I tend to work a lot. I also tend to travel a lot. Not many people get the chance to work remotely so when you do—make sure to embrace it. I’ve worked remotely on and off for the last three years and traveled to twenty countries along the way.
Friends will ask how I have the money or the time; no one gets that much vacation, do they? Well, no, of course not. I’m a working traveler, a travelling worker, or a digital nomad, if you’d like.
People complain about working while traveling; no one wants to work on their vacation, do they? But I don’t see traveling as a vacation. I find travel to be a mind-broadener, a productivity booster and a constant flow of ideas and inspiration. For me, being in the same place for a while would be considered a vacation.
So, if you’d like to start traveling while working, here are few tips I picked up along the way.
1. Learn to love flight mode.
Frequent flyers love the comfort of isle/window seats, free booze, complimentary upgrades and of course, in-flight wifi—the blessing of blessings, the world’s way of saying you will never miss a Candy crush notification again. However, people who travel on business and spend a lot of time flying have learned to appreciate the perks of setting their phone to flight mode. When you’re unlikely to be interrupted, your brain will start to work on its own. Free of distractions, you can dedicate this time to reading (thanks Pocket), planning, or just thinking about your future plans, making a to-do list, or reflecting on a recent success or failure.
2. Make airport wifi bearable again.
Of course, as soon as you land, you’ll want to connect—to sync your notes, refresh your apps, check your email or just, humblebrag on Facebook about coming to a new city. And in case you’re one of the people who really likes their wifi like they like their coffee—immediately—you’ll need Flio, the app that will check into every major airport wifi in the world, using the data you gave it before, no more signup forms or weird passwords sent via email. In plain text, Flio is here to end your troubles.
3. Find inspiring places to work from.
If you’re in a new city for only a few days and you really need to finish that quarterly report, at least, give yourself a break—don’t stay in one of those hotel meeting rooms / conference dungeons, find a cool rooftop or viewpoint with solid wifi and get some work done while enjoying the cityscape. You can use Foursquare to find coffeeshops with trusted reviews and Workfrom for great handpicked places to work from in a few major cities. Work doesn’t have to feel like work all the time, and your environment actually influences your productivity a lot, so make sure to find the most inspiring place to go.
4. Be the work-anywhere pro.
There’s only a few things you’ll need to work from anywhere in the world (assuming you already have a job that lets you do just that): a laptop, solid wifi or local sim card for ad hoc hotspots, a few productivity apps and a good pair of headphones to block out the distracting noises and maybe enables a few distracting noises of your own. Try Coffitivity as it recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity and help you work better.
5. Save your eyes.
Changing time zones can be tricky; you’re tired and feel exhausted no matter how long you sleep. Most people change their routines with every new place they visit, which usually feels like a fresh start and gives that additional productivity boost. However, once you’re there, with all these apps, spending 8+ hours a day on your laptop, please mind your eyes—f.lux helps with just that.
6. Take a nap.
Oh, you deserve it. There’s something about airplanes and reading, and food mixed with free booze that just makes you wanna sleep. And that’s totally okay. If you’re a morning person, you know the hidden value of naps—they make it morning again: you’re fresh, your brain is hard-wired for work and you’re in a great mood for getting things done. Every productive traveler has their own napping style—power naps, 20-minutes tops for a great refresh, coffee naps—the weird technique that seems to work. Definitely try it next time you’re flying and let me know if it worked for you. Find your perfect nap and make use of it; just don’t forget to get some work done afterwards too.
7. Be strategic about sleep to avoid jet lag.
Some of my greatest work came from being jet lagged as hell in a tropical island and sleeping through the day while working through the night and missing out on all the fun said—you got it—no one ever. So if you want to avoid crying yourself to non-sleep once arriving to some remote place in the world, do follow a few tips to minimize the jet lag. Before your trip, keep in mind the time difference and try adjusting your sleep hour by hour—whether you wake up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later, this will help once you’ve arrived to your destination. If the onward flight is a daily flight (at the destination), do your best not to sleep through it and vice versa; if it’s considered an overnight flight at the destination, do your best to sleep during.
8. Embrace your new productivity.
Discovering new places, trying out different cuisines and being exposed to a new culture will fire up your productivity. It’s true, travel actually makes your brain grow. After just a few days in a new environment, you’ll feel more eager to work and drunk with new ideas and solutions.
Research shows people are also more creative while traveling, and thanks to the combination of productivity and creativity, this lifestyle seems perfect for entrepreneurs. Ever wondered how those digital nomads get anything done? Now you know, they’ve found the perfect productivity recipe. If you want to be even more productive on the go, check out the productivity tools every digital nomad needs.
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