Male remote employee works from his laptop at restaurant.

Working on the Move: Six Tips for Working While Traveling

If you’re a remote professional who chooses to work abroad, there are some important things to know. Keep the following useful tips in mind to ensure your success while working on the move.

1. Make Your Work Priorities Clear

The first thing to remember while working on the move is that work time is not vacation time. This means your work commitments should remain your highest priority until you’re off the clock.

Working full-time while traveling means that five days a week, for eight hours or more, you must find a workplace and commit to your workload. For contractors or part-time remote professionals, the working hours may be less, but the requirements to work while traveling are still the same.

Outside of working hours, nights and days off can be used for exploring, sightseeing, downtime, and fun. Once your work priorities are clearly outlined, it’s time to find the right space to work in.

2. Book the Best Workspace Possible

While you may be used to replying to emails or finishing a few tasks from the couch, being productive while traveling requires a dedicated space.

Airbnbs will usually advertise their amenities such as having workspaces and fast Wi-Fi. And some hotels may have a business room for daily use, which could be the difference between a productive work day or a lost work day. If you're unsure about the accommodation having adequate remote work facilities, get in touch with the host and ask questions before you book.

3. Make Sure Wi-Fi Is Fast and Accessible

Traveling abroad can bring up several issues, including a lack of reliable Wi-Fi. But there are ways to troubleshoot and prepare for this.

Check the Speed

When booking your accommodation, ask your Airbnb host or hotel to run a quick speed test on the internet to see how reliable the Wi-Fi connection is. Determining how fast your ideal internet speed should be all depends on the work you’re doing. Minimal speed will suffice if you’re just writing or responding to emails. But if you’re running design software or editing videos from the cloud, you’ll need a faster connection.

Find a Wi-Fi Café

Heading to a Wi-Fi café while traveling is another option, but free, reliable cafés that let you work as you please aren’t everywhere. To find the best Wi-Fi cafés, tap into local knowledge, friends, fellow coworkers, and your Airbnb host or hotel concierge.

Use a Coworking Space

If you’re planning to stay in a city for more than a few days, renting a coworking space is a smart idea. It’s a great way to secure a dedicated, personal workspace with solid Wi-Fi, and meet fellow working travelers. Better yet, most coworking spaces offer less expensive rates or subscription fees for those who stay up to a month or more.

Upgrade Your Tickets

Depending on how you’re traveling,  you can upgrade your plane or train tickets to include Wi-Fi so that you can work on the go. You can also purchase access to traveler or business lounges if you want to work while you wait for your departure.

Use a Hotspot

Having a solid international cellular data plan or purchasing data in your country of stay will allow you to hotspot Wi-Fi from your phone. While it may not be the fastest option, a hotspot is good for working on the fly, especially in more remote locales.

4. Bring the Right Equipment

While it may be tempting to lower your luggage weight by only packing your laptop and leaving your mouse and keyboard at home, it’s essential to bring everything you need to make your work-travel setup comfortable and accommodating.

This means you should pack the proper cords for charging and connecting your devices. Although many of our technological devices have universal connections, winding up in a foreign country without the right charging cord is a hassle.

Your best bet? Make a checklist for your equipment, so you don’t waste time tracking down forgotten office items or cords. Your checklist should include these items:

  • Laptop or tablet
  • Laptop stand
  • Cell phone
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Wireless mouse
  • Wireless keyboard
  • Portable desk
  • Charging cords

5. Test Your Work Setup Before Leaving

Before you set out working abroad, it’s best to know which means of working best suits you.

First, it’s helpful to think about the nature of your work and how it fits into certain environments. Some people will need absolute silence, while others may want to work in a bustling area of the city. Working in a busy cafe is probably not the best idea if you're a writer who needs a quiet environment to concentrate. The same idea applies to a sales rep who has to take high-pressure sales calls.

To overcome any worries about traveling while working, try out a trial period close to home that involves three tasks:

  • Take your office to a local coffee shop, or co-working space
  • See whether or not working amongst a lot of people is tolerable or distracting
  • Test your office setup to see if it’s comfortable and productive

A simple test like this may prove that you’d prefer working from a desk in your Airbnb over anything else, but it will also show you that working outside of a home office is entirely possible, if not enjoyable.

6. Always Have a Backup Plan

You can prepare as much as you like for working on the move, but sometimes things just don’t go your way. That’s why it’s important to have a backup plan for where you can work.

Perhaps the Wi-Fi at your accommodation is down, or the café you were ready to work in is full of noisy distractions. Either way, researching alternative workspaces in each destination will help alleviate stress when things don’t go as planned. You may also want to stay near your lodging during the work day, ensure your hotspot connection is always available, and purchase an extra SIM card to have an alternative data option.

There’s nothing worse than completing a task and not being able to send it. So if you’re collaborating with a team in different time zones, give yourself a buffer for deadlines just in case something goes wrong.

Working While Traveling: Considerations From Two Employees

Last year, Velocity Global Culture and Belonging Manager Stella Huang and Software Developer Jacky Lee went to Europe for six and three months, respectively. Through this experience, both of these remote professionals learned how to successfully work on the move. First, selecting accommodations with a dedicated workspace is very important.

“Half the time we were just working out of our beds and if not, we were working at a shared dining room table with one of us on each end,” Huang said. “Sometimes we just needed our own personal space just to do our work or focus or just take calls.”

They also found it best to keep travel days to the weekends because completing a full workday on top of moving from one city to another was stressful.

“It’s a lot of effort to move yourself and stuff from your Airbnb to the airport or the train station, travel, then get to the new destination,” Huang said. “By the end of that journey, you probably don’t have much brain energy to put into work.”

Of course, the very nature of living overseas means you have to take care of mundane life tasks. You can’t eat out every night like you might on a two-week trip, and that means planning grocery shopping and cooking into your daily routine.

In hindsight, Lee would have liked to have been more realistic about how much time there was to explore. For him, two weeks on the Amalfi coast was more like two days when you account for travel and work time.

“Seeing it like that would help us to decide whether it’s worth it to go,” Lee said.

From these real-life scenarios, it’s important to think about what your ideal working-on-the-move experience should be, as well as which options will best meet your needs.

Start Working From Another Country Today

Working while traveling in another country is the definition of work-life freedom. That’s why Velocity Global is helping businesses create a distributed workforce while also allowing talent to work on the go. Using cloud-based technology, our Global Work Platform makes it easy to hire, pay, and cover benefits for work-from-anywhere professionals in more than 185 countries.

Reach out today to learn how Velocity Global’s solutions enable you and your employer to work from anywhere.

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