Travel, work and enjoy it! 4 tips to maximize your work and travel experience.
When the thirst for adventure comes over you, your mind turns restless in search for alternatives. The reason why you’re looking to explore other lands doesn’t matter, it is always exciting to travel. But the reality is that we live in a world full of commitments and, as time goes by, it becomes more difficult to make time at work and you can’t disengage so easily from the work you build day to day. I love work and I love travel. And lucky for me, technology allows me to combine both passions. Recently, I planned a forty day trip to California without asking for unpaid leave. Instead, I asked my employer if I could continue working remotely while traveling. And here’s my experience, so I hope not to disappoint you:
“Travel and work is not simple, and unfortunately it is not for everyone.”
1st Tip: Are you ready? Let’s get ready!
The first step is to ask ourselves about our work habits, and we may understand that we are not ready. It’s good to be honest beyond our dreams and be aware of our real situation:
Am I able to perform my daily tasks far away with the tools I have on me? Can I delegate certain tasks that require my presence, without affecting my productivity and client relationships?
It doesn’t matter whether the answers are positive or negative, we shouldn’t stop: we need to change our routine to be able to work entirely remotely. But, are we really going to be able to fulfill our obligations? Let me assure you, at the beginning it was a matter of faith. So I started to track my work:
At Lateral View, we work with Tempo in Jira to track our tasks. This helped me to start measuring myself, recording the hours and minutes for each task. I did it with considerable time, to have a representative sample of my work. I discovered my own work rhythm and understood when I worked more and when I reached my goals (spoiler: it didn’t always correlate to the amount of work hours invested!).
“But Nico, what the hell are you talking about? Does this have to do with traveling?!” Yes, it does. When one leaves their routine, to have new experiences, in a different environment, time flows in its own new rhythm. And it is good to know oneself, to know how one works to be able to prevent and respond quickly in a natural way. It is a way to be prepared.
Try working from somewhere other than where you usually do it. If you see that your performance goes down, it would be good to analyze if you can really work remotely.
2nd Tip: Always stay one step ahead.
When traveling, your work agenda becomes flexible and the work/break limits become blurry. It is beautiful, and it is dangerous. You have to be careful.
On this occasion, I traveled by myself so I could choose the way: some of it was planned and other things were decided at the time. I took the precaution of previously checking for Wi-Fi spots and calculating mobility times. So if I delayed my work a little, I knew there would no problem. I could make up for it hours later. You will handle your own time, and that’s why I give you this piece of advice:
Never put off till tomorrow what you can accomplish today. Make progress in all the work you can advance before hand. And do it by taking advantage of the dead hours!
The ‘dead hours’ are the time that you will inevitably waste, like waiting time in the airport. When you travel, you’re full of them. Always stay one step ahead! You have coffee, electricity and internet, and you don’t have much to do in an airport except for waiting. You have to use all those downtimes to work. Why? On one hand, it will make the wait more enjoyable. On the other, each hour of work in advance leaves you more unconcerned with making a deadline. My trip had many stopovers and flight connections, so I scheduled many hours of work and meetings at the airport.
Everywhere I went, I had the work material with me. I could sketch, write an email, write some code. Working ahead allowed me to make my agenda more flexible. It was a responsible way that allowed me to enjoy both things, work and travel.
3rd Tip: Take the time zone into consideration when planning a routine.
I love the hostel life. With travelers from around the world, each one with their own stories and fascinating worldview. I love to travel and socialize. But if you want to focus, you will not find a working environment in a hostel.
That’s why I recommend having a work schedule, where you can relax. It’s good to get into a routine. Coordinate with fellow travelers to meet later and before a certain schedule.
It is necessary to look for the most comfortable place, different people prefer different work conditions. And you have to find a schedule that fits you best. In my case I decided to work in the same working hours as my home country, as if I didn’t have a time zone difference.
With my office mates I had a difference of 4 hours, that I decided to use in my favor. There was no jet lag! I woke up 4 hours earlier than the rest. I had a quiet atmosphere, everyone slept and I used the common places of the hostel (they were empty and just for me). I was served a good breakfast and my working day ended just after noon. It was a great way to take day tours and attend nightly events. I arranged my sleep schedules according to the plan of each day.
In the week we must keep our greatest energy for the job and save most extreme activities for the weekend. This way, we avoid accumulating sleep and can optimize our whole stay in a more enjoyable way.
4th Tip: Trust technology, it is always helpful.
And the last tip: Keep moving freely. Trust yourself, your plans, and technology. Yes! Technology is a great ally. And your co-workers too!
I left my work computer in my office. I had to get a Macbook where I tried to upload everything I thought I would need, and I left the access to my desktop computer to someone I trust. It doesn’t matter if you plan ahead, the unforeseen just happens. With all the adrenaline of the trip, I forgot to move some material from one computer to another, from projects that perhaps i didn’t think I would have to work on.
But I had help! Back in the office my colleagues turned on my computer and installed a remote management program (Team Viewer, but you can use the technology of your preference). This allowed me to have real presence in my office without being physically there. I could access my computer and use it. For example, I could see what were the last commands in the Terminal, which otherwise would have been impossible. Also, I could even play some music and videos to my office colleagues, so we could feel that we were not so far away from each other!
There are things, being away, that you can’t prevent.
But today technology shortens distances in an unthinking way.
On a final note, I had an amazing experience. Also,this trip had been made possible by the support of everyone at Lateral View.
I got to know many new cities, meet tons of nice local people and from all over the world. I went to iconic places that I had only dreamed of visiting. Also, I got to know myself in terms of how I work, how many hours I spent almost without realizing it; and how many projects I had advanced on. The result was a total surprise:
If I compare it with the month before I left, the trip didn’t change my productivity. I even worked more hours, I was focused on my work. At the same time I was dedicated to traveling: The rest of the day was left exclusively to leisure, I was much more connected with myself and more relaxed.
On the journey I learned a mantra.
Respect the present, think about the future.
With your feet in the present, you enjoy the moment, face your reality, and take charge of your commitments. You create and discover. With your mind on the future, you learn, plan in your favor, and make a path that will allow the present to be much more interesting to live.
So try it. I know it is not easy and it is not for everyone, but it is worth a try. Encourage yourself to enjoy traveling and working at the same time.