This is the Wayviator Newsletter — Fall Edition.
It’s the remote work newsletter from Wayviator.com, written by Curtis Duggan.
This week, we are breaking the format to publish a full interview with Mita Carriman, the founder and CEO of Adventurely and full-time digital nomad for over five years.
Mita spent time in Albania in mid-September at the Tirana Digital Nomad Festival.
Tirana is the capital and largest city in Albania, a country located between the Balkans and Greece in southeastern Europe.
Albania is an up-and-coming remote work travel destination.
This past month, the city of Tirana and local stakeholders hosted nomads and remote workers at a festival designed to show off the city's culture, its amenities, and its growing remote work communities — among other things.
Curtis from Wayviator: What made Tirana Digital Nomad Festival unique?
Mita: I thought there was something really special about the timing of Tirana Digital Nomad Festival.
You know those moments in biopic movies about rock stars when it’s early in the rock star’s career—before their fame—and they go on a big stage for the first time and completely wow the audience, leaving everyone with goosebumps and a feeling that what they just witnessed was about to become big?
That’s how I felt watching the city of Tirana share its vision—and almost a product roadmap—of how they envision their destination emerging as a digital nomad hub.
The festival was launched at a moment in Tirana’s timeline between the initial buzz about their city and full-on scaling up as a major digital nomad hub—where the Tirana Municipality and Mayor’s office took ownership of the conversation on how they are defining and growing themselves as a destination for digital nomads.
Timing of the festival aside, I was also really impressed with the quality of the production of the Tirana Digital Nomad Festival.
The festival was a very professionally produced multi-day experience that intimately educated attendees on Tirana’s culture, community, tech scene, aspirations, values, offerings, and needs.
Their opening ceremony was outdoors in an area called “Sheshi Itali” by their city arena with a stage designed to look like a laptop — needless to say, this aspect truly delivered a dramatic wow factor to the production.
I left the festival feeling inspired and convinced that in one or two years, Tirana is going to be one of the biggest European destinations for digital nomads.
How do you feel Albania can ‘stand out’ relative to other Balkan countries and to Greece as a destination?
I think Albania and the city of Tirana can stand out as a nomad hub if Tirana and the other nomad-friendly cities within Albania work together in partnership to create sub-networks of digital nomad hubs within their country for digital nomads to visit and rotate between.
For example, before I reached Tirana, I spent a week in the nearby Albanian city of Durrës.
Durrës is a walkable beautiful beach city, only a 30-minute drive from Tirana, that has all the makings of a perfect beachside digital nomad experience town.
I’m sure that many digital nomads coming to Tirana will want to spend time there, so I think— for example—if some of the co-living and coworking brands in Tirana created affiliations, partnerships, or extensions of their brand in Durrës for digital nomads, that could be a great, easy experience for the digital nomads coming to Tirana—and in general, keep digital nomads engaged within their country.
I’ve seen this kind of rotation be successful in Countries like Mexico, where people travel between the major digital nomad hubs of Mexico City and Playa Del Carmen, and also in Bali between the major digital nomad hubs of Canggu and Ubud.
I think if Albania also explored this concept for Tirana and other cities like Durrës or for the Albanian Riviera, it could similarly be successful, since the essence of digital nomading is rooted in exploring and rotating through different destinations.
I also think Tirana and other cities in Albania can stand out by leaning into sustainability and impact issues inherent in integrating digital nomads, since this is a perfect moment to lay the groundwork and infrastructure before the inevitable explosion of digital nomads that will come over the next 1-2 years.
I spoke about these issues for digital nomads during my Keynote Speech at the Tirana Digital Nomad Festival and how we’re approaching sustainability and local impact as operators at Adventurely for the launch of Adventurely’s 1-Month Welcome Meetups for digital nomads in Mexico.
What’s the biggest thing that surprised you about Albania?
There are a few! I actually wrote a story post about some of them on my personal IG. Here are three random things and one really important substantive thing that surprised me about Tirana specifically:
Tirana has some of the best cappuccinos I’ve had anywhere in the world—even better than Italy, I believe!
I had spent two weeks prior to Albania in Rome and Naples, so it was very interesting to experience how great Albania’s coffee culture was in comparison. Wasn’t expecting that at all.
I noticed that Tirana had an especially big sneaker culture, particularly around Air Force 1 sneakers.
This really blew my mind because I’m a native New Yorker from the Bronx, the birth of hip-hop culture.
So it was really incredible for me to see Air Force 1s, which had their first major impact on Hip Hop culture when hip-hop artists Rob Base & DJ Easy Rock released an album cover wearing the sneaker in the late '80s to their famous song “It Takes Two,” to it now being seen worn by young Albanians all over the city of Tirana.
I was speaking to a waiter at a restaurant in Tirana about this observation, and he rather candidly shared with me an impressive dissertation-like explanation of why he thinks the Air Force 1 is the perfect sneaker!
And he broke it down pretty well! Hip Hop had such humble roots in New York in the '70s and '80s that have been often looked down upon, so as a Native New Yorker who grew up in the birthplace of hip hop, my heart was full of pride seeing Air Force 1s so celebrated over there.
I also heard quite a lot of reggaeton while I was in Tirana!
That I definitely was not expecting, and I learned that Albanians have their own versions of reggaeton with popular local artists there like Dhurata Dora.
Random things aside, one of the most important, substantive, and profound things that surprised me about Tirana was learning about the city's plans to renovate the pyramid of Tirana.
There’s actually a giant pyramid in Tirana city center that was originally constructed years ago as a mausoleum for a dictator, which is now being renovated and repurposed to be a center for innovation, technology, inspiration, and advancement for Albanians, as well as a welcome center of sorts for the international community, especially the international digital nomad community.
We got a private tour of the grounds undergoing construction, and I thought it was such an innovative and progressive direction for the city.
My understanding is that the pyramid will be completed in renovation sometime next year, and you can check out the impressive design plans for it here.
Mita Carriman is the founder and CEO of Adventurely and a 5-year+ digital nomad.