By Flying Solo contributor Karen Valadares
All praise to the internet for making it easier to work on the go! It still amazes me that carrying around a laptop and a phone allows us to manage our businesses while travelling long term.
But adopting this dreamy lifestyle needs a bit of planning to make it work.
I know this because I worked as a freelance digital nomad from May 2015 to September 2016, while I travelled to 25 countries with my husband.
From January 2018 to September 2018, we hit the road again. This time, I ran my new business while witnessing Carnival in Brazil, the World Cup in Russia, and the Romantic Road in Germany.
From these experiences I’ve collected five steps to help you keep your sense of adventure as you discover the world, with your business in tow.
“Traditional travel industry information may not apply to you.”
1. Travel slooooow
Getting to new places always comes with a period of adjustment. You have to learn your way around a new town and keep control of your desire to go about as if you were only there on holiday.
If you have only five days in one city, it is really hard to control that desire, but if you are spending one month there, you do have time to focus on work as well as visit new places. And you can do both really well.
When you travel slow you allow yourself time to work AND time to get to know the surroundings and experience the culture.
My recommendation: plan one-month minimum stay in each place.
2. Choose suitable places to work from
I’ve worked from coffee shops, restaurants, and hotel rooms. As cool as it might seem at first, working from places like these becomes hard over time. Sometimes the internet might be slow or, shockingly, not available. The surroundings may be distracting, or too lonely. These interferences will negatively affect your productivity.
Over the last months, I worked from co-working offices and even tried a co-living space. The stable internet connection, nice chairs and air conditioning were the highlights for me in these spaces. The added benefit was meeting people who have the same challenges and dreams as I do, as they work and run their business remotely.
My recommendation: look into co-working and co-living spaces.
3. Get online tools to do the heavy lifting for you
Saving a few hours every week is certainly a goal when you run your business. Add the extra challenges of being on the road and you will soon realise some online tools become lifesavers.
Here are my recommended tools to get you started. Be careful not to get a bunch of online tools all at once. There is always a bit of a learning curve at first, even with the easiest ones. And over time juggling too many tools becomes a challenge.
Worldclock to make sure you are on the same page of your clients and team when you set meetings and agree on deliverables.
Trello to manage project phases, create to do lists and checklists, and assign tasks in a collaborative environment.
Avaza to create invoices and request payments.
Skype Number to have a local phone number your clients can call (alternatively, you can register for a local business phone number at a co-working office in your hometown; some offices even offer receptionists to screen your calls. Also, you can secure an official business address with these offices)
4. Go to meet-ups around the world
Sometimes managing your business while travelling long-term makes you disconnected from people. The combination of working hours and new places with zero acquaintances might isolate you.
Avoid this by attending meet-ups in the places you visit. Co-working and co-living spaces are a great starting point for meeting people. These spaces usually schedule networking and training events as well. And if you can’t attend these types of events, check the available meet-ups along your way.
My recommendation: check local meet ups to network and understand how people in your field are working worldwide.
5. Get involved in digital nomad communities
When you travel long term, and manage a business at the same time, you have specific needs. You are not a regular tourist or a worry-free backpacker, so the traditional travel industry information may not apply to you.
Digital nomad communities, on the other hand, can provide you with the specific info you need, as these travellers have hands-on experience of working on-the-go. They can make your life easier regarding the travel planning side of things.
My recommendation: join social media groups, such as Global Digital Nomads FB Group & Digital Nomads Girls FB Group. Check out the info and forum on https://nomadlist.com/.
Being a business owner is never easy, but you will have extra energy to succeed if, in your free time, you are hanging out with like-minded people. Like having a beer while overlooking the Seine river in Paris, or doing your daily exercise at the beachside in Rio de Janeiro. These fulfilling experiences boost your motivation to keep remote work as a long-term decision.
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