10 Tips to Help you Stay on Track with Work While Traveling or Living Abroad
For the past year I have been traversing the globe, immersing myself in a country for as long as my passport will allow me to (without needing to apply for a visa).
Instead of running a business out of New York City, I'm in Barcelona, or San Juan, or Johannesburg . . . you get the picture
If you have worked with me, you know I put a heavy emphasis on work-life balance. True to form, I have found my perfect balance of experiencing the place I am living in, and also getting my shit done. Because, let's be real, that is what is allowing me to live this lifestyle.
So, here are my tips for staying on top of your work commitments while traveling.
Let's get the work related stuff out of the way ...
1. Be aware of time differences! This may seem obvious but if you plan to bop around the world and you have clients or colleagues with set meeting times, make sure these hours will work with your new time zone. (Use a calendar scheduling app to set your availability in your local time and send it out for others to book hours that you know will fit into your schedule).
2. Know what you are dealing with before you arrive. It is so easy to do research on your location, and even specific tips for working there. Some places in the world that have constant power outages (or scheduled load shedding, like I am currently experiencing in South Africa).
Are there hurricanes or earthquakes or protests? Anything that is going to result in you being without power? If so, you are going to need to be prepared with back up batteries for all of your devices for those times when there are hours of no electricity.
3. Similarly, make sure you will have solid wifi (and cell connection, if necessary). Unless you somehow are able to stay on top of work without being connected, figure out the connectivity situation before you get where you are going.
Sometimes it is necessary to get a data stick for your computer if you are living somewhere where wifi is unreliable (or if the power will be down a fair amount). These can be pretty cheap depending on what country you are in so google local providers before getting to your destination.
4. Another obvious but often overlooked - have enough adaptors and converters that work in the location you are traveling to. (Here's a site that lists all countries by plug type https://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plug-voltage-by-country/)
5. Check out co-working offices, cafes or other spaces (book stores, malls) that you can set up shop in and hunker down for a few hours. OR, if you are like me and work better in your own space, make sure you have room to set up a space conducive to your work needs.
Now that we have that covered, the fun bits!
1. Know what is going on around you that you want to be involved in. Is there a local holiday going on and you want to participate in the festivities? Are your new friends taking a road trip in a few weeks and you're invited? Get these things on the calendar and plan your work around them.
When I stayed in Barcelona for two months, I made a list of everything I wanted to do and see while living there and each week would look at the list and mark off time on my calendar to explore.
2. Find an app that will connect you to locals - this can be dating apps or another form of social networking where you can meet up with locals and have them show you around their world. These types of experiences are why I love living the way I do, jumping from place to place, immersing myself as long as immigration will allow.
BONUS - learn something unique to the place you are visiting. I personally take cooking classes (or at least learn from local connections) because I love food and this is my favorite way to connect with a culture. I've also taken Spanish classes in Mexico and dance classes in India . . . you get the picture.
3. Find small things that bring you joy - in Oaxaca, this was sitting in the park reading my book and people watching. Every day I would take at least an hour (and sometimes many more hours than that...) away from work and other commitments to sit in the park and just enjoy.
4. Pick a local drink or meal to test out everywhere you go. This can be tasting every french onion soup you see on a menu in Montreal or trying every piña colada in the Virgin Islands. This is a fun way to explore and then you will be able to regale everyone back home with tales of the most incredible chocolate torte (which you are now the expert on after trying a bazillion of them while you were traveling through France).
5. When you find a restaurant, bar or cafe you love to go to, become "a regular"! This was never something that I pursued back when I was living in NYC but now I love coming back to the same place, being known by the waitstaff or bartender. It helps give a sense of community when I am often lacking that on the road.
Hope you find this helpful the next time you are working abroad! Let me know in the comments - what are your ways to stay on track with work while traveling?