Working on the road takes planning, because, as you change locations variables come up that are often not considered when you’re at home in your dining room or office, and everything is set up as you need and like it – unless you have children, then the rules change a little.
When planning your accommodation there are a few things you should consider and ask before arriving, as time spent trying to get ideal working conditions can be not only stressful but a huge waste of time.
- Sounds simple, but it can be surprisingly difficult to come by. If you are staying in a hotel ask about their business centres and costs / accessibility. Many places advertise Wi-Fi as an available benefit; however it is often weak and unreliable, or fantastic in the public spaces such as the reception, but impossible to use from your room. Foursquare is helpful to find public locations that offer wifi, alternatively use a wifi finder app (iOS, Android).
- Airbnb now has a business stay option as they’ve recognised that a lot of people like the ‘home’ factor when travelling, and that includes business trips. Ask your host for details about the space that they have designated as a business work area (Airbnb require hosts to fulfill certain criteria in order to be considered business hosts).
- The physical workspace. It’s all very well to have the intent of working, but if your computer is perched on your lap you’ll not only have trouble concentrating but will probably have to spend a lot of time and money getting your neck, back and shoulders re-aligned. Ask for photos of the workspace, consider aspects such as tables, chairs, and light. They sound like simple things but really what you might need may not be what another person thinks of as a necessity.
- What type of environment do you thrive in? Are you happy to sit in buzzy cafés with noise, distractions and possibly a huge bill at the end from all the coffees and snacks you’ve consumed through the day? [Apps like coffivity offer ambient noise, without leaving the house] Or, do you need a quiet space in which to concentrate and work on your tasks at hand? Staying in towns or cities give you the option of libraries and co-working spaces, smaller and more remote places you’re less likely to come across such facilities, which ultimately means you’ll either have to work from your accommodation or in public spaces such as parks and cafés. There are plenty of hot desk or co-working spaces around the world, you just need to know where to find them, start with coworking wiki. Other options are desks near me, liquid space, rockit colabs and sharedesk. The benefits of office spaces are you have access to plenty of other people to talk to (if you want to), office equipment, internet that’s reliable and fast, meeting rooms and a kitchen with coffee and tea facilities, which in general are included for free.
- Batteries. What a blessing and a pain, invariably they die at crucial moments, just before you hit publish or send, in my experience! Investing in external battery packs for your phone or computer or upgrading your battery capacity in your computer will help alleviate the need to be constantly ‘plugged in’. I’m also a huge fan of solar powered battery chargers which can be used anywhere the sun is out, which makes working in beach bars all the easier…
- Are you a consultant or coach, or do you have clients all over the world that you communicate with and you need to be online at specific times of day? Investing in a program such as calendly allow for easy scheduling, as long as you maintain the time zone changes as you travel! I also use a world clock app on my phone to help me keep track of time differences and zones as I move around the world.
- If you have colleagues or people you need to share documents or data with you need to make sure you have reliable platforms that can be accessed anywhere, by everyone involved, and at the same time. Nothing more tedious than being locked out of your own documents whilst someone is working on them, sending multiple documents and keeping projects organised with a centralised filing system. Have a look at basecamp, trello, google drive, dropbox for business and Microsoft’s one drive.
- Storage and backing up data, work and photographs are also super important, and, alas I have experienced the crushing frustration of losing years of photographs, work, planning and information because of random events combined with not backing everything up properly [sob]. As a photographer friend says, if it’s not back up in triplicate it’s not safe. I use a mix of dropbox, external hard drives, I always have at least a terabyte at hand as I take a lot of high-resolution photographs. I also store data on google drive and Microsoft’s one drive, if I am based somewhere more permanently, for example, a year or so I also back up data to cds, something that I am not so keen on as they easily get damaged and they are yet another thing to haul around!
- And last, but absolutely not least I strongly recommend you refer to nomad list or read my handbook 101 ways to earn money whilst travelling, a guide to making money, or just working and covering your costs, whilst you travel, whether long term or short.
Looking for more inspiration? I highly recommend you read Tim Ferriss’ book the 4 hour work week. It has a huge range of ideas and inspiration to getting out of the office and into life as an entrepreneur. This book is a game changer.