When I mentioned to an acquaintance recently that my next goal is to figure out how to travel while working, she said something like, “Well, that should be easy. You can work wherever you want.”
Which is technically true — I can work wherever I want. And I do take advantage of that, moving between my home office and a few local coffee shops and my parents’ house in upstate New York.
But traveling while working — especially when you consider the developing country-type of travel that I enjoy — is a lot different than lugging my laptop to a cafe down the street.
Right now I’m looking at taking a trip in March, possibly to East or southern Africa (but that changes according to the day, so stay tuned). Here are the two big challenges I see myself encountering when it comes to keeping my clients happy while on the road:
1. Internet access. I like to travel to places that are significantly different than my home. And in those places, fast Internet connections can be difficult to come by.
Not having a solid Internet connection can be a HUGE problem — and a massive frustration. It’s difficult to imagine when you’re sitting at home using a reliable wireless connection, but even sites that are easy to access from your couch, like Facebook, can be impossible to pull up when the signal is weak. Since my entire business revolves around having quality Internet access, I can’t just hope for the best on this. I need a solid game plan for how to maintain connectivity.
2. Working hours. If I’m going to travel, I want to actually experience the places I visit. That means not working eight hours (or longer) every day. I’d like to work half days and focus on traveling for the other half of the day. So the question is, can I get my working hours down to four per day for that month?
I’ll do some work ahead of time, putting in double hours during the weeks before the trip. But if I’m traveling for a month, I simply won’t be able to do all my work ahead of time. That’s what makes this different than a vacation.
How do I plan to attack those challenges? Here’s my to-do list if I’m going to take this March trip:
- Streamline the biz. Here’s how:
+ Get super organized. Know exactly what I have to do each day — which newsletters and blog posts I need to write and what client work needs attention. Create a checklist I can execute each day while on the road, so I don’t overlook even a minor detail.
+ Hand over more work to my apprentices, even if only temporarily. (Lots more on outsourcing in this week’s Solopreneur Secrets newsletter, which goes out tomorrow.)
+ Say no more often. I hereby declare I will take on no new projects before March and will instead focus on becoming efficient at the work I’ve got.
+ Work ahead. Start stashing away blog posts, newsletters, tweets for clients and more. The more I do ahead of time, the less I have to do while traveling.
- Figure out a solution to the Internet Problem. Depending on where I decide to go, could I pay for an Aircard that would connect me to the Internet wherever I am? This could be pricey, but it might also save me hours of looking for a connection.
- Get my personal life squared away. That includes minimizing my possessions, making sure all my bills are set up to be paid online, taking care of any doctor’s and dentist’s visits I’ve been putting off. These aren’t must-haves, but they certainly make a Big Trip more manageable.
The idea of going away for a month and keeping my business running is daunting, to say the least. Because I never want my clients to feel like I’m away. It’s OK if they know I’m working remotely, of course, but if I do this right, my work and accessibility will be the same as when I’m working from my home office.
What do you think? Doable?