How to work while slow traveling
Remote working has opened a world of possibilities for slow travel devotes. Learn about the life of a digital nomad and how to make it work for you.
Blending work and travel sounds like a dream lifestyle. Once upon a time, that might have involved sleep-inducing sales conferences in soulless hotels. Nowadays, we conjure images of skilled freelancers bronzing themselves in exotic locations while tapping away on their laptops, aperol spritz judiciously hidden out of frame. Aka, the digital nomad.
The good news is that an explosion in freelance opportunities has made digital nomadism more accessible. With Covid-19 reinforcing the merits of remote working, the dream has never been more attainable.
Figures underline the change, with nearly 17 million workers identifying as digital nomads in 2022. And we’re all for it.
Before you chuck your laptop in a backpack and tell your boss you’ll be delivering your work from the other side of the planet (good luck with that!) you might want to skim through our checklist to make remote working work for you.
How realistic is work while traveling?
Before rolling through what we’ve learned about the digital nomad lifestyle, let’s deal with the elephant in the hotel room. Can you earn enough to sustain life on the road?
The promise of waving goodbye to the office was once filed alongside hoverboards and personal robots as a distant prospect. But, accelerated by the Covid pandemic, one of them is very much a reality today.
Freelance platforms, more demanding workers, and forward-thinking businesses have injected impetus into this workplace revolution. In short, remote working is an option for just about anybody.
Before you swap desk for sun lounger, consider the basics of working far from home.
Choose your destination (s) wisely
Wi-Fi is key
Getting lost in the Pyrenees might be the plan, but dodgy Wi-Fi connections don’t care about your deadlines? Portable — expensive —solutions can help. But Wi-Fi tops a list of digital nomad “must-haves.”
Deadlines travel with you. Meetings and client relationships too. If you don’t want to be masking your bloodshot eyes on a midnight conference call, think about time zones.
Read the fine print. If you’re staying somewhere for extended periods, make sure you’re covered.
Check the laws to see if you’re already covered. EU citizens, for example, can take advantage of the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to enjoy remote work all over Europe.
Visas and taxes
Much like health insurance, working visas come with strict terms. Check your rights before you go rather than finding out when you try to leave.
Don’t forget local tax laws. A lot will depend on how long you spend in the country, as few will worry about you knocking out a few deadlines on a short break.
The right to work in a country can be knotty and vary from country to country. But some countries positively encourage digital nomads. Spain has just introduced a remote-working visa. This follows the lead of other countries like Portugal, Estonia, and Romania.
Quality of life while remote working
It’s not all play when remote working. In fact, you might work more hours than your colleagues who drop everything at 5pm precisely.
A couple of things can help maintain a good work-life balance.
Good for networking and excellent for sharing (moaning about) your experiences. If you miss the background chatter of busy workers clacking away on keyboards, shared working facilities might be the solution.
Even if you don’t operate on caffeine alone, a decent café is another environment to find company and fellow nomads. Not forgetting a reliable Wi-Fi connection.
Meet the locals
Don’t be shy. One joy of slow travel is feeling your way around a neighborhood and getting to know people. Even a 5-minute chat about something other than work can revive overworked spirits.
Find the ideal remote working base
Choosing where to stay is as crucial as deciding where to go.
It can be tempting to save a few bucks on accommodation. A home from home is always a compromise, but you might regret cutting back too much if the Wi-Fi constantly cuts or you’d rather spend time (and money) elsewhere.
A metro or train station is often more economical and convenient than hiring a car. Reliable access to the world beyond will let you expand your slow travel adventures when not working.
However, a weekend hire can open up a world beyond the local area. Take your license and keep an eye out for low-cost car rentals to use when you can spare a weekend to head out of the city.
Pack the right gear
Channel your inner Marie Kondo and organize your travel bags. Ensure you’ve got everything you need. Laptops, spare chargers, earplugs, headphones, power adaptors. Create a list that covers it all, but don’t bring the kitchen sink. Unless you’re planning to buy Twitter.
Make the most of remote working
Once you’ve set up base camp and got your workflow nailed down, it’s time to make the most of your workation. Yes, that’s a word. Even if Google Docs drops a red squiggle under it.
Work/life balance on the go
A routine might seem anathema to the free-spirited mindset of the digital nomad. But it can be a game changer when you’re living out of backpacks.
Find a routine that works for you and try to stick to it. Your mind and body will benefit, and you can plan your slow travel exploits more effectively.
Get out from behind your makeshift desk
Talking of slow travel exploits, make time to enjoy your chosen destination. It’s the purpose of heading to foreign lands on a workation, so give yourself a day or two every week. A well-managed routine will help.
Meet folks in the community
Locals are a goldmine of insights and tips to help maximize your slow travel adventures. And when they’re not, there are friendships to forge. Head to friendly bars and cafes or sign up for community events. Live like a local, and you’ll enjoy your stay more.
Learn the lingo
Travel is enriched by speaking a few handy words in the local language. Learning while in the country is the ultimate method. Even if your temporary neighbors are confused by your requests to borrow their cat, they nearly always appreciate you trying.
Don’t neglect your health, even if the local cuisine is wreaking havoc with your usual regime. Keep up your exercise routines and keep your mind sharp enough to hit your deadlines.
Be discrete with colleagues
We’ve all seen travel influencers improbably working on laptops in the blazing sun by the swimming pool. We get it; that’s their pitch. Everyone else doesn’t need to see what you’re up to, even if you want to shout it from the sundrenched rooftops.
Blur the backgrounds on video calls and sip that spritz on mute. It’s a considerate thing to do.
Some ideas for working remotely
Don’t be deterred if you’re reading this and thinking how wonderful it would be if you had the right job. You might be surprised what work can fit around a slow travel adventure. Here are a few to consider:
- Blogger – the OG digital nomad job and still a viable proposition today, even if millions have latched onto the potential.
- Online marketing – bring your office job on the road. If you’ve got the experience, there’s no reason why this can’t be done abroad.
- Virtual assistant – you need to be available when it matters. But it’s workable.
- Copywriting – A laptop and a way with words make this a digital nomad favorite.
- Data entry – Increasingly outsourced and ideally suited to remote working
- Language teacher – a traditional ticket to far-off lands that nowadays works just as well online.
- Consultant – If you have the expertise, why not offer that knowledge online and provide consulting services people will pay for?
- Keep your current job – You don’t have to go nuclear, tell your boss where to go, quit, and then reinvent yourself – in the current climate, you might find your current employer supportive. There’s certainly no harm in asking.
If none of these remote working opportunities excite you, get online and see what else there is. If it’s on Upwork, Fiverr, or other online marketplaces, it’s a job you can do remotely. Happy job hunting!
Why we love the digital nomad lifestyle
If your heart yearns to slow travel, remote working opens the door to adventures previous generations could only dream of. You don’t need to sell your house and possessions because you can get paid just like you did in your 9-5 job.
We welcome this brave new world. It’s the ultimate compromise between saving for a rainy day and seeing the world.
Play your cards well, and when you head home, you can slot back into life without massive credit card debt or the need to find a job. It is the dream brought to life. Bon voyage and bon travail in one happy package!