Working from home has one huge benefit—it doesn’t have to actually be from home. Working remotely has given people the freedom to do their jobs from anywhere in the world. Whether you’re sipping a café au lait from a café in Paris, or enjoying a motorcycle tour of Cambodia, you can successfully work while traveling, either locally or abroad.
Not so fast. Traveling while working remotely can be a daunting task if you’re not prepared.
Below are tips for balancing travel days, sightseeing, and immersing yourself in a new culture while still being a rockstar at work.
#1 Do Your Homework, Girlfriend
Take the time to learn about your destination as much as possible before you go. Here are a few things to add to your pre-trip study plans:
Language – Brush up on the local language, and memorize some basic phrases, so you can ask where the restroom is or what the wifi password is without having to pantomime. You’ll feel more comfortable and confident if you do.
Weather – When you’re preparing for travel, you want to make sure your suitcase has everything you need to thrive in your new digs. Do a little research on your destination’s climate so your clothes suit every occasion.
Culture and customs – Some of the allure of travel is immersing yourself in new customs and cultures, but it can definitely help to familiarize yourself with a few basics to minimize culture shock. For example, in Spain, it’s quite common to say hello to new friends with an air kiss on each cheek. The more you learn, the easier you can submerge yourself into your new home!
- Festivals and holidays – Research the places you want to visit, as well as any festivals or holidays that may be happening while you’re there, so you don’t arrive only to find everything is shut down.
#2 Stay Connected to Your Work Besties
Between jet lag, time zone changes, and getting settled in your new place, it can be easy to let emails and voicemails pile up like dirty laundry. But when you’re working while traveling, it’s especially important to be present and communicative with the colleagues and clients who count on you.
Keep communication lines open and make sure to let the professionals you work with know which days you’ll be on vacation or what time zone you’ll be operating on.
- Be honest about your availability and accessibility. If you’ll be going somewhere with spotty internet service, or in transit for a few days, let others know upfront.
- Be aware of time zone changes so you don’t end up calling a potential client at 3 a.m. without realizing it. Keep it in mind when scheduling meetings and calls, so you don’t have to get up at 3 a.m. for a video conference and scare your colleagues with your zombie-like, jetlagged appearance.
#3 Check That Internet Connection Ahead of Time
A fast, reliable internet connection is crucial to remote work. Don’t trust that the wifi connection will be stellar simply because you see “fast wifi” listed on the Airbnb description.
If you can, ask about the connection speed ahead of arrival. Specifically, ask the host of the property what the upload/download speeds are.1 Upload speeds are what will help you stream videos and Zoom calls. Download speeds let you download files like documents and videos.2
A good upload speed (if you’re not sharing the wifi with many other devices) is anything over 6 Mbps
- A good download speed is 12 Mbps or more.
It’s also a good idea to research nearby coworking space options and coffee shop houses, too, in case your service goes out and you need to high-tail it over to a different location. For the digital nomad or remote worker, coworking spaces offer great benefits, such as reliable high speed Wi-Fi, networking, and socializing with other people experiencing digital nomad life.
#4 Invest in the Right Gear
When working abroad, the right gear is everything for the traveler. Because you won’t be at your home base, it’s even more important to have the best set-up and suitable wifi speed so you’re comfortable and productive. Be sure to purchase the things you need before you leave. It’s much less expensive and easier than trying to find brands you like and trust when you’re somewhere new.
Noise-cancelling headphones – Quality noise-cancelling headphones live up to the hype, and you’ll definitely use them. Although the standard earbuds are easy to pack, they’re not great at blocking out noise when you’re trying to work. Even with the volume up all the way, earbuds don’t fully block out any background commotion, especially if it’s a grating conversation in German or the roar of motor scooters zipping by.
Outlet adapters – Sure, you could wait and buy them at the airport, but getting them before you leave from a large online retailer will save you money and give you peace of mind. Double check that you have the proper adapter for the country you’re visiting.
Pocket MiFi – Small and light enough to fit in your pocket, these gadgets transform the local 3G or 4G service into a WiFi signal. You must purchase a data plan with a SIM card to use it, but if being connected everywhere you go is important for you, then it’s a must.
Phone service/messaging – You have lots of options for staying connected when you go abroad. With an abundance of internet messaging services like WhatsApp, Viber, iMessage, Google Hangouts, Slack, and Skype, most people can get by without paying for an international phone plan.3 You could also pick up an inexpensive phone and SIM card for use in another country, or buy credits through your Skype account to call mobile phones and landlines worldwide. Whatever you decide, set it up and test it out before you leave.
Computer and accessories – If you’ll be purchasing a new laptop before you go, invest in a lightweight computer that still has all of the features that you need to do your job. Your shoulders will thank you. A mouse and keyboard stand are also a good idea. Bring a notebook and pen for when you’re in a location that’s not quite secure enough to pull out a $1,000 laptop, so you always have a place to jot down ideas.
Portable power bank – You’re halfway around the world in some random place with a dead phone, and you can’t find an outlet. Don’t get stuck in a horror movie. Keep your devices charged at all times! These gadgets can power up your phone or iPad multiple times with just one charge. Essential for long-distance travel, and especially helpful for when you get delayed.
- Luggage – It pays to invest in quality luggage. Your bags will be your constant companions while you’re abroad, and frequent travel can take its toll on them. You don’t want your bag falling apart just when you’re trying to load it onto a tuk-tuk in the middle of a street in Bangkok.
Plus, it pays to buy stylish travel bags. Even after hours of travel, you’ll still look like a jet-setting queen when your luggage is as sleek as it is practical.
#5 Stick to Your Work Schedule
Creating a travel work schedule and sticking to it will help you steadily tick those items off the to-do list so you can enjoy more time sightseeing at your travel destination. Give yourself plenty of time to get over jet lag before you attempt a full work day, about 1-2 days after you arrive.
Other tips for creating a successful travel work schedule include:
- Morning rituals – To maintain your sense of balance, keep up with the things you’d usually start your day with, such as a run or yoga routine or dancing to Beyoncé on your morning playlist.
- Coffee is life – Bring some of your favorite beans and a french press, or scope out the coffeehouses so you know just where to grab your latté when you need it.
- Set up your workspace – Sort out the Wi-Fi and outlet adapters before you need them. Set up your computer, headphones, mouse, and anything else the night before so you’re ready for the work day.
- Mid-day breaks – Whether it’s a lunch break at the local café, a walk around the city, or a hike behind your hut in Belize, set aside time in your day to get out and enjoy your surroundings as much as possible. And, don’t forget to snap those Instagram-worthy photos.
- Hydrate – If you’re traveling to a country like Mexico where it’s unsafe to drink the local water, stock up on bottled water before you start the work day, and remember to keep it well-stocked.
- Figure out how you work best – Maybe it’s in two-hour bursts with a break in between. Maybe it’s four hours straight, with a long lunch. Take the time to notice how you work best and create a routine that maximizes your productivity.
#6 Set a Hard Cut-off for the Day
At home, you may work through lunch and linger on a project well into the evening. But the purpose of traveling with a remote job is to expand your worldview by visiting new places, learning from other cultures, engaging in real-life learning experiences, and meeting interesting people.4 While abroad, set specific working hours. At 5 or 6 p.m., close the laptop and visit that art museum, sail to a nearby island, or zipline through the rainforest.
#7 Make Time To Explore
Remember, it will take time to plan your excursions and sightseeing adventures. Consider spending time during the week planning activities for your weekends off. While remote working, it will take you at least three times longer to see everything than it would if you were just there as a person on a regular vacay.
Travel in Style with BÉIS
When you’re traveling, you want to feel confident and comfortable and chic. BÉIS carries classic, ultra-durable, top-of-the-line luggage, tote bags for work, and more. Whether you need the perfect backpack carry-on or a hard shell suitcase for worldwide travel, you’re covered. Best of all, BÉIS luggage has a built-in weight indicator so you’ll never be charged for going over 50 lbs, and TSA-approved locks for ultimate peace of mind.
Look good and be prepared for any remote work adventure with BÉIS!
- Help Scout. “9 Tips for Working While You Travel.” https://www.helpscout.com/blog/working-remotely-while-traveling/
- Business Insider. What is a Good Internet Speed. https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-a-good-internet-speed
- The Balance Careers. “10 Tips for Working Remotely While Traveling.” https://www.thebalancecareers.com/working-remotely-while-traveling-2064102
- BÉIS. “10 Reasons Why Traveling is Important For Everyone.” https://beistravel.com/blogs/news/10-reasons-why-traveling-is-important-for-everyone