How to Travel and Maintain Your Freelance Biz
Travelling and working sounds like a made-up fantasy, right? I've always had the dream of carting my trusty laptop with me on adventures, hoping from country to country — only having to worry about where to find my next solid WiFi connection. It's not as far-fetched as it sounds. Lots of freelancers are initially attracted to the lifestyle of flexibility and freedom because we are no longer tied to one geographically location. The difficult part is now managing your freelance business, on top of travel logistics and foreign locations.
Travelling costs money
Travelling costs money, but there are ways that you can travel affordably without having to spend years saving up to get rich first, take a sabbatical and outsource everything to make sure your biz is still running smoothly.
This means being budget-conscious is always a good idea, especially when travelling to foreign countries — you never want to be stuck without cash or a credit card (Get your finances, travel insurance, PayPal, etc. in order months before you leave).
Even though travelling costs money, it doesn't have to be expensive. It only becomes expensive when: you don't have money to pay for it, or it doesn't provide value for you at it's price point. If you feel like you cannot afford to travel, you may have to re-evaluate your needs vs. wants.
It also varies greatly depending on where you want to go. Southeast Asia has been a popular spot for location independent freelancers because of the abundance of WiFi availability and low cost of living. But if you want to travel to the US, Australia or some places in Europe, it will be tougher to keep expenditures down. Finding ways to increase your supplemental income is also a good start for funding your travel plans.
Keep your day-to-day as close to normal as possible
Creative people often need routines in order to create beautiful things. Even though your surrounds are changing, your daily habits and process shouldn't. By managing your day-to-day, you'll be less likely to become distracted and overwhelmed while on-the-go.
For many of your clients, it will continue to be "business as usual." Travelling and working is not the same as a vacation, and you'll still have to fulfill client obligations and deadline commitments. This is why it's important to maintain some structure in your schedule, or at least some kind of business hours, even while you're away.
Your client shouldn't care where you are working from, as long as the work is getting done, but you now have to communicate and manage your client across different timezones and locations.
Use airports and waiting areas for that annoying to-do list
Airports always have free WiFi, which means you can use that time spent waiting in between flights to get some of your to-do list done. I have always found this super satisfying. I always seem to be more motivated to work on my to-do list then because I know I only have a certain amount of time to complete it before I'm without WiFi for a few hours. I'm then able to use the time spent on the plane or train to focus on my creative work.
Balancing work & play
It can be really tempting to take days off and explore when you're in new territories. There may be times where you find you are so heads down on your work, stuck inside all day, with little time for leisure activities — and there may be times when you think you can afford a day off, only to come back to an overwhelming inbox of angry people.
This comes back to the point of maintaining a day-to-day schedule. Especially while I'm in tropical locations, it can be very hard to walk away from a morning of suntanning. I've found that it feels much better when I get a solid amount of work done in the morning, and then have the rest of the afternoon or evening to enjoy myself.
A good tip, if you can afford it, is to travel during your slow season. Every freelancer has times during the year where they find they are less busy than average (mine usually being periods during the summer or Christmas time). Work/play balance is key to enjoying your travels and still being able to afford it at the same time.