For the past 104 days, Prospect Goods has been headquartered in a car, and that car has been driving all around the United States. Our road trip was one of discovery, but it was not just a loooong vacation. We worked full-time on the weekdays, then traveled and played tourist on the weekends. Instead of our business suffering, as we knew could be a possibility, it grew. In fact, we led two workshops and had one of our busiest months of the year!
Here's a list of things we did and learned along the way. If you are self-employed, a freelancer, or work remotely, it is possible to "work from home" all over the world.
1. Get Honest
If traveling while working is something you're interested in, you need to determine if it is something you honestly think you can handle. The adventure part of travel is exciting, but missing out on friends and family, living out of a suitcase, and eating randomly does take its toll. Don't over-romanticize it.
You also need to be honest with your clients, employers, anyone you report to, and let them know that you are considering going on the road. You'll need to reassure them that your work productivity and results will not suffer. You'll also need to discuss office hours (very important to keep as you start traveling out of your time zone), check-in schedules, accountability measures, direct deposits, etc. You need these people to be supportive of your idea. It provides validation now and a support system later when you're on the road.
2. Get Organized
Once you've thought things over and run your ideas by the key people in your life, you'll need to organize your ideas into a more concrete plan. You'll likely need to create two budgets: one for personal expenses and one for business expenses. Are they practical and functional?
Decide what your travel will look like. Will you be on the road every day, working from a Starbucks when you need to? Do you want to get a motorhome? Will you be flying to friends houses or having extended stays in Airbnb's? Making these larger decisions now will help you know how to pack and what to leave behind. Packing your bags may seem like a small decision, but when you're living out of a couple bags for months, what you've put in those bags becomes really important.
Write these budgets, decisions, and projected travel dates down. Keep being honest with yourself... does it pen out?
3. Get Prepared
By this point, you've made the decision that working on the road will work for you. Yay! You've spent the time thinking it through and now it's time to act. (This is where those brainstorming lists and budgets from the step before come in handy. Organization is awesome like that.)
- Time to figure out your wifi situation. I'm assuming most reading this are able to work from the road largely because you can do your work from a computer. You'll need good wifi to help you keep your clients and bosses happy. Unless you already do so now, don't just assume that you'll like working from a Starbucks 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. And, don't just assume that everywhere you plan to go has wifi or cell reception, especially when traveling abroad. *gasp!*
- Time to sell, sublet, rent, or vacancy proof your current living situation. Do you need to rent a storage unit for all your stuff?
- Time to make sure your mail is switched to paperless (when possible) and to put a hold or forwarding address on your snail mail.
- Time to have your car fully maintenanced (if you'll be taking it), and have your ID gathered up. Don't forget your passport!
During this preparing stage, you'll be simultaneously preparing your personal life and your work life. It's important to give equal attention to both so you'll feel more balanced during your travels. Now that you're prepared, it's time to get going!
4. Get Flexible
As you begin your traveling work adventure, stick to your initial plan right off the bat. The first few weeks will be the "test" to see how your organizing and preparedness pans out, not only to you personally but to your clients and employers as well. Stick to the budgets you made. Are they functional? Stick to the lodging and working environments you planned on. Are they practical?
Sticking to your plans for the first few weeks helps in a few ways. First, it gives you some sense of routine in an otherwise totally unstable and foreign environment. (That may sound extreme, but new sleeping patterns, different foods, different weather, different everything does throw the body for a loop, however unconscious that may be. Zero normalcy makes small problems seem much bigger then they actually are.) Second, keeping normal office hours or scheduled check-ins may have seemed cumbersome before, but you may find a new comfort in them because of the normal routine they offer.
After a few weeks, as you begin to adapt more to everything being different, start to become more flexible. Refine your budgets. Quit stressing about that thing you forgot and go get one at the store. If hotels are getting old, try out an Airbnb. Find ways to exercise and get out in nature. If your pace is too fast or slow, change it to work for you. Try venturing away from working at Starbucks.
5. Get Real
Hopefully, you're having a positive experience out on the road. It will generally always be difficult, because of the lack of normalcy and familiarity, but difficult doesn't have to mean bad. Usually, the difficult decisions turn out to be the best kind.
Be open to meeting new people, but don't forget to keep your existing relationships strong. Keep a journal or blog or instagram or whatever because you'll forget cool things that happened otherwise.
Keep an honest eye on your work. Make sure it stays strong. Chances are, you are able to travel like this because you can work from the road. If your work suffers, then you are making yourself vulnerable to losing this opportunity. Your work must stay a top priority.
Plans can change, so let them. If you love the place you're in, stay a little longer. If you want to stay on the road forever, do it! If it's not working out for you, there's no shame in going home. This traveling adventure is you taking advantage of your unique work opportunities. It's about you being real with yourself and to others. It's about taking calculated risks and living the life you daydream about.
We'd love to hear your stories (good or bad), attempts, and tips for working on the road! Let us know if you're interested in these types of posts as well!