Working while traveling is not always as glamorous as your favorite digital nomad’s Instagram feed would have you believe. I love to travel. In fact, my desire to travel is one of the main reasons that I decided to strike on my own as an entrepreneur. Sadly, with this freedom comes great, looming business responsibilities! I sometimes find myself leading meetings from foreign countries or emailing at 2 a.m. because I’m in another timezone.
Can one realistically juggle the entrepreneur hustle and an adventurous lifestyle? If you have your ducks in a row and have a good plan in place, working while traveling is as breezy as a Tahitian beach. Here are my 6 top tips for working effectively while on the road.
1. Master Time Management
What percentage of your day can you dedicate to uninterrupted work and what percentage of your day will be spent playing? This is the most important question to ask yourself if you plan on working while traveling. Once you have an answer in your head, break your day into organized, assigned chunks of time. From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. I will work on project X. From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. I will answer emails. And so on. While it may feel anal retentive and you may not always stick to your schedule, having a loose plan is so, so helpful. It also allows you to stay productive when working remotely and better predict how much time certain aspects of your workday really demand. You might be super surprised and discover that you need to make some changes!
2. Use Smart Tools to Streamline Your Process
When I am working while traveling, I would seriously go insane if it were not for tools like Asana, Evernote, Planoly, and Google Calendar. I use Asana to map out what tasks I have completed, as well as update the status of current projects. Evernote comes in handy to manage quick notes from unexpected phone calls, as well as resources I want to share on social later. Planoly is a lifesaver for short trips when I just want to schedule Instagram posts to go up at a certain time for our U.S. audience. Google calendar is my lifeblood, especially when my timezone is the opposite of my business partner’s. Find your own favorite tools and lean on them to streamline your process!
3. Make Sure You Have Good Internet Before You Go
Most jobs require internet access these days. Believe it or not, fellow millennials, lack of decent internet access is just a reality in some places. Even in the United States and other areas where you’d expect to always be connected. If I am traveling, I research data plans and foreign SIM and mobile hotspot options for my phone. I also never reserve a rental home or hotel room that doesn’t have free wifi access. Do your research and know before you go! Because once you are there, it’s much harder to get internet without a connection. You’ll be in a foreign place where you might not even speak the language fluently. 4G por favor?
4. Can You Really Work from that Budget Hostel?
If you’re a budget traveler who is working while traveling, my heart goes out to you. I used to be you and it was do-able, but man did it suck sometimes. If you plan on staying in group accommodations like a hostel or non-private vacation rental property, be prepared to accept defeat and move to a coffee shop when your roommates come busting in, giddy from vacation activities and too much cheap tequila. My suggestion would be to rent a private room where you can nest and get sh*t done. Because I would rather work for 3 hours straight without interruptions than waste 5 hours relocating or trying to find my earplugs to drown out the noise. Alternatively, get really comfortable aggressively telling people to shut up and practice your crazy eyes…that works sometimes!
5. Find Your Entrepreneur Tribe
One of my favorite ways to stay focused (and meet awesome new people) while traveling is through Facebook digital nomad communities and working while traveling Meetup Groups. The internet is a beautiful thing, and you can often find your local tribe easily through a quick social networking search. These types of groups meet at coffee shops or co-working spaces to have a coffee and work together. There is definitely something to be said for the hive-mind, positive energy that comes from this environment. Who knows? You may just meet your future business partner or travel companion!
6. If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Sometimes it’s just not plausible to continue working in your current location. Maybe the internet is terrible or you dropped your latte on your laptop. It happens. Unless you have a crazy deadline or a daily goal you must reach, it’s okay to allow yourself to be a lazy traveler every now and then. Especially if you’re on a long-term trip. It’s easy to get burnt out when you’re traveling for months at a time, and burnout translates to sub-par work. Take a break when you need it. Have a drink with your loud roommate. See a touristy show. Lay in bed and eat carbs. Whatever helps you let go.
Working while traveling can be a drag…but it can also be super fun and productive! I’ve done some of my best work while huddled around my laptop in a dimly-lit coffee shop, and so can you. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean that you’re a slave to your clients. There’s plenty of freedom and flexibility to be had when you own your own business or freelance for a living. To stay focused, maintain an efficient workflow, and still have fun traveling, try these six tips!