The Essentials
August 07, 2019

By: Nick Dall

A new age of working in the cloud

This month we catch up with three of our Destination Experts to find out what working in the cloud is really like.

Intent on creating an environment that allows all of us to live and breathe exploration, SA Expeditions prides itself on being a 100% virtual organization with a head office in the cloud. Since going virtual in 2015, our company has grown, our revenues have soared, and our ever-growing team of digital nomads and wanderlust seekers is happier than ever. In this blog, three of our Destination Experts explain why and how the full-time, 100% remote job of designing custom, privately guided trips at SA Expeditions works for them.

Shaina Molano: Sierra Nevadas and Peru

While a remote job is new to me, my graduate work in archaeology for the previous five years did prepare me nicely for this kind of professional atmosphere. I spend part of the year at my home in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and part of the year in South America (this year mainly Peru). In both locations, I split my time between working at home and in cafés, so I get a nice mixture of home time and social time.

Shaina in her California office.

In Cusco my day is fairly basic. I wake up, work out, set up my workstation at a table on my terrace overlooking Cusco, and get cracking. Depending on what work throws at me, I knock off somewhere between 5 and 7pm and then see friends for dinner, go to the climbing gym, etc. While I’m here, I also go on hotel inspections a few days a week and take part in some of our tours to expand my knowledge of our products. I have also been utilizing our FAM trip stipends, which has been AMAZING! I just got back from an incredible Amazon lodge stay with my husband.

When I am home in California my day looks similar, but I spend more time hiking and dog walking and less touring the Amazon! One of my favorite things about working remotely is that I am not confined to one space. I really like moving throughout my day and I get to go from working at my desk to working outside to working in a social café.

My husband (who also works remotely for SA Expeditions) and I are a strange blend of chronic wanderlusters and extreme homebodies. Our jobs allow us to indulge both of these traits – and to choose when we do what. We can drop everything and travel somewhere exciting for a month while also continuing with our work. Or we can stay home for extended periods of time, which allows me to dive into cooking elaborate meals, hiking, camping, swimming, snowboarding and snowshoeing while also working.

Working for SA Expeditions is actually more structured than my graduate work (where I set my own schedule) so being present during our business hours has been quite a change for me. However, this is definitely not like a regular 9 to 5!

This job is a perfect fit for me because I get to work remotely no matter where I am in the world, while also knowing exactly what I am working for and seeing a paycheck that reflects the amount of work I put in. It’s given me financial and geographic freedom. What more could I ask for?

Tom Carroll: Cusco and London

SA Expeditions has provided my first experience working remotely. I am from the UK, but I live in Cusco with my family. When I’m in Cusco my day is pretty conventional. I have breakfast with the family before hitting my desk. After lunch and some errands, I split the afternoon’s work with a coffee break. I always work at home and only very rarely go to cafés for a quick change as I find I’m way more productive from home!

Hard at work in a Cusco cafe.

Having the flexibility to go back to the UK for three months at a time has proven to be a real perk. Though the time change requires some getting used to (my business hours stretch from 3pm to midnight, UK time), overall, it’s worked really well for me. When in London I spend the majority of the day with my family, taking my daughter to nursery, playing with our younger son, cooking for them... From 3pm onwards I tackle what I need to do, then take a break for bath and bedtime and my own dinner, before working the rest of the evening to finish up. Then bed!

London during golden hour.

I really appreciate the flexibility of the job. Working at my own rhythm has made me more efficient, rather than watching the clock and wasting time until 5pm and the chance to leave the office. Being able to come back to England to visit friends and family when I like is also a real bonus. The other major benefit is the chance to spend time with my children, to watch them grow up, and be a real part of their lives. I have friends with traditional office jobs who leave the house early in the morning and come back late in the evening and never see their little ones awake during the week. I don’t want this. And with no commute, it means I don’t have to.

Corey Jay: San Diego

Most days my office is my living room in sunny Pacific Beach, San Diego, California. I don’t have a boss watching over me, but my two teenage kittens do stare at me intently from their cat tower. Being on the West Coast, I open my laptop by 7am (9am Central Time – SA Expeditions’ opening business hours). This means that, assuming I don’t get too distracted with kittens and jaunts to the boardwalk, I wrap up by about 4pm Pacific each day.

Corey recently found an awesome Argentine empanada cafe in San Diego.

Managing my own time and schedule is incredibly refreshing. SA Expeditions’ recognition of our competence and our ability to positively contribute to the company without needing to be under the same geographical roof for 8+ hours a day, is one of the things I most value about working here. That said, if you’re not the independent type, able to focus and be productive on your own, this work would be a real challenge.

Between me and my husband, we have family living on both coasts of North America, parts of South America, and scattered throughout Europe. Being able to maintain those international relationships, without jeopardizing my work and passions, is indescribably beautiful. It’s a delicious thing when the lines blur between dream vacations and what I do for a living. Having a legitimate, career-based reason to act on tantalizing flight deals is fantastic. And the support I get from SA Expeditions to grow professionally and personally (be it taking on new industry responsibilities or jumping into a kayak on the Tigre Delta in Buenos Aires with two dozen of my closest colleagues) is priceless.

Corey snapped this shot of Pacific Beach on her return from yet another trip.

Returning to an office desk job with a strict time clock and commute would be more of a shock to my system than the times I’ve dived head-first into a new culture and language while traveling! Put simply, it’s not gonna happen.

Are you already imagining yourself doing this kind of work? SA Expeditions is growing and we’re always on the lookout for like-minded and experienced wanderlusters to join our team. Check out our careers page for more info.

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