Imagine traversing the North African plains of the Saharan desert, immersed in the culture of ancient Moroccan cities, all while gaining core skills that help you to become a fully fledged digital nomad. Hassan Bolaachoub is the brains behind one such programme called DN LABS, aimed squarely at marketers and developers looking to kickstart their freelance careers. We caught up with this astute business guru in the third installment of our Travel Trendsetters series to find out more about his journey to becoming a digital nomad, and what inspires him to get out and travel.
Bolaachoub describes DN LABS as a “10-day immersive digital bootcamp” for folks with their sights set on traveling and working at the same time. Recognizing the allure of a location-independent lifestyle, Hassan has created a unique course that melds the best of both worlds together, satiating travel lust with stopovers in the Moroccan villages of Merzouga, Erfoud, Ouarzazate, and Marrakech.
Coming off 17 years in a corporate environment, Bolaachoub hankered after a location-independent lifestyle; one that would allow him to visit exotic locations and enable him to imbibe the cultures of countries he’d never seen. At the time, however, there simply weren’t any resources available to guide him on his quest to work remotely. “Back then the concept of digital nomading was not known as the concept it is today.”
This led to the genesis of DN LABS. Bolaachoub’s strong background in finance and management has equipped him with the know-how to create a programme that provides aspiring digital nomads and entrepreneurs with the skill-sets to thrive, regardless of where they find themselves.
We quizzed the MBA holder on the logistical complexities of taking a group of ten aspiring remote workers in the Sahara desert, and just why he chose this venue to host his bootcamp. “My experience as a licensed tour operator in Morocco and my familiarity with the environment running tours for many years in such environment has helped me a lot to simplify those complexities,” he notes. As for his reasons behind choosing the Sahara, Bolaachoub justifies his choice with three points. First, he says “I wanted to demonstrate the link between digital nomads and real Sahara nomads who have been location-independent for centuries moving from one area to the other searching for food and shelter for themselves and their cattle. I also intended for the bootcamp participants to explore the culture of the Sahara nomads.” Second, Hassan aims to “show the uniqueness and the majestic beauty and calmness of the Sahara and the rich history and culture of Morocco and cities like Marrakech and Ouarzazate.” And finally, he believes that roughing it in the desert will give his aspirant nomads the inspiration they need to conquer the challenges in their own nomadic journey. This is surprisingly impassioned logic from someone with a distinctly corporate business background, but in many ways, it cuts to the heart of what location independence is all about.
It would make sense then, that Hassan has travel stories aplenty to share. He recalls a particularly poignant encounter during his time backpacking alone in the south of Morocco. “After traveling for many days, I ended up near a small village near Errachidia. While there, I met a nice man who invited me to his house to have lunch with his wife and children. This family lived in a very modest cabin. Even with their minimal resources, they shared their food and offered me a place to stay for free for a few days. They were very nice and hospitable. Before I left, I offered to pay for my stay, but they refused and invited me to come back again to visit them. They taught me that you don’t need to have a lot of money to be generous and you can be hospitable even to people you don’t know and have never met. They showed me the real hospitality of Morocco and especially the people of the south.”
If you’re already in the remote working game but struggling to make things stick, Bolaachoub has two sage points to help you out: Organization and discipline. The “usual” nomad problems, as he calls them (stuff like weak WiFi, broken equipment, lost luggage, time differences, jet lag, noisy neighbors and even the odd hangover), can all be averted with a good dose of planning and a self-starter attitude. When it comes to packing hacks, years of travel have taught Bolaachoub the value of packing light, with one eye on the weather forecast in case things take a 180.
Hassan Boolachoub’s Travel Essentials
- A light, durable travel bag
- Extra laptop battery
- Eye masks for daytime shut-eye
- Offline navigation apps
As for DN LABS, it’s full steam ahead. Bolaachoub has his sights set squarely on “helping aspiring digital nomads escape their 9-5 jobs” and “equipping them with the right skills to start their nomadic journey.” He plans on expanding the bootcamp with new digital courses and a potential second location. Bolaachoub’s parting words underpin the philosophy which drives DN LABS and his passion for helping people to become location independent: “I believe that people don’t need to be born entrepreneurs to be one. They can learn to become entrepreneurs if they have the desire, the motivation, and the right guidance or mentoring.”
Written by Stuart Hendricks