One of my true joys as an entrepreneur is having the ability to run my company from anywhere in the world. I’m also a travel blogger, so I find myself exploring ruins in Sardinia, wine tasting on California’s Central Coast, or eating my way through France several times a year. I can’t afford to completely stop working on some of these trips, so I’ve maximized my skills as a digital nomad.
My hope is that by providing the tips I’ve learned through experience, I can help you get out of your workspace and into the world, too.
Do what you can in advance
Of course, it’s my preference to be able to lounge on the beach all day or explore a new city when I travel, so I strive to get as much of my work done before my vacation as possible. I’m fortunate that I can write content for my clients ahead of time; not everyone will be able to work on projects weeks or months in advance. Do what you can in advance, then plan out the rest in advance.
Plan your new work schedule
You don’t want to work eight hour days while you’re somewhere exciting, I’m guessing, so I recommend you do what I do: If I’m overseas, I account for the time difference and play while everyone is sleeping. So I spend the mornings sightseeing, then a few hours in the afternoon or evening writing and responding to emails.
It may take some getting used to if you’re more accustomed to a typical 9-to-5 schedule, but that’s the beauty of being a digital nomad: It probably doesn’t matter when you work, unless you need to be available for phone calls or virtual meetings.
Set your clients’ expectations
You may not need to let anyone know you’re traveling if you manage your time well. But if you have clients that you stay in regular contact with, it’s nice to let them know that you will be out of pocket for at least a few days, to give yourself time to get to your destination and settle in.
If you plan to work limited hours, let them know which hours you will be available. If you’re unsure that you’ll be able to work with any regularity (trust me, you can never count on reliable WiFi), let them know that you’ll do your best to respond within a day or two.
Invest in the right tools
None of this working-on-the-move lifestyle is possible without technology, right? Allow me to share what I rely on.
To start, you need a lightweight and sturdy laptop. I recently purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro and am in love with it. It’s super light and easy to set up anywhere. It also doubles as an entertainment device!
I haven’t done this yet, but after impatiently waiting hours for a handful of photos to be uploaded (again, thanks, slow WiFi!), my next investment will be in a global wifi device like Skyroam. If you want to make sure you are able to connect to the internet for a Skype call, provide an assignment to a client, or even just check your email, it’s well worth the price (about $10/day to provide WiFi for multiple devices). You can also pay a daily rate with your mobile carrier to just get data for your phone. Verizon, for example, charges $10/day in most countries.
Beyond that, I make sure I have a travel plug adapter, plenty of chargers, and an organizer pouch to store it all. In terms of mobile apps that make it easy to work anywhere, I recommend the following:
- Google Voice
- FreshBooks (or whatever you use for accounting. It’s awesome to invoice clients from the beach!)
- PayPal (it’s also pretty great to get paid digitally on the beach)
- Google Drive
A word to the wise on the last item: I gave up Microsoft Word years ago in favor of Google Drive. I love being able to pick up a document where I left off from another device and share it with clients, rather than emailing the latest version saved (and re-saved) to my desktop. It’s probably my most-used tool!
If you collaborate with clients or employees on the regular, Slack and Trello are also great for staying on top of projects, and they have mobile apps you can use in case you want to stay off of your laptop while traveling.
Take a break
If you’re going to call your travels a vacation, then don’t work so hard! I know it’s challenging to completely disconnect, especially if you travel for weeks at a time the way I do. Realize that everything will get done even if you take a day off to enjoy your surroundings. After all, you paid for the airfare; you might as well enjoy the trip!