People are traveling more than ever before, and many are doing it indefinitely by bringing their work on the road with them. When all you need is a laptop and WiFi to stay up on work and make money, it’s hard to settle for a routine and a home office.
There are several ways to work and travel remotely, and for most, an easy place to start is by signing up for a work and travel program like Remote Year or Be Unsettled. Programs like these take care of all the logistics–flights, hotel, workspaces, and cultural activities–so you can show up, work, and enjoy. These remote work programs are easy and smart, but they aren’t cheap.
The reality is that anyone can create a Remote Year-style trip themselves for a fraction of the cost. I’ve spent two months in Bali, three months in Japan, one month in Cambodia, and am about to embark on a 10-month adventure to France where I’ll also be taking part-time French classes at the Alliance France in Paris.
There is no right or wrong way to work and travel abroad, you just have to get the ball rolling and have an idea of what to expect.
Pick a destination
People always wonder how digital nomads do what they do. Travel can be expensive, so how do some people manage to do it all the time? Here’s the secret: When you travel to destinations with a low cost of living, but are making US wages, you can actually save more money than you would if you were back at home.
Destinations like Bali, Cambodia, Czech Republic, and Colombia are cheap for Americans because once your plane ticket is booked and paid for, you might be able to eat out for less than $2 a meal.
Come up with dates
If you try to visit a new country every week you’ll get burned out in no time. I’ve spend anywhere from two weeks to 10 months in a single destination. Most work and travel programs spend one month at each destination, which is a good rule to follow. A minimum of one month at each destination gives you time to figure out where the closest grocery store is, how the currency converts to US Dollars, and where the best remote work hot spots can be found.
Buy a backup WiFi source
You can buy a SIM card, triple check your lodging’s WiFi quality, and have a backup coffee shop, but when you travel, things are almost guaranteed to go wrong. A portable WiFi hotspot like the Skyroam Solis can be a lifesaver when things fall apart. And when you’re completely reliable on WiFi for submitting your work and communicating with your employer, a second (or third) source of WiFi won’t be a waste.
Figure out where you’re going to stay
Airbnbs are often the easiest way to book a longer stay. Not only do most Airbnbs have space for perks like a for a temporary home office, but when you book a month or more, the rates often drop from the hotel-style nightly rate to a rent-style monthly cost.
Research a couple workspaces
Sites like WorkFrom are a great resource when you’re headed to a new city and don’t know any remote work-friendly coffee shops. The crowd-sourced information gives you the skinny on the nearby coffee shops and workspaces, so you know what to expect before you buy your coffee and/or purchase a membership.
Communicate with your boss (or clients)
Before you book flights and an Airbnb, take a quick moment to let your boss, clients, and coworkers know. If you’re shifting your hours, now’s the time to let them know. Even if your company(ies) won’t even notice that you’re gone, it’s still nice to give everyone a heads up. Taking a moment to clue everyone in will also help you out if you’re unresponsive during the flight over or have internet troubles during your trip.
Be ready to do what needs to be done
Traveling and working remotely looks fun, but there are highly stressful moments too. You may need to wake up in the middle of the night to shoot off an email or scramble for WiFi when you’d rather be enjoying brunch. Part of traveling and working remotely is being willing to do what needs to be done.
Come up with a list of downtime activities
You may be creating a work trip, but there will still be time for sightseeing, exploring, and relaxing. Take a few hours to research each destination so you can learn about the culture and customs, know what to expect, and have a plan for downtime.
If you feel ready to move on before your time at a destination is over, book a weekend trip to a nearby country for a taste of something different before heading “home.”