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Tips for Working While Traveling

In the last year, my family’s travels have more than quadrupled our past levels, especially during the summer months when our kids are out of school. In addition to writing the Go to Travel Gal blog, I also run a travel public relations company, as well as another side business with limited help. That means even though we are traveling, I still have to work!

I am lucky enough to run all of our businesses from home, which means I can work anywhere with an Internet connection (and enough quiet for this introvert to focus), and I know that many of you work full-time office jobs where this is not so easy.

I recommend the book “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss if you are looking for a way to still earn the same — or higher — income, but transition out of the 9-to-5 office world. This book was a life-changer for me and definitely makes my top 10 best nonfiction books ever list along with “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller. More about “The ONE Thing.”

If you’re interested in starting your own blog, check out my post “The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Travel Blog,” which walks you step-by-step through the simple process of getting up and running in minutes. It works for blogs of all topics, not just travel :).

Here are some tips for how I work while traveling in the hopes it might help those of you looking to travel more now that you are learning how to remove the financial barrier to travel!

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How I Work While Traveling

My Office in the Air

Working while traveling

I like to think of an airplane as my “office in the air.” I work wonderfully on a plane! Because I work from a desk in my office most days, sitting on a plane is really no different to me. I sometimes struggle with focus, and being in a small space on the plane actually helps me to BETTER focus! Should it get too noisy, though, a pair of earphones listening to some relaxing tunes usually does the trick.

We mostly fly Southwest, which has WiFi on all of their planes, so that is typically not an issue. But, I work largely in Gmail and Google Documents, which both have offline features that allow me to continue to work offline with my results saved when I get back online.

Early to Rise

How to work while traveling

I do my best work in the morning, so I tend to wake up before the rest of the crew when traveling (this works especially great on Pacific Time, because I can be up at 5 a.m., which is really 8 a.m. my time) and knock out tons of stuff before the world wakes up! My kids are usually content to play games or watch TV for a bit while I get some work done.

Key for this to work is a quiet place where I can go to do my work while everyone else sleeps or relaxes. Boys, by nature, are not quiet ;-). Hotels with club levels are great, because I can work and grab breakfast at the same time in a nice space. I also LOVE outdoor patios, because I can be outdoors — even better. Or if all else fails, I can head down to the lobby or common area of the hotel or even the coffee shop.

After spending a few hours of work in the morning, we usually head out for our day around 10:30 or 11 a.m. where I am then able to largely focus on our adventures and destination instead of work. I can check my phone periodically to see if anything critical has come through, but if not, I can leave it until later.

We often come back late afternoon for a rest and a shower before dinner and I’m usually able to wrap up a few things that have come through at that time. I generally DO NOT work at night, as my brain is a fog, and after being out and about all day, I’m typically exhausted and ready to sleep. I’d much prefer to get up early!

WiFi is Key

Working at a hotel

Of course, to work in today’s world, you have to be connected to WiFi and have a decent connection, too. WiFi is absolutely critical for me to update the blog, send and receive emails, and interact with journalists.

I ALWAYS sign up for the hotel’s loyalty program, and more times than not, that gets you free WiFi. It never costs to sign up for the loyalty programs, so why not!? Plus, you can earn points and sometimes net other benefits like room upgrades, better pricing, digital keys and more.

It is rare for us to come across a hotel where we absolutely have to pay for WiFi. If we do, boy, do they need to get with the times!

Do I Have to Work by the Pool? Sometimes…

How to work while traveling
View from the pool cabana I was lucky enough to work from at the JW Marco Island Marriott

I wish I didn’t, but inevitably some big project comes in right before or during our travels, and while I do have some help, it still requires significant time on my part to oversee and manage the project.

Our last two trips, both to warm weather destinations, saw two major projects come in, and both meant that, unfortunately, I had to have my computer on my lap both at the beach (crazy, I know, but we did have a beach hut!) and at the pool. Ugh… But, at least the kids can have fun, while I do some work, and I can take a break and join them for bits of time.

This is often a great morning activity, as well, after the boys have watched TV or played games for a bit. We can head down to the pool anywhere we are (Colorado, Florida, San Diego) while they swim for an hour and I finish up some projects.

My Handy Dandy Chromebook

I have been through many a laptop over the years and several years ago I was flying and the guy next to me literally started to laugh at the size of my laptop. “You need to downsize,” he said. And he was right.

I took his advice and got myself a little Toshiba Chromebook. While it has a few drawbacks, I have loved it. It’s extremely light and easy to carry anywhere in a large purse, does not run Windows so boots immediately and is just generally simple to use.

The downsides are that it does not run some traditional programs that require a Windows system, but most software is available in the cloud these days. I use Google Docs instead of Microsoft products, so that is a non-issue.

Lastly, if you decide to get one, get as much memory as you can. Mine has 4GB and that is not nearly enough. It crashes if I have more than a few windows open at a time. My next upgrade will be a much higher memory version.

Working in Advance

I wish I was one of those people who could say “the key to my success in traveling and working is planning and working ahead.” Uh, nope. I SO wish that was me, but I don’t think I’ve ever been ahead a day in my life :)!

So inevitably, I’m writing posts from wherever we are and grinding out the day’s work as best I can early in the a.m. If possible, I do try to write blog posts for a few days ahead on the plane on our way to our destination, but sometimes other work needs to be done first.

Blessed Beyond Belief

Gift of travel

While I do have to make an extra effort to get up and work, when I could be relaxing on the patio or by the pool reading a book, it is all SO worth it!

I am so blessed to be able to work from home (I was never cut out for an office job, and as soon I started working one, I immediately started trying to figure out how to work for myself!), be with my kids and have the flexibility to travel whenever and wherever (if only school schedules would cooperate ;-)). My husband also works with me, so it helps that both of us work at home. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Do you work while traveling a lot? What tips do you have to make it work without interfering with your travels?

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