Picture this: you’re seated in a cafe with a view overlooking the snow-capped mountains of the Italian Alps–or maybe you’re sipping coconut water at an outdoor table on a beach in Hawaii.
Maybe your aspirations are not that elaborate at all. If you want to work from home in your fleece pajamas with soft jazz tinkling in the background, that’s cool too.
Remote work is on the rise, and for many large organizations it has become the norm in the pandemic world. An article in Forbes mentions that, before the pandemic, only about 5% of full-time employees with office jobs worked from home. Now it’s more like 20-30%.
If you’re one of these lucky location independent folks, here’s what you need to stay productive if you’re on the road.
If you’re going to make it work as a remote worker, you’re going to need some strong motivation. This isn’t a vacation with a little work on a side–this is literally changing your entire lifestyle to travel as you work.
You’ve got to really want it, in other words. And you’ve got to get the job done.
This is especially true if you’re just starting out in a new remote work gig, and especially if you’re self-employed. There’s going to be bumps and curveballs along the way, and you’re going to have to deal with it without it severely impacting your work.
2. Top-of-the-Line Tech
Having good quality equipment is a no-brainer when you’re working and travelling. And although this might seem like an obvious thing, you’d be surprised how many people try to cheap out on good tech.
Do your research before any major purchases, like computer or camera equipment. You may want to consider extended warranties as well.
Investing a little more into your work equipment will serve you well in the long run, even if it means putting up a lot of money up front. The last thing you want is to be scrambling for a new laptop while you’re off exploring some remote part of Thailand! And, if you’re already working for a company, make sure they equip you with the best tech up front. Cyber security is always a concern, and a good company knows this.
Other tech necessities might not be so obvious, like having a good VPN service. A VPN provides you with an encrypted server to hide your IP address and protect your identity, and is excellent for keeping out opportunistic hackers. (And for less insidious things, like accessing Facebook in China.)
3. Excellent Connectivity
Not all destinations are cut out for digital nomads. Countries like Libya, Bolivia, and Egypt have notoriously slow Internet, for example. And, let’s face it, Zoom meetings are here to stay–you’re probably going to need fast WiFi to get things done.
Even when you’re within a country with fast Internet (like just about anywhere in Europe), tracking down a good connection may take a bit of work. You may want to consider getting a portable WiFi hotspot for when things are spotty.
4. A Comfortable Workspace
Chances are, you’re not gonna get a whole lot accomplished in a noisy hostel.
Maybe that’s not always the case, but if you’re easily tempted by invitations of pub crawls and group tours, you may want to look elsewhere. Airbnbs tend to make excellent workspaces for remote workers, especially when they come equipped with a well-stocked kitchen.
You can also check out some co-working hubs, which can be found in just about any major cities these days. Often you can sign up for week passes at a time, and there are usually lots of perks involved (like free coffee and social events!).
5. The Perfect Destination
Thankfully, most of the world is hard-wired for the Internet these days, so if there’s somewhere you want to work, chances are you can make it happen.
Some of the best countries for remote work combined with quality of living include Auckland, New Zealand, Reykjavik, Iceland, and Sydney, Australia. Those certainly aren’t the cheapest destinations though–if your intention is to save money while traveling, you may want to look to places in Asia or South America.
6. Solid Work Ethic
It’s worth repeating: if you want to make it as a remote worker, you need a solid work ethic! That means being able to sit down for long hours at a time, putting your head down, and getting crap done.
It might be a hot, tropical day and your hotel room is facing the beach. That pina colada might be calling your name. But no, if you don’t finish your task and log those hours, you’re not getting paid!
Similarly, know when to reward yourself. If you pull a 10-hour day to complete a project, take some time off the next day.
7. Good Travel Insurance
Never travel without insurance. If you get into an accident on the road, your bill could end up being in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The same goes for if you get sick on the road. Some of the best travel insurance these days will even cover you for long-term travel, like SafetyWing.
If you are carrying lots of tech with you, you can also purchase insurance to cover the cost of replacing or repairing your gear if something happens to it. InsureMyEquipment is a good one to consider.
8. The Right Visa
Before you set out on the road, make sure you have the right visa. Depending on your home country, you may or may not require a visa to travel around the country you’re visiting.
Nowadays, some visas even exist specifically for remote workers and digital nomads. Bali has a remote work visa that’s good for up to five years, Hungary has a year-long visa program, and Mexico is even offering temporary residence to remote workers who are employed outside the country.
9. Patience for the Boring Stuff
You’ve gotta take the good with the bad when it comes to remote work, and that means doing things you might not have to do with a traditional office job, like invoicing or outsourcing your tasks.
You can’t get discouraged when things go wrong, especially if you’re self-employed. Late payments, invoicing issues, and gaps between employment are all par for the course (for most people).
10. Work/Life Balance!
When you’re working remotely, it’s easy to lose the work/life balance: either you work too hard because you feel like you’re doing something “wrong” by not being in a traditional work setting, or you play too hard and your tasks get neglected.
For example, it’s easy to justify doing laundry throughout your work day by tacking on a few extra evening hours to wrap up other tasks, but then somehow you might find yourself at your computer at 9 PM when you should have been winding down long ago.
If you set daily task goals and stick to a work plan, finding a work/life balance is easy. Remember to take the good times with the bad, and soon enough you’ll be a remote-working pro.