BEING A DIGITAL NOMAD WITH CHILDREN - WORKING IN CLOSE QUARTERS

If you’re a digital nomad like me you have a family, and that family goes with me — or more accurately I go with my family on our travels. They are the whole reason why I’ve embarked on this lifestyle in the first place: To spend more time with them. Unfortunately working is a necessary evil, and one that isn’t really the most efficient with children. I distract them and then in turn they distract me.

DIGITAL NOMAD + CHILDREN = CHAOS

The fact of the matter is that children are unpredictable, and that’s the last thing that you want to deal with when you’re in a confined space and you’re trying to get some work done. Children bring on their own set of complications, which aren’t immediately compatible with running a business while on the road. Invariably they will decide that they want food, a drink or just some attention while you are in the middle of a sales meeting. Not an ideal situation. In my experience this is even worse when you’re in a location that you’re not familiar with, or they’re particularly excited about something that happened that day.

To highlight this point, a few months ago there was a clip that went viral due to the “children factor”. A professor was being interviewed on live TV and he was performing the interview from his home office. Being that it was his home, his wife and children were in the house with him at the time. Long story short, the children barged into his on-air presentation and his wife had to quickly come to drag them back out. The video clip quickly went viral and the professor was obviously very embarrassed by the whole ideal. (You can watch the clip below).

Children interrupt BBC News Interview

CONFINED SPACES — THE HOTEL ROOM

Most of the time when we’re travelling we’re staying in holiday homes, but there are situations that warrant staying in hotel rooms. For us this has largely been when we’re in big cities, in between holiday rentals or when we’ve had to unexpectedly change plans. When working in a hotel room it can be challenging to get things done, especially when there are children involved. Further complicate this when you have work or phone meetings that need to be performed during the hours of darkness and you’ve got a real issue. It’s easy to say “just do it during the day” but if you’ve just spent the last 4 hours driving, or your clients are in a different timezone then you might not have a choice. If you are working over night the last thing you want to do is wake your children up, but if you don’t whisper and have the lights off that’s exactly what you’ll do.

Contributing to your work — or erasing your data?

In the name of productivity you need to isolate yourself, and get out of the hotel room.

Low lighting and whispering do monumental damage to your productivity — believe me I’ve tried. The only real way I’ve found to get around this situation is to get out of your hotel room and use the other facilities in the hotel. Depending on where you are in the world the facilities available will vary greatly. However most hotels will have a reception area at minimum with seating available. As with anywhere you work, in general terms you need to choose somewhere with;

  • Good lighting. Poor lighting has more of an effect on you than you realize.
  • Preferably somewhere quiet, but you can drown out noise relatively easily by using headphones.
  • Free from distractions. Don’t park yourself in front of the TV.
Seating in a hotel lobby is usually well lit and comfortable

If the hotel has a business center then this is usually the ideal spot — and more of the time they’re significantly under utilized. Often there is a tea/coffee area with tables which also works pretty well. If the hotel doesn’t have any facilities available look for a restaurant or other quiet spot that you can hunker down in. I’ve been pretty creative in the past and resorted to a stair well on more than one occasion. Not the worst situation — at least they are usually very well lit.

OPEN SPACES — CAMPING

Working when camping can be very difficult indeed, and you’ll need to get creative in working around your situation. Although working outside by the beach or pool sounds nice in theory, (and “work and travel” promotion picks would have you believe that this is “the way you want to work”) the reality is a bit different. During the day you’ll likely have trouble seeing your laptop screen from sun-strike. At night you may find it crawling with insects. You can make it work — but you’ve got to pick your timing well.

Through some twisted sense of fate campgrounds appear to be the central spot for insect activities — and if you try and work outside during the night you’ll likely get mauled. Use a common room if there is one — and try and position your site that you’re reasonably close to it. Again this can be an under utilized resource. Failing that — your car is your friend. Working in your car might seem somewhat cliched, but the seats are good, you can isolate noise and control the temperature. The only real let down can be lighting — but hey nothing is perfect. If you’re going to be doing a lot of camping, and also doing a lot of evening/night time working then you might want to invest in some additional lighting for your car based working activities.