At Kinsta, we live and breathe flexibility. We’re a remote-first, work-from-anywhere company, and we love to empower our team to make an impact from wherever their heart calls them to go.
Some of us are adventurers at heart, like Lauren Cool, our Legal Operations Administrator. About a year ago, Lauren adopted a nomadic lifestyle, traveling across the United States in an RV with her partner and her dog. Those twelve months saw her refining the art of working on the road with a schedule tailored to her needs as she encountered challenges, experienced memorable moments, and took in breathtaking views.
Read on to know more about Lauren’s unique experience and the tried-and-true tips she uses to live her dream life as a traveling professional working for Kinsta.
Q1: How did you land a fully remote job?
A: I studied global politics because I wanted to travel the world and work for nonprofits, and that’s what I did. I loved working in that field.
Before Kinsta, I was going to take a couple of months off and ground myself before my next career step, but a friend of mine, Shannon Lam, told me there was an opening at this really awesome company she was working for as a Technical Editor and Frontend Developer. She talked about how the people at Kinsta were wonderful and it was a really flexible workplace, so I applied, and I ended up starting working there immediately.
That’s how I joined Kinsta as their Operations Administrator and eventually became their Legal Operations Administrator. What I do here is, I try to make everybody’s jobs a little easier. I smoothen and simplify our processes, create standard workflows, and take care of the administrative work so that everything’s taken care of and people can focus on their work without worrying too much about the bureaucratic side of things.
Q2: Flexibility and great colleagues. Was there something else that guided your decision of joining Kinsta?
I needed to find an environment that was both stimulating and peaceful. Before joining Kinsta, I was working at a nonprofit organization where I could help people dealing with extremely challenging situations. It was immensely rewarding to be a part of their journey, but during the pandemic, I witnessed such an overwhelming number of people struggling that I started taking my job home.
When I realized it, I started seeking someplace where I could enjoy the work I was doing and, at the end of the work day, close my laptop and feel grounded. At Kinsta I’m never bored, and it’s an environment that helps me protect my balance.
Q3: For how long have you been a digital nomad?
I’ve been doing this for a year, and I want to travel more. I’d really love to experience countries outside of the U.S., too.
I’d recommend the digital nomad lifestyle to anybody. If you have the opportunity to do it, go for it! It makes your life much more colorful, even though it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are little hiccups along the way, but you might as well be doing something fun while you deal with those!
Q4: What sparked your desire to live a nomadic life?
I think I’m just one of those people that gets antsy after three or four years in one spot. It took me a while to figure that out.
After my first couple of years in college, I started feeling restless and I moved. Four years later, I was packing again; that’s when I moved to San Diego, but that got old too. And then we moved into our RV.
Q5: It sounds like yours was a gradual transition from a geographically stable life to this new, adventurous path.
That’s true, and a big part of it is that I’d only ever lived in California — that’s where I was born and raised.
I’d lived in different parts of this state but never outside of it before this trip. I’d studied global politics and I’d traveled, but I’d never really spent any significant amount of time outside of the state, and California is a bubble. I needed to see more of the country.
The United States of America is huge, and I’d wondered why Californians had such different ideas of the way that things should work compared to the opinions of people living in other places.
I figured I’d have to see that for myself. That was my big spark: I wanted to leave the country, but before I did that, I wanted to understand my own.
Q6: What were your favorite places and experiences out of everything you’ve seen during your year-long, cross-country trip?
Our first destination was magical. We spent two weeks in stunning Puerto Peñasco, in Mexico. We started our trip on January 1st, 2022. You know — new year, new us!
We jumped on our RV and off we went to Mexico. Part of our excitement originated from the fact that this destination marked the beginning of this incredible experience of ours, but part of it was due to being parked right on the coast.
The end of our RV hanging over the beach, our dog Nikan running around playing at sunset, walking to the beach to go eat all of our meals, and all of the friendly people we met made for a truly special experience.
Here’s another memorable one: At some point, we found ourselves in the backwoods of Georgia. I knew that my boss, Jon Penland (Chief Operating Officer), was based there, but I wasn’t sure about which city he lived in.
We aimed to meet up if things worked out, but since I was traveling with my giant RV, we couldn’t take a chance to meet for granted.
I figured, as Georgia isn’t that large, that he may be only a couple of hours away, but when I texted him our location he said it was a 15′ drive from his house.
It was such a fun coincidence! My partner, Jon, and I got burgers and had a lovely time catching up and spending some time together in real life.
Q7: You were saying that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. What were some challenges you faced while working on the road?
Oh, well, for starters, there are the silly things, like working in the same room as your boyfriend. On a trip like ours, you’re often confined to a tiny space with someone else who occasionally has meetings at the same time as you. What happens then is you end up talking over each other with your headphones on, and unintentionally raising your voices to drown out the other person’s words.
Here are some not-so-little challenges we faced: Our AC unit went out. It burned up. We woke up one day to an awful smell. We had to learn how to fix an RV’s AC from YouTube tutorials.
Then, in Texas, we experienced a freeze, and we had an issue with a pipe. My boss Jon helped us out by sharing information on how to fix this issue.
Q8: Often when one thinks of the negative aspects of a digital nomad’s lifestyle, they think of the infamous connectivity issues. Have you ever experienced those?
Not really. We mostly stayed at larger RV resorts. When we weren’t able to use their Wi-Fi with our VPN, we could use each other’s hotspots and always have coverage. We were fine!
Q9: How’s it been to live a nomadic RV life and work for Kinsta at the same time?
Oh, it’s been really fun, actually! Everyone’s been supportive of the fact that we were traveling. Every time I am on a call, people ask me, “Where are you today? And what’s going on?” Sometimes I’ll hold my meetings outside because the view is stunning and a good mountain background is unbeatable.
Do you know what’s amazing? Jon Penland, Kinsta’s COO, used to do this too. He was a digital nomad for two and a half years, and Jon, his wife, and their five kids — ranging from one to eight years old — went all over with their RV!
The fact that Kinsta’s leadership has a history of digital nomadism tells you all you need to know about our culture when it comes to flexibility: As long as you work professionally and your role allows it, we’re all for traveling.
Q10: Did you manage to meet many colleagues during your trip, and does Kinsta facilitate these meetings in any way?
Not as many as I wanted, but definitely a few. A shoutout to Jon Penland, our COO, but also Don Herbe, our Legal Counsel; Roger Williams, Head of Client Experience, who hosted us on his property for a whole week; and more.
Meeting you was wonderful. And to all other Kinstanians: I can’t wait to meet you too!
Kinsta does try to facilitate these unofficial meetings with a monthly budget. Every Kinstanian can spend up to $100/month for unofficial meetups like the ones I mentioned. That money can cover the cost of a coworking space for the day, a meal, or other fun activities to enjoy with those colleagues you don’t get to meet every day.
Q11: Earlier, you said that everyone should give the nomadic lifestyle a go, if they have the chance. What kind of advice would you give those brave enough to do this?
First of all, plan ahead. At first, my partner and I wanted to be spontaneous with the spots we’d visit. Unfortunately, you do need to plan ahead a little.
I’d advise you to plan for three months at a time. Otherwise, you’ll get down to the wire and wonder where you’ll be living the following week.
Here’s another piece of advice: Travel on the weekends and work from one spot from Monday to Friday. This way it’s less dispersive and stressful — or at least, that’s what worked best for us.
Something else to consider is, if you plan to be working on the road like I did, to make sure you’re comfortable. While we’re talking, I’m sitting at the exact same desk that I had in my RV. It’s a small one. Nothing crazy. But, you know, it still has space for my extra monitor, along with everything else I need.
I bring my office chair on my RV trips, too. You’d think that you can work outside from a table at the campground or your lounge chair outside, and it doesn’t work.
What I would recommend is to make sure that you create a space for yourself where you’re gonna be comfortable to effectively do your work, and try to keep that separate from your bed. That’s not a good mix.
Q12: Where can people get in touch with you?
You can connect with me on LinkedIn!