INTERVIEW - Mita Carriman – Dubrovnik is a classic destination with its own unique sound
This week we caught with Mita Carriman who has been a Digital Nomad since 2017, or
as she said herself an OG Digital Nomad, from the US as we continued to
interview the nomads that are coming to Dubrovnik as part of the project
Digital Nomad Ambassadors. It was soon clear that Carriman was a digital nomad
with a twist. From her background as a New York lawyer to exploring and indeed
living in a whole plethora of countries, the twist is that she actually runs
her own successful company whilst travelling the world. And she has the New
York 24/7 attitude combined with a more laid back Caribbean vibe that comes from
her Jamaica and Grenada heritage. Impressive, motivated and open would be the
three buzzwords we’d use to describe her, but how did she describe her
experiences in Dubrovnik?
The Digital Nomad Ambassador project is jointly organised by the Dubrovnik Tourist
Board and the Saltwater Nomads agency from Split.
How did your life as a Digital Nomad begin?
I started off doing remote legal work. I was an attorney for twelve years. This was concentrated around trademark law, so I could mainly do this remotely and didn't have the requirement to be in court a lot. In fact, I purposely segued into trade law because I didn’t want to do litigation. And I soon realised that the job I was doing I could actually do from other parts of the world, basically work and travel. When I reached my one-year anniversary of being a nomad I did a life assessment. The original goal was to work remotely for three months, and it had already been a year.
So what changed the three-month plan to a year one?
I had a plan to go to Mexico, Columbia and Spain. But I guess I just wanted to keep going. After I did my life assessment after one year I quickly came to the decision that a) I want to keep going and b) I want to build a remote business around supporting nomads. And this led me to start a company called "Adventurely
,” the same company that I run to this day.
Just how challenging is it to run a business whilst working and indeed living remotely?
Yes, challenge is a good word. I started working on it as a nomad business in the fall of 2018. Our plans were to pull out all the stops in 2019 and we got some funding which was really exciting. It is always nice to have venture capital support your work. We were making great progress and then Covid happened. And that brought everything to a screeching halt. I didn’t really know what to do, but I did know that there was one country that was not very effected by the pandemic and was open for visitors. In fact, they were the first country in the world to have a Digital Nomad visa, and that was Barbados. Although Estonia was the first country to announce the special visa they didn’t have it in place before Barbados. There were lots of people from all over the world in Barbados at that time, including a significant number from the UK. So I went there and continued to work. It wasn’t easy to get through the controls at the time but once you were there it was pretty much all open.
I honestly think that my background in law helped me so much with my business. I taught me to be prudent, hard-working and disciplined. These are all qualities that you need if you want to make the digital nomad lifestyle work for you.
This is your first time in Dubrovnik, although you have been to Split before. What are your impressions of Dubrovnik?
Dubrovnik really has a classic feel to it. The history is really amped up, and I love it. This harmony of the nature, the sea and the culture is an enticing one. I have met a lot of people here who are very proud to say "I’m fifth generation,” which highlights just how proud they are of their city. And they have every right to be.
If I was to compare Dubrovnik and Split, I would have to say that I feel Dubrovnik is less of a party town than Split. Five years ago the Split vibe would have probably resonated more with me, but today this classic vibe is more to my liking.
So how would you compare Split and Dubrovnik as Digital Nomad destinations?
I think that digital nomadism has evolved and that it is now experienced across a whole spectrum. Pre-pandemic most digital nomads were really twenty year olds staying in hostels, mainly working in tech or teaching languages. I guess they were mostly younger freelancers who enjoyed going to parties and living it up. Now, that you have this global normalisation of remote work you have company executives who have the ability to work abroad, maybe not full-time but for a month or two. This has really changed the whole landscape of the digital nomad community.
I have recently looked at some data points and a lot of nomads now are in their 30s, 40s and 50s. They are saying why do I have to wait for retirement to enjoy travelling. So both Split and Dubrovnik have their own positives and negatives. Again, maybe Dubrovnik wouldn’t have appealed to me so much five years ago. But I do think that an older nomad might appreciate Dubrovnik more than Split.
So the pandemic in some ways opened up this remote lifestyle to different generations?
Absolutely. One of the big shifts of the pandemic was that you had more employee based digital nomads versus just the freelancers. People who have forged a career were now thinking about what the future holds and looking to explore a more flexible way of life and work.
Would you use the phrase digital nomad or remote worker?
I’m ok with the phrase digital nomad. When I use the phrase digital nomad people know that I am a remote worker who travels. But there are some people who do this digital nomad lifestyle but they don’t identify with that phrase, and I understand that as well.
What do you think that Dubrovnik misses, what do you think we don’t have as a destination that digital nomads need?
I would love to see a dedicated co-working space here or even maybe a café where you can pay for a co-working ticket. I do sometimes feel a little uncomfortable spending a lot of time in a restaurant or café. Of course, I will continue ordering but there is this awkwardness as I don’t want to overstay my welcome at a cafe or restaurant. Coworking offices help solve that issue for nomads, because it gives us the ability to hunker down to work for as long as needed for the day without worry.
I am the type of person that thrives on routine, and one of those routines is that I have to leave the house in the morning and feel the wind on my face and go somewhere to else to work. To make this lifestyle work, you really need to work. I know that a lot of people have misconceptions about the lifestyle, but honestly you have to be so organised and dedicated to be a digital nomad. I take my work very seriously and I work a ridiculous amount of hours.
However, I must say on the upside that the WI-FI in Dubrovnik is very impressive, that’s a massive bonus.
So does that mean you have a set working time through a normal week?
Unfortunately, I don’t have the healthiest working habits. I think that the early years of running a law firm left a lasting impression on me. I literally work around the clock. I try to take off the majority of one day during the weekend, but then I’ll start to feel guilty and check my emails or something. And work nowadays isn’t just one avenue, it needs to be amplified on more avenues.
What would be your three main highlights from your time in Dubrovnik?
Healthy eating, the Mediterranean diet would have to be on the list. I love the fresh fish, the olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables. Even the water and the bread seem healthier than anywhere else. The nature, would also be on my list. My favourite thing to do in Dubrovnik right now is to bring my breakfast outside and start the day watching the fruit trees around me. And also the calmness here. I am very big on sound design, and I know that may sound a little strange. I don’t think that every café or restaurant actually needs music in the background. There are some places where you are sitting right next to the sea, and just hearing the waves, the birds and the nature is perfect, you really don’t need anything else to disturb the sound. And I love the sound design of Dubrovnik, it is so healing, which is exactly what you need if you have a stressful job.
What do you think about the prices in Dubrovnik, are we an expensive destination?
I think that the prices are comfortable for me. Personally, the most expensive nomad destination that I have been to is Barbados. The quality of life, the beautiful nature, the friendly people, you really have it all right here in Dubrovnik and the prices aren’t restrictive at all.
Are digital nomads more likely to come in the off-season than the middle of summer? What are digital nomads saying about Dubrovnik?
There are lots of nomad online groups, like on WhatsApp, and when Croatia comes up I mostly hear people talking about Split. I think that the stories of Dubrovnik are just starting to happen. I would say that the off-season would be ideal for digital nomads to be here, right now in Spring it is truly perfect.
You're a woman traveling solo, do you feel safe here?
I do feel very safe here and I appreciate that very much. You know coming to a new city you never know what to expect, but I have to say that everyone I have met has been extremely respectful and friendly.
Is there an end to your life as a digital nomad? Can you see yourself settling down, or could you be a nomad for the rest of your life?
My story is a little different. One of the primary reasons that I started this lifestyle is that I sadly lost both of my parents to cancer in a short space of time. They were both sick for a long time, so we were in and out of hospitals for months and months. It was a painful and raw time. Two and a half years of hell. And so my notion of home changed. So I am trying to figure out what a new definition of what a home base would be for me. I don’t know the answer of that. I would like to settle down at some point, to tend a garden and make a home. I don’t know where that’s going to be but I imagine myself watering a garden at some time in the future.
You can follow Mita here -
CEO & Founder of Adventurely
• Where Remote Work Meets Adventure