Spain: A Digital Nomad’s Paradise
A stunning view from my cousin’s house in Palma de Mallorca.
I had the fortune to travel to Spain in December of 2018. I didn’t know what to expect, and I don’t like to have expectations when I travel. I prefer to travel with a mind free of assumptions, if possible. What I found exceeded anything I could have imagined. Spain is quite possibly one of the most perfect places on Earth–clean, modern, safe, lots of natural beauty, history, art, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For digital nomads, we need something extra–excellent internet speeds. Spain didn’t disappoint in this area either. If you’re wondering where to plant yourself and your laptop for the next few months, give Spain some serious consideration!
I stayed at hotels, Airbnbs, and with family in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, and Palma de Mallorca. In all cases, I had incredibly fast WiFi, with speeds surpassing 100 mbps for downloads, and 20 mbps for uploads. Pings were only a few seconds long, according to Google and Bing speed tests. This is more than sufficient for online teaching!
I did not have to pay “extra” for WiFi, as it was already included in the price. In Barcelona, I stayed at a two-star hotel–not many amenities, but very good basic services. The Airbnbs were likewise reasonably priced. You don’t have to get expensive accommodations in order to have good WiFi.
The Mediterranean Sea, from the vantage point of the apartment which composer Frédéric Chopin lived in. (Valldemossa)
There are many different ways to travel–car, train, bus, or plane are the most common methods of transportation. I chose to drive through Spain. I rented a car and drove to each of my destinations. This isn’t always the easiest or least expensive way to travel; on top of rental expenses, there are toll roads, parking fees, and high fuel costs. However, it is one of the best ways to see the countryside, as well as touring on your own schedule. I stopped to see some old castles, which were accessible to me only by driving a car. Spain is very easy to drive through–the roads are maintained well and the infrastructure is sound. There are other roads to take if you don’t want to pay the high toll fees, which can be more than forty Euro.
Take caution when driving in the major cities–they are often confusing and congested. I observed that pedestrians didn’t always pay attention to traffic signals, and the crosswalks were crowded. People ride motorbikes, which can be difficult to see. Parking on the street is pretty difficult, if not impossible to find.
Driving in a foreign country can be exhilarating, but it can also be scary. Fortunately, Spain is equipped with multiple bus routes, high-speed trains, and dozens of small airports. Commuter flying is very popular in Europe. Fifty Euro can easily get you on a plane going from one Spanish city to another in a jiffy. Flying is the best way to get from the mainland to the Balearic Islands.
One advantage of driving through Spain–coming across countless hidden gems such as this castle, built in the 1300s. (Castillo de Montesa)
Wherever you are in Spain, the country is gorgeous. From the mainland to the Balearic Islands, you will see gorgeous mountains and coastlines, all containing picture-perfect cities and villages. Best yet, there is always a surprise waiting, more to be discovered and explored. In fact, Spain is third on the list of countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Spain has a rich and varied past which includes ancient Rome, the Holy Roman Empire, the Moorish invasion from Mauretania in the 700s, and the Christian reconquest heralded by the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. Because of the winding path Spanish history has taken, we can today see these influences in the language, art, architecture, and regional differences.
Ancient Roman ruins in Málaga.
UNESCO World Heritage Site – the works of Gaudí in Barcelona. Top – Park Güell (pronounced gway), bottom – Casa Batlló.
There is no perfect place in the world, but Spain might take the prize for being the most sublime. This country enjoys a very low crime rate–one of the lowest in Europe. While travelers must always be aware and cautious of their surroundings, especially in important tourist areas, the statistics for mugging, thefts, or violent crimes against foreigners in Spain are relatively small. Digital nomads with children can feel very secure about bringing their families here.
The historical city of Valéncia, and its grand cathedral.
Any large country has different regional cultures. Still, there is one common element–the Spanish are very proud of their country, regions, and language. Regional languages may be different from the official Castellano Spanish–Catalan, Basque, and Galician, which are not always mutually intelligible with Castellano. Although there might be regional dialects, you will be just fine if you brush up on your Castellano. Not many people speak English outside of the principal tourist attractions; some do, but don’t count on it. Luckily, the Spanish are very appreciative of travelers who make an effort to speak their language and are quite forgiving of mistakes in grammar or pronunciation.
From Moorish architecture to Gaudí, Roman ruins to Baroque cathedrals, alluring beaches to majestic mountains, this magnificent kingdom should be a destination for every traveler. Whether you like the nightlife, hiking, watersports, or art and history, Spain is an endearing country that will captivate you for as long as you decide to stay.