One year ago, our account manager Rachel Day’s life took a turn for the adventurous. While most of the DI team had settled into a steady WFH routine punctuated by weekly visits to our sunny brick-and-beam office on the Charles, Rachel decided to pack her bags and hit the road.
Rather than working from a zoom-friendly desk, Rachel worked from wherever she could find Wi-Fi. She oversaw comprehensive marketing campaigns for our clients from picnic tables, diner booths, coffee shops, ski lodges, her car… wherever she could find a place to set up her laptop. And she’s done a phenomenal job!
Rachel’s experience proves that, on the DI team, it doesn’t matter if your “office” is under the roof of a fancy office building or the big sky of middle America. As long as you pour your heart into everything we do for our clients, great ideas can really come from anywhere.
We talked with Rachel to get her story from her perspective. We hope you enjoy getting to know her, and her take on digital nomadism, a little better.
What inspired you to start working from the road?
I grew up out west with a family who prioritized traveling and being outdoors as much as possible. When I left for college out east, I had visions of post-grad city life, living in glamorous apartments with my best friends from college, and getting brunch downtown every Sunday. I’d spend my money on pretty clothes and furniture I couldn’t afford. Maybe I would adopt a cat in a year or two.
When I started 2021 in my new role at Digital Impulse, I was determined to make these visions a reality, buy an apartment in Boston, focus on my career, and lay down roots on the east coast.
That didn’t end up happening.
Instead, I spent the first four months of the year in Utah, re-discovering how much I loved skiing and how much I loved meeting new people to ski with.
At the end of the first four months, I told my parents I wanted to travel the country for the summer in my car. They heard me out and voiced their predictably parental concerns about my safety and work-life balance. But in the end, my excitement vetoed their worries, and they supported me 150%.
What were the logistics of starting your life as a digital nomad?
Together, my family and I looked at converted camper truck builds and potential routes that would allow me to visit family and friends I’ve been fortunate to accumulate.
When I got my vaccine and bought my brother’s old Subaru at the end of April, I left the snow for southern Utah, and then Arizona, and then Massachusetts, and then Florida … and then 15,000 miles around New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Hawaii, and California.
The majority of my summer days (at least the weekdays) were spent with my laptop on a campground picnic table or plugging away in coffee shops throughout smalltown America, answering the same question daily from colleagues and clients “so….where exactly are you now?”
What was it like exploring the country?
Most of the time I was in seemingly unremarkable places. Two nights in an Iowa state park near the small town of Pella. One night in a parking lot in Pennsylvania farmland. Hours at rural truck stops in my passenger seat with the window down, typing out my next email.
While vloggers I followed posted epic journeys canoeing in the boundary waters and climbing mountains 14,000 feet in the air, I would debate between stopping to see the World’s Largest Pistachio or getting Subway. But I realized that traveling wasn’t just about seeing Instagram-worthy places; it was about the moments I got to experience.
What are some of your highlights from the past year?
I got to meet people who grew up in small towns and loved those places with their whole hearts. I got to watch my friends get married. I visited Nashville with my best friends after wanting to go for years. I spent a day at my favorite childhood theme park with my brother. I played board games with my sister-in-law’s family on a rainy summer night. I raced my mom when we went hiking to try and beat each other’s best times. I learned how to mountain bike with my friends. I sat by a firepit with my dad and told him about my day. I went dress shopping with my mom’s best friend. I ate all the hummus in my friend’s fridge. I saw how people had grown up from when we got into mischief years ago.
Do you plan to keep working from the road?
After months of being constantly on the move, I just finally returned to Utah. For the first time since the outset of my journey, I had no big epic trip in my future. The long, winding road had come to an end. It was time to settle down.
I changed my residency, bought furniture, and decided that Utah was my new home. I spend my workdays in my home office until 3 p.m. Then, I headed over to the mountain to get a couple of afternoon ski laps in and think loosely about what I’ll do when the snow melts.
How has this experience changed your outlook on life, and your work here at DI?
I’m lucky enough to be at a place in life right now with all the flexibility I could dream of and even more fortunate to be with a career and team that supports me in saying yes to everything.
My life at 25 is not what I had envisioned for myself at 21, but I’m happier for it. I’m not sure what will be next for me as I work remotely for DI, but I’m excited to see what 2022 will bring.