Workation to Cape Town – an interview with the founder of PACK about workations and remote working

For Dutch version click here.

At Meetings in the Sun we love to go on a good old workation every once in a while.  Alex, our founder will be going on a next workation to Cape Town with PACK soon. Cape Town is an extremely interesting destination for Digital Nomads, since the start-up community is rapidly growing. This makes the business culture of Cape Town valuable and vibrant!

Workations ~ a business orientated wormtrip in which you combine different aspects of a vacation.

We are a huge fan of organised workations since it costs a minimum amount of time to get maximum amount of value out of a short trip. Needless to say we will keep you updated about the trip to Cape Town during and after the trip but before we leave we want to know more about Michele. She is the founder of PACK, traveler, dog lover and karaoke enthusiast and has been working as a Digital Nomad for over seven years. We want to know all about the business she is running and her view on workations and the remote lifestyle.

Michele, How did you get the idea for PACK?

While I was working remotely, I noticed that I was becoming more isolated, and spending way too much time just working on my couch (in my pajamas), and I really craved community.  I was working and traveling a bit (to China, Hong Kong, and much of the US), but I never really considered myself a “digital nomad”. I’d researched programs like Remote Year, but read horror stories about logistics failures, early dropouts, wifi and electricity issues, and I knew there had to be a middle ground between such a huge commitment (and cost) and the stress of solo travel.  My background is in travel and logistics, so it was a natural fit. I set out to create experiences where people could take one month at a time to focus on projects, goals, and themselves, while being supported by an awesome community and also knowing that all their travel details were being handled by professionals.

What is PACK exactly?

PACK is an opportunity to invest in yourself.  We run 2, 4, and 6 week retreats for anyone with the ability to work remotely or take an intentional break.  The retreats are work-focused but also completely personalized so you can work when you want, explore, and experience everything on your bucket list.  Each retreat is in a different location (Cape Town, Bali, Sicily, and Mexico City so far), and offers the chance to grow your network, have everything you need to be productive and comfortable, and also meet inspiring travelers who are working on building businesses and projects.  One trip fee covers your accommodations, coworking membership, airport pickup, SIM cards, lots of activities and skillshares, and having a support system and community of peers there with you. It’s a great experience if you’re looking for an escape from the norm, don’t want to worry about organizing the logistics yourself, and want 20 built-in new friends!


What would you say is the biggest challenge Digital Nomads have to face?

I’d say there are two biggest challenges for a digital nomad, being:

Logistics

Planning constant travel can be scary at worst, and time-consuming at best. Unless spending hours scouring Airbnb or hotel websites looking for the next place you’ll stay is your idea of a great afternoon, which I’m guessing it’s not.  Then there’s worrying about whether the wifi will be good, or how you’ll figure out where to go at the airport, and any number of other issues. This is the stuff that doesn’t get talked about as often when we hear about the “ideal” life of the digital nomad. Multiple-hour layovers, missed connections, dirty hostel rooms, etc.  I spent years working with business people so my standards for travel are naturally high, and I’ve managed to escape some of these issues through experience and tons of research. Now I put that experience and research to work when planning our retreats.

Loneliness

The other biggest challenge in my opinion is community.  Taking full advantage of the digital nomad lifestyle means moving locations frequently, and that gets lonely.  There are great resources out there like apps, coworking spaces, ad meetup groups, but at the end of the day most of the people you meet while traveling are also on the road and friendships are short-lived.  After a while everyone craves consistency and that feeling of truly getting to know a person and having a supportive community wherever we are. When I was growing up I found it difficult to make friends, so it was essential that we create an atmosphere in our community that fostered meaningful connections that last a lifetime.

Want to come on a workation to Cape Town with us and PACK?
Click for more information. You get $100 off if you use this discount code: MIS100OFF

What is the beauty of working remotely?

Remote working while traveling can be extremely inspiring.  I used to work from the same office every day, following the same routine for years, and it drains you.  When you have the opportunity to break your routine, travel to a new place, maybe even work from a beach-front office, it’s easy to feel refreshed and inspired at the end of the day rather than tired and bored.  The freedom to work from anywhere, try new restaurants, make new friends, and experience other cultures not only boosts employee satisfaction, but also makes new partnerships and ideas possible.

What makes the trips of PACK unique? When I started working as a Digital Nomad I kinda had the idea that you needed to me a freelancer or business owner to travel the world while working from anywhere. Now I see more and more people working for a boss but still being able to work abroad. Do you see a shift in people that are coming on the PACK trips too? And can you tell me a bit more about the people that join the trips?

Absolutely.  More professionals are working remotely, even for larger companies, because there are a lot of benefits for the company to hire remote employees.  They’re happier, they don’t have long commutes, and even more productive. Our first group was mainly freelancers and entrepreneurs, but that’s definitely changing.  We are seeing more people who have managed to convince their bosses to allow them to work remotely (either part-time or full-time), and also more participants who are in a period of transition between jobs.  Our retreats are great for all professionals because you can surround yourself with new people and experiences, all while maintaining a productive schedule. We even offer a ‘Guide to Going Remote’ if you sign up with our newsletter, which is a great tool if you’re considering asking about remote work or starting a remote position.

About the group

Our group is usually between 25-40 years old (though we’ve had younger and older), and comes from all over the globe and from all career backgrounds.  We’ve had CEOs, freelancers, employees of large companies, photographers, bloggers, writers, and venture capitalists. Everyone is welcome and everyone is passionate about their projects, traveling, and creating this worldwide community.

Want to come on a workation to Cape Town with us and PACK?
Click for more information. You get $100 off if you use this discount code: MIS100OFF

What makes the trips of PACK unique?

There are lots of options when it comes to work and travel, but what I really believe sets us apart is our community, our attention to detail, and the personal touch you get when you choose us.

We are a small company, and while that means we don’t have a million-dollar advertising budget, there are huge perks to going with a smaller company.  I manage all logistics and each retreat myself with my amazing facilitators. When you interview for a spot on a retreat, you speak to me – not some outsourced intern.  We are completely transparent about where your trip fee goes, and I am not in this to make a fortune. My background in travel and logistics means that everything you get with us is top-notch, and we never travel to a location we aren’t extremely familiar with, so you can trust you’re traveling with experts.

I may be biased, but I also think we have the best, most authentic community of all the remote work and travel programs.  I’ve traveled with some of them and I can confidently say that our PACK is more diverse, more welcoming, and more focused on creating an incredible, meaningful experience than other programs. Our community is something I’m immensely proud of.

At Meetings in the Sun we try to give an overview of different ways and companies to organise a remote lifestyle for yourself. Besides PACK, what other companies that organise workations do you really like?

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel with a few other programs, and each one is a bit different, but I really like AdventurousLife, which caters to 40+ travelers and offers a bit more luxury.  It’s a really underserved market and they offer a great program. I’m also a fan of Digital Nomad Girls, which is a platform supporting, inspiring, and running retreats for female digital nomads.

How do you think the trend of remote working is evolving? What can we expect in 3 years from now?

I think in 3-5 years the community will be even bigger, but as this first generation of nomads gets older, we’ll look for a bit more stability rather than planning for the short-term.  This might look like yearly agreements with companies like ours, offering turnkey living for a few months at a time. We’ve thought about having permanent residences in a handful of locations, where participants can drop in for anywhere from 1-6 months and also take advantage of all the programming we offer.  A mix between co-living and retreat life is likely the best direction for the growing group of location-independent professionals.

After hearing more about PACK we are even more excited to discover Cape Town together with PACK and with Michele. Would you like to come too? Let’s meet up in Cape Town! Click here for information and don’t forget to use this promo-code for a discount of $100: “MIS100OFF” 

What to expect from the workation to Cape Town?

This trip is going to be so action-packed, exciting, and one of our favorite locations so far. Cape Town is becoming one of the hottest destinations on the planet and we can’t wait to go on safari, learn to kitesurf, take road trips through the South African countryside, take wine tours, and best of all – live in beautiful houses right on the beach! Rich history, cultural diversity, friendly faces, and a thriving entrepreneurship and creative scene provide inspiration and excitement wherever you go!

Cape Town, if you can’t make it here, you can’t make it anywhere!

Alex will be there giving a Personal Branding workshop and there will be more workshops and business activities to attend to.

Want to come on a workation to Cape Town with us and PACK?
Click for more information. You get $100 off if you use this discount code: MIS100OFF

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