Travel Tuesday: Meet Elisa Rueda

Elisa Rueda is the founder of The Cowork Experience, a new kind of team-building for remote teams. With the rise of remote working, she realized the increasing value and growing need for F2F team-size experiences. Her experience model is paving the way and setting a new standard for Cowork retreats.

What was your last regular job?

My last job was at a consulting firm in Austin, TX. I was able to work from home the last 1-2 years that I was there.

Where have you travelled to?

I just got back from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Before that, I spent the majority of my time in Bali. I have also gone to South Africa, Italy, London, Mexico, and Taiwan. I spend a lot of time in Southeast Asia, with some time spent in Europe and Central/South America.

What made you want to pursue a nomadic lifestyle?

I had a really invasive retinal detachment eye surgery. After I recovered from that procedure, I realized that since I work from home, I might as well join a travel program where I can travel and work for a couple months with a group. That’s when I started learning about the nomadic culture and realized that that is something I wanted to explore and get into. Three months after my initial travels, I came home and put all of my stuff into storage and quit my job.

Tell me more about the Cowork Experience.

In mid-2017 I had this idea that I wanted to go to a villa (in Bali) and create some content. From there, I thought, “what else can I do while I have access to the villa?” I thought that I could invite some friends to co-work while I created content. The more I added to it, I realized that this could be a legit experience and it is not the kind of experience that I have seen anywhere else. My experiences that I create for the Cowork Experience are dynamic. They aren’t your traditional ‘lets get wasted’ or one-dimensional event. I’m a huge advocate of both coworking and remote working. I’m passionate about coworking because of the environment, ambiance, motivation, and the fact that you’re still working at the same time. It’s a fusion of all of these things that are happening. 

The first event that I put on for the Cowork Experience was really about exploring the model but then after the 2nd, 3rd event it became more validating that I was on to a really interesting experience concept. Fast forward from them to now, and I have evolved from a 1-day Cowork Pop Up to Coworking Retreats. They both offer a similar model where we have health/wellness aspects, personal development talks, and cultural exploration. I realized that remote companies are looking for more creative ways to bring their team members together. The team building side of things is becoming more competitive. I’m always thinking, “How can we take it to the next level?” My long term vision is to be able to elevate the team building experience for remote companies to the next level.

Do you have any online training courses that you recommend?

WiFly Nomads is a great course. My friend Kate Smith runs it and it’s a very thorough program where she helps you figure out what you’re trying to do and how to transition from your current full time job to a nomadic lifestyle.

I also have a lot of podcasts on heavy rotation. I would recommend Side Hustle School. Every episode is a story of how someone began with a small side hustle and eventually turned it into a full blown business and were able to quit their job. Another podcast I enjoy listening to is Masters of Scale. It’s run by the co-founder of LinkedIn and teaches high performing managers how to scale up. 

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

I wish I would have dove headfirst into The Cowork Experience from the start. I hesitated in trying to push it forward. It took a backseat because I was doing some side gigs and wasn’t really pushing it forward. Now that I have been pushing it, I have seen amazing results and am really looking forward to 2020 and 2021. Don’t let fear come between you and your dreams. Also, make sure your side hustle compliments the career you’re trying to develop. 

Don’t let fear come between you and your dreams.

What are the hardest things you find about working remotely?

Being consistent with your routine. I find it really hard because if I were to stay in one stationary place, I wouldn’t have that many issues. But because I’m constantly moving, I have to think, “what gyms am I going to, what are my good/healthy places to eat, etc.” 

I have a vision of how I want to live. I want to live in 4 different places each year so that I have a routine, a built-in community, and I know where things are.

How do you decide where you want to go next?

Right now my decisions are work driven. I go where my work is and where my clients are. Also time zones because I have to think about my clients. I have clients who hesitate in going to Bali because of the time zone, which is why I’m going to Portugal next.

Graphic: Elisa Rueda 5 Essentials That I Pack Everyday

How do you envision your life in 5 years?

In 5 years I am helping multiple remote companies and remote teams in bridging connections between team members in multiple countries with various retreats throughout. We will only work 6 months out of the year. I  will have a retreat host assigned in Portugal, in Bali, and in South America. 

What are your estimated monthly expenses?

Housing: 

In Thailand my housing was between $300-400 USD. In Bali it was about $700 USD.

Food and drinks:

In Bali I spend around $7-10 USD per meal, or about $20 a day. In Thailand, I spend $3-5 USD a meal.

Activities:

I’m a workaholic. I wake up at 430/5 am every morning. However, when I’m in Bali, I do go out occasionally. I’ll spend $10-$20 USD a month on drinks.

Transport:

I rented a scooter for $60 USD a month. I spend about $5 USD every 2 weeks on gas.


Interested in learning more? You can reach out to Elisa via her website or through Instagram.

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  • Tiger came into my life one month before I was diagnosed with cancer. I had to rest so much in the early days when I had her. I would get tired and have to sleep or lay down for most of the day leading up to my surgery.

On surgery day, I was terrified. I thought I wouldn’t wake up. So on the surgery room table, before I could feel the anesthesia, I told the surgery team my “final” words, ‘Tell my mom and Tiger Lily I love them’. She was always my priority. Always my family.

When I eventually woke up the first thing I asked my mom is ‘Where is Tiger Lily? How is she?’ I was even trying to get my mom to sneak her into my hospital room but security stopped her. I couldn’t wait to have her in my lap.

I eventually got discharged from the hospital and I had to spend weeks on the sofa downstairs because I couldn’t make it to the bed on the second floor. So on a narrow sofa, Tiger and I slept together, all day. I felt so bad for her since she seemed so bored and she was only sleeping next to me because her mama was recovering.

I made little promises to her though, I would make it to the patio and sit down there for a few minutes so I could throw her toy with her (she would only play fetch with me). Then eventually I was able to take slow walks with her and sit down on a park bench while she played.

She helped me focus my energy on getting better for her. No one else could take care of her, like I could. I got stronger for her. Tiger Lily gave me purpose each day. Baby Tiger helped me heal.

Maybe this is part of why the pain is unbearable. We’ve been through so much, even in our short time together. The pain today feels just as excruciating and suffocating like it did a week ago. Praying tomorrow will be better. 💔
  • The story of how my baby Tiger Lily came into my life

March 2018 my family and I lost our family Pomchi, Puffy. She had been with us for 13 years. She was my parents baby and I was the fun sister that got to come hang with her.

When we lost her I felt an emptiness and wanted some doggy energy around. I thought fostering seemed interesting. It’s temporary. I’ll foster a dog for a couple days and then that’s it.

One day I scrolled and found Dogs Without Borders. I came across a little Tiger Lily. What a funny name, I thought. There was something about her that I was drawn to. I think it was the ears.

I was still nervous about it and didn’t know if I could handle it but one day I went out to dinner with friends and we were talking about it. There just happened to be Tiger hot sauce on the table and it said TRY ME. We laughed, I had never seen that type of sauce before! It was definitely a sign.

So I fostered her and I remember I kept her blocked off in an area of my house. There’s no way I was just letting her run free where ever she wanted to go.

Then I started seeing how scared she was. She would regularly shake; so confused as to where she was. ‘I’m a good girl why is my life like this’ she probably thought.  So I became more lenient so she could feel more at ease. I guess fine she could be on the sofa once in a while when I was around but only on her pillow. I guess fine she could be on my bed but only if she stayed on her side. Boundaries only really lasted a couple days. I’m weak.

Then after just less than a week, her former foster family wanted to adopt her. I had been thinking of adopting her but then thought it was better for her to go with them. They were a couple with other animals in the house so it felt like a fun, full home for Tiger to be in.

After just two days, the couple told me they changed their mind. If I didn’t want her then they’d end up returning her back to DWB. I was livid. Once you commit to adopting a baby, there is a no refund policy. Baby adoptions are not merchandise to exchange for another fit. I missed her and didn’t want Tiger to go through another transfer so I decided to adopt her myself. (contd in comments)
  • Rest in peace my love. My little baby Tiger Lily. I don’t know what happened. It was so sudden. You were fine on Friday! Maybe a little stomach upset on Saturday and then Sunday you could barely wag your tail when you saw me. I wish I noticed more signs so I could know how sick you were. Were you telling me something sooner and I didn’t know? You left me and my heart is not broken in half. My heart is completely shattered. I am so sorry for letting you down. I was trying to save you like you saved me. I tried to be the very best mama to you. I barely left you alone. I never wanted you to feel abandoned and lonely because that’s what you grew up knowing. (Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone I would sneak you into places you weren’t supposed to be in.) I always played with you (Stay. Stay. Find it!) I always bought you the best food - nothing but organic, all natural, and premium quality for my baby! I remember I would be so tired sometimes but I’d go out to Whole Foods to buy you steak just as a treat for being you. I wanted you to know how loved and OBSESSED I was all the time. I know you were obsessed with me too. Your grandparents would always call you “piece of gum on mom’s shoe” because you were just stuck to me like glue! You always had to be touching me, no matter what. If you didn’t see me in eyesight you would panic!

When I first got you I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would you like me? Would you be a lot of work? I could not have asked for a more perfect baby. You always listened to your mama, except for when it was bed time and you insisted on taking my side of the bed. I always pretended to be annoyed but what did I tell you every night? I said ‘Little baby Tiger Lily I love you, you’re the very best girl. I’m going to see you tomorrow and I hope you dream about all the yummy treats we’re going to eat’. Sweet baby, you were so strong. You struggled all day yesterday and when the doctor said there’s not much hope I took you home so you could be comfortable. You were so brave to be strong enough to be in the car in my arms and to make it all the way home. I didn’t let you go and you took your last breath in my arms. Snuggled with all your blankies. (contd)
  • 💔EMERGENCY: Is anyone a vet or a homeopathic animal doctor? Tigers condition has worsened over night. Doctors don’t know what the cause is, they’ve thrown out words like sepsis, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, anaphylaxis, they just don’t know.

Facts: Swollen gallbladder, low body temp, stomach is fluid filled, slight water in lungs, now in an oxygen cage... - doctor says her stomach and gastrointestinal system is not working. I don’t know what to do. Maybe another opinion or doctor would know. I have a copy of blood results to help.

Please forward to anyone who might have another opinion. My heart hurts I can’t breathe and I need to save her like she saved me. 💔🙏
  • Currently at the emergency animal hospital where I had to admit Tiger Lily for overnight observation and testing. She had been feeling ill since yesterday. Little stomach upsets usually go away quickly but today she started also having slow reactions, not blinking and experiencing heavy breathing. The vet said she is “pretty sick” with low blood pressure. She may have pancreatitis or some type of gastric complication.

Pancreatitis is what my 13 year old family dog, Puffy, passed away from back in 2018. So to hear that Tiger Lily may have this... 💔 Pray for Tiger please. Anyone that knows me even a little knows exactly how much she means to me and I just can’t have her be sick because I need her. ❤️
  • With all the supplements out there sometimes it can be hard to know what actually works. I have been taking probiotics for years and I like to switch them up every once in a while. #Ad I just started @seed’s Daily Synbiotic which I’ve found isn’t just any probiotic. What I appreciate about @seed is that they’re pioneering a “next-generation” probiotic, based on science.

@Seed combines human clinical research, technology, and innovations in biofermentation, formulation, and testing to develop a new standard for bacteria.

Their strains have been clinically studied to support gastrointestinal health, cardiovascular health, and dermatological health. These studies have been published in respected medical journals.

That sounds like a lot of information but the main takeaway is that this is a new line of probiotics that doesn’t just target gut health but overall health. 🙌 Use code DIMPLE15 for 15% off the first month of your Daily Synbiotic subscription at seed.com
  • What is your approach to food? I try to eat mostly plant-based but I allow myself the freedom to eat what my body craves that day. All foods fit over here!

Today on the blog I’m breaking down an easy approach to changing mindset around food choices. 🥑 #intuitiveeating #eatingwell #allfoodsfit #healthyliving
  • There is chaos everywhere. The turmoil can be easy to ignore sometimes because it feels so far away and quite honestly, we all just have our own individual lives to live and most of us feel like we are not directly affected by it. But we are.

This isn’t the typical content I generally write about but I think it’s important to make a difference in some way. As much of a health advocate as I am, I’m really an advocate for change; change for the better. We are all capable of so much and collectively the possibilities for positive change in our communities are limitless. But change comes when there is action behind it.

I’ve been politically active for years. I’ve traveled, canvassed, phone banked, fundraised for the candidates/issues I support. It’s tough, invigorating, gratifying, and eye-opening all in one.

Rather than speak about partisan politics (there’s enough of that out there) – I wanted to give a PSA to remember to register to vote! Your voice can make a difference when you show up for yourself and for others. I listed a state by state breakdown with voter registration deadlines up on the blog today. I encourage you to check it out. ❤️#bethechange #advocacy #registertovote #positiveimpact
  • In my reader feedback form (that’s still up in my profile!) the majority of people said they’re interested in skincare and beauty. So I listened and did a round up of my favorite nontoxic, natural cleansers up on the blog. ☺️Do you have any favorites? Some brands listed are @indie_lee @biossance @100percentpure @oseamalibu @cocokind // #naturalskincare #cleanskincare #cleanbeauty #holisticwellness
  • I’m really excited to make this my healthiest year yet! Will you join me?

We all have dreams and goals we want to achieve but it’s just going to be that much more difficult to reach them if you don’t have your health! 🙏 I wrote a blog post on how often you should be seeing your doctor as a general guideline to help you. Remember to feel empowered to ask questions, listen to your intuition and get a second opinion if you need it!

Set aside half an hour today to track down phone numbers, check your calendar, and schedule those appointments.

This year, I want us all to not just survive but to THRIVE. 💕🙌
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#selfcare #newyearbetteryou #healthfirst #wellnessjourney
  • I hope everyone had the best January 1! Tradition in my family is to make homemade Korean potstickers/dumplings and put them in a rice cake soup, so I spent all afternoon making these with my mom ☺️ Do you have any traditions? #떡국 #떡만두국 #familytradition #happynewyear
  • 2019 - You’ve come with a lot of deep emotions. I found myself struggling with my mental health more than ever before. I was more anxious, more triggered, more depressed. Things felt really messy and broken for a lot of the year.

But like with most things - I found a path toward healing and growth once I allowed myself space for reflection and exploration.

More 2019 reflections and a final giveaway for you, on the blog. ❤️
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Thank you to everyone for the continued support throughout the year! Sending you all health, love, and growth as we approach a new year and new chapter! 🥳 #happynewyear #2019reflections

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