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This guest post by Will at tribal hostels. After years of traveling the world for just $10 a day, he finally settled in Indonesia and opened a hostel for digital nomads.
Long ago, in a distant land of breathtaking sights, a young and ragged tourist sat in the cheapest carriage on a 32-hour train journey through India’s eastern range. The smell of onion bhajis, sweaty bodies, and roasted sugar wafted through the cabin. Outside, landscapes of green and red and orange swept by; cities turned into villages, void, desert and coastline, and back to cities. Time slipped and distorted, the crowd churned and swelled, it seemed like more people were always getting in than out, Escher’s train car puzzle.
The traveler arrogantly clung to his perch, for visiting the toilet would undoubtedly mean losing the cherished place.
I was that tourist.
In 2009, I set out on a journey to find out who I should be, what I’m good at, and what I can take. My main goal was to get out of my comfort zone and become a better, more capable and more confident (I was a shy kid) version of myself.
This was the start of a life-changing journey that led me to online entrepreneurship as I traveled the world for the next decade.
During my travels, I have been involved in many different projects around the world to support my chosen lifestyle. From blogging and publishing a couple of books to selling weed on the beaches of Goa and doing odd jobs on farms, I did everything I could to fund my life of adventure. I stuffed my backpack with trinkets, knick-knacks and colorful shirts and sold them at festivals in the UK. I also started freelance writing and sold some of my most outlandish stories to media publications.
Over time, I moved away from the occasional drug dealing and goat herding and focused more on my online ventures. I’ve been dropshipping goods from China (which didn’t work out very well), researched cryptocurrency trading, and founded an adventure tour company in Pakistan, Iran and Kyrgyzstan. I experimented with affiliate marketing and little by little my fledgling travel blog grew and grew.
As my online business expanded, so did my need for reliable Wi-Fi and a quiet place to work, but to my dismay, it was damn hard to find a hostel that was convenient for work.
I love dorms a lot: the people, the energy, the community and the mix of different ideas and personalities can be really electric. But as many of my fellow digital nomads may know, they are often not very conducive to generating online income that can support a life of travel. Indeed, it is very difficult to do meaningful work in a hostel, as there are so many stimuli and events going on.
Many digital nomads and online freelancers end up burning out after a year or two as they, like me, struggle to balance the tourist lifestyle with the responsibility and discipline of being their own boss.
And so, in 2014, while in a crowded, damp dorm with questionable hygiene in Colombia, I had a sudden idea: I would open a dorm. A hostel like no other. A hostel that has everything you need for a successful day: beautiful views, comfortable beds, friendly atmosphere, amazing pool, plenty of greenery, delicious food, damn good coffee, great bar and most importantly, a place to work. from.
I wanted to build the kind of dorm I’ve always dreamed of but never found – somewhere where I could work in silence during the day and then be sure to have a good time in the evening, with plenty of places to socialize.
A place where aspiring entrepreneurs, broke tourists looking for a way to travel forever, hard-working scammers and Instagram beauties can rub elbows, bang their fists and settle into their home away from home.
Fast forward to 2018: I just moved to Bali, where I made two trusted friends at the local gym named Mark, who is British, and Gonan, who is from Bali.
Like me, Mark struggled to balance being a digital nomad and having to do some work on the go while still enjoying the thrill and backpack community. Gonan is passionate about Bali and welcomes foreigners to his home island.
Together we began to work on the idea of a hostel, which I imagined.
Within a few months, we found the perfect spot: a large piece of land on the outskirts of Canggu’s hipster downtown and surfer haven. It is here, surrounded by rice fields and just a stone’s throw from the beach, that we will build the best hostel in Bali.
We had a clear idea of a special place that could serve the growing number of tourist entrepreneurs and online digital nomads who still wanted to stay in a hostel.
Construction proved to be a challenge as we struggled with a shortage of workers, misplaced blueprints and having to jump through legal hoops to get it right (luckily we had good Balinese friends who could help us).
After two years of construction (and an unexpected pandemic), our little one, Tribal Balifinally opened with a very soft launch in September 2021. Then, in May, after much hustle and bustle, we opened our first dorms and private rooms.
Tribal is the first ever digital coworking coworking hostel designed and meticulously custom built in Bali. We’ve gone to great lengths to provide lightning-fast Wi-Fi, a healthy and varied menu served by our dedicated restaurant staff, comfortable beds designed for privacy and smart compartmentation, a giant hanging luggage net where you can unwind with a book, and every comfort. necessary to work hard all day without leaving the dorm, if that’s what your soul desires.
Our coworking space has everything you need to work: sit-down and sit-down tables, sofas, bean bags, separate bell booths and plenty of power outlets.
Our dorm has private rooms, huge shared bathrooms, and carefully designed dorms that provide privacy, charging outlets, and ladders to upper berths (rather than noisy ladders found in other dorms).
We also have a giant multi-level pool, by far the best in Pererenan at the moment, and the bar serves classic cocktails, beer, our very own Tribal Tonics and happy hour for backpackers!
My travels have taught me that dreams are what keep us going, and if you’re willing to feel uncomfortable as hell for a while, any dream is possible. While I am no longer a busted whirlwind tourist, I am honored to be able to host a new generation of aspiring digital nomads and itinerant explorers in this purpose built hostel.
I hope that Tribal Bali can be a shining beacon of how to enjoy the best tourist lifestyle as well as meet like-minded entrepreneurs and do quality work in a work-friendly and community-oriented space.
After more than ten years on the road, I am thrilled to finally make the dream come true and do my part to ensure the next generation of ambitious and inspiring digital nomads.
Adventurer and drifter, entrepreneur and hostel owner, Will has been traveling the world for over ten years and loves to explore truly wild places.
Book Your Trip: Logistics Tips & Tricks
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Book your stay You can book the hostel with hostel world. If you want to stay somewhere other than the hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the lowest prices for guest houses and hotels.
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Ready to book your trip? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones that I use when I travel. They are the best in their class and you can’t go wrong with them on the road.
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