The truth about working online while travelling (9 tips!)
Working online while travelling looks like a constantly glamorous and adventure-filled lifestyle but, like anything, the truth is a little different.
And I’m about to give you the raw and real truth and a few tips that I learned while travelling and working at the same time.
Over a period of about 10 months in 2018/1019 Matty and I were working online while travelling around the world.
Of course, I LOVED our time away - it was so much fun, I had so many amazing experiences and learned so many things. But at the same time, there were many hiccups and challenges along the way that we had to deal with - some that could be avoidable in the future and some that are just a natural part of travelling.
Late last year (2018) after we had spent many months travelling around Europe, the plan was to continue to travel all through Central and South America. But after we spent Christmas in Breckenridge things changed a bit.
We decided to take a trip to Belize for New Years Eve, to get some sun and see what it was like living in South America.
Every year at that time (no matter where I am) I spend a good 3-4 days planning out my year. I became aware that the goals I had set for myself and my business for 2019 were not going to be achieved with me moving around as much as I was when we were in Europe (moving to a new place every 3-4 days).
In addition to that, there was a part of me that was really missing home - I was really homesick at that point in the trip.
I remember saying to Matty one day, “I kinda want to go home, I’m really missing routine and (not being a diva) I kinda just want to not be travelling around all day every day.”
I just wanted to slow down and I had gotten tired of constantly moving around by that point.
So we had to compromise, and I was so happy to find a spot and chill out for the next couple of months.
Rather than going straight home, we thought we would find a home base to allow us to be in one spot but also to travel around Central and South America if we wanted to.
Then we found a beautiful and affordable AirBnb in Nicaragua, very close to the border of Costa Rica, with crazy ocean views and I loved it! I’m so grateful we were able to find that place.
Before we left I tried to research online what it would be like working while travelling around, and I was totally rattled that there was NOTHING online with information on what to expect or things to consider!
So I’m going to share some tips I’ve learned with you now, things to be mindful of, and to help you expect the unexpected (because that’s definitely something I’ve learned too!)
Tip #1 - Be aware the internet is not always reliable
When we travelled to Belize, we very quickly realised that the internet in Central America was pretty spotty - more than it was in Europe.
This freaked me out a little bit, because obviously I have a home based business that is completely and 100% online! I kinda need the internet to make my business work…
Hot spots aren’t always reliable either, and can be very slow, so keep that in mind too!
The internet is not always something you can control, so this is something just to be aware of so you can plan ahead to have less access than you normally would.
Apart from the WIFI, there were a lot of other things that happened that made me realise just how many things your business is really reliant on to run properly!
Tip #2 - Expect tech breakdowns!
I had major tech breakdowns…
One of my hard drives broke when we were in Croatia on one of the islands. No one spoke English are there wasn’t exactly a store I could go into to get it fixed…
My whole life was on my hard drive!!
All the episodes of my podcast were on there, and I had an episode due that Sunday that I couldn’t access so I was completely freaking out. And all my photos, videos and basically everything to do with my business is on that harddrive. That was crazy!
Tip #3 - Consider time zone differences and that you’ll be less available
Time zones were a bitch…
My business is international, but around 60% of it is based in Australia. So all of a sudden I wasn’t available for my team (who are in Australia) at normal times of the day. This was hard because I felt unavailable and like I wasn’t there for them - so as a business owner you need to really consider the challenge of time zones!
Plus, converting time zones is literally a full time job in itself. I am now what I call a Time Zone Wizard 😆🧙♂️
Tip #4 - Use every challenge as a growth opportunity
All of these little things that happened along the way are all a part of the journey, so you have to embrace it all. Plus it really helps you flex your leadership muscle while practicing patience, resilience, determination, grit, and consistency. They’re all characteristics of really great leaders.
So whenever little things threw me off, I just took a deep breath and reminded myself that this experience was helping me become a better business owner - someone who will be able to handle all the challenges to come in the year ahead and to reach the goals I’ve set for myself.
I’ve learnt to be open to and accepting of challenges, but I know that a lot of people that I work with and people I mentor really get rattled and thrown around by challenges. They’ll throw in the towel, or want to give up, or think “this isn’t for me”...but you will never see me give up.
I’m that crazy thats like, “bring it! What else have you got?”
I really think that the universe puts challenges in your path because you’ve asked for something to manifest:
You’ve asked for your business to double in size,
You’ve asked for a bigger paycheck,
You’ve asked for more clients,
You’ve asked for that growth…
And you can’t expect that growth to ever happen without challenges being thrown at you along the way.
I’m a big believer that if you don’t set your own challenges, the universe will set them for you. So I came on this trip knowing I had huge goals for my business - I knew what I wanted to create, I knew what I was capable of - and with that will come challenges.
I decided to go and travel and work, and grow my business at the same time.
Tip #5 - Be aware that working while travelling is not the same as just going on holiday...
For example, there were parts of me that almost felt resentful towards my business in the first couple of months. Those first 2-3 months of the trip were so hard for me. To be really honest with you, I wanted to come home. There were tears most days. I was very stressed and anxious. I had no flow and I was ALLL over the shop.
Normally when you go on holiday you plan out your itinerary and you go into holiday mode. Because you’re not working you can do whatever you want, you can sleep in, go and explore, have yummy dinners and stay out late - that’s what holidays are for, right!?
So when you go on a working holiday and you’re in a new location, you still want to immerse yourself in the culture, eat all the yummy food, go out and see all the sights...but you can’t do all of that when you’re running a business!
I wasn’t prepared to cut the hours I was working down because my goal for this year was to grow my business. I usually work a standard 8 hour day and sometimes I work more than that when needed - I wasn’t going to stop working.
So that meant I wasn’t out exploring all the time. And some places we were only in for 3 or 4 days, which normally would be enough time to visit and explore a destination. But there was a little part of me at times that was resenting my business because I was working all day and didn’t have time to go and explore, or go to all the restaurants and cafes, or go and take photos.
Sometimes I really felt like I wasn’t getting to experience the destination, so that adjustment was really hard for me.
Tip #6 - Allow for more time in each location
What I noticed after about 2 months was that we needed more time in every city. Rather than only spending 4 days in one place, we doubled it and stayed 8 - 12 days in most places from there onwards.
This helped SO MUCH.
All of a sudden I wasn’t feeling rushed to get everything done in a short time frame. I was able to be present with my work and also be present while I was exploring.
So if you are going to be travelling and working, I really recommend to just elongate the amount of time that you spend in one place. Because if you don’t, you’ll feel like you’re not seeing everything and you’ll start to feel like it’s not even fun.
Tip #7 - Expect the unexpected.
I think when you travel, it’s normal for things to happen that are out of your control. Like delayed flights, drivers not showing up, cancelled flights, long lines in airports, booking accommodation on the wrong date, language barriers...just so many things can go wrong!
So keep in mind that just because you’re working doesn’t mean you’re not going to come across the unexpected things, because they happen with any travel experience.
There are always going to be barriers, whether it’s language, or cultural, there are always going to be things that happen that are totally out of your control.
When you add that stress on top of your work, you’ve got yourself a potential disaster if you’re not prepared for it or dont have the emotional intelligence to cope! My fave book on EQ …emotional intelligence… is “Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. It comes with a EQ test you can take so see where you’re at, with the ability to retake the test 6 months later as you work on your EQ and see how much you’ve grown. Its amazing!
Matty and I love to roll with the punches, so whenever something happens we just laugh and say, “I wonder why this is happening…. whats the blesson in this?!”
Looking back at every challenge or obstacle that’s happened over the whole trip, something cool has always stemmed from it. So you can’t be mad at it, you just have to be prepared for it.
Tip #8 - Don’t plan everything so you can go with the flow!
The other really cool thing we did throughout this trip was that we did not plan a single thing.
No itinerary and no plan of where to go or what to do next - it was all just very spontaneous and I loved that. This was the best way to travel and I really recommend for you to do that, especially if you are visiting more than a few places.
Just let it happen how it happens. When you put expectations on your travel, it really deflates you when it doesn’t happen (and things are never going to go exactly as planned anyway!)
One crazy thing that worked in our favour is that Matt and I are SO unorganised sometimes on our travels (lol). Especially when it comes to booking things. We’re the type of people who are booking our travel insurance at the gate (I don’t know if anyone else here does that…?)
Booking accommodation was hilarious in the first couple of months, because we would be checking out and I’d be like “did you book accommodation?” and Matt would say, “no, did you!?”. It was SO GOOD not knowing where we were going next and figuring it out that day or the day before. Its seriously the best way to travel.
I know the thought of this gives some people a panic attack but my next tip will explain why this was so amazing…
Tip #9 - Book your accommodation at the last minute for a discount!
So from this craziness I discovered a really great tip (definitely remember this one!)
Booking.com actually give you anywhere between a 30-80% discount if you book accommodation within 24 hours of checking in.
Which is AMAZING!
We started booking our accommodation the day before, or the day of, and getting huge discounts! This meant we were able to stay in some of the most beautiful places, like penthouses and mansions and beautiful ocean side bungalows and villas…even on our $100 AUD a night budget.
An example of this tip in action was when we went to Positano to celebrate a business milestone we had achieved, and we booked our accommodation on the day and got an 80% discount!!
This was nuts because we stayed in this beautiful two storey apartment with this huge balcony overlooking all of Positano and the ocean. It was one of the most amazing ways to finish that week - so definitely use this tip because it works!
So those were just 8 of the many, many lessons I learned while working and travelling. Of course, there are so many more things that I want to share with you but I can’t fit them all into one blog!
Let me know if this was helpful, and If you’ve got any travel questions you want me to answer just leave a comment below and I’ll try to get to them in a future blog!
I hope this served you today,