One of the best things about being a digital nomad is that you can work while you travel.
One of the worst things about being a digital nomad is that you can work while you travel.
Yeah. It’s like that.
While it’s lovely to move to foreign countries, work from a beautiful bed in a beautiful hotel room with a beautiful view, and marry work + fun, it brings numerous challenges as well.
Distraction abounds. We fall prey to the laissez-faire attitude and lethargy that accompanies waking late. It’s hard to open your laptop when what you really want to do is eat fresh fruit and read by a pool.
All. Day. Long.
The good news? It’s totally possible to cultivate not only a working-vacation routine but, more importantly, a working-vacation attitude.
First and foremost, I like to establish where I’m going to work. I pick a desk in the hotel room or a coffee shop nearby, a single place that will signal “work!” to me. In so doing, I train my brain that when I go to that place, I’m going to tune out vacay distractions and get shit down.
Similarly, it signals that when I leave that place, I get to do so with a clear conscience and the knowledge that I’m heading off into non-working time.
I mean, enough said. Plan to work in the morning? Then set an alarm, get up, and do it. Put your butt in the chair and make it happen. If you don’t have it in you to work (which sometimes happens on vacay), then call it.
Do NOT instead do what I always do, e.g. absolutely nothing all day long, while telling myself “aaahhhhh I SHOULD work while I travel but … ” and ruining the entire trip for myself.
You can’t expect your clients to know you’re on vacation. If you have a lot of them, set up an autoresponder so that they’ll get the info they need if, and only if, they need it. Then you don’t have to send out an email blast.
If you only have a few bigger clients, like I do, then just email them personally and let them know. Presumably, you’re in contact with those clients a lot, so you should let them know several weeks ahead of time, the better to plan projects.
P.S. Don’t think this only applies to freelancers. You make your company look bad if you leave the office and don’t set up an autoresponder that lets people know whom to contact instead. No matter who you are and where you work, be on your game and give your clients/customers options for while you’re away.
The more gear you bring, the more you’ll feel the “shoulds” of your job. Bring the absolute minimum to stay on top of work, and leave everything else at home. It will be there when you get back.
Whether you’re going on a trip with your S.O., bestie or mom, it’s important you let them know ahead of time what your work plans are. Otherwise, they’ll wake up disappointed to discover you have to work while you travel, you’re busy until noon while they’re … touring ruins alone? Eating brunch alone? Reading by the pool alone?
Actually, that one is fine. So tell them ahead of time and let them plan for it. They’ll thank you.
Other than that, all you have to do is decide to have fun.
Sound obvious? It’s really not. On a working vacation, I took two years ago, I made the mistake of failing to set clear boundaries and expectations for myself. The result was I spent the whole time feeling guilty when I was working that I wasn’t “making the most of my time,” and guilty while I was having fun for “letting my work slide.”
Nuh uh. Now when I go away, I do it with a very clear idea of what I’ll do, for how long, when and who it affects. It means I’m much happier all around.
Want to read more about how I became a digital nomad, by the way? Feel free to check it out here.
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