I like to travel, and I own an internet based business. I know that this seems like a completely logical mix – to be able to travel around the world and run my business from the internet. I could hop around from country to country, and just work from internet access points at hotels, hostels, etc.
But this type of work and lifestyle is not all it's cracked up to be. It's possible to run an internet business while traveling, but not in the way you might think. Let's take a look at the details.
Forget The Beach And Hotel Wifi
Just about every internet scam out there has a picture of some guy working on a laptop on the beach. Who does this? The glare would be quite intense, making it impossible to see anything on the screen, let alone work. Combine that with sweat dripping down your face, and the very-likely possibility of sand getting into your keyboard/mouse, and you can see why it's a bad idea (even if they did have wifi on the beach).
Hotels are much more comfortable and some are even work-friendly, but the internet is slow as a mofo…that is, unless you want to pay for the ultimate-premium-business package that some places offer. Staying at a budget hostel? HA! Fat chance! Everyone and their brother will be updating their Facebook profiles with travel photos on the same crappy connection while you are trying to publish a blog post or update your website.
Lost the connection? Start again! Yeah, it's frustrating.
Problems With Scheduling
I don't know about you, but for me, it's extremely hard for me to work AND play at the same time. On vacation time, I relax. During work time, I work. Mixing up work and vacation means that one will win. Either you'll spend the whole of your day in dark and dank internet cafe on some random street in Southeast Asia, or you'll be on the bus heading out of town with no way to access your business via wifi or smartphone data connection.
Sure, you can say Monday Wednesday Friday are work days, and everything else is play, but will you really be able to flip-flop between modes like that? Let's say you have a few too many drinks on a night out – now your work day is a “recovery” day. Is the next day another fun day or do you have to reverse your schedule now? So now your fun days aren't really “go wild” days.
You can see how this is going to require a lot of planning and stringent scheduling to actually get things done.
How To Make It Work
I've lived in 5 different cities in the past 4 years, and been to 7 different countries. I've also been running my internet business the whole time. So if I was just talking smack about it, HOW and WHY would I do it?
When people envision the “work and travel” combo, they think of the mobile phone advertisements they've seen on TV where someone walks by a french cafe, checks their smartphone and it says “You've got money” in their Paypal account.
I do it quite differently.
First off, I LIVE where I travel. I lived in Prague for 4 years and China for 5 years. I did some traveling when I got there (not working), but once I got settled in, I rented an apartment, got a decent internet connection, and put in my 8-10 hours of work every day to building, maintaining, and whatever else was needed for the business.
THEN I took time off to continue to explore.
So I'd work 6-7 days a week for a few months, then take two weeks off to go travel. I'd schedule blog posts, inform any freelancers that they'd be on their own for couple of weeks, and make any other preparations needed so that I didn't actually have to do anything while traveling.
And while I was away from home I could check emails, respond to comments, and maybe even make some minor adjustments from my laptop.
I was working and traveling even though it was different than what TV and movies would have you think.
The Lesson You Need To Learn
To be productive and not go insane, you need a comfortable, functioning home base from which you can run your business. That place does not have to be your home country, and it does not have to be the same place all the time.
You also need to have a decent work schedule because if you spend all of your time drinking on riverboat tours, you aren't going to earn diddly-squat.
One More Tip
Traveling gets old. Trust me. If you travel all the time, it's easy to get jaded on the whole “see the world” thing. A gothic cathedral is just a church and a dirty street food loses it charm. If you are constantly on the road, sooner or later you'll want a place to call home.
Find that home and focus on building a strong foundation to your business. Then, you'll have the freedom to travel any time the mood strikes!
Have you ever had to work on the go, or tried to combine work/play? What was your experience?