Updated: Aug 3, 2022
This is what I think the world may look like in 5, 10 or 15 years... in regards to work and travel.
Digital nomads will be the norm, not the exception..
Of course, we'll always have to take into account time-zone considerations, country-specific rules, high-speed internet access and general social/employer acceptance of remote work.. but there's plenty of good news across all these issues..
In terms of employer acceptance, it’s no secret that the pandemic accelerated the move to remote work, which is just shy of fully remote work and a few steps shy of complete nomadic freedom; so we're already well on our way to being able to work from anywhere, at least for some professions, with many more to follow (more on that later).
And as companies get more comfortable with remote workers, they'll begin to accept and eventually embrace the benefits of having a global workforce, it’s win-win for employers and employees (think global talent pools, simplified global expansion, potential for lower base pay or location-based pay, a local presence if needed); it may just take some time for companies to embrace this mindset.
In terms of country limitations and rules, more and more countries are starting to embrace and encourage short-term work visas, check out this list to get a glimpse, and keep in mind that most countries will allow you to visit for 30-90 days with no limitations; so if you're willing to move around a bit, there's plenty to see and do.
In terms of time zone differences, it’s worth noting and remembering that there are likely thousands of places you can travel to that are well within reasonable ranges for your employer; and while time-zone considerations will always be a thing, I suspect our methods for communicating and sharing information across time-zones will only get better.
Lastly, High-speed internet and 5G connectivity are spreading around the world, and while it may take some planning on your part, you should have no issues finding amazing places to visit that also have stable internet and a thriving digital nomad culture.
The real issue with long-term travel - if you're a digital nomad - is that you're tied to your laptop... it's not the end of the world, but it's not perfect either; your laptop is bulky, expensive, fragile and a target for theft... you can travel with it, but it's not ideal... but eventually..
VR Headsets will replace laptops; yes, they're bulky and somewhat expensive today, but they'll only get smaller and lighter, eventually taking up no more space than a pair of sunglasses. Google Glass already demonstrated the potential for wearable heads-up displays and Facebook is well on their way to creating virtual workspaces with their Oculus headset.
If you haven't tried a VR headset yet, let me assure you, it's the future of work; with virtual desktops, virtual meeting rooms and thousands of apps being developed to model your home or work office, I suspect most knowledge workers to be working (and playing) in a virtual world in the next 10-15 years; and it's only a matter of time before your "home office" is wherever you are, just a click away.
And by the way, this trend isn't just limited to "knowledge workers;" doctors are already performing remote surgeries with robotic arms from thousands of miles away, who's to say you can't lay brick with a human touch while enjoying a short visit to a floating city in the Maldives?
Or maybe you'll skip the fragile VR headsets all-together and opt for wearable VR/AR contact lenses- in any case, you'll have options.
Haptic gloves will replace keyboards; they may take a little more time, but they too will get smaller and lighter, and they're already under development; they'll bridge the gap between traditional keyboard users and Gen Alpha kids, who will likely never work on a laptop... or drive, for that matter.
Of course, this all assumes that Elon Musk's Neuralink doesn't bypass the need for keyboards all-together by dictating our thoughts to digital form without the need for an old person's "input device."
In short, eventually you won't need your laptop, and it's arguably the biggest issue with long-term travel today.
In-ear language translators will become the norm, making communication in another country relatively seamless and easy. These already exist, although I can't speak (no pun intended) to their effectiveness or ease of use, but they can only get better!
Note - This post is under construction, check back later for more thoughts on the future of work!