Top 10 Tips for Balancing Remote Work and Travel
The perks that come with working remotely are obvious; one of them being that you can work wherever and live wherever, as long as you have WiFi when you need to get work done.
This means we have tons of digital nomads roaming the world off-and-on (like I do) or full-time.
However, working remotely while traveling requires balance.
A location-independent work + travel lifestyle is far different than a typical vacation, which is why I’ve rounded up my top 10 tips for balancing remote work + travel right here!
Top 10 Tips for balancing Remote Work and Travel
1. Plan out certain details of your trip ahead of time
If you have virtual meetings with your clients or employees via Zoom or Whatsapp, be sure to plan ahead and coordinate time zones so you aren’t off on an adventure or without WiFi when that meeting needs to happen. You don’t want to leave anyone hanging!
If you’re planning a day trip or going somewhere off-the-grid without WiFi, be sure to communicate that in as far advance as possible to any clients, employees, or assistants so things run smoothly while you are not there.
2. Travel slower if you can
If you’re on vacation, studying abroad, or backpacking, it is tempting to fit a bunch of cities in one trip. Typically, you are taking a break from work or school, so you have all day to go off and see the sights.
When you’re working while traveling, you do need to set aside for work, even if it is one full-day work session every week, or half a day every day.
Slowing down your trip and spending at least 1-2 weeks per city can help you manage your work while still allowing you time to go out and explore. Doing this can prevent work + travel burnout.
3. Block out work time in your schedule
Especially if you are just getting started with working online while traveling, there may be an “adjustment period” for you to get into a rhythm and flow of what works best for you to get things done.
Once you’ve figured out a good system for working while traveling, do your best to set a schedule - and stick to it - to feel a sense of routine, responsibility, and stay accountable.
4. Look for co-working spaces
Co-working spaces helped me tremendously when I was working + traveling in Central America. Since I was doing both academic work for Global Degree Academy (a new study abroad company) during their Central America semester, and keeping up with my own online work (blogging and freelance clients), having a quiet co-working space dedicated for work helped so much.
We stayed at the Selina properties and their co-working spaces were really nice.
Getting out of your hotel/Airbnb/hostel and into a space that is solely meant for work (and being around others working!) can do wonders for your productivity.
If a co-working space doesn’t appeal to you or is out of your budget, a cafe with strong WiFi is still a good bet. It gets you out of “the house,” allows you to focus, and you also get to try some local foods/coffee while you’re there!
5. Do non-internet work during travel days
Pre-write emails, blog posts, reports, etc. when you don’t have internet to make use of time on travel days.
That way, when you get back on WiFi and are ready to work, you can simply upload or send what you need to and get things done faster…so you can go out and explore!
A great feature on Gmail is the “Send Later” option. Simply draft your email, press the down-arrow on the send button, and select the day/time you want it to be delivered. This can help if you’re working remotely and don’t want to send emails to people who will receive them at odd hours of the day!
Pre-write email replies in your Notes app; copy/paste and send when you get on internet
6. Batch tasks together
Productivity hack - batching.
Batching is where you focus/concentrate on one type of task for a set amount of time, so you can knock it all out before moving onto something else.
Say you set aside 30 minutes for replying to emails. During those 30 minutes you will not check your phone or jump around to working on other things. Especially if you’re limited on time, batching can really help your productivity.
7. Consider upgrading your cell phone plan
I have T-Mobile’s “One” Plan (see review here), where it reaches cell service in most populated parts of the world. Additionally, the phone works exactly the same in Canada and Mexico as it does in the US.
Being able to access 2G or 3G WiFi (which would otherwise be called “roaming” and require huge fees on other carriers) is helpful while traveling.
8. Get Organized
Keep things simple when you work online and travel. If you use a physical planner, keep it with you and fill in your schedule - both work-related and travel-related. Write out your blocked work time, when you need to go to the train station or airport, and any day trips or activities you have planned. Do the same if you use an online calendar/planner.
Create systems before your trip so you aren’t scrambling on the road: if you need to schedule appointments or meetings, have your Calendly set up with your correct availability. Relay information to clients, employees, and assistants. Have your employees or assistants trained on tasks they are doing before your trip so things can flow smoothly.
9. Know you may have to make some sacrifices
The beauty of working online while traveling is that your job/business doesn’t keep you tied to a location. You can literally work wherever and live wherever, as long as you have WiFi.
There are countless digital nomads that base themselves in new cities around the world, or slowly travel backpacker-style while working on WiFi.
On the flip side, working online while you travel does mean that you will have to make sacrifices.
Maybe you need to get up an extra two hours earlier to get things done. Maybe you need to set aside a full day to get ahead on tasks. Maybe you can’t go to the remote San Blas Islands for 3-6 days without WiFi because your client has a launch you need to be available for support with.
The perks of working online while traveling are amazing, but they do come with responsibility.
10. Get out and have fun!
That said…make sure that you set some time for getting off your laptop and have fun! Be responsible but do take advantage of being where you are. You may never get a chance to return to the place you’re visiting, so go out and enjoy it!
After all, you’re traveling to have new experiences and see new things.
You don’t get that if you’re working-working-working all day long.
Get stuff done, but don’t miss out on travel experiences all together!