Working from home is not a new concept. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has boomed, with only 3% of Americans reporting that they would prefer to return to full-time work in the office. While 39% of respondents wanted a hybrid work schedule, an overwhelming majority of 58% wanted a fully remote job. Some are even taking this a step further, working remotely while traveling.
As more and more companies are starting to offer remote work options that will continue after the pandemic, we are seeing a rise of digital nomads both in the U.S. and abroad. A recent 2021 study showed that 15.5 million Americans described themselves as digital nomads, which is a 42% increase from 2020 and a whopping 112% increase from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. In addition to COVID-19 changes, the U.S. housing market continues to boom, especially in urban areas, making remote work more affordable for many. Remote work is not merely a nice perk anymore; it is becoming something that workers are actively seeking out when job hunting. With numbers predicted to increase in the coming years, both employees and employers should start looking into how to work remotely and travel effectively and efficiently.
If you’re an employee looking to bridge that gap, this article will explore working remotely while traveling. Here are our top 11 tips!
1. Don’t Expect a Vacation 24/7
When you are learning to work remotely and travel, you’ll want to avoid a common misconception that you are on paid vacation all the time. Pictures of working at the beach in Mexico or enjoying the scenery in Singapore often give the impression that it’s all play and no work. Although remote working while traveling has unparalleled benefits, your workday will often look the same as it usually does. If you are working a typical salary job, your work hours will likely still be 9-5 (of course, freelance work may give you a bit more flexibility). It’s also important to keep in mind that working while traveling can become expensive quickly, so make sure you are getting the work hours needed to pay for flights, living accommodations, food, and any other travel requirements.
2. Find a Healthy Work-Life Balance
As expressed above, working remotely isn’t the same as getting paid to travel. That being said, we encourage you to find a healthy work-life balance to fully take advantage of the benefits that working remotely offers. The opportunity to explore different parts of the world and learn about different cultures is a major benefit of traveling while working remotely. You can gain this experience by taking excursions on the weekends, trying out different local restaurants in the evenings, and taking some time off in each new location you visit. This way, you can truly immerse yourself in your new surroundings rather than merely catching a glimpse of them at the end of the workday.
3. Talk to Locals
When traveling, getting to know the locals is a sound and proven strategy to learn tips and tricks of the area. You can save yourself a lot of time and money in an unknown area and possibly even start a friendship with someone in the place you’ll be calling home for a couple of months. One digital nomad warns travelers to be cautious about learning from locals and to be especially wary of tourist traps. She encourages travelers to seek out locals in professional settings that require more accountability, such as a local walking tour guide.
4. Know Your Essentials
When packing for your workday outside of where you live, be prepared with everything you need for a successful day. If going to the beach, bring plenty of water, maybe an umbrella, and some sunscreen. Essentials will vary by destination, but some common necessities for a successful workday – no matter where you are – might include food, a laptop stand, a portable charger for your laptop and phone, and some cash if you find yourself in an unplanned situation.
5. Find Co-Working Spaces
With the boom of remote work, co-working spaces are becoming more popular – even abroad! Co-working spaces allow employees from multiple companies or freelancers to work in a shared office space. Not only does this save on overhead costs, but these spaces can be collaborative and allow workers to make connections and friendships while traveling for long periods. These relationships can be priceless when working remotely alone.
A lack of privacy is one downside of co-working spaces – especially if working with sensitive information or accepting a conference call. However, creative solutions like Loop Phone Booths can easily mitigate these and any other potential problems that co-working spaces could create.
6. Foster a Safe Community
Speaking of finding places to network and form connections, finding a local community or a community of other digital nomads is an excellent way to curb the loneliness you may feel if you are working and traveling alone. This can be in the form of local clubs or community centers with people who share similar interests, religious congregations, or even your favorite internet café. Not only do you have the chance to make life-long friendships, but these connections could also help you avoid mistakes that others before you have made and save you money and prevent headaches in the future.
7. Look for Nomad-Friendly Insurance
Learning how to work remotely and travel may require researching the different types of insurance you need. This is an incredibly practical measure. If you are traveling internationally, looking into international-friendly health insurance is a must, especially when you consider the injuries or illnesses you may encounter when traveling in unfamiliar locations. Travel insurance could potentially cover a lot of unexpected difficulties, such as missing luggage, missed flights, or medical emergencies. No matter what, it is always a good idea to read the fine print when you are moving with everything you own every few months.
8. Don’t Move Around Too Quickly
One of the most exciting things about working while traveling is choosing a place to live temporarily! There are so many places to choose from, and even ones that are digital nomad friendly, both stateside and around the world. As exhilarating as it may feel to be able to move at a moment’s notice to any place you would like, there is wisdom in staying in an area for at least a couple of months. This helps you avoid the negatives of traveling, such as packing, jet lag, and getting used to new time zones, areas, and living conditions. Find a place and soak it up before moving on to the next one.
9. Use Reliable Internet
When working remotely, the internet becomes your best friend. We’re guessing you can’t do your work without it! Along with using your own hotspots and ensuring your living quarters has fast WiFi, we urge you to take advantage of public places with free internet of its own. Local cafes, libraries, and even hospitals usually provide free WiFi in case you need a web connection.
This can be a great way to connect with your locale while still meeting those work deadlines. Working in airports while waiting for your plane to arrive is another great way to get work done when you have some forced downtime. If you happen to have a phone or video call during this time, you can look for convenient, private places to still have quality work time without sacrificing your surroundings.
10. Make Wise Decisions
In an ever-changing work environment, there is more potential for things to go wrong, especially when you are relocating every few months to an unfamiliar place. Not only can connections you’ve made with others help you avoid financial pitfalls, but using a bit of common sense when making decisions goes a long way. For example, if you are paying for the cheapest apartments you can find, you are likely going to get less-than-ideal living conditions. Buying plane tickets without the flexibility to change flights could end up costing hundreds of wasted dollars. Do your research when it comes to these bigger expenses to help save problems in the future.
11. Take Advantage of Opportunities
Our final tip: Enjoy yourself! You are one of the millions who has learned how to work remotely and travel, with many more about to follow in your footsteps. This type of work environment can provide you with opportunities to grow and learn that you can’t get in any other way. Job van der Voort, the CEO of Remote, a company that helps employers provide remote options, said, “For a long time, workers were restricted to living near major urban hubs if they wanted to access the best job opportunities. The freedom to work from anywhere opens the door for employees to choose their home–or travel–without compromising their work.”