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When the pandemic hit, a lot of companies started allowing staff to work from home — temporarily. But since then, a new trend has begun to emerge: More and more companies are allowing employees to work from remote locations permanently. For this new cohort of remote workers, this opens up a world — literally — of exciting new places to live and work. If you’re scanning the globe for a new work-from-home home, you probably want to wait until travel is safer before you pull up stakes and head out into the world. But now is the time to start thinking about your options and doing your homework.
Here are five global destinations to consider — exciting locales where you’ll have everything you need to be productive during work hours and enjoy your time off to the fullest.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
A quick 45-minute drive from Cape Town, Stellenbosch is a university town in the heart of the Cape Winelands. Stellenbosch boasts great weather, with average highs around 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and around 65 in the winter.
Being a college town, Stellenbosch is home to dozens of cafes where it’s easy to find reliable Wi-Fi and delicious coffee to help you power through the workday. A great option is Java Bistro, where you can order an English breakfast for around $3.20.
When you’re not working, you can explore gorgeous local scenery, tour vineyards including the stunning Delaire Graff Estate or take day or weekend trips to Cape Town or other nearby beaches. If you’re feeling adventurous, try cage diving with great whites at Gansbaai’s “shark alley,” which boasts one of the highest concentrations of these ocean predators anywhere in the world.
Get there with points: United Airlines has plenty of saver awards from various cities (Atlanta, Houston and New York as examples) for 44,000 points one-way into Cape Town.
If you’re dreaming of living and working in Europe, you should give Budapest some serious consideration. Located on the banks of the Danube River, Budapest is an easily walkable city with roughly 1.8 million residents. Budapest offers remote workers a relatively low cost of living compared to other European cities, access to coworking spaces around the city and beautiful architecture to take in when you’re not on the clock. As a post-work treat, take a sunset boat ride on the Danube.
If you work remotely from Budapest, you can make it a base to explore nearby areas including Prague, Vienna, and Zagreb, Croatia.
Get there with points: American Airlines award flights from the U.S. to Europe start at just 22,500 points one-way for MileSAAver off-peak times. Plus, you don't have to fly into Budapest. If you find a good award flight to somewhere in Europe you can certainly work your way to Hungary by train or car.
» Learn more: Where U.S. citizens can travel right now
Nicknamed “City of the Eternal Spring” for its pleasant year-round weather, Medellin is a tech-forward city nestled in the Andes Mountains. Although the city was once famous for its drug cartels, Medellin has worked hard in recent years to shed that reputation, becoming a popular destination for tourists and remote workers alike.
If you need to work during U.S. business hours, Medellin is a great option because the city is on Colombia Time, which is two hours ahead of California during daylight saving time and three hours ahead of California the rest of the year. So you can wake up naturally, grab a cup of Colombia’s famous coffee and enjoy a relaxed breakfast before turning to work.
From Medellin you can take weekend trips to the coffee farms in Jardin and to Guatape for some well-deserved downtime by the lake.
Get there with points: MileSAAver award flights on American can be had for as little as 17,500 points one-way during off-peak times.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Want to spend your time off enjoying the outdoors? Dubbed “The Adventure Capital of the World,” Queenstown offers activities like skydiving, bungee jumping, jetboating and paragliding — perfect for remote workers seeking thrills on their days off. If that doesn't sound like your thing, you’ll find plenty of great hikes and biking trails to bask in the beautiful scenery.
English is the most widely spoken language in New Zealand, so Queenstown is a great option for Americans who don’t feel comfortable working in a city where they don’t speak the language.
If you do end up working remotely from New Zealand, you can take weekend trips to beautiful Fiordland National Park on the southwest coast of the South Island.
Get there with points: Air New Zealand is a member of the Star Alliance, which includes United Airlines (which is a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards®). This gives you plenty of redemption options, especially if your dates are flexible. Depending on your departure city, we found options on United partners for as low as 44,000 points.
» Learn more: My 6 favorite off-the-beaten-path award redemptions
Bali has beautiful beaches, year-round warm weather, a low cost of living and a number of coworking spots where you can interact with other remote workers. If you’re not dreaming of working from a beach, Bali has a diverse landscape, so you can easily work from towns like Ubud, known for its rice paddies, temples and yoga.
When you’re not working, Bali offers lots of activities to keep you occupied, including hiking, surfing and exploring temples. There’s even a monkey forest where you get close to the adorable (but sometimes mischievous) animals.
For remote workers looking to experience all that Bali has to offer, we’d recommend splitting your time between Ubud and the beach town of Canggu, which was recently named the second-best remote work destination in the world by Nomad List.
Get there with points: Air Canada's new award chart has partner flights from North America to the "Pacific zone" for 60,000 points for flights 7,501 to 11,000 miles in distance. You can also transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to Air Canada.
The bottom line
Whether you’re a new or an established remote worker, it’s exciting to think about the places you’ll be able to go when you feel safe to travel again and can finally take advantage of the freedom and flexibility that come with remote work.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card