Is it possible to work while traveling? Yes! Is it easy? Not always. Is it worth it? Definitely!
Have you ever seen people who seem to always be traveling and you feel like they never work? How the hell do they make all the money to fund their adventures? And how on Earth do they are they able to balance working while traveling?
If you have any of these questions, then you’ve come to the right place!
A couple of years ago we decided to leave our jobs working on cruise ships, and to fully digital working. It’s such an incredible thing to be able to explore new destinations 7 days a week, but it also can be challenging to stay productive when we’d rather have a cocktail on the beach. After several months of an intense work and travel lifestyle, we’ve learned a lot, and are here to share some of our best tips to work while traveling. Hope it helps!
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Work While Traveling Trip #1: Have a Plan
We’ve met many people that work while traveling on both sides of the spectrum. Some travelers will end up so obsessed with working that they forget to enjoy themselves, while others will get caught up in all the excitement of exploring new places, and end up throwing all their work to the side.
Putting off your work won’t make a huge difference for one or two days, but if it becomes a habit then it will affect your business in the long run. If you neglect your tasks, business will slow down, and so will your funds, making traveling full time unsustainable.
On the other hand, there is no sense in traveling full time if you aren’t going to enjoy and experience the place you are staying!
It’s all about balance really, and to accomplish this you’ll have to establish guidelines for yourself. How many hours a day do you need to sustain your business? How many hours more will make a big difference? When you can calculate how many hours a day you should ideally need to put in, then you can arrange your schedule accordingly.
Make sure you are putting aside hours for having fun and for working as well.
Work While Traveling Tip #2: Make Checklists
Staying efficient for working while traveling is essential, and the key to using your time wisely is organization.
When it comes to working for yourself, it is extremely different than working for someone else. If you are working for someone else, you have tasks you’ll need to complete, so all you’ll need to do is make sure you put aside time to get everything done. If you are working for yourself, then the tasks can be endless! Just on our site alone, we have to write articles, pitch to brands, find affiliate links, take and edit photos, and continuously work to optimize our site, and find ways to improve it.
So how exactly do we work while traveling and organize ourselves? The key is lists. We make yearly, monthly, and weekly goals, and then we break down the tasks that we need to do to accomplish meet these goals. Sometimes we found that we were overwhelmed as we put too many things on our plate, and other times we found that we could have definitely accomplished more. This is something you’ll have to test out with on your day to day travels, and you’ll learn with time.
Work While Traveling Tip #3: Stay Connected
Being a digital nomad means that it’s crucial to stay connected, and that means being prepared.
Many digital nomads specifically choose destinations that they know they can easily work while traveling, such as cities or well-connected destinations that offer an array of cafes or somewhere with good service in general.
We tend to travel off-the-beaten paths at times, which certainly makes working while traveling more difficult. For that reason we use T-Mobile, which gives us unlimited international data. While it isn’t the same as having a local SIM card, it does give you 2 or 3G which is good enough for sending messages, checking emails, and doing basic searches on the internet.
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Stay Connected With Local SIM cards
Another thing we do a lot is we invest in a local SIM card, and then hot spot ourselves while in the car, or if we have problems finding Wifi. As there are two of us, usually just one of us gets a SIM card and we share the hotspot.
If your phone doesn’t take a SIM card, (many newer phones such as the IPhone do not) you can get an E-Sim such as Airlo, which can be used in a ton of different countries, and you don’t need to go to a phone provider at all!
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Work While Traveling Tip #4: Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People
When working while traveling it’s so important to spend your time with people that share the same goals and dreams! If you find yourself hanging out with people on vacation short term, it’s likely they’ll be doing more expensive activities, splurging on fancy meals, and having much more to drink.
While these people will be a ton of fun to be around, they’ll crush your productivity. Rather than spending time with crazy tourists and partiers, try to connect with digital nomads or long-term travelers.
You’re in luck actually, because It’s quite common to find other digital nomads around the globe. Connecting with people in the same boat as you will keep you motivated, and may give you interesting and new perspectives or ideas about your business. Win-win!
Making the right friends when traveling can help you greatly.
Work While Traveling Tip #5: Join Co-Working Spaces
This is a great way to tie our last few tips together actually! Co-working spaces are places where you can spend time working in a quiet space, kind of like a shared office.
These are great because they have reliable wifi, and are quiet, making it easy to concentrate. They also offer amenities like outlets, coffee, and even sometimes have events with free meals!
Co-working spaces are also the perfect place to connect with other digital nomads, so that you can build a community in the place where you are traveling.
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Work While Traveling Tip #6: Book Your Accommodation Wisely
When it comes to places to stay, we tend to do a bit of extra research so that we don’t waste time, and know we’ll be able to get work done when necessary.
We always using Booking, where we can filter the type of place we’re looking for, and recurve points for discounts on our accommodation (it can definitely add up!).
Working while traveling means you’ll A) want a place with good wifi, and B) want somewhere that is near plenty of bars, cafes, or restaurants, in case your wifi craps out on you. There’s nothing more stressful than needing to get work done and not being able to find a place with Wifi.
Work While Traveling Tip #7: Choose Fun Places to Work
The beauty of working while traveling is that your office can be anywhere! Many people think working remotely means you are working from home or in travelers cases, their hotel. But why do we have to work in places that are boring? We don’t! Working while traveling means you can work anywhere, literally anywhere.
When we have hours upon hours of work to do, rather than staying inside our accommodation, we like to choose cute cafes, beach clubs, or other fun environments to get our work done.
We always choose cute cafes or fun beach clubs to work in.
It sounds counteractive, but truthfully it is a game changer. Environment changes your whole mood and attitude towards whatever you are doing. If you block yourself in a dark room you won’t be in your best state, and may not be reaching your potential. However, if you are surrounded by music, good food and drinks, or a beautiful sunny day, you will end up enjoying every moment of working while traveling.
It’s also a two-in-one for those that are travel writers, because you experience options for eating and drinking to write about and share with your audience!
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Work While Traveling Tip #8: Make The Most of Your Time Traveling
Now when we say make the most of your time traveling, we don’t mean your travels as a whole- we’re talking about the part of traveling that people dread- the actual traveling of place to place!
Whether it’s in the car, on a bus, in a taxi, or on a flight, there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll be spending a lot of time transporting yourself from one location to the next. While many people spend this time scrolling aimlessly on their phone, or watching a movie, we actually use this as some of our main working hours!
Make a list of work tasks that you can do without Wifi, and dedicate it to your transportation time. This will help you stay productive without losing a ton of your day to slaving away on your laptop.
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Work While Traveling Tip #9: Give Yourself a Rest Day
There’s no getting around it- working while traveling can be tiring! We work 7 days a week, and taking a full day off makes us feel guilty at times. Also, we believe working a little each day rather than having weekends completely off works better for our productivity. Think about it this way- ever take a week vacation and dread going back to work or resist going back to the gym? When you take big breaks it’s only natural to have this feeling. So rather than working 8 hours 5 days a week, we’ll work a bit each day and work pretty much every day.
Now you may be wondering, “you just said to take a rest day”, so what exactly are we getting at? Well, this is what we mean really.
When working, our brains are inputting information, which gives us little power to output information. So our strategy is to do our main output tasks such as writing, editing, and researching from Monday to Saturday. Then we save our Sundays for our input, which we like to call Sunday Funday.
Sundays are our day to relax our minds, so that we can actually organize and brainstorm for our projects. When you relax your mind, you allow it to work in the opposite way, which brings out your creative side. Also, having a drink is a great way to do this. So we spend Sundays bar hopping in whatever destination we’re in, and discuss our business ideas. It’s a great way to recharge, and we also get to experience fun bars and restaurants which we then can add to our travel guides later on.
Work While Traveling Tip #10: Outsource
When you’re traveling and have your own business, you may have a lot of trivial tasks that don’t necessarily “move the needle” but need to get done. Make a list of these small things and outsource them!
Fiver offers an endless amount of people out there that can be hired for whatever you may need. Remember- time is money! If you don’t have enough time to enjoy your travels, it’s going to be much better to find someone to help you out.
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Work While Traveling Tip #11: Travel More Slowly
I have this incredible energy for exploring new places, and jumping from spot to spot so that I can see as much as possible.
While this worked out fine in my twenties, it’s definitely a bit more challenging now as I’m working while traveling.
After several large trips, We’ve noticed that we never gave ourselves enough time, and we always felt like we were running. The key to having a work-life balance while traveling is to base yourself somewhere for a little, build a community, and then deeply explore where you are before heading to the next spot. This will help you save time, money, and stress overall.
For example, our most productive times were when we had one apartment in each of the Canary Islands. We spent 7-10 days in each spot, allowing us to really explore each of the islands, and get a lot of work done! We also met a huge community of digital nomads in both Tenerife and Gran Canaria, and most were staying for a full month in each spot. Honestly if we were to do it again there we’d probably do between 2-4 weeks there.
Work While Traveling Tip #12: Check for Visa Requirements
When working while traveling it’s super important to make sure you are in compliance with anywhere you may be going. Every country has their own rules, and things can also get a bit confusing if you are traveling through Europe as a digital nomad, but are not European.
Many countries allow between 30 and 90 days for tourists, meaning as long as you are staying within their restrictions, you won’t need to worry about getting a visa, or letting customs know that you are working. Just make sure to check the info for where you’re traveling, and not accidentally overstay your visit, or it can lead to harsh penalties.
Work While Traveling in the Schengen Zone
While many countries allow up to 90 days for tourists, it’s also important to know that in the EU it works a bit different. The Schengen Zone allows free travel within its member states, and a stay of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This means that if you are visiting countries in the Schengen zone, you will need to calculate your stay.
For example, if you stay 2 months in Spain, and then 1 month in France, you will then need to leave the Schengen Zone for 3 months before being allowed back. This means you cannot go to any of the countries that are in the Zone, which is a great portion of Europe.
This is precisely what happens to us each year, as we love working while traveling in Europe. Last year we spent 3 months in Spain, so then decided to travel to the Balkans, as these countries are not included in the Schengen Zone.
Digital Nomad Visas
Did you know that many countries are issuing digital nomad visas? A lot of countries are now looking to boost their economy by trying to recruit digital nomads to live there. This is because digital nomads bring in good money, and usually boost tourism overall in destinations. Tourism boards are luring in digital nomads now with different benefits, sometimes even giving them money to spend on food and entertainment! Pretty cool right?
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