I want to look back on my life twenty years from now and not just be impressed by the sights I’ve seen, but also to be proud of the impact I’ve made on the world. Unfortunately, long-term travel and productivity don’t always go hand in hand.
Motivation and creativity can definitely be positive outcomes from travel. But when it comes to productivity, you need to learn to stay focused in an ever-changing environment.
It’s not easy at first. I’ve been doing this for almost 6 years now since I quit my office job and I have learned a few things along the way. In this blog post, I will share seven ways to stay productive when you travel:
Table of Contents
1. Create your Monday to Friday routine
Routine?! But isn’t that the word us nomads reject? Yes, and no.
A routine, as crazy as it sounds, can really help when you work as you travel. This can involve anything from waking up at a reasonable time (something I struggle to do), exercising in the morning before emails (also, not good at this), or simply having a shower and getting ready as if you were going to work (I can manage this one).
To get the most out of a routine, you need to prioritise your brain power and put yourself on autopilot for menial tasks.
While important to sustain your productivity, trying to find places to eat lunch can use up precious time and energy from your day when you could have been getting stuck into a work project. Find a few cafes you enjoy near your workspace and frequent them multiple times during the week.
2. Be consistent
In a ruthlessly competitive world, consistency and determination can beat skill.
Growing up, I struggled with my love for writing. I have dyslexia and always had difficulty in school because I couldn’t write on paper coherently enough to coincide with the creative thoughts in my head. I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t get it down on paper. Switching to computer keyboards and document management software, I can write efficiently with a much simpler method to correct my mistakes and move sections around—due to rarely writing in a chronological order.
I would never have imagined when my English teacher kept me behind after class, that I’d own multiple blogs and write every day.
I was able to achieve this because although I hadn’t proven my skills, I never stopped pursuing my dreams. Remember, every day you keep going, thousands of others quit.
3. High-speed Wi-Fi
Seriously, this is probably the most important point. Before you book, ask if your accommodation has high-speed WiFi. I’ve resorted to asking specifically the Mbps. If you ask politely, they won’t mind and those who offer a premium service for business travellers will understand.
I’ve been caught out too many times that now I make a point to ask before booking anywhere. Or at least getting confirmation by reading positive reviews.
Admittedly, this can take some fun out of travel; I regularly miss out on exploring remote areas for longer than I would like to. Sometimes I wish I could take one week off and travel like a normal person. But my businesses require me to be present 52 weeks of the year.
Similarly, do your research on the best data-only sim cards and buy one upon arrival. I just paid £50 for 30 days of an unlimited data sim card in South Korea. Costly, but worth it. I’d rather have less money than more stress.
4. Airbnb apartments
I enjoy slow travel, and this means staying in the same place from 2 weeks to 6 months at a time. When I stay in a new city, or a country for longer than 2 weeks, I get a local feel for the place. I start to shop in supermarkets, take public transport, drink at local bars, make local friends, and experience things outside of the typical tourist route.
Airbnb apartments are ideal for nomadic entrepreneurs who travel slowly. They offer huge weekly and monthly discounts, which means you can get a lush one-bedroom apartment for the same price as most budget hotels in the area.
Also, a benefit of staying in an apartment rather than a hotel or a hostel, is that you are able to settle in and have your own dedicated workspace. Many apartments will come with a desk and somewhere to cook your own meals. I enjoy the option to occasionally work from home with a personal WiFi connection.
If you are happy to live in hostels—that’s cool too! You are likely to get an improved social experience than I will. I’m not telling you what’s right, or wrong. This is just what I’ve found to be the most productive environment.
5. Hire a VA (virtual assistant)
You’ve got to know when to delegate in order to scale your business.
I’ve worked with a handful of virtual assistants in the past, most of them on an ad-hoc basis. I am currently talking with one who is going to help me manage my blog and Facebook group content, and that will extinguish a huge consumption of my time so that I can focus more on my work.
You can also hire a VA to help you with travel planning, taking the stress away from finding your next working location. If you are a travel blogger who reviews hotels, there are plenty of VAs out there that specialise in contacting hotels for you and negotiating collaborations.
6. Plan ahead
You might be flying to Japan tomorrow, but you’ve got that deadline for the end of the week.
Charge your laptop, download your document offline and get to work at 35,000 feet.
I find some of my best written work is done when I’m travelling by train or plane.
You can also research the city you’re travelling to, ensuring you’re ready to pick up the essentials when you arrive.
7. Know when to enjoy yourself
Productivity is also about taking care of yourself so that you can perform at the best of your abilities. Not just physically, but mentally too.
You are not going to be able to push through long-term if you sit for 16 hours every day in the same room. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Take a well-deserved break when you need one, go for a walk or grab lunch with a friend. Your brain will reward yourself for it later.
This more so applies to online entrepreneurs and bloggers who work from home. Going back to my daily routine, I always try to get out of the house and explore. Photography gives me something to do outside of the realms of my computer screen.
So, after travelling full-time for 6 years, here is an overview of my typical day and routine when residing within time zones in Asia:
A Day in the Life of Dave
Wake up, have breakfast (huge bowl of unhealthy chocolate cereal, lots of water and fruit). Tell myself I’ll go for a morning run. Never do.
Take a shower and get ready, thank myself for escaping early office working hours. Attend to anything urgent that has occurred overnight. Schedule some emails, leave Airbnb apartment.
Do something touristy! Visit a beach, mountain, palace, take photos for Instagram. Anything that will make me feel like I’ve not just been working all day.
Settle in a cafe, have lunch here if I haven’t grabbed something on the go. Review and edit photos from today. Double check seating area has a good WiFi connection and plug-points.
Get stuck into work and focus on most important clients who have just started their day. Preferably sending completed work from the night before for them to review – this shows you are on the ball when they are just getting started.
Clients are happy, work on my websites, affiliate marketing, and post on Instagram.
Eat dinner at another cafe/restaurant. Just chill, no work. Alternatively, I’ll grab a takeaway on the way home and eat it watching an episode of my favourite TV series on Netflix.
This is usually when I get stuck into big projects at home. Anything from digital marketing, website design, working on a new business idea, to writing and publishing a new blog post.
Chill out a bit, eat some food at home, chat with friends and family. But, it’s still working hours in the UK and USA, so I’ll keep an eye on my emails and social media channels.
I’ll probably be writing now; this is when my mind is most dedicated to my blog.
I’m either lying in bed scrolling Instagram or still at my desk writing a blog post.
Struggle to remove myself from social media, or pointless games on my phone. Luckily, I’m 7 to 9 hours ahead of my clients so there’s no need to wake up early.
Of course, there’s the occasional evening when I’ve completed all of my important work and I go out for a few drinks with my friends. Or an afternoon when I take an excursion. I know I always preach about working hard, but remember to enjoy yourself and spend time interacting with other humans, otherwise, what are you working so hard for?
Becoming location independent isn’t for everyone, but if you’re serious about making money while traveling, start implementing some of these ideas! Set a routine and find a good working space, but also make sure to take a break and enjoy the lifestyle you’ve created for yourself.
If you’re looking for more ways to establish a routine when working remotely, or for tips on how to grow your remote business, join my Facebook Group. We share ideas and monthly “Share Your Latest” posts, where you can brag about your accomplishments and network with other digital nomads.