Thanks to the power of the digital age, it’s now possible to work remotely – that is, go somewhere else, even halfway across the world, and still be able to accomplish your work in time for that deadline you are trying to meet. You won’t have to stress over who’s taking over what task while you’re gone or what’s happening with your project while you’re away.
However, staying productive while traveling is no walk in the park – there are a lot of factors that can influence your focus and productivity while you’re out and about. And if you are not careful, these factors can negatively impact your work.
Here are a few tips you need to know to stay in top working condition while you’re traveling abroad!
1. Plan Ahead
There are a lot of things that can happen when you’re traveling, and sometimes they won’t work in your favor. There’s bound to be quite a few inconveniences along the way, and sometimes you might also have to conduct emergency communication with your clients and/or fellow project teammates for their inquiries (or yours).
Before you go on the trip, make sure that your clients and potential teammates – basically anyone work-related who might be affected by your trip – are informed on where you will be and what hours you will be available for contact. Organize everything before you go and make sure you have other means of contacting not just your clients and/or teammates, but also important contacts in case of emergencies. It also pays to sync your gadgets, reminders, and calendar to the local time of your destination so you don’t miss deadlines.
2. Synchronize Your Data
Nothing can ruin your working pace in a different place than when you find out that you don’t have the data that you actually need. Maybe you were working on a crucial project whose deadline is drawing near, and you accidentally left a few graphics in your home computer. Or maybe you were planning on proofreading a document before you submitted it to your client, only to realize that you have no internet connection.
Make sure that all your files that are relevant to your current projects are backed up and you have copies of it that are immediately accessible, either through cloud storage or external memory devices. It’s best if you choose a service that allows you to access your files from multiple devices and would still be accessible even offline, as long as you managed to let the service download their data when you’re connected to the Internet. Make sure that they are all the latest version, so you won’t spend time trying to redo changes that you applied to your files before you left.
3. Prepare Your Gadgets
Your gadgets are essentially the backbone of your work – without them, you honestly won’t get anywhere with your tasks. Research ahead of time what you need for your laptop, phone, tablet, etc. when you’re traveling, especially if there are some significant differences like the sockets (you may need an adapter for your charger). Make sure that you have all the gadgets you need and their accompanying pieces – chargers, adapters, power banks, pocket WiFi, etc. You may also need certain software or services like VPN if you need to access websites that are only accessible from IP addresses based in your home country, or a more stable means of communication like WhatsApp.
4. Have Your Own Internet Connection
Places that offer free public WiFi or exclusive WiFi connection for guests are bound to be used by the multitude of users all looking for internet connection, which can make the connection unbearably slow. What’s more, not all countries have WiFi signals everywhere you go. This can be a tricky situation when you’re somewhere with poor WiFi connection and one of your clients has to talk to you ASAP.
For this reason, you should make it a top priority to buy a local SIM card and local bandwidth when you land, or have an international phone plan set up before you leave your home country. Having a backup mobile internet solution is important when you’re working while traveling, because at least you have peace of mind that when you are pressed for a connection, you have a backup in your pocket.
5. Travel Slow
When you’re trying to cram all the sights and activities into your schedule, it can leave you exhausted by the time you find a quiet moment for work. That, or you’re going to run out of time to actually start working because you’re too busy trying everything you can during your travels.
Traveling slower lets you take a breather, gives you more time to really explore and appreciate your surroundings and what they have to offer, and you’re bound to spend less money than an ordinary traveler. This way, you’re also allowing yourself to pace out both enjoyment and work in the most optimal schedule you can have while traveling abroad.
6. Be Prepared to Adjust
When you’re traveling overseas, things are more than likely to not go the way you expected them to be. Your flight could be delayed, the weather could potentially leave you stranded in your hotel room when you were planning on a full day out, you could miss a Skype meeting with one of your clients because the WiFi connection got cut off, be stuck in traffic, etc. The possibilities are endless when you’re traveling, which can be both a good or bad thing depending on what happens and how you react to it.
But despite the circumstances changing out of your control, you have to stay calm and anticipate them happening. When you suddenly have free time because of unplanned circumstances, you can seize that opportunity to work on other things that require your attention. Say you’re holed up in your hotel room for a few hours because of the strong rains. You can use that time to catch up on your emails or start on a project you were meaning to do when you got back.
Or maybe you can explore a while and have a little taste of adventure while you wait for your internet connection to get back up. The possibilities are endless if you keep positive and think on your feet.
7. Choose Your Workspace Wisely
Your workspace can be a pretty big influence on how productive you will be. The atmosphere and conditions will affect your ability to focus, which will be reflected in your output, so it’s important that you have a workspace that’s perfect for your specifications.
Many big cities around the globe are setting up coworking spaces for people who work while they travel, and this can be a perfect place for you to work as they are specifically designed with people like you in mind, so most (if not all) of your needs and concerns are met and addressed here. There are very little distractions (unlike the beach bar where you were planning on working at…) and you can meet like-minded people there.
However, not all countries or big cities have coworking spaces, which means you’ll have to find a good alternative. This can be best accomplished when you travel slowly, as you get to explore more of your surroundings and find out where you can best park yourself for some productive working time.
As a rule of thumb, avoid popular cafés with WiFi. Not only will the noise of the customers (and the crowding) be distracting, but most owners won’t be too excited to see travelers hogging a table to themselves for the whole day and only justifying your stay by having lunch and a few drinks. Additionally, the WiFi there will most likely be slow anyway due to the number of people using it all at the same time, which is not very conducive for your productivity. You might find a better alternative in a smaller café with more welcoming and accommodating owners, good food, and stronger internet connection if you take the time to walk around and find them.
Traveling abroad is supposed to give you a new environment and new inspirations for work, so don’t needlessly stress yourself out when there’s a whole adventure out there waiting for you! As long as you are prepared, have covered all your bases and alternatives, and remember that you’re traveling both for work and fun, you’ll get through with renewed energy for work and play!
Ann Davis is the founder and CEO of Venture with Impact – a social impact workation company that organizes accommodation, workspace, and skills-based volunteering for diverse professionals who live and work in a country abroad for one month or longer. After surviving cancer and subsequently traveling to over 40 countries and volunteering abroad in her 20s, Ann founded Venture with Impact with the dream that working professionals could share in these same experiences while still working their day jobs.