Being Productive While Traveling: Can You Run A Business On The Go?

Joel Annesley at Abbey Road Studios
Joel outside Abbey Road Studios

Isn’t it just about everyone’s goal to work from your laptop and travel the world? Let’s look at just how practical this is, and I’ll discuss what I’ve found so far! Although I don’t currently earn my living while I travel, I feel I’ve had a taste for what it is actually like to work on the road!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been traveling throughout Europe with my MacBook close to hand.  I’m ALMOST living my dream of ‘living’ from my laptop! From traveling to places like London, Paris, Switzerland, Nice, Monaco, Rome and Venice and Norway the experience is quite overwhelming to say the least!

So if you’ve built your own business and you plan on working while traveling, is it possible?

Here are a few tips:

Joel Annesley in Lauterbrunnen - SwitzerlandOne thing that I’m clear on is that without the Internet, things don’t happen! McDonalds is your best friend. As much as I despise McDonalds at the best of times, and the thought of eating a big Mac is horrible when you’ve in a foreign country.  In France, all you need to be is passing by a McDonalds and you can easily connect. In Italy, we gave up. Apparently they do have Wi-Fi points, but I never had any success.

Keep your passport handy. I’ve heard that Internet cafes in Italy request to see your passport first so they can track you back to the sites you visit!  We didn’t actually go to an Internet café. Many local coffee shops provide free Wi-Fi to customers, so a tip is to keep an eye on what Wi-Fi networks appear in your area and try to match the network name with a café nearby. Also look for a ‘Wi-Fi’ sign as you scout for a coffee!

Keep your valuables safe. I’m probably a little bit on the ‘too cautious’ side and keep my valuables close to me – probably after being told too many horror stories! Generally, it seems if you going to be in a large crowd (like the Rome metro or major tourist spots), keep your pockets almost empty and carry your backpack on your front. You’ll feel more secure!

Working while on tour doesn’t mix. I agree it’s great to make use of travel time to be productive. The thing I’ve found the past few weeks is that this can be quite a difficult task. Especially after undertaking a tour of Europe (rather than going at my own steady pace). When you are on tour, you’ve got many people talking to you, you aren’t on your own time and you don’t get what I often need – some ‘down’ time.  So in reality, even in transit, my time wasn’t overly productive. Don’t forget how exhausted you may feel and the temptation to sleep may be strong!

Ideal conditions for mixing work and travel

  • Don’t race around the world. If you have created a global / portable business, then plan your travel to accommodate sufficient time for you to be ‘productive’ (and go on a tour that gives you plenty of free time).
  • Plan ahead. If you get can cheap Wi-Fi from your hotel, this will save major headaches!
  • Expect to have some sort of delays or limited access to the internet. You won’t know how addicted you are until you can’t connect!

If you are going to be on the go on a regular basis, you’ll want to still be contactable (and to make phone calls cheaply). I’ve found the best solution was to sign up for a regular skype plan that enables you to make unlimited calls. I’ve got the ‘Unlimited World’ which allows me to call landlines all over the world for AU $15 a month. You can also get yourself a local skype number so that people back home can call you on this number. If you aren’t available, then the call goes to voicemail and Skype sends you an email alerting you that you’ve missed a call.  I think this is a great solution!

If you make work and travel mix together without hiccups, then I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

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