In this digital age where there’s a Wi-Fi hotspot wherever you go, more people are ditching the 9-to-5 lifestyle and choosing instead to become location-independent “digital nomads” that work on the go from anywhere in the world.
As easy as many travel blogs make it look, the digital nomad lifestyle is hard enough to transition into, let alone maintain for an extended period – people either let their work fall to the wayside and come home sooner than expected (read: run out of money), or get so caught up in their work that they miss out on the adventure along the way.
We’ve put together a list of helpful reminders to help you keep your work & travel lifestyle balanced:
1.) Work Hard
Sorry, but the “laptop on the beach” lifestyle that many folks like to portray simply isn’t accurate; working on the go is not a walk in the park. If you’re hoping to make a sustainable living while traveling, expect to work and to work hard.
You still need to be flexible and you still need to meet deadlines and do stuff that you would normally do with the consistency of someone working at a physical office.
Being able to do this work anywhere in the world should be viewed as a bonus, and not be your primary motivation.
2.) Be Logistically Prepared
One of the biggest challenges when you are working while traveling is establishing a work environment and rhythm that works for you.
You will need to find a place with a decent Internet connection, and you will often need to consider other small but important things like time zone differences, voltage and power outlet plug adapters, and ergonomics like mice and laptop stands that will help you work longer and more comfortably.
For going online, the good news is that there are a lot of places where you can get connected, like Internet cafes, public libraries, coffee shops, city parks, or co-working spaces.
However, you must keep in mind that not all public Internet connections are fast and reliable, so it’s always good to have a backup plan, such as a phone with mobile data that you can tether to or a pocket Wi-Fi unit.
3.) Slow Your Roll
Take your time when you travel. Don’t be in a hurry to leave the place that you are visiting.
Trying to travel and complete every item on your to-do list rapid-fire like a tourist while also working several hours a week is a recipe for disaster.
Allot ample time for recreation, indulging yourself, and taking in the sights.
Digital nomads often rent out an apartment for 1-6 months and make that city their home base as they work and explore. Not only will you not be as rushed and have a better opportunity to live like a local, staying in one location is also cheaper over the long term!
4.) Set Goals
It’s good to set a goal for how much you want/need to have done in a day. One great way to organize your day is by setting up a schedule.
First, figure out what time(s) of the day your productivity is at its best. Then give yourself, say, a solid 4 hours to do your work or schedule important meetings or calls, according to your most productive hours.
After working, you can devote another 2-3 hours to going out and exploring the city you’re in.
Afterwards, you can return to your hotel or stay at an outdoor café where you can wrap up any other work you need done for the day while enjoying the outdoor activities and ambiance.
Once you’re done, you can have the rest of the day to yourself!
5.) Expect the Unexpected
It’s been said that it’s always good to expect the unexpected, and this is especially true while working/traveling.
If you’re planning to make a switch to a location-independent lifestyle, it can be scary because you’re in a strange place and your income is likely no longer consistent.
So, you need to prepare for the kinds of situations you may run into:
- Do you have travel insurance for your electronics in case something happens to them?
- What is your plan if you run out of money (or your access to it) while on the road?
Even sans emergency, brace yourself for culture shock and an assault on your senses as you venture out into the world.
6.) Avoid Distractions and Focus
Ever had a big project you know you needed to finish but found it in you to clean the entire bathroom instead?
Yes, many of us are easily tempted to do something else when we have work to do, and it can be even worse while traveling. Social media and surfing the web can be regular culprits, but the fact that you’re working remotely means that at some point, you’ll probably also be tempted to go on a new adventure or party it up with your newest friends.
Another potential stumbling block while doing remote work is difficulty with completely focusing on the task at hand.
You can easily get distracted by the sights and sounds in the streets or, if you’re in a café, the noise of the patrons coming in or going out. To help you better focus, you can bring trusty noise cancellation headphones to block out the noise.
Or, if it’s convenient and fits into your budget, find a coworking space.
Bottom line: eliminate distractions and ensure that your work environment is conducive to getting the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
7.) Take a Day Off
Finally, in the interest of being productive (and staying sane), you also need to take time off from work so that you can refresh yourself.
Don’t be a workaholic; remember that you’ve chosen to be location-independent because of the freedom it affords you.
Disconnect completely – take a digital detox and focus on the world around you, wherever that may be. Go out, meet new people, and have an adventure away from your computer every so often.
Let your work work for you, not the other way around.