In my younger days growing up in San Diego, California, the majority of us spent our weekends with activities on the beach. It made sense, the beaches were close, and the waves were always refreshing. There were people I knew, however, who chose the opposite, choosing to spend time in the mountain areas, especially when the snow came so that they could ski.
In the summer they went on long hikes close to the Palomar or Cuyamaca Indian reservations or went on bicycle trips in the mountain areas. They were happy to skip the beach activities a lot of times and enjoy the peacefulness of the hills and mountains. A digital nomad adventurer who enjoys and wants to explore hilly landscapes and villages and the sports activities that come with it can experience something unique.
So how can one be a digital nomad adventurer in mountain areas? You can do this with some adjustments to your city nomad life:
-Choose the place – a mountain village or town
-Be in the right physical condition
-Be aware that connectivity might be affected
-Explore hiking, backpacking, camping
-Try mountain sports like climbing or skiing in the wintertime
-Find some local friends
-Start with small adventures and then take bigger ones
Let’s take a look at each one of these points:
Choose the Place – a Mountain Village or Town
Every country has mountainous areas or at least hilly regions. If you want to live as a digital nomad in mountainous areas, there are a lot of options for you. You can choose from famous areas with large winter skiing resorts in France or Switzerland or the US, or you can select smaller famous regions such as those in Thailand and Malaysia.
You might also think about whether you are choosing a mountainous area for the summertime views or wintertime sports. The activities are different in each season; however, if you prefer a summer activity like hiking or camping, it will be different from winter focused activities.
Be in the Right Physical Condition
In the mountain areas, everything is uphill, or at least it seems so. Whether you walk, run, or bike, you will run into a small slope getting there. So it makes sense that you need good conditioning living in these areas.
Depending on the location that you choose, it can even be that the air is thinner – depending on the elevation – and this means that conditioning is even more important. Hiking and backpacking in these areas will also challenge your condition.
To enjoy to the fullest extent the biking or hiking or backpacking, one should have a good condition so that they are not always out of breath. Conditioning will enhance the enjoyment of mountain sports too. Bicycling tours and winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding require that your physical condition is high. If you want some tips on keeping your condition while living as a digital nomad, check out my article 9 Ways To Stick to Your Exercise Routine When You’re A Digital Nomad.
Be Aware that Connectivity Might Be Affected
Your digital work is important, so be sure to choose locations and accommodations where you will have good Wi-Fi or mobile data coverage. As a digital nomad, your Wi-Fi or mobile connection is what enables you to be able to live this lifestyle in any location. So there are a few things to consider about Wi-Fi when living in a mountain area.
Smaller mountain villages often do not have good mobile data coverage. The same goes for Wi-Fi coverage; some apartments or hotels do not have an adequate signal for you to be able to do your work. When choosing an area to live, be selective, and make sure that this critical aspect of your work is covered well.
Explore Hiking, Backpacking, Camping
Mountainous areas are excellent to explore adventure, hobbies, and sports. Hiking and backpacking trails are often well marked in the more significant mountain areas, and this offers multiple opportunities to go and take a look at the nature and beauty of these areas. Hiking trails can be right outside your front door.
Backpacking with the proper backpack and equipment can give you the chance to follow longer trails and go for the whole day. For those of you who like camping, although the conditions can be windy and even harsh, there are ample opportunities very close by. Some adventurous digital nomads are known to combine all of these, biking, hiking, backpacking, and camping for days at a time.
Try Mountain Sports Like Climbing or Skiing in the Wintertime
If you decide to and are already living in the mountain areas, why not try some mountain sports like hang gliding or mountain climbing? In the wintertime, you have the option of doing skiing and snowboarding sports. Admittedly, the sports take a higher level of conditioning as we talked about above. However, conditioning comes easy if you work at it daily.
The cool thing about living in mountain areas and trying sports is that you are already there and can experiment whether you like them or not. When I was living in San Diego, it was always a one hour drive to the mountains, so the resistance to go and try different mountain sports was a little bit high. There lots of sports to try.
Find Some Local Friends
If you are new to the mountain areas, try and find some local friends who can show you around. For instance, in Switzerland, when I was visiting Zürich, I had three days to go and take a look around. One of the things that I wanted to do was to take some mountain hikes. It was much easier for me to connect with a small backpacking/camping store and ask if there were group hikes to the mountains. I signed up for one of them, and afterward, on the hike, I met with several locals who were guides, and this led to several more hikes together with them. They took me to places that I would never be able to find on my own.
My point is, if you find some local friends in the mountain area that you’re living in, they will open up more opportunities for you to participate in activities in the mountains.
Start with Small Adventures and Then Take Bigger Ones
Starting with small adventures can get you accustomed to the main areas of your mountain town, and when you begin to know your way around, you can then take bigger ones. There is no use to make a three-day backpacking and camping trip alone. Start smaller and then build yourself up to being comfortable with taking a more extended trip.
Advantages of Being in Mountain Areas
*Mountain activities and sports
*Hiking, backpacking, camping close by
Recommended Mountain Areas
China – Yangshuo, Guilin Province
I never lived in Yangshuo, but I’ve chosen purposely to go back there three times, and if I had a chance to live there and spend some time it would be an easy choice.
The landscape and mountain views of Yangshuo are unique, and as soon as you arrive, you know this is something that you have never experienced before. The village town center is busy and bustling with many small shops, and there are lots of hotels to choose from.
Bike rentals are available so that you can explore the river areas and mountain trails off the beaten path. It is a very picturesque village, and I have experienced it first-hand, I can say that it is an exciting place to visit and explore.
Utah: If you are in the North America region, you have many choices when wanting to go hiking and mountain climbing. If you’re going to keep out of the most prominent tourist cities, Utah is truly nature’s playground, and Salt Lake is the perfect base camp when going on hikes and adventures.
A few minutes from downtown, starting in the city center, or up in the mountains (which is also just minutes from downtown), you will find hiking and biking trails that it easy to fit into your schedule.
Utah is an excellent place for a beginner to advanced hikers; there are many trails to choose from. You don’t have to be an experienced hiker in Salt Lake City, you need to get out and start walking, and this is something you should do when visiting. Utah is also a popular place to go skiing during the winter months.
Here are some of the best hiking trails you need to try when visiting Salt Lake City, and the difficulty level of the hike;
Ensign Peak: This is a small mountain peak at the north end of the salt lake valley. The hike is easy to walk and is perfect for a short trip with a nice lunch picnic at the top.
It is not recommended to walk this trail on a hot day that can transform any advanced hiker out there into a mad sweaty mess. However, if you save this trip this for a cloudy and chilly day, I am sure you will have a great hike you won’t forget!
Bell Canyon to First Waterfall: This trail is located on the east side of the valley, and is a bit wildlife trip where you can see mountain goats in the rocky areas of the trail.
It is a moderate hike, and it is recommended to walk in the morning or on weekdays to avoid the crowds. The hike is easy until you get to Bell Canyon Reservoir and many people choose to take a break and enjoy a snack at this point before they continue the trek or turn around. If you decide to proceed, you will reach the First Waterfall. The stream flows over a series of waterfalls, and this is the recommended end of the hike. If you should choose to continue the trial will become more strenuous.
Mount Olympus Utah: For those craving, some more challenges this 9,026 feet peak on the east side of the valley will secure both a strenuous hike and a jaw-dropping view that will make a stunning Instagram post (if you are into that). The trail is nice and easy to follow, but there are a few parts that can be a bit steep.
Leavenworth, Washington: Staying in the USA, you have fantastic hiking opportunities in Leavenworth, Washington. A little different from Salt Lake City, some of the hiking trails in Leavenworth do require you to drive or get some transportation to a parking area. It should not be a problem when you have car rentals, bikes and uber if you should need it. Some of the recommended hikes are on a higher difficulty level, but there is nothing wrong with turning around before the top.
4th of July Creek: This hike is about 9hours long, but with a fantastic view of the scenic Stuart Range. You should bring a lot of water and food on this hike because it can be scorched and exposed. It will require a permit, USFS Forest Trail Pass.
Lake Minotaur: This hike is a bit shorter than the previous, but still a challenging hike. It is about 5 hours, and no permits are required.
The trail is steep, and you will have some fantastic views to show for it! The hike is well worth the sore legs once you get to the lake.
There are excellent swimming opportunities when you reach the top, and it is well worth to take your time and explore the foothills.
There are a lot of easy trails available to like Penstock Trail and Lanham Lake. They are easy to walk and find, with no permits needed.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai has a lot of excellent working opportunities, but it can also provide fabulous hiking trails. Some of the hiking trails around the Doi Suthep Temple isn’t that known to tourists, and that’s amazing if you prefer that.
Monk’s Trail: This is a 3-6 hour hike, the time depends on how far you would like to go. Some of the trails are alongside a creek where you can see some beautiful waterfalls. Otherwise, the path is mostly forest. The view of the city is also quite spectacular.
Monk’s trail might be one of the most exclusive and unique hikes that leads to two temples and fantastic scenery. The starting point might be hard to find, and because it is entirely under the radar, not a lot of tourists know about it. Because of this, it is recommended to do a bit of research before you go, but this only adds to the adventure, or what?
Huay Tung Tao Circular Hike: This is a bit of a different hike which takes you around the picturesque Huay Tung Tao Lake. You get to hike along the slopes of a mountain and see a beautiful waterfall. When you arrive by the lake, you have the opportunity to visit the huts by the lake, and get a refreshment and enjoy the view and calm atmosphere by the lake.
Another popular venue for digital nomads are the mountains in Malaysia. Mount Kinabalu features a breathtaking hike – both in the literal and figurative sense.
Ordinarily, your journey will start with a bus trip to Kinabalu National Park, which is essentially your base for this trip. The tour will not cost you a considerable amount, but once again, it would be prudent to have some money on your person to make this adventure complete.
At the National Park is a popular venue called Jungle Jack, where a free meal is usually provided. The Jungle Jack Cabin has free lodgings available for two nights. Most importantly, for that period, you will have connectivity.
Day One of your trip is almost always likely to start early, at about 7 am. No big hike is easy to do without a good healthy breakfast. Do not waste the opportunity.
When you arrive at the hiking trail entrance, you will get your official permit for the hike and a climbing package. That will also cost you some money. But you at least fork that cash out knowing that most of your hiking needs will be taken care of after that. At which point, the world does become your oyster.
Regardless of where you go hiking in the mountains, it is always important to inspect the map and its trail. Try to remember as much of it as possible as the vegetation on some of these mountains can be very dense, and experience can become rather daunting.
However, there will be times when a tour guide will be a part of your hiking package. Try to take full advantage of that service if you can. The other beauty of many trips like this is that there will be ample opportunity in which to rest and even socialize with other groups.
Along with the hiking, the route starts at base camp, which includes dinner. Make sure you take full advantage of that too, as this usually is where the real adventure begins.
A part of the trip to the summit will be done during the night, so you will need some form of lighting to see the path on your way up. That is typically included in the package too. Just make sure you know about it.
The best way to complete that summit is just in time to see the sunrise.
If you are going to pursue the hiking options, especially up the particularly high peaks, there is a lot of original red tape to overcome, but all of it is necessary. Most official mountain hikes have an official website. It is on your best interests to peruse all of that documentation and make sure you are adequately equipped to make the most of such a journey.
Møre & Romsdal, Norway
If you are looking for an all-time hiking country, Norway is the place. The remarkable thing about Norway as a hiking and adventure country is that there is a law allowing you to camp outside anywhere in the country unless its private property. Because of this, you do not need to think about your living situation as long as you have a tent.
Norway also has one of the worlds best internet, and you will be able to work from almost anywhere. Norway is also a small country that is easy to travel because most of the cities are located close to a hiking and adventure opportunity.
Romsdalseggen Ridge: This is a point-to-point hike along a narrow ridge above a fantastic view of the fjords. If you choose this hike on a clear day, you will never find a view more spectacular than this. It is an 8.5-hour hike depending on the heather and your physical shape, which can be characterized as strenuous. The view does more than make up for the somewhat tricky hiking conditions, and it follows you most of the way.
Vengedalen – Litlefjellet – Viewpoint Trollveggen: This is a smaller version of the previous hike. The hike is about 20-30 minutes from the parking spot. The trail is steep, but it is well marked, and the more difficult places are secured my chains and handle that you can hold on to. You have the opportunity when visiting Møre & Romsdal to stay in a hotel or Airbnb, or camp outside in a tent in the mountains. Just remember to keep out of the tourist trails for the full nature experience.
There are a lot easier hiking trails, amongst the mountains that have lesser known trails but are just as amazing to explore on your own.
You now have a broad span of hiking opportunities all over the world that you may or may not have visited before. There is something for everyone if you want full-on restricted camping and mountain climbing adventure, or a more light-weight hiking and city living combination — both with the opportunity to stay connected with the world and your work. I hope you get some inspiration and motivation to travel to some new places and get inspired by the nature that we have in this world.
Mountain areas offer a lot to digital nomads who like this lifestyle. Majestic landscapes, exciting hiking and camping opportunities and lots of possibilities for summer and winter sports. There are a few things you need to be careful to consider, such as Wi-Fi and a level of conditioning, but it is worth it if you are keen on this type of mountain lifestyle. If you are up to it, give it a shot!
I’m the owner of Digital Nomad Explorer. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and been an expat in Scotland, Finland, and China. I was a digital nomad while having my own robotics company and traveled throughout Europe and China working remotely. Currently, I’m location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.