Split in Croatia – if you’ve not been, you should know it’s a favourite stop for travellers and digital nomads alike. Imagine a city bathed in the warm, golden glow of the Mediterranean sun, gently lapped by the crystal clear Adriatic sea, and brimming with ancient history. The city is a perfect blend of tradition and modernity, and a haven for remote workers. But, as luck would have it, during our week-long visit, we were greeted not by the usual sunny splendour of Split, but by persistent rain and storms.
What to do as a digital nomad in Split… in the rain?
Even the stormy weather couldn’t dampen our spirits. Instead, it offered us a unique perspective on this Croatian gem. We discovered that Split has a magnetic charm that can be felt whether it’s bathed in sunlight or soaked in raindrops. This post is a guide to spending 48 hours in Split as a digital nomad, whatever the weather.
Morning – get a taste of the best coffee in town
Kickstart your day at D16, widely known as the best coffee spot in town. Numerous digital nomads have blogged about this spot and recommended it. While it is small, you could definitely pull up a seat for an hour or two and get some work done.
As we were walking in, two American travellers happily announced to us how good the coffee was. A good sign!
The friendly and laid-back atmosphere makes it a perfect place to get some work done early in the day.
Late morning – settle into a co-working space
Once you’ve had your caffeine fix, head over to Smartspace. We like this place because of its central location. If you are a digital nomad on a deadline, for €20 you can drop in for half a day and work. In exchange for paying for space, you’ll enjoy a stimulating environment surrounded by others working remotely. The good wifi, comfortable working stations, and a community of like-minded individuals create an environment conducive to productivity.
The other great thing about a co-working space like this is the people you meet. Sometimes working remotely can feel a bit isolating, and finding your tribe really helps. You can read more about that here.
Afternoon – lunch and work on the spectacular waterfront
Once the clock strikes twelve, make your way to the waterfront and settle into a quiet spot at Basta Bar. Not only is it a fantastic restaurant, but it also welcomes remote workers looking for a scenic spot to work. Just keep in mind that they don’t start serving food until midday, so plan your schedule accordingly.
You can come here in the morning and find a quiet spot to work, and drinks are still served. This spot was recommended in this blog about some of the best cafes and restaurants in Split to work as a digital nomad.
Evening – retiring at lux local accommodation
After a productive day, head back to New Lux Villa Merissima. We found a great deal on this gorgeous property on Booking.com. It’s a comfortable place and more than just a hotel – its common area downstairs is a great place to work if you’re stuck finding space in busy cafes and restaurants in Split. Plus, after a long day, there’s nothing quite like the comfort of a lovely temporary home.
Of course, your stay in Split shouldn’t be all work and no play. Make the most of the dry spells by joining a walking tour. We found several great options on Airbnb Experiences, run by passionate locals who can show you the hidden gems of this historical city.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, don’t fret. There are numerous food and wine experiences available on Airbnb too. Or you can try sites like Get Your Guide or Viator for a huge variety of local adventures.
Food experiences in particular can be a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture and learn more about the region’s unique offerings – all while staying dry!
Bonus tips – where to eat
For quick and healthy meals, try Good Food along the Split Waterfront. The ‘Magnificent Seven’ good bowl is as delicious as it is affordable. For breakfast or brunch, you can’t miss Feel Green – I highly recommend the Buckwheat Bowl. Lastly, for a lovely dining experience with good prices, head to Kavana Bar & Cuisine. Cooper and I had excellent experiences at all three of these places.
Split offers a rich experience for digital nomads and remote workers, even when the weather is less than ideal. If you’re after more inspiration for wet weather activities here, this post offers further ideas. And if you’re looking for info on how Croatia attracts and supports remote workers, take a look here at what the Croatian National Tourist Board has to say.
The city effortlessly combines work and leisure, providing a wide range of options for every preference and budget. We can’t wait to return (to hopefully share some sunny weather excursions with you).
Off grid house sitting and travel is becoming a popular way of life for many. Let’s face it, most of us want to switch off from the craziness of the world today. Living off grid is also an opportunity to practice a more sustainable way of living. When we had the chance to chat to Annemarie – an Aussie based in South America and living this lifestyle, we jumped at the chance.
Off grid house sitting and travel – living the dream?
In this episode of Freedom and Four Paws, we meet Annemarie, an Australian who has been slow travelling through Central and South America for the past few years. Annemarie offers wonderful tales of travels and friends made along the way. And, she shares excellent advice on what it takes to survive and thrive living off the grid.
If you’re wondering what the off-grid lifestyle looks like, Annemarie says it is a dream for her. BUT it’s probably not for everyone. That’s where house sitting is a great chance to dip your toes in to see if it is for you.
Getting into off-grid living
Annemarie’s initiation to off the grid living came about by chance.
A friend asked her to come to Costa Rica to help him set up an off the grid art eco events centre on his permaculture farm. Her off-grid experience there lasted seven months where she quickly learned what it takes to survive.
By definition, off-grid living usually means you’re relying on your own energy and water supplies. It also comes with nurturing your own food and learning to truly appreciate all living things around you. An attractive proposition for many of us!
To become accustomed to jungle life, like in Annemarie’s case, you need to be able to cope with isolation, be good with your hands, calm and adaptable.
“You are off grid. There’s no shop, there’s no letter box, there isn’t anything,” explains Annemarie.
Find out more by watching her interview – click to play above
Annemarie shares that it’s important to continue to develop and foster relationships with locals where you live too – often leads come in that way.
Additionally, join community groups in your area, on and offline. Let people know what you do – tell them you do house sitting and people will soon reach out to you. “House sitters are in demand everywhere,” Annemarie tells us.
Annemarie’s top house sitting and off-grid travel tips
Anne Marie’s biggest tip to finding work and getting involved in the community is through WhatsApp.
She tells us that in many countries, including South and Central America, many businesses don’t have a website, they utilise WhatsApp.
A few key ways to finding work on the road:
Join community groups in the region – network and get to know people
Groups (including online like Facebook, or offline in networks) are the best way to find out anything
Tell people what you do – you can’t sell a secret
Engage, develop relationships and opportunities open up!
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As an Aussie – and member of the Commonwealth – you may be eligible for a UK Ancestry visa. Cooper is, and he’s just received his UK Ancestry visa for a third time. This allows us to move back to the UK to pursue a work opportunity in 2023. As his partner, I can apply to go too.
In this post, we’ll share exactly how we applied and successfully secured working visas to return to the UK. We leave in Feb, and will take our dog with us!
About ten years ago, Cooper discovered that he was eligible for a UK Ancestry visa. This is because his Grand-ma was Scottish. She travelled to live in Australia during the period that now gives him the “birth right” to live and work in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The visa is flexible, allowing five years at a time with the option to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. There’s no age limit for applying, and no limit to how many times you can apply for it.
Unfortunately, the numbers of people in Commonwealth countries that this visa applies to will begin to dwindle now. This is more of a benefit for a generation of people whose grandparents travelled during the earlier part of the 1900s. British great-grandparents or parents do not allow access to this exact visa.
Background to our application: why we are applying for visas again
Travel Live Learn was born out of Cooper’s and my experience living and working in the UK.
We have actually lived in London twice before. The first time was between 2010-2012 when Cooper was first living and working there on an Ancestral Visa. I was under 30 then, and allowed to work under the Youth Mobility Visa scheme.
We returned in 2014, this time paying an immigration lawyer to help us secure Cooper’s second UK Ancestry visa and aligning me as his long-term (un-married) partner.
Cooper and I had completely settled in the UK by 2019. We fully intended to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in 2020, having almost completed the five years settled status requirement. We were preparing to study for the Life in the UK test when COVID struck.
With just three months to go before we would be granted the right to come and go more freely, a difficult change was forced upon us. Not only did COVID remove our option to live, work and travel as we had previously done, but at the same time, my Dad came to the end of a battle with Prostate Cancer. It was a dreadful period of my life, where “goodbye” took on many meanings. I’m glad to be moving past it.
Applying for UK work visas post-COVID restrictions
Now that restrictions have eased in most parts of the world, we can move about relatively freely again. An opportunity presented itself that’s meant we have decided to go back to England to live and work for a little while. We’re even taking our COVID puppy, London, with us! (if you’re looking for advice and experience around travelling internationally with a pet, we will share it all on YouTube.com/travellivelearn).
Taking London dog means a serious chunk of our moving budget is gone straight away. So, we decided to take the plunge and apply for the previous visa combination we had (Ancestral + partner visa) ourselves.
“Ourselves” = “me” when it comes to gathering all the admin and paperwork for this fairly stressful task!
Discover our full experience here:
Steps you’ll take
Apply for the Ancestry visa by following the links through the application forms on the UK Government website.
You will pay for the application and your NHS surcharge. Download and keep a copy of ALL of your answers, confirmation numbers and payment details.
Apply for the partner or dependent visa following the links on the website. Ensure your answers align with that of your partner’s Ancestry visa application. Pay for your visa and NHS surcharge.
Book in for your biometrics, where you’ll have your fingerprints and photograph recorded, as well as your supporting paperwork and application scanned through to UK Immigration. Your passport(s) will be taken from here and sent off to UK Immigration.
You will receive notification that your passports are available. Check inside for your temporary entry clearance (which means your visa was granted – yay!).
Upon entering the UK, you have ten days to collect your official biometric card – like a plastic ID card. You will have nominated a location for collection during your visa application. We chose a spot in London that we knew how to get to. It’s usually a post office.
Top tips and advice following our DIY visa application in 2023
For the Ancestry visa, you need to enter the UK within three months of being approved for your visa. If you do know when you need to be there, e.g. for work, give yourself plenty of time – apply at the beginning of the three months.
I received an email saying I had underpaid the NHS surcharge. This seriously freaked me out, because I had been undercharged during the application process. I will never know if this was my fault or a problem with the user journey on the application pages. There was no need to panic though. I paid and it all went through fine.
Stay calm. There’s no real way to track the progress of your visas so you just have to wait and expect the best. If you supply plenty of evidence to show who you are, that you intend to work and that you can support yourself, you will be fine.
For peace of mind, if you can get to a visa processing centre that offers an expediated service, we would take that option. In Australia, VFS Global – the company that processes your paperwork and biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) – offers a priority service at their Sydney, Melbourne and Perth centres.
Applying for UK work visas from Australia: resources and links
Partner visa – follow the links to apply. I selected:Join or accompany a family member, who either is already in or will be travelling to the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man (and you cannot apply on any other form);Followed by: Working in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
This blog by Kat’s Gone Global is helpful too, talking about what you need to know when applying for a UK Ancestry visa.
Are you keen like us to get flying again? This info about the world’s safest airlines might either please you or frazzle you, depending on which one you’re booked with in 2023!
World’s Safest Airlines 2023
AirlineRatings.com, the world’s only safety, product, and COVID-19 rating website have just released its list of safest airlines for 2023, with Aussie airline Qantas taking out the top spot. It’s some good news for the airline that has suffered a number of PR blows in 2022. This was due to some very negative customer service experiences and ridiculous delays which we experienced firsthand a number of times last year.
As far as safety reputation goes though, Qantas just edged out last year’s winner Air New Zealand by the finest of margins.
According to AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas:
“Our Top Twenty safest airlines are all standouts in the industry and are at the forefront of safety, innovation, and launching of a new aircraft. In fact, the safety margins between these top twenty airlines are very small, they are all outstanding airlines.”
In making its evaluation, AirlineRatings.com takes into account a comprehensive range of factors that include serious incidents, recent fatal accidents, audits from aviation’s governing and industry bodies, profitability, industry-leading safety initiatives, expert pilot training assessment and fleet age.
In our post-COVID exploration, we had been searching for options in South East Queensland. But, it soon became obvious that dog-friendly travel isn’t that easy to come by within driving distance of Brisbane. And, if it’s there, it can be expensive or quite restrictive.
Northern NSW became an option when I stumbled across the info on Byron Bay Hotel and Apartments. Now, they’re not sponsoring this post, but deserve a shout-out! For a low fuss flat fee of $80, we can take London with us on an adventure. And, this dog-friendly accommodation is located right in the heart of Byron Bay.
Dog friendly Byron: best of
You’ll spot that London our Westie is wearing a jumper. That’s because our pet friendly excursion to Byron Bay (the first time!) came about as winter hit in Australia.
But the experience made up for the chilly weather. This was London’s first trip to the beach in his little life of 15 months. Take a look at the video of our dog friendly Byron Bay adventure and you’ll see how much he LOVED IT ❤️ This made us so happy too 🥰
Our top picks for dog friendly Byron Bay are as follows:
Byron Bay dog beaches
Belongil Beach dog friendly beach is literally right there in Byron Bay. As anyone for directions, just keep an eye out for high tide coming in.
Suffolk Park, about ten minutes’ drive from the heart of Byron Bay, boasts a beautiful beach too. This spot is also dog friendly and is brimming with cool locals to chat to (the two and four legged variety).
Pet friendly cafes and restaurants in Byron Bay
Outside of seeing the pure joy in London when he discovered ‘the beach’, we also had real fun at some of Byron’s best pet friendly hangouts.
Notably, Byron Bay does Mexican really well. We LOVE Miss Margarita in Byron – it’s right near the beach and boasts a happy hour between 5-6pm every day. Also, the food is excellent! This place gets busy so you should time your visit, especially if bringing your pooch.
At Miss Margarita they went out of their way to make sure London was happy and cared for with a bowl of water and a spot to sit. But, you need to grab a table out the front, so don’t land right in the middle of happy hour or peak dinner time.
Don Pedros, just a street up from the beach, also served great food and London was welcome in the area out the front.
Both places served up an awesome margarita, by the way 👍
For brekky, we enjoyed Bayleaf. It’s lovely on a lazy sunny weekend morning, but gets very busy! London was more than welcome in the front section, but we were lucky to get a table, so be mindful after 8am.
Also, we liked Byron Fresh, right in the heart of Byron. They let us take London inside on a cold day – you can see him below hanging out on his mat, in his jacket, with a rug. Spoilt, much? :)
Another lovely spot we discovered that has plenty of dog friendly places to perch in Byron Bay, is Treehouse on Belongil. If you are to enter Belongil dog friendly beach from the centre of Byron Bay side, Treehouse is situated about 10 to 15 minutes walk along the beach. Walk up off the beach and you’ll find it. The lovely venue serves up some nice food and coffees, and it’s a very chilled out vibe. We loved it.
Other dog friendly experiences in Byron Bay
There’s quite a bit of Northern New South Wales (NSW) that is well known for being dog friendly. Love that! You can search for options on Airbnb and Booking.com. Surrounding towns include Ballina and Lennox Head. There’s also the Tweed Coast nearer to the Queensland border.
As you enter Byron Bay, a worthwhile experience is to visit the Stone & Wood Brewery. We do enjoy a pint of this one, especially in summer, so it’s nice to visit its origin. The brewery has a huge outdoor area at its entryway. You can order tasting trays and snacks. And, your pooch is entirely welcome to hang out with you in the sun.
There’s a few places we didn’t make it to, including The Farm which is a popular spot for parents of human and fur babies! Our little mate, Schnitzel (who we met at TBEX Czech Republic, would you believe?!), shares more in this blog.
Additionally, we have a host of excellent info on house and pet sitting as an option, here on YouTube. If you’re interested in this, maybe you’d also like to join our Facebook Group that’s all about house and pet sitting + travel as a way of life ❤️
I recently picked up a copy of Daniel Pink’s excellent read, When. An excellent book that explores the science of perfect timing. How do we get it perfect? Can we manifest a ‘right time, right place’ scenario?
Among its numerous lessons, the book teaches how to get the most out of your morning coffee and breaks during the workday. Plus, the importance of understanding your own chronotype (that is when you are most energetic and lethargic each day).
Do we overemphasise endings?
One concept, in particular, made me think: his discussion about how as a society we tend to overemphasise the importance of endings.
Studies show that when we face an ending of some sort (including people falling into an age that has a 9 on the end of it, me when I wrote this). This tendency is to display extreme behaviour like choosing to take unnecessary risks or sabotaging relationships.
The psychology of it indicates we are innately grasping for a happy ending. And not just happy, but purposeful.
When references films like Pixar’s Up that perfectly capture the essence of this human condition. These movies make us cry while feeling sentimental at the same time.
Pink explains that in knowing this about ourselves, we can take steps to make our endings more gratifying.
Have a chat with your future self
A beautiful example of how to do this, is sending a message to your future self.
This might be a letter, vlog, blog or audio recording. Whatever format, put it away for five years.
The proposition made me a little teary.
What would I tell my future self?
I think I would start by saying I hope she lets loved ones know they are valued – always (and that she’s continued to do better on that front, as I intend to do from now on).
I want her to live without regret, anger and bitterness – good lives are wasted on such things.
I do hope she drinks less wine (possibly).
There should be dogs, everywhere.
And music, plus adventure.
I’d say that I hope she’s invested in creativity and travel; to remember that life has taught that things do get better; bring the light, be the light and look for it in others.
That’s all served me well so far. Finally, I would include a quote from tinybuddha.com, because it’s perfect:
‘Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself’.
This is the abridged version, and I’m not sure what I’ll think of it in 2023.
Perhaps I’ll be moved by the experience and progress made. Or sadly by naivety, disappointments not yet known, and challenges overcome.
Your time is now
When advocates that action like this serves to bridge the gap between past and present, this is one of the best ways to find substance in our own lives.
However, Pink made me think about the feeling of satisfaction that’s possible when ‘me now’ feels close to ‘me’ past and future.
This exercise removes the detachment we feel from the future self and enables us to make better choices that help her/him when that future arrives.
‘Time’ is complicated in terms of life, love and the dreams we envision, and many of us know a soul or two who have detrimentally gotten lost in it.
I hope I can impart to you some timeless insight which I took from Pink’s work; that is, by taking control of our time, and understanding how our past, present and future relate, we can vastly improve our experiences now.
Think I’ll include that wisdom in my note to future me too. But for now, over to you…
Welcome! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London. We like to inspire on how to travel for longer and to live and work from anywhere. Our most popular content here is about seeing the world with your pet, remote working & digital nomadism, and house + pet sitting. Create a global life of your dreams at any age! Subscribe to find out more :)