INTERVIEW – Han Talbot – the city has a real potential to be firmly on the radar for more digital nomads
This year Dubrovnik is playing host to the project Digital Nomad Ambassadors in Dubrovnik, a year-round rotation of digital nomads in the city. And we caught up with the first of these digital nomads, the pioneer, Han Talbot
from the UK. This isn’t her first time in the south of Croatia, in fact it is her third time in Dubrovnik. We were interested in her views as she really came to the city in the dark of winter, although she was lucky with the weather, and you could argue that it is never dark in Dubrovnik. The Digital Nomad Ambassador project
is jointly organised by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board
and the Saltwater Nomads
agency from Split.
So Han you have spent weeks in Dubrovnik – what are the main impressions that you will take away with you?
This is my third trip to Dubrovnik in the last year, so as you can tell I have been well and truly bitten by the Dubrovnik bug. It really blows me away every time I come back. Even though I have spent the last four weeks in Dubrovnik in the winter period the weather has been phenomenal, the slogan of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board of "A City for All Seasons” is spot on. In fact, my host said to me when I arrived that I had come to Dubrovnik at the best time of the year. And it came true. I got to see the local activities, from the carnival to having the city to myself. I have really enjoyed it. Funnily enough I have never been to Dubrovnik in peak season. Even though I am just leaving I can’t wait to come back again and for even longer next time.
Can you describe what it is like to be a digital nomad – do you feel isolated or free?
It is a bit like going freelance, it takes a total shift of mind-set to be a digital nomad. To go from what you know, and what society has generally pushed us into, to a completely independent lifestyle. It takes a lot of grit and determination - a side of life that you don’t necessarily see on Instagram feeds. You might see somebody living a jet set lifestyle but there’s a little more to it than that and it takes a lots of hard work. I am not going to sugar-coat it; it can be tough at times. I am very much on my own, and there are occasions when I feel lonely. Although I get to chat to some really awesome people online it isn’t always the same as actually having human contact. I love it, I love the lifestyle, it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but it isn’t for everyone.
Was there one point in your life that you decided to be a digital nomad or did you just realise at some point that you were one?
I honestly think that I have known since I was about 12 or 13 years old. I lived in Spain for a few years when I was a child. And I remember I was having extra Spanish lessons. We would have these classes outside in the sunshine. We were in a small Spanish village and it was August, so it was hot, and I just loved that feeling of being outside. Then September rolled around and I thought "Oh, I have got to go back inside the same four grey walls again.” I became almost fluent in Spanish, and I think a lot of it was because of the way I was learning. Then fast forward to about ten years ago when I was a student in Brazil. I needed to find a way to do research for my dissertation because the library had gone on strike. So again I moved away from the same four walls and worked and studied in cafés on the beach and in any place that had a good Wi-Fi connection. It was that moment that I really started to figure out what digital nomads were. In 2016 I saw some viral videos with titles such as "I quit my job and went travelling around the world.” When I saw these I was jealous. But I was at the time still very much fixed on working in London, I love London and its vibe. So to answer your question I think there were several moments that lead to where I am now.
Is Dubrovnik a digital nomad friendly city?
I would say it is. Looking on the practical level, I can go into most cafés and restaurants and use the Wi-Fi free of charge. However, from a community aspect I would have to say that this side needs some more work. It will probably take time to build, and there is huge potential for improvement. But generally speaking there is so much to do, even on a rainy day in the off-season, that nomads will love it here. And not just in the city itself, but beyond the walls. And it isn’t too sprawling, you can easily visit the whole city.
How do you think Dubrovnik could be even more rewarding and attractive for digital nomads?
I suppose I would go back to the three things that are top of the list for many digital nomads. Firstly, fast and reliable Wi-Fi that is readily available. Then a digital nomad community. And finally coffee, that may sound odd, but good coffee at a reasonable price is what many nomads are looking for. As far as the community is concerned I know that both Zagreb and Split have quite strong existing communities, this is something where Dubrovnik is behind the curve a little. Dubrovnik as a destination is truly stunning, the beaches, the countryside, the city, all of this is just incredible. If there was just a solid nomad community, then I think you’d have it all.
How would you compare Dubrovnik to other cities you have worked in as a nomad?
I find Dubrovnik very chilled and relaxed. Although I have to add that I’ve only been in the low season, so it might be a different story in the height of summer. For me it is very laid back and somewhat cosy. The locals are super friendly. It is easy to get the real local experience.
On a practical level, how difficult was it to find accommodation, how easy was it to travel here and generally how expensive, or indeed cheap, have you found Dubrovnik?
Obviously the Old City is going to be pricier than the rest of the city, but that is the same in any city really. Finding accommodation, even in the off-season is slightly more expensive than other cities. I did have a look at prices in high season just to see and I nearly fell off my seat. So you can really see the seasonality in prices, again Dubrovnik doesn’t have a monopoly on this. But out of season you can find good deals if you are willing to do your research. Clearly I love it here, that’s why I can’t wait to come back.
What would be your top three takeaways from your time here?
Potential, the city has a real potential to build a community and be firmly on the radar for more digital nomads. As a digital nomad my top three takeaways would be – there is lots to do beyond the walls, the local experience is super rewarding and I absolutely love it here and can’t wait to come back.
You can follow Han via her website and social media –
Find more info on the Digital Nomad Ambassador project here