The Many Distractions

With a deep love for travel and cultures and with so many interesting sights in the cities and countries you visit as a working nomad, how do you manage to get any work done? I was asked this question by someone who is curious about taking his work with him to an exotic location and hoping to soon become a digital nomad. (A digital nomad is someone who works online and is not bound to a single location. They can literally work from anywhere where there’s decent wifi)

My initial answer was stay longer! If you really want to see and experience a place and you want to get serious work done you will need more time than you would if you were on a vacation. Most digital nomads tend to stay in a place for three months at a time. This way they can fully enjoy and see everything as well as put in the hours necessary to get their work done.

Planning is Key

If you’re more of a location independent who works online, has a home-base but still likes to go on trips regularly you will simply have to plan it better and be a bit stricter on yourself. If the plan is to travel anywhere between a week or two weeks make sure you think ahead about how you’re going to balance work and leisure.

My nine day trip, within which I had planned to work every morning and explore the city in the afternoon and evening didn’t entirely work out as I had planned. Construction in front of the AirBnb, an unstable wifi connection and more social meet ups than I had anticipated slowed me down considerably. As a coach, I need to be able to make Skype calls so working from a quiet coffee shop is not an option for me. I decided to tackle the unstable wifi situation by buying an internet cable at a cheap Chinese store. Closing myself in, in the kitchen where the least amount of sound pollution was present is how I tackled the construction situation.

Finally, taking the weekend off from working is how I managed to spend time with all the people I wanted to meet up with. Working while travelling sounds like a dream life and it can be, you just have to be flexible and deal with a lot of unforeseen circumstances. Next time, I’m more likely to go on a longer trip or grant myself an actual work free vacation.

Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve gathered from my many trips around the world to help you prepare for your short workation. If you plan to go on a trip anywhere between one or two weeks make sure you do some planning.

Tips and tricks for your Workation

Do as much work as you can before your trip

It goes without saying that in your ‘normal’ work environment, you will get a lot more done than you will when you are at your exciting travel location with all the many distractions. Anything that can be done ahead of time should be done before your trip.

Plan your work appointments, deadlines and whatever else you have to get done before you go on your trip

If you have Skype calls or collaborations on projects with other parties planned make sure you have all the appointments scheduled in advance. That way you will have something to plan around. Try scheduling calls, social media or projects in blocks so it’s clear for you when you’re work time and free time is.

Allow yourself to arrive and just be and get your bearings on the first day

If you’ve just arrived in a place you need a day or two to find your way around or reset your body clock to deal with the jetlag. In order to work and play you will need to find some kind of routine. Don’t expect to get any work done on the first day you arrive. Unless you’ve scheduled a call because when we have appointments with others we tend to stick to them, just don’t expect to be at your best.

Find a place to work with stable wifi

Figure out where you’re going to work in the first few days so you can make arrangements if need be. If the place you are staying doesn’t have a stable wifi connection or doesn’t provide the privacy you need to work you’ll have to find a coffeeshop or coworking space where you can work. Make sure you do a Speedtest when you arrive to check the wifi connection. Some people bring range extenders, buy international data on their current plan or use hotspots to ensure stable wifi.

Give yourself two days to go sight-seeing and enjoy the city

You’ve just arrived in the city and you are of course dying to explore it. So why not just give yourself the first two days to actually enjoy it. This will probably not be enough, but afterwards you can spread out your free-time over the remaining days. If you’ve seen parts of the city and done some fun things in the beginning or your trip, it will be easier to focus on work.

Keep your weekend work free

A lot of fun events happen on weekends especially if you’re staying in a city. You wouldn’t want to miss out on all the parties and events that only happen on weekends because you’re working. These events are also excellent for meeting new people and connecting with the locals.

Don’t work more than 5 hours a day

Since it’s only a short trip, you can certainly work shorter days on your workation and catch up on the rest of your work later. If you work five hours a day it will still give plenty of time to do fun things. Or, if you’ve had an eventful late night where booze was plentiful you can sleep in and still get work done.

Let people you are meeting up with know before the trip that you’ll be working

When meeting up with people you know or meeting up with like-minded nomads you’ve connected with online, be sure to tell them in advance that you have also scheduled time to work. This way they are not disappointed and will respect your work time when you can’t join them on all their planned activities or late night drinking.

Most of all, remember that there’s a reason you chose to become a working nomad. You work hard but also aim to enjoy your freedom to travel. Happy working and travelling!

Gaby Kamp, Global Nomad Coaching

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