I just got back from a week-long trip, but I wouldn’t call it a vacation. I worked the entire time I was gone, I just had to rearrange some things to make it happen. Over the course of the week, some things went really well and others…not so much. Here are 10 things I learned working while traveling.
10. Set a schedule
I learned working while traveling can be tricky since all I wanted to do was have fun, but the truth is, I wasn’t vacationing. I was working just as I always had, just not in my usual environment. I’m big on routine and schedules, so setting one while I was away kept me on track to finish my work while still enjoying my time away from home. Personally, I still woke up at 5am every morning, just like I did at home, and was able to get a few hours of work in before the rest of my family woke up. Keeping a set schedule also led to less stress knowing I had time set aside to get my work done, so I wasn’t constantly worried about fitting it all in.
9. Be flexible
Right after I say “set a schedule,” I follow up with be flexible. Morning #1 was a complete disaster. I set my alarm to get up wrong, so I woke up an hour and a half late. This was a huge problem for my schedule because we were going to be driving that entire day and I would be without internet. I really needed that time in the morning to work while I still had an internet connection. Was I completely stressed? You bet. Did I survive anyway? You bet. In the end, I had to tell myself to relax and be flexible. I knew I’d get all my work in at some point, it just wasn’t going to be that day. I had to be flexible enough to rearrange my work time while away from home and not get upset every time things didn’t go according to plan.
8. Pack hand wipes
I don’t know about you, but I like to snack a ton on trips. This, however, leads to messy hands, making it really tough to work on my phone without getting it sticky. Also, if you are traveling with kids (like I was) you may be constantly passing snacks, peeling oranges, etc, leading to extra messy hands. Bringing along some hand wipes was one of the best decisions I made so I could continue to work during the drive. My favorites are Wet Ones for Sensitive Skin. They worked well for both my young child and me. The best part is they come in a container that fits perfectly in a cup holder. These wipes are super travel-friendly.
I understand that as a freelancer, I am my own boss. This does not give me permission, however, to be a complete jerk to my clients. I communicated to my clients before and during the trip that response times may not be what they usually are and I would be working on their projects at different times as well. Like I said above, I love routine, so my clients have come to expect me working at a certain pace and during certain times. By simply communicating with my clients, there were no hard feelings for things not being completed in the “usual” manner. It’s not that I worked any less than normal, the work just happened at unusual times. Clear and open communication led to stress-free travel when it came to dealing with clients since they knew exactly what I was doing.
6. Check your time zones!
I didn’t realize it, but my calendar app on my phone changed time zones when I physically did. The day I got home I knew I had a meeting at 1:00pm…or so I thought. When I changed time zones the meeting adjusted to 12:00pm. I almost missed it! Since I was the one running the meeting, that wouldn’t have gone over too well. One handy tip is to write the time, along with the time zone, in the comments of all your scheduled appointments. That way there’s no confusion, no matter how many different time zones you travel to. I’ll definitely be taking my own advice next time I take a trip.
5. Invest in a power adapter
Unless you have killer battery time, a car power adapter for your laptop to plug in is convenient. I didn’t have one, so the extremely long driving days only allowed me to work for a few hours before my computer died. I happen to have an iPhone 7 Plus with a large screen, so it makes working from my phone easier, but nothing beats working straight from my computer.
4. Live life
There were a few moments I almost opted out of going on some outings because I thought about staying behind in order to work. You know what? I had amazing times because I said “yes.” The work will always be there and it will always get done. These special moments with my family at this moment in time, last for just that, a moment. I learned not to live with regret. Take the opportunities in front of you when you have the chance. Make the memories right now. You should never be too busy to carve out time for your family. I suppose this is along the lines of setting your priorities in life.
3. Don’t be afraid to work
In the same stroke as living life, also don’t be afraid to sit down and work. At first I was a little hesitant to work because I wanted my family to know I was there to have a trip with them. At the same time, I also needed to fit in some work time during the down moments. I learned not to be ashamed to whip out my phone and check emails while everyone else is sitting around watching TV. At the very moment of writing this list item, in fact, it’s just a quiet afternoon and we’re all just hanging out while the kids nap. I’m taking this quiet time to sneak a little work in without disrupting the plans we all have together.
2. Write down your experiences
At first I thought I’d remember everything, but I soon started to see business lessons everywhere I went. I started writing them down as ideas for future emails to my list, entire blog posts, and even Facebook Lives. Writing things down as soon as they happen makes sure I don’t forget any details of the experience and I can also go back later to elaborate. Just getting the idea down took a load of stress off my mind to remember everything. Another plus is I returned home with a whole list of content ideas to whip out when I can’t think of anything else!
1. It can be done
If there’s anything I learned from this trip, it’s that work and travel CAN be done together. While there are certain things I would plan differently for, overall, I got my work done and I was able to have new experiences with my family. A true win-win. All that being said, I’m certainly glad to be home again, but I’m not the true adventurer type. If you are an adventurer at heart, know that freelancing while traveling can absolutely be done not only as a trip, but as a lifestyle.