Have you ever thought to yourself, "If I can work from home, why can't I work from anywhere?" Well, you certainly can.
I've logged into Slack from as many as 12 different cities in the last year. I've spent the last two months working in Kashmir and Ladakh, where the internet is always spotty and power outages are common. I've gone exploring, mountain climbing, cafe-hopping. I’ve swapped stories with strangers and basically had the time of my life. All of this happened while I was working full-time.
Is it simple to work from home and travel? Not at all. Being on the road and away from home is incredible—but it is not without its difficulties, especially when you also have a job to keep. Here's how I got started working remotely while on the road.
The tipping point
I’m a traveler as well as a trekking enthusiast. I've always wanted to do the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, but never felt fit enough for it. I don't go to the gym, I don’t work out regularly, or have a yoga habit. But does that mean I'll never do it?
For a while, I procrastinated, trying and failing to put my fitness plans into action. Until finally, I reached a tipping point. I wanted to do the trek, and I was really not into exercise for the sake of exercise. Give me a break—I finally thought to myself. I'm going to do this whether I'm in shape or not.
I enjoy being challenged, and when I am, I’m more likely to succeed. So once I’d made up my mind, there was no looking back. I did my research and signed up for the trek. Simultaneously, I planned to continue to travel after the trek, although I had no idea where I was headed, or how.
The first step to doing anything is to prepare yourself for it mentally.
How I planned my trip
Before I jump into the details, note that I have a job that makes my lifestyle possible! I work for a remote company (real remote, not just COVID remote) with flexible hours, which allows me to work flexibly and create my own schedule. Companies are rapidly embracing remote work in a post-pandemic world, and coming by a remote job is easier now than ever before.
The first thing I did was inform my team that I needed time off for a trek and that I’d be traveling for a couple of months after it.
Always discuss your trip plans with your manager and team ahead of time. Even if your employer encourages travel and work, be open to the possibility of having to cancel or change your plans once in a while.
Next, I tried to get a true picture of life in Kashmir. I tend to go with the flow, but as a remote worker, I need to be aware of certain things, such as—
- Internet connections: Because finding a good internet connection in Kashmir is challenging, I called the hotel ahead of time and asked about their Wi-Fi speed.
- A reliable mobile phone network:
- Whenever I travel, I figure out which network is best in that location. For instance, only Vodafone, Airtel, Jio, and BSNL's postpaid numbers function in Kashmir. Prepaid numbers from outside the state do not work inside Kashmir.
- If you’re traveling in India, know that BSNL is everywhere. Get yourself a BSNL SIM if you want network in the remotest of locations.
- Electricity: My hotel informed me that power outages are frequent and can last up to 4-5 hours at a time! That was warning enough—I immediately added power banks that support laptop charging to my shopping list.
- The weather: This is basic, but not a point I can leave out! Check the forecast ahead of time and pack appropriately.
How to pack for remote work
I love traveling, but I also love my job! I have a basic remote office kit that I take along on every trip to make sure my work doesn’t suffer. Here’s what I include in it—
- Two 20000 mAH power banks that support laptop charging.
- A reliable postpaid SIM that I can use as a hotspot. For travel in India, I recommend Jio or Airtel.
- A dongle is always nice to have.
- A pair of wired earphones that I don’t have to worry about charging.
How to work while on the road
I enjoy going on adventures and am well aware of how simple it is to become distracted. Since I've been working remotely for a few months now, I already anticipate certain roadblocks, such as—
- Constantly wanting to go out
- Always thinking about where to eat, explore, or hike
- Being distracted by my surroundings
- Partying all night
I overcome these distractions by giving in to them. I try to begin every trip with a few days off and a plan. For instance, I started my stint in Kashmir with a few days off for the Great Lakes trek. This trek marked the beginning of my workation experience. It helped me relax and get back to work with renewed energy and a clear mind.
Traveling is a huge source of distraction. Vent your wanderlust first, and then try to be productive.
How to enjoy traveling despite having to work
I can't drop the ball at work every time I travel. So over the past year, I’ve developed certain habits and systems to make sure I’m balancing both well.
- I try to stick to a schedule, sleeping and waking up at roughly the same time every day. Holding on to some sort of routine makes it easier for me to be productive during working hours, and to enjoy myself with zero guilt after hours.
- Travelling can be unpredictable.
- I keep my laptop and phone fully charged at all times. Travelling can be unpredictable, and this small precaution means I never go AWOL on my colleagues.
- I go for a stroll every morning and might also get breakfast someplace nice. These little habits help me immerse myself in my surroundings and explore something new every day.
- On days when I go out for extended lunches, I work a little later in the evenings to finish my work.
- Dinners are for winding down. I use this time to explore local bars or cafes. Alternatively, I’ll just take it easy and eat in my room while I binge-watch Netflix.
- I keep my weekends open, complete all of my tasks during the week, plan ahead of time, and pre-book everything for a future road/bike trip.
Working while travelling is easier if your schedule is flexible, but also possible otherwise. All you need is a little planning and discipline.
- Stick to a routine throughout the week, let loose on weekends, remember to get enough sleep, and stick to a schedule.
- Maintaining a schedule and a good sleep cycle aids productivity.
- Don't attempt to do everything; instead, enjoy the moment that you’re in.
It's difficult to work remotely when on the road.
It appears straightforward if you’ve never tried it before, but in reality, it’s a lot harder. It's undeniably challenging and thrillingly thrilling. For those who have adopted this way of life, there is no turning back!
Working from home can easily become a remote work experience at an Airbnb, hotel, RV, trailer, or homestay. Investigate these new options. And if you’ve ever found yourself Googling "remote work and travel"... Well, pinch yourself! You're going to be able to do it :)