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Pandemic allowing millions of 'digital nomads' to work remotely and travel at the same time

Posted at 11:34 AM, Jul 02, 2021

CHICAGO, Ill. — Madison Morine is a digital nomad. It’s a new title he’s only had since January, but it’s one he’d like to keep.

He’s always wanted to take time off from work and travel the country, but the pandemic has allowed him, and millions more, to work remotely and travel at the same time.

“The memories have been fantastic,” said Madison Morine. “I've seen things this year that I’ve never seen before.”

From the warm sunsets on a Chicago street to the breathtaking sunrises in Utah’s Salt Flats, Morine has seen a handful of states in just a few months.

Each month or so, he chooses a new city and a new adventure. He’ll stay with friends or find a place to rent for a while, and each day brings the chance to experience something different.

This trip was inspired by a dream Morine has had for a long time, and after he recovered from COVID-19, he knew he couldn’t waste any time sitting home.

“Moved out at the end of January and just decided to start hitting all the cities, hitting all the places that I would want to spend time in or live in,” he said.

His journey started in Hawaii.

“I went to the Big Island, the most magical place to spend five weeks.”

But even the magic of Hawaii couldn’t get him out of working East Coast hours.

“I would start work at about 3:00 a.m., but I'd be done at noon or 1, maybe 2, and then, I would just go straight to the beach and surf.”

Seeing a black sand beach or swimming with sea turtles on a random Tuesday made the early wake-up calls worth it.

“It’s definitely a silver lining. It's been a challenging year for most people, and I realize at the same time, not everybody even has the opportunity to do the work from home sort of gig, and that's just made me so appreciative,” said Morine of the opportunity to work and travel.

He’s visited several across the nation—stopping in Colorado, Louisiana, Texas, and now, Chicago.

In many places, he’s been able to see family and friends he missed during the pandemic.

“I've wound up at a surprise wedding that I was not expecting to be a wedding at all. There are all these little trinkets of 20, 21 that have so far been a real joy,” said Morine.

Morine is part of a growing group of traditional working professionals who are traveling while working remote, or digital nomads. This group grew by 96% from 2019 to 2020 from 3.2 to more than 6.3 million people, according to a study by MBO Partners.

The study found digital nomads are more satisfied with their jobs and their income than traditional workers, a satisfaction Madison feels every day.

“It's something as simple as going outside and just walking down the block to a park that I've not lived near before or not lived near until now. It's been life-changing, it really has, especially just coming out of 2020.”

His next stop: Mexico City.

His office is planning to return to work in the fall, but Morine hopes he won’t have to.

“Now, having tasted this nomadic lifestyle, freedom, however you want to describe it, I just don't see myself stopping,” he said.