of the islands. And a comment what we were doing exactly, but he fell, he broke his arm. And we had to get him lifted, I say lifted. So they had this same Whelan's to put there was probably about a meter wide, maybe metre and a half wide, to take him up and down the mountain. Because the mountain is so you know, so narrow and stuff. And when we were inside the hospital, we didn't speak in English. And they said, Oh, you know, we finally figured out that his arm was broken, they put in a cost. I mean, it wasn't obviously even too serious. Because, you know, we're able to Kevin treated. But, you know, it was fortunate that that, you know, he was like, Northern on his own. And, and we had the, obviously the cover, and that to just sort him out. But yeah, I mean, it's important.

Heather Bicknell  12:11  
Yeah, and you're right, when you're, when you're with people, and they know how to, you know, get you help and whatnot. things, you know, it's easier to manage. But if you're a digital nomad, working and traveling by yourself, you have to be extra cautious. I know, they actually make like, you can get devices, you know, depending on how remote of a place you're going, you can get some sort of emergency device where if you hit the button, you know, it'll ping someone to come rescue you. I've done a lot of taking in sort of more areas that are a little bit farther away from civilization where you might not have cell signal, but one of that's one of the things that they recommend is to get one of those like beacon devices so that if you're in a really tough spot, you can get rescued.

Ryan Purvis  12:59  
Yeah, so I've actually been playing with an app called three words. Do we play two or three words? So some very clever people came up with this concept that you could find anybody while in order to the biggest problem that that you have in the world is not everyone has an address, and energy. You know, if you go to places like Costa Rica, I think it's one of the examples of Cuba. If you want something delivered, it's not a case of take it to never take down 23 St. David road in Johannesburg, it's take it down the road past the yellow stump, turn left at the the giant oak and it's the 15th house on your right. It's obviously a very complicated scenario. So what they came up with, is they divided the entire planet into little little squares. I think it's a meter by meter or something to that effect. And your three words are reference points to that square. So if I tell you now and they use nouns, so let me maybe I deleted the app as possible. So what three words so yeah, it's a three square meter. And I think I might have taken the app off. But like my my one right now is bunch folks raft. Those three words is great. I'm standing in right now. So if you wanted to ever be found, if you lost, you could, in theory, send someone your three words and they can go and use the app and find your three words and then find you.

Heather Bicknell  14:53  
Oh, that's pretty cool. So they just automatically randomly generate had these now. generated just across across the globe. So wherever you are interesting. Yeah, I mean, if you have enough signal, that could be a cool tool, I think that is a key if you got enough signal. It's interesting to know that wherever you're standing, there's a three word term for that exact spot.

Ryan Purvis  15:28  
It's, it's, it's quite brilliant, actually. Someone, for someone to come up with it, I think that's very smart.

Heather Bicknell  15:37  
I mentioned kind of the insurance side as well, that's one of the parts I think, like keeps cautious people like me from like, really diving into something like a digital nomad lifestyle, because especially I turned 30 this year. You know, all the things start just breaking down, right? Your 20s or so the people say, so.

Ryan Purvis  16:04  
I think it does come down to how long you in town for so for example, like with, with my UK stuff, we are basically covered. For the first 90 days, I think it is by default, in an in a country, and then we have to return to the UK. Obviously, with COVID, things have been slightly different. Because obviously, there's, there's, you know, we're stuck, we're stuck here at the moment. So, you know, where do we go. So they've given us an extended extended cover. But we've also taken up local cover, just in case, specifically, with with the vaccinations coming in, and that sort of stuff. But you know, you're gonna have to always be you have to have something because you never know. And when we've been stuck, we did a trip to Bangkok. And we were down in the islands in Koh Samui. And we had a great, great holiday, it was all fine and whatever. And we're heading back to the airport. And we saw this big sort of cloud of smoke. And when we got there, and they basically, there were fires in Malaysia, that had had created this big smoke cloud and planes were unable to take off. So we were going to be stuck there for another, another two days, but we actually managed to get on an aircraft to get out. So it's just it's just those things, you got to you know, be be conscious of, you know, the deck could possibly happen. At least you know, you can you know, you can pay for it and, and get your money back if we haven't planned for that kind of expense. But the other insurance that I have a scheduled cover, sorry, international gadget cover. So all my devices, and I had a problem with my my Windows device, which is there to replace the motherboard, that's all covered. They have a local agent that comes and fixes it for you. Otherwise, you spend a lot of time trying to find someone to fix it for you. Which which can be frustrating, especially. I mean, it's easy for me here because I know the country but but if you're in Croatia, for example, we're here to have something fixed. You know, you've got to find someone to help you to find someone to help you, if that makes any sense. So, yeah, it's just those sort of things. And I do pack a spare device as well. I find that also helps. So as I've had my iPad now bought a second device here, if you're going to be away, be away for a long time, you know, say two, three months then have a spare device.

Heather Bicknell  18:33  
What do you do for like international calls and messaging.

Ryan Purvis  18:38  
So I took out a quite a nice contract with Vodafone. It's called the Global global roaming plus. So I pay the same amount every month. And I can roam and 164 countries for the same price, so I get 25 gigs. It's, that's the target. So I get quite a good deal with them, where I can use 25 gigs with the data. All my all my calls back to the UK are free. I can also call here in South Africa for some reason, which which wasn't the case last year, so they've definitely changed something there. And then, obviously I'm contactable from here as well. Which works out quite well. Because if you try if I'm paying for a local card, then that could be quite expensive as well but but I've just taken out a very simple contract here just to have a local number. And yeah, it works. It works quite well. So we have my wife's on the same contract. So she is also contactable. We spend most of our time on data I mean, nowadays you do most your calls on WhatsApp anyway or FaceTime. So actually dialing and sending text messages is not a big deal. Because most messaging is on a messaging platform or a recording platform. So that works really well. And then, you know, fortunately, the world has matured now, because of COVID. You know, everywhere we go, there's good Wi Fi, as opposed to mediocre Wi Fi. So that's another thing to think about. And I do use a VPN. From a security point of view. Anytime I connect to Wi Fi that I don't know, that's got a VPN connection that switches on straightaway. And I use a product called wind scribe for that. So everything's secured as much as we can secure it. Using, again, using multi factor authentication, I want to go privacy screens for my screens on my devices. So I do have to do like, you know, contract review, or banking or something like that in a coffee shop, which I haven't done for a long time. Let's be fair, most of us on a phone app. Now I've got a privacy screen. And it's going through a VPN. So those are the things is, you know, almost the basics, you got to have complex passwords. So using a password manager would be another tool that I recommend if people don't have those. So yeah, that's my kit.

Heather Bicknell  21:14  
Yeah, it was a really good tools to have, especially if you're in, you know, we like to work from those public coffee shops, or any of those co working spots. Anytime you connect to that open Wi Fi is a VPN.

Unknown Speaker  21:32  

Ryan Purvis  21:34  
I did a course a couple years ago, where we were taught how to use stuff like wind scribe, I was scribe blah shock. which gives it which is your it's monitoring the the packets of network traffic. And I said tonight, and I actually went and sat at a coffee shop, and basically had a look around to see what was going on their network and you can see so much stuff without even trying. And then once you know what you're looking for, you can do a lot of stuff without even trying. So So I definitely recommend that as a basic.

Heather Bicknell  22:14  
What about, you know, other tools? I'm thinking maybe some of those can have subscriptions, whether that's streaming or music? Have you run into any weirdnesses? cross borders with those?

Ryan Purvis  22:30  
Yes or no. So Netflix is a good one. What I find with that is it works. But your content is very different. And sometimes it works for you better, sometimes makes feel worse. So your series that I'm trying to watch in the UK, I can't find but I can watch it here in South Africa. Because it's the licenses have worked that way. So that's quite a nice one. Amazon Prime works kind of the way they show you all the stuff you could be watching, but then you can't watch any of it. Because it's obviously licensed to the UK. Things like Spotify and youtube music and all that this works. You don't really have many problems. Apple Music just works. I think they've got the licensing, right in that sense. So generally speaking, most things work, it's just when it becomes geographically limited. We don't have a lot of subscriptions beyond those ones that I've mentioned. So we don't really see problems. I mean, I bring my Alexa's with me. So those are all plugged in wherever we go. So we always have that. And I'll just update the address, which I quite liked. Because if I want to know the weather, you know, I still might have to ask Alexa, what the weather is. So those things work fine. The rest of it is pretty cool. Everything else to be honest. Everything else is pretty straight, pretty much digitally. flexible. So So.

Heather Bicknell  23:54  
Yeah, I think as long as you're not going somewhere where the the content or the internet is censored in a way where you can't access them, or you don't have the Wi Fi strength to do that, then you probably pretty good.

Ryan Purvis  24:07  
Yeah, that's that's the biggest thing is, you know, we've rented this house we put fiber in. When we went to the place in Croatia, we made sure there was good internet, not just for me to work, but also for the kids going into them if you need to distract them, sometimes you don't want I don't like them what playing with iPads. I prefer their standard TV screen because usually what happens with TV screen they get bored. They go and play with I think I'm playing with something. Whereas when they're holding an iPad, they're holding the iPad so that almost creates this bond. So there's that aspect to it. To so that's part of my checklist and then the other thing is we like to walk a lot so we're always looking for places where we stay that there's a there's a place to go and walk so we can see what's going on.

Heather Bicknell  25:00  
That's great. And those are some some good technology considerations. I do need to drop from my next door. All that cool. Catching up this morning. Yeah, happy early birthday.

Ryan Purvis  25:15  
Thanks, Heather. Well, we'll chat on on Monday, I'm sure. Okay. All right. Have a good weekend. Bye. Bye. Thank you for listening today's episode of The Big Nose our producer, editor. Thank you, Heather. for your hard work for this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DW w podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website WWW dot digital workspace that works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace that works and subscribe to our newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends or colleagues.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai