The sun is shining. You’d love to travel to a new place. But you have to work. So what?! What’s stopping you? Have you ever thought about combining work and travel?
Is it really possible to combine work and travel as a freelancer?
The answer is yes-BUT. Let me explain:
If you have an online business, that is, if you don’t need a physical space to work – like a restaurant or a shop would – almost everything is possible. So that was my yes to the question. However, if you plan to work while traveling and still take care of your online business – either because you have to or because you want to – a good organization is key. And that was my BUT to the “yes-BUT” answer.
If you have a family, you may be thinking that combining work and travel is only an option for solo-travelers, but if you plan everything ahead, it can perfectly work out. I know, easier said than done, but I’m doing it at this very moment, so it IS possible!
Let me give you some examples of what I mean with organization and planning ahead:
Work and travel on your own
If you’d love to travel around the world with your backpack for an unlimited time, you have two options – well, three if you’ve inherited lately 😉
- Look for jobs on farms, construction sites, and similar activities. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, you can have a lovely time and meet incredibly interesting people. But that’s not exactly what I meant by “work and travel as a freelancer”.
- If you have your own business, you’d want to take care of it from anywhere in the world. So your keyword here is willpower. Yep, that’s the only thing you need – and a good WiFi connection, of course. Why willpower? Because you’ll want to get to know the new place. You’ll want to meet new people and do some fun stuff. And once you’ve met new people, you’ll probably want to hang out with them. They may even invite you to events and parties you hadn’t thought about… It’s too tempting. And you can do all that, but you need to set up a strategy to keep up the work as well. At least if you’d like to keep your customers!
- Make the most out of client fluctuations. You are luckily not attached to school holidays, so you’d better use those low work times you surely have, and you’ll benefit from a much more affordable trip.
As a freelancer, your most important asset is willpower and a good organization.
Work and travel with your family
- Here you’ll need even greater organizational skills yet, but it’s completely doable! You’ll just have to search for kids’ activities before you leave. Or, if you can count on your partner to take care of them, you could arrange some free time for him as well when you’re done with work. It still should feel like a holiday for all members involved!
- Ignore those remorses! You’re doing it for your business, and it’s only because you take some time to work that you can all spend so much time away after all, right? Be 100% for your family when you’re not working, and nobody will blame you for taking some hours a day to work.
Nice, but how can I combine it all??
Surround yourself with people like you. People who have their own businesses, or are starting a new one. They may even be up for collaborations and you could end your work & travel experience with new projects! Wouldn’t that be awesome?!
There are different formulas to do that, but I’d go for joining a coworking space in the cities you visit.
So, here’s what you need to plan ahead:
- Search for a coworking space that suits your personality & interests BEFORE traveling. This is VERY important. If you don’t do the searching before leaving, you could feel tempted not to work at all.
- Book some hours at the coworking space. Once you’ve paid, you’ll feel you have to – at least – visit the place to check it out. And chances are that you’ll come back.
- Work as much as possible and get the most tedious and hard tasks done before leaving. You’ll probably hate that moment. Germans call it “pre-travel stress”, but then again, you’ll be relieved once you’re at your new destination.
- It all depends on how long you are going to be away, but you should take the first travel days off. Are you leaving for more than a month? Then take at least the first week off. Forget about all that pre-travel stress. Unplug from everything. Charge up your batteries and enjoy life. This will not only help you mentally but also in a practical sense: You’ll have time to learn what’s the best way for you to manage time in your new destination. Now you are acquainted with the new place, the transportation system, and all other practicalities. And you also know what you don’t want to miss. And when that happens. You’d want to have fun after all!
Once your energy levels are on top, make a plan and start working:
- Don’t plan full-time workdays. Plan 20hr/week max. You can always work more time if you feel like it. But you’ll feel better if you achieve more than planned and not the other way around.
- You can either work a couple of hours in the morning/evening and then go have fun the rest of the day,
- Or block a couple of days a week – and enjoy the rest of the week.
Which option works best for you depends actually on your business. If you need to have an eye on social media on a daily basis, then you’d want to go for the first option. But if you work on projects that take several weeks or months and don’t need regular contact with your clients, then I’d go for the second option and forget about everything at least 4 days a week (weekends included).
- If you’re changing time zones, try to make the most out of it. This is what I’m doing right now. It works and I’m enjoying the sightseeing, my family and my holidays!!
This is how I’m getting it all together:
- I wake up earlier than anyone else. Sometimes I work, but most days I just take some time to sit and plan what’s on for the day. And check or update my priority list with a nice cup of coffee.
- I’m 6 hours ahead of my clients right now, and that gives me some unexpected air for two reasons:
- I’m working while they’re sleeping, so I get to concentrate much more than back at home because I hardly get any emails – YESSSSSS.
- When I wake up, I can get work done for the day, and they’ll have it ready when they arrive at the office and turn the PC on. Great, right??
- In the evening, when everybody’s sleeping, I check my emails and get some admin work done. The good thing is that my clients have 3 pm when I have 9 pm, so I’m still on time to answer their emails before they leave the office. And nobody notices I’m so far away! Still, I’ve communicated where I am right now just in case I can’t answer immediately and would like to have dinner out.
- I visit a lovely coworking space every second day. I’m not working on the weekends (just in the evening if I feel like it). And then, for example, on Monday, I’ll work for like 4 hours while my kids play at the pool. Don’t forget that I took 2 weeks off, so a bit of alone time working around other adults isn’t as boring as it seems 😉 Especially because I usually work alone at home. My family picks me up to have lunch together, and then we have a stroll around the city or go anywhere not too far away.
- Then, on Tuesday, we go on a tour to enjoy another exciting adventure. Your kids may even be thankful for not waking them up.
- I’ve canceled any clients I know I don’t want to work for while I’m here. They’d only mean stress, and I’m not up for that when I’m away with the whole family pack 😉
- I did a lot of PREWORK back home. A LOT! I spent many days writing for my blog and scheduling the posts for the first month. And I also spent a lot of time scheduling social media.
- I may be repeating myself, but I think this is secret number one to combining a successful and enjoyable work and travel experience.
Recap on how to work and travel with or without family
- Get as much pre-work done as possible back at home.
- Avoid any tedious tasks when you’re away.
- Don’t overestimate the time you have. Count on 20 hours per week max.
- Automate as much as possible! And let the digital tools work for you 😉
Don’t let anyone tell you that being a freelancer means not having holidays ever again because you have to take care of your customers and because nobody’s paying you for being away: You can travel around the world with your backpack, or just spend the summer holidays visiting other places with your family. And you’ll still keep on being your own boss with your own rules!
So what is it going to be? A camping site? A city? The beach? Mountains? A little town in Europe? Backpacking in Asia? Leave your comments below and let me know what you’re planning!)