June 13, 2018 3 min read

I’ve been working freelance for over 5 years now. As a writer my life is full of deadlines, working with various clients and needing to be relentlessly self-motivated. No one is going to kick my ass if I don’t do the work. While freelance life has its challenges, it also presents some amazing opportunities – like carting my laptop around the globe while experiencing places like India, Indonesia, Europe, the USA and more. Of course, it’s much easier to get things done in the office at home, but I’ve found that with a little planning you can still meet those deadlines and make the most of the short time we have on this wonderful planet. With that in mind, here are my top 5 tips for working while traveling.

1. Plan your ‘work time’ out beforehand

Making sure you carve out a few hours each day to get things done is super key. Otherwise, it’s easy to get distracted by all the cool things going on around you. This could be 2 hours each morning before you leave the hotel/hostel/yurt you’re staying in. It could be the last 2 hours before you go to bed. The key is pinpointing a block each and every day to chip away at anything you need to deliver. I personally have my favorite times to work, one of which leads me to my next tip…

Working on planes is great – image via Marten Bjork on Unsplash.com

2. Work during transit

There’s almost no better time to punch out a bunch of focused work than on a plane, bus, or during a layover. These are generally boring occasions where you’d otherwise burn time checking your Facebook or watching movies. You can do that at home. Mid-flight there also are no phone calls to distract you, so as long as you’re prepared to be offline, you can power through work. There’s nothing like landing after a long haul flight knowing you’ve just finished a project and have a few days until the next one kicks off. Just make sure your laptop is fully charged before the flight.

3. Scope out wifi opportunities as part of your planning

Email is a reality of work. Often, so is internet research, connecting with Google Docs or uploading files to deliver on a task. For that, you need reasonable Wifi. If you all of a sudden go dark without explanation, you might lose a client. So, email the place you’re staying to ask about wifi, figure out any local cafes or coffee joints with connections, or organize a personal hotspot. This could simply be a local SIM that you can put in your phone and tether to without breaking the bank for a few gigs.

A freelancer’s dream sign – Image via Bernard Hermant Unsplash.com

4. Set an ‘out of office’ message on your email

Managing expectations is key when making sure people are happy. I find it’s worth emailing your key clients beforehand to let them know you’re heading away, but that you’ll still be working on the road. Let them know that at times you may be slow in responding to email, so please be patient. If you set an autoreply on your email this helps too. That way, anyone getting in touch won’t get antsy if you don’t reply in 30 seconds.

5. Pack for work

For the love of god, make sure you take the right tools while you’re traveling. Laptop, chargers, iPad, notepad, adapters to suit the sockets where you’re headed and anything else you know you’ll need to get the job done. It’s also worth packing some clothes suitable for ‘work meetings’ too. If you have to jump on a Skype call to chat about a project, you still look professional, even if there is a cocktail with an umbrella just out of sight. I really like the Intasafe Laptop Backpack as ‘mobile office’ for packing. It has all the sleeves and slots I need to keep everything organized with some solid anti-theft protection to boot. Finally, if you forget your chargers (which believe me happens) then hotel ‘lost and found’ boxes are an absolute goldmine. Most of the time the people behind the desk are more than happy to get rid of their endlessly growing pile of plugs that have been left behind.
Happy packing and safe travels!

By Tim Hawken

Tim Hawken is an Australian writer who enjoys surfing, Indian food and romantic midnight strolls to the beer fridge. He has clocked up visits to 23 countries on 5 continents (and counting). Find out more about his weird world by heading tohis website, or following him onInstagram andTwitter.

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