Thursday, 21 October 2021

Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence 6 Months On: Kelsey Kay Love

October 21, 2021 - In April this year, 10 digital nomads from all over the world came together for the inaugural Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence (DNIR) program. As part of European Freelancer Week 2021, TCN catches up with some of them 6 months on - next up Kelsey Kay Love from Los Angeles. 

A year ago, the city of Dubrovnik held the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia - Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads - as part of European Freelancer Week. The city has made great strides advancing its DN credentials and strategy, thanks in part to the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, which ran from April 23 - May 23. 


The program was all the richer for the presence of Kelsey Kay Love from California. TCN caught up with KKL 6 months later to get her current perspective on the program, Dubrovnik and the Croatian digital nomad journey.


1. It is 6 months since you arrived in Dubrovnik for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program. Firstly, a brief look back at that month. How was it for you, and how did it change your perceptions of Dubrovnik as a nomad destination?

Dang 'ol dang, time flies. I can say, with zero hesitation, that the month spent in Croatia for the Digital Nomads-in-Residence program was my best month of life for both 2020 and 2021, and we're not even through the rest of this year yet. 

It was an incredibly memorable experience, not only because of my glorious fellow nomads and our amazing organizers, but in terms of it being my first ever reference of Croatia itself. Before that experience, I had no real frame of reference for Dubrovnik at all, as I'd never met anyone who'd spent any real time there. This opportunity changed that in every way; spending four whole weeks there during a period where tourism was still incredibly scarce was a real eye-opener, and allowed us to see the city's potential in a way that we likely couldn't have during any other normal year.


2.  Have you kept in touch with others from the project? Spent any more time in Croatia?

Yes! I have been on a couple of Facetime calls with the nomads, and speak regularly with them through Discord and social media.  

I have unfortunately not spent any more time in Croatia (yet), as I live just about half way across the globe at the moment, but dearly hope to return next year.

3. It seems that a lot has been happening in the DN scene in the last few months since the program. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, Digital Nomad Valley Zagreb, the Cross Border Coworking Conference in Budva, Croatia performing strongly in the Nomad List 2021 survey. What changes have you noticed since arriving in Dubrovnik back in April?

At least from where I'm sitting in the States, there's a very noticeable trend and preference for remote jobs and work opportunities, digital nomad visas and a growing realization that living in Europe is easier than it ever has been, and perhaps ever will be, for U.S. citizens and residents. 

Because I still have a Google alert for 'digital nomad visa Croatia' — the very reason I found out about the contest in the first place — I also see how often Croatia is being talked about in international and local media, which is exciting and very well deserved. If Croatia wasn't a consideration for digital nomads before, I'd say it very likely is by this stage. 


4. Have you noticed any change in the way Croatia is talked about in the global DN groups you engage with online? In what way if yes?

After publishing a post about my experience on my own blog, Travelin' Fools, I received several emails and comments from complete strangers asking about coworking spaces and my opinions on the city itself as a long or short term liveable destination. To me, this clearly indicates an interest in Dubrovnik as an intriguing next option. 


5. What would you say are the key next steps for Dubrovnik on this journey, and for Croatia as a whole

Start marketing the opening of a Dubrovnik coworking space, regardless of a set opening date. Additionally, start talking to well-known travel writers, photographers and videographers and creating long term partnerships for content related to Croatia's growing digital nomad opportunities. The more content you have to work with — both in terms of quality and quantity — the better it will be to those looking for information on moving to Croatia, and what areas they'd potentially like to settle in. 


6. Your favourite memory/experience from DNIR, and when do expect that Dubrovnik will see you next?

I will never, ever forget eating lunch at Konoba Maha in Korcula. Watching giant Croats with tiny man buns fasten dainty leaves to my delicious cocktail before serving me a giant plate of peka? Into it.

Well, the nomads have already talked about a European reunion in time for Eurovision next year, so I fully expect to step foot in Croatia again in 2022. Until then, I'll have to enjoy my wine in an overpriced bar in Hollywood. Sigh.

For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Meet Dubrovnik's Digital Nomads-in-Residence: Kelsey Kay Love from Texas in L.A.

April 10, 2021 - The 10 winners of the innovative Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence (DNiR) competition have been announced. Meet them one by one, starting with Kelsey Kay Love from Texas, but currently in Los Angeles.

The DNiR programme, which has been designed by Saltwater Nomads, in partnership with Total Croatia News, the CIty of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board (and financed by the latter two), is an innovative direction for the Pearl of the Adriatic, as it looks to diversify its tourism strategy away from overtourism and in the wake of the pandemic. 


My name is Kelsey Kay Love, and I am a Travel Writer and Brand Manager who believes in traveling randomly, moving frequently, spontaneous dance parties and daiquiris with a view.

1. You are a DN-i-R winner. Congratulations! How do you feel?

Have I fainted? Did I fall in a manhole and wake up in a fantasy land?! Have I grown 6 inches and finally learned how to make carbonara?! Okay well no, but it does feel a lot like a travel fantasy come to life. I mean, it's been about a decade since I won so much as a free hot dog, so this is definitely a step up in life.

I am still a little in shock, and also obviously beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to not only live in Croatia for an entire month, but meet and work with a variety of fascinating folks to make Dubrovnik the next digital nomad hotspot.

2. How did you hear about the competition, and why did you decide to apply? 

While on lockdown in my very loud, very unfortunate-sized studio apartment in LA last year, I came across an article about Bermuda, Barbados and Estonia creating new visa opportunities for digital nomads. Shortly after, I found an article on LinkedIn about Jan de Jong, a Dutch entrepreneur, who was trying to make the same thing happen in Croatia. Croatia has been on my list for a long time, so I set up a Google alert with the words 'digital nomad visa Croatia', which eventually paid off by leading me directly to this competition via Total Croatia News. And now here we are! Wild stuff.


3. Which particular skills and ideas will you be bringing to the party?

Since I've lived in a few different countries previously as a digital nomad, the most valuable skills I bring to the table are likely experience, perspective, and a way with words. Also cocktails. I make excellent cocktails. My years in digital marketing, branding, and travel writing should also come in handy. And southern hospitality and easy laughter go wherever I go, which are always welcome party guests at any party worth attending.

4. What are you most looking forward to about DN-i-R?

In every place I've lived, even after just a single month, I feel like I'm able to pick up on so much of what makes it a liveable destination, even if it's for someone that ultimately isn't me. I'm most looking forward to finding out what those things are in Dubrovnik, especially, as I normally show up in a country without the faintest clue as to which specific area I will end up. This time around, it will be a unique opportunity to put those skills to use in such a concentrated location of a country I've never been to. I'm also very excited to work with people from such different backgrounds and areas of expertise, as I'm sure we will all learn so much from each other.

And last but not least, I am ecstatic about the mere possibility of floating in the sunshine on the Adriatic Sea.

5. Let's get you involved in the Dubrovnik community. Who or what would you like to connect with?

If there is a local marketing community, digital or otherwise, I'd love to meet them. I'd also love to meet those involved in the wine and spirits industry, food and beverage industry, and anything to do with dance, performing arts, and live music! And if the local catamaran community is currently accepting new friends, please also point me in their direction. Thank you!

Here is Kelsey's application video.

You can learn more about the programme here

Saltwater Nomads' Tanja Polegubic on Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence Programme

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic on Digital Nomads, US Flights, 2021 Season

For the latest digital nomad news from Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.