Lessons learned from working virtually while traveling for 5 weeks

About 7 months ago, my co-founder Elliot and I met and talked about goals for our company. We spoke about many things but we always came back to the idea of being able to work from wherever we wanted to and see the world while we are still young. We both sighed- ‘ya, wouldn’t that be great’. Well we decided that talk is cheap and, two weeks later, we had 2 one-way tickets purchased to Thailand and no plan besides traveling and working virtually. Elliot and I just returned from an epic 5-week trip through Thailand, Cambodia and Hong Kong and here are a few lessons I have learned from the experience of traveling and working while abroad.

Make sure you and your team are prepared. This may seem obvious. Everyone knows the old phrase “failing to plan is planning to fail”. However, even things that would be simple back home need more detailed planning now that you are working from across the world. Ask your team, ‘what do you need from me to make things run smoothly while I’m working from a different time zone’. Make sure you have an assigned Point of Contact for when stuff hits the fan for a client and they need something taken care of immediately. Also, let your team know when they can expect you to be online and responding to questions and working. Small planning like this will set you up for success.

Get an international data plan. I’ve received a lot of push back on this one due to the wide availability of WIFI these days. Having said that, I will guarantee that you will be thankful for the ability to be able to answer a critical team message or test your product on the go while you are romping through the jungle. WIFI isn’t everywhere and you still need to be able to respond to emergencies. The cost of these plans (the $60 does well for a month) is a cheap price to pay to have some peace of mind for your entire team.

Read the reviews about WIFI. Even though WIFI is readily available, some is still very slow. We stayed at many places that had the fastest WIFI I’ve ever seen but some had WIFI that was moving at a snail's pace. On later inspection of the reviews, we found that many people complained about this. We could have saved ourselves some time and money by reading the reviews a bit better and staying at places that were rated well for their fast and reliable internet speeds.

Block out work time. Traveling the world is a blast but doing work at the same time can be tricky. Make sure you block out a set amount of hours to get work done so you can plan your day and excursions around this. Working on the complete opposite side of the world is nice, because you have all day to explore while the other side is sleeping. For this trip we did several hours of work in the early morning and several more in later evening. This worked well but, again, make sure your team knows when you will be online and available.

Everyone wants to be the ‘beach millionaire’ who works from an island paradise. The thing those folks don’t mention in their How-To books is that it takes a ton of planning and logistics to pull off, while being successful. I hope my blog post helped you plan your next trip and am always happy to tell you more about how you can make this a reality for yourself. Feel free to drop me an email here!