Are you interested in traveling?
Is your employer allowing for more remote-working options?
Are more countries lessening their travel restrictions as we strive towards the end of the Covid-19 era? (hint: yes)
If like me, you answered ‘Yes’ to all three questions, then I have some great news for you: You can travel + not use up your PTO/OOO while taking the necessary pandemic-related & safety in general precautions!
I want to add an insight on my threat model which allowed me to travel this month: I spent all of 2020 taking care of my grandfather in a country where even the essential items (like milk) were in short supply so there was no stepping out of the front door. In 2021, I had the chance to return home, get vaccinated, and have a space where I can quarantine if needed. I still wear double masks each time I step out of the home, go through liters of hand sanitizer every few months, avoid crowds. This allowed me to take the step and travel outside for the first time, to Mexico City (CDMX).
July 2021 is a month where I have truly lived & experienced something new EACH DAY.
How? I participated in Aztec by Remote Year. Aztec was the name given to the group of 28 professionals who did a workcation in CDMX for 4 weeks. It might shock you to know that despite living in So-Cal most of my life, I have never ‘really’ traveled to Mexico.
What’s a workation? It is where you continue to work (yay for not using PTO) while living in a different city/country as a first step towards becoming a digital nomad. There are many other groups that allow such an experience, including Wifi Tribe and Hackers Paradise. The pillars for such groups are being international & diverse to foster learning as freely as possible. Each group has somewhat of the same idea where they provide a place to live, a co-working space (because work comes first), and few experiences that allow for not only adventures but also personal growth.
Our group laughed at our collective not-so-great Spanish skills, taught our strengths to each others like how to start your own business, and most importantly bonded over the Montezuma Curse and our love for new adventures like learning how to turn on the stove.
Side note: Traveling within Mexico is usually much more cost effective than flying internationally. Living so close to the border, I opted for taking a flight from Tijuana to CDMX and saved almost $300 USD. This also meant that no Covid tests were required. I still took them as my way of taking the necessary precautions.
I’m also very blessed that my management/employer was okay with my travel. Few of the Aztec members had not told their employers and spent a major part of the trip worrying that it would be found out. It may not seem like a big deal to travel without your employer approval/knowledge, but that peace of mind is priceless. Especially for a longer stay.
Packing wise, most folks checked in a bag or two, while I did the minimalist style of two carry ons. It turned out to be perfect. Hackers Paradise has a pretty nifty checklist of what to cover when you’re leaving for a month or longer trip, however, below is the tech I packed:
- laptop + keyboard + mouse. It’s so important to create a comfortable work vibe, especially while traveling.
- a portable projector. Without the comfort of a 2nd monitor, I relied on this to not only stream Netflix but also identify bugs in my code.
- few cables. It can be really easy to overpack cables, but don’t. Not only do you get to be resourceful with how you manage your devices, you can also keep it neat which is a plus while traveling back and forth to a co-working space.
Keeping my cybersecurity hat on during the trip, here are top 5 big DO NOTs when it comes to your digital hygiene in a foreign country:
- Using your Debit card (for anywhere outside a bank).
- Using the public wifi from a coffee shop/restaurant (especially for sensitive transactions like checking your credit card bill)
- Not caring about your printed boarded pass (these can become as valuable as your passport). Check out my post, Don’t Regret it, Shred it, for more details.
- Ignoring the ‘there is an update available for your device’ notifications. Check out my post, To Patch or To Not, that isn’t the Question, for more details.
- Leaving your devices unlocked. I cannot believe it’s 2021 and yet so many in the co-working spaces I visited left their devices unlocked & unattended.
Don’t wait till National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (October) to implement these basic tips.
Enough of the intro, let’s get into the tasty
In 29 days, I visited over five states, climbed seven pyramids and ate countless tacos. What I also experienced, unique to programs like Remote Year, are professional development sessions that were taught by others Aztec members. From ‘Big Boss Branding’ to ‘Coding’ to even a 1:1 coaching session, not only were these courses valuable content-wise, they also empowered those who taught them to share their passion.
I plan on sharing more detailed posts on what to see & eat while being on a budget, here are a few that this post would be incomplete without:
- Experiences to try
- Lucha Libre – another name for Mexican wrestling, even if you’re not a fan of such sports give it a try to appreciate the various genders & body-sizes that take part.
- Cenote Jumping – contrary to what I originally thought, a cenote is NOT a glorified swimming pool.
- Temazcal – much more than the sweat lodges we are used to in US.
- States to Visit:
- Yucatan – I did a 2 day trip to explore the Mayan culture here and it was one of the top defining moments on the trip.
- Morelos – I went to Amate Camp in Tepotzotlán with the Aztec group to try out a temazcal. Started the day with heavy body & emotional pains, ended it with 0 pains, a balanced state of mind, and a smile that extended from pinna to pinna.
- Puebla – for the largest man-made pyramid in the world, Tlachihualtepetl.
- Local Apps for transportation/delivery
- Rappi – they deliver EVERYTHING from groceries to cash
- Didi – much lower prices than Uber
- Beat – again lower prices than Uber
- Restaurants to must try (for a vegetarian/vegan)
I tweeted a travel tip each day that’s not your regular list of tips that you get. Check them out on the right –>
Before I end the post, another reminder to take precautions for both your physical health (masks, hand sanitizers are a requirement almost everywhere you go in Mexico), and your digital health while exploring the world. Feel free reach out for a complimentary digital hygiene session.
Landed in #MexicoCity & am looking forward to making it my own. Day 1 Tip: if you’re looking to pick up a language, read a menu of your favorite cuisine in that language. @ResCasaElefante helped remove few mental cowebs & I got a yummy meal with it. #MusaInMexico #RemoteYearAztec
Day 2 Tip: Bring something from your routine at home to ease you into the new place/life. Having something familiar will allow you to be open to new experiences without it being overwhelming. For me, it’s matcha chia pudding. #RYAztec#RemoteYear #MusaInMexico
Day 3 Tip: Feel the creative pulse of area. Find something that connects with you in the new place. For me, it’s art. It can evoke so much, allowing me to release, relearn & realize. #RYAztec #RemoteYear #MusaInMexico
Day 7 Tip: The intent might be different, doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you. The🐕 is tied to the fence with the intent that someone walking by would like to adopt him, but he chose to face the 🐕 park as that’s what gave him joy #MusaInMexico #RYAztec
** Days 10,11, & 13 were videos, so I thought to try to embed the tweets directly below**
Day 9 Tip: Being authentic is 💯 sweeter than a cup of sugar & necessary for memorable trips. Came across this ice cream shop that makes their products without sugar & it’s just as (if not more) delicious. #RYAztec #MusaInMexico
Day 12 Tip: Don’t judge a fruit by its cover (ie: do eat the local fruits)! I grew up eating lychees (the pic at the bottom) so was surprised to know Mexican lychee have spikes on them. Still 100% sweet & delicious. #MusaInMexico #RYAztec
Day 14 Tip: Screenshots can be great for taking notes. I have had to ask around for things like vegan food & iconic spots. This way I can continuously add notes with the exact location without using multiple apps/relying on Google with a limited data plan. #MusaInMexico #RYAztec
**Days 17, 19 & 21 were videos so embedded the tweets directly**
Day 16 Tip: Pick something to learn/get better at. When you come back from your trip, not only do you have a basket of memories & but also a new skill. Can you guess which skill I’m trying to perfect? #MusaInMexico #RYAztec
Day 20 Tip: Try new items for skin/hair care. I tend to be wary of trying new products (because commitment issues & $$). However, the travel size are perfect amount to know if it’s going to work for you and usually not as $$. #MusaInMexico#RYAztec
**Days 23, 26, 27, 28 were videos so I embedded the tweets**
Day 24 Tip: Check for fees! I have asked 35+ ppl, where do they pick up cash/what is the fee, and each have had the view of “YOLO, it is what it is.” It’s NOT! Fees add up, and soon what is 1 USD to 20MXN reduces to 10-15MXN. You’re basically losing money. #MusaInMexico #RYAztec
Day 25 Tip: You can pick up the local language. 25 days ago, I arrived in Mexico with little recollection of 7th grade Spanish class, today I assisted an Airbnb photo shoot as a translator! #MusaInMexico #RYAztec
Day 29 Tip: Timers on camera are a real blessing! (Re)-Discovered the 10sec countdown on my phone & it empowered me as a #solo traveller as now I can have full body shots with the buildings without relying on others to take it for me. #MusaInMexico #RYAztec @AmigoTours