Digital Nomads
February 4, 2014 by Brennan Gamwell

Sights and sounds that many of us will never experience are just another stop on the road for Bernard Vukas—from the towers of Ottoman mosques in Turkey, to the spicy aromas of rice and curry shops in Thailand, to the sounds of crashing waves just outside his workspace in the Philippines.

Bernard is a Digital Nomad—and this lifestyle is growing in popularity. Meet other Digital Nomads who travel the world in search of adventure.

Bernard, a Microsoft Office & Office 365 software developer originally from Croatia, has reinvented how he lives and works, pursuing a lifestyle of adventure and travel. Bernard now calls himself a Digital Nomad.

Taking work on the road

In 2008, Bernard was working a “normal” 9-to-5 job in his hometown of Zagreb, Croatia, and decided to try out freelancing via oDesk when the economy weakened. At first, work was slow, but soon, international contractors were clamoring for Bernard’s expertise. “When my hourly rate hit $35 and I was averaging more than 40 hours per week, I decided I could make a change.”

The “change” Bernard wanted was freedom. He’d been working traditional jobs, trapped behind a workstation for years. What he really wanted was to see the world, so in 2010, he packed his bags and embarked on an amazing six-month stint living and working in Bangkok, where he used “Couchsurfing”—an offbeat networking site that connects travelers with available "couches" (i.e. local hosts) in cities throughout the world—to find places to stay on the road.

"Thailand was my first time freelancing from another country by working online, and it was awesome!" Bernard says. "I'm not a huge fan of planning, so I also hired someone on oDesk to help organize everything. She had been to Thailand before and connected me with an organizer of weekly Bangkok Couchsurfing meetings that helped me get to know people as well."

After returning to his home in Zagreb, Bernard quickly decided to continue his journey, selecting Turkey and Serbia as his next destinations. Using an online travel agency, he booked a bus tour through the two countries.

As the bus wound its way from Serbia to Turkey and back again, Vukas made use of the time between stops to work; he’d brought an extra battery, but didn’t even need it because the bus had electrical power. When he wasn't working, he took in the sights and sounds of the former Ottoman empire.

By the time that adventure wrapped up, Bernard was hooked: Working while traveling opened up almost any place in the world as a potential “home.”

And it wasn't long before he was preparing for his next destination.

Anywhere is home

After his first two stints living and working away from Croatia, Bernard decided to completely change his way of life. He returned to Zagreb, ended his lease and quickly boarded another plane, ditching the European snow, first Bangladesh, and then for  the Philippines. For 18 months, Bernard rented apartments through AirBnB and worked from wherever he decided he wanted to be—location was completely irrelevant to his ability to make a living.

Now, Bernard is in Bangkok, Thailand, which has served as his base for a year and a half. But Bernard says he would never have had these experiences if it weren’t for the work he does via oDesk. “Taking the working relationships that you forge with your clients on the road is one of the best ways to develop new experiences,” he says.

“Before, my life was boring, and I was just waiting for something to happen,” Bernard says. Taking control of his life and his work—and seeking adventure—has enriched Bernard’s experiences in ways few of us can imagine. But living on your own terms, like he is, is achievable for anyone. “Now I get involved in work I like, and I help make things happen.”

Brennan Gamwell

Communications Manager

Brennan Gamwell is a Communications Manager at oDesk, where he focuses on managing the customer reference program to share the inspiring stories of the amazing professionals using the platform. Brennan brings with him extensive experience in non-profit and advocacy communications from his time in Washington, DC, and is just slightly obsessed with grammar and punctuation (especially hyphens). He holds a Bachelor's degree in international communications… read more

  • Clark Neri

    I really admire Bernard's story eversince, I've read his story on Mr. Spreadsheets before. Such a great inspiration!

    Keep sailing Bernard!

  • vegetadtx

    Great story! I hope to be in a story like this one, someday! :)

  • public adjuster

    Great Story, and so true.

    Bernard has worked for us before years back and he is one of the most professional Odeskers you will meet.

  • http://vagabondians.com/ Glenn Dixon

    Great story!

  • tacticianjenro

    Awesome stuff! Well, there are ways to make the traditional work environment an adventure too!