Have you ever wondered how other freelancers are able to earn money while they travel around? They seem to have time to visit beautiful destinations, take gorgeous images, post them on Instagram, have fun, meet new people… and still make money! Say whaaaat??
And yes, as impossible as that might seem when you are sitting at your desk without hardly any time to meet your friends, go shopping, let alone hit the gym, believe me: It is doable to earn money while traveling, but only with lots of planning and discipline.
Whether you want to become a digital nomad hopping from country to country in East Asia or you are just willing to spend a longer period of time freelancing abroad, planning your journey ahead and sticking to the plan is essential to keep your productivity and finances up and running!
But before we start talking about planning, let’s forget about those social media pics where everyone seems to have the best life ever. They tend to be a bit too perfect, so focus on yourself and forget about the ‘Gram!
Travel and Keep Freelancing in 3 Steps
These next tips are meant for freelancers who can work and deliver their services from anywhere, like freelance writers, translators, web designers, coaches…
- Plan ahead before you start your journey
- Choose your best schedule
- Stick to the plan
1. Plan ahead before you start your journey
There are a couple of factors that you should take into account when planning ahead before starting your travel:
- Search for an apartment with a good WiFi connection.
- Having a lively coworking center nearby is always fun – even a coffee shop would do, but the truth is that having at least an Internet connection and some kind of workplace at your new home can be really useful.
- It will help you work at your own pace, especially if you like to work at night, when the inspiration hits, or when you only have reduced time slots to work. We’ll talk about time slots in a second!
- When will you travel? Will it depend on the weather? On high-and-low-season prices?
- My advice is for you to choose low-workload times to travel. You’ll find it much less stressful if you have the time to make yourself comfortable in your new destination.
- If you can afford it, try and take the first couple of days off, and don’t plan any work-related tasks for the first week. Take some time to get used to the new environment, charge up your energy, and get acquainted with all practicalities. What’s public transportation like? Will you need to rent a car? Where’s the next grocery store? Where can you get a SIM card for your cell phone?
- Just make sure you feel comfortable in your new home before turning back to your laptop!
- Consider the time zone.
- Working a bit later or earlier than usual is fine, but if traveling to Australia means staying awake the whole night every single day, maybe you should consider changing gears!
- Will you be able to deliver your projects within the deadline?
- Do your customers need to keep open communication with you? Do they like to use Slack or other communication channels?
- Will they be OK with you checking your emails just once per day?
- If you work for customers with tight deadlines, let them know in advance that you won’t be as available as usual.
- Decide whether it is advisable to let your customers know about your travel plans.
- Will it help you keep some flexibility? This is especially helpful when you need a bit longer to answer their emails.
- Will it stop them from sending you more work? Then you’d better come up with another plan.
- Manage your email checking times.
- Let your customers know how often and when you will be checking your emails.
- It would be a good idea to start right now and see if it works for you.
- If you haven’t yet, create a second email account exclusively for your customers. In this way, you won’t be tempted to waste your precious work schedule with reading offers from any newsletter you might be subscribed to. Also, you can set notifications on your phone for any work-related email that you may get.
- Set an automated reply detailing the times when you will check your emails.
- Depending on the length of your stay, you may want to take “official” holidays from specific customers that aren’t that essential for your business. Telling them that you’ve been booked for a bigger project by another customer can be better than the whole truth.
- Make sure to finish any open projects that you may have before starting your journey.
- Focus on the most important projects.
- Well-paid projects have priority.
- Avoid shorter projects that keep you engaged with your PC but don’t bring much money.
- Get done any admin and tax tasks that you need to do in the next 6 months. Get them off your plate now if you know they can become an issue!
- Make a list of admin tasks that could be done once a month, and forget about them until then.
- If you won’t be away that long, consider leaving all admin-related tasks for later.
2. Choose your best schedule
Once at your new destination, plan how many hours per week you will work. If you won’t stay more than 3 months, I suggest you don’t plan more than 20 hours. You never know what can come up, and you don’t wanna miss anything happening at your new home!
Now that you’ve decided how many hours you want to work, you need to distribute those hours over the week and block those time slots to work focused. You’ve got used to the place, and you probably know when locals eat, drink and have fun. So plan your week around the things you want to do in your free time: Would you like to work 4 hours every morning non-stop? Are you a night owl and do you prefer working when the sun has come down? Or would you rather work 2-3 days full-time and take 4-5 days completely free every week? Whichever option you choose, just stick to the plan!
Make sure you take the following factors into account when designing your schedule:
- When you are most productive.
- How much you would like to experience the country that you’re visiting.
- What interests you most about your new destination. Is it its museums? Day excursions? 2-3-day trips? The nightlife? Cultural events that happen mostly in the evening, like theater plays or concerts? Meet-ups with other like-minded freelancers?
Being aware of how you want to spend your free time can help you come up with the best work schedule for you!
- If you LOVE surfing first thing in the morning every day, your schedule could start in the afternoon.
- If you prefer working 4 days a week and making 3-day trips to get to know nearby places, you may want to pack those workdays as if you were at an office.
- Maybe you’d prefer to start working early and have the rest of the day for yourself,
- or enjoy the whole day out and work at night…
You choose your work style. Just make sure when your work times will be, and block those time slots!
3. Stick to the plan
There’s actually not much more to say that you should stick to the plan. Otherwise, it’s going to be very hard to keep on making money while you travel! Planning and discipline can get you there. Now, about focus… The more you get to focus on your one goal during your scheduled work slot, the easier it will get to stop working!
Just a couple of tips to ease you into work mode when all you want to do is go out and have fun at your new destination:
- Write down the most urgent issues you want to focus on this week.
- Break them down into tiny steps.
- Set one goal for every day of the week.
- Write down any tasks you won’t be able to tackle this week. Add as many details as possible, and come back next week to check what you should focus on then.
- Don’t let yourself get distracted by other tasks that may come to mind. Just add them to the list.
SETTING THE RIGHT GOAL
- You need to set a realistic workload. If you set daily goals that are hard to achieve, you’ll end up frustrated, and you’ll find yourself adapting your plans almost constantly – and even quitting. So make sure you give yourself some grace. You’re traveling after all!
- Have everything ready before you start. If you’re set out to work 1 hour at 5 a.m., don’t waste 10 minutes of that single hour looking for tools, work materials, or whatever it is that you may need! Make sure you leave everything ready the night before so that you can start immediately (after pouring your coffee, of course!!).
- Get all possible distractions out of reach!
- Leave your cell phone in another room.
- Tablets are also banished from your desk. You don’t want any Pinterest notification getting your attention, do you?
- Working in the living room with the TV on is like trying to meditate in a rock concert, so it’s not allowed either!
Great organization and planning skills are always a must to run a successful freelancing business, but you’ll need them even more if you plan to combine travel and work! Why? Because you want your business to keep on running AND you want to enjoy your journey! So hop on to your favorite online travel agency, book your trip and start planning your new adventure! Where is it going to be?
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