I’m writing this from a friend’s gorgeous home in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, and earlier tonight, we sat around over some Bay Area brews, rapping about how to travel and work while managing to have some fun.
Our host loves to travel and have fun, but he has trouble seeing himself making digital nomading happen. Despite being a travel lover and one of the most driven people I’ve ever met, when it comest down to how to travel and work, he fails.
When he arrives at his destination, work is suddenly the last thing on his mind. It’s all fun, regardless of why he’s on the road. Each time he sits down to work, he is suddenly hit with big time FOMO (or fear of missing out). He can barely focus, as he’s itching to go out to do and see more.
The scenario I just painted really only applies if he even tries to work, however. Normally he gets so caught up in wherever he is, he barely busts out his laptop–deadlines be damned!
My big work and travel problem
Yes, I’ve had the same problems. I’ve been so caught up in the charm and excitement of wherever I was that getting any work done was nearly impossible. But historically, I’ve had the opposite issue.
I’d get to wherever I was going, and I’d get some work done. And then some more work. And then I’d field a last minute ask from a client. After that I’d answer some emails and maybe even take a call from a vendor. I might take my laptop with me and work at dinner, and I’d probably keep typing a bit over a nightcap at a local watering hole. The next day would look eerily similar.
As you’d suspect, all work and no play makes for a very boring trip.
And forget FOMO! By the time I realized that I’d spend days glued to my laptop, I had missed out and it was time to head home!
So, how to travel and work and actually have fun?
Providing you don’t want to skimp on work or fun, I recommend doing what we do now. The current strategy is longer trips, work-friendly accommodations, and scheduling.
No, not all of us have the luxury of a long month away in someplace stunning like Paris or Paraguay. But, what about an extra day or two?
When I’m on the road for business, I always give myself at least two extra days. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, I arrive a day before I’m to speak, attend meetings, or do whatever it is that I do. And I give myself a whole day after I’m no longer needed before hitting the road.
No, I’m not able to work that much with just a couple of extra days at a destination, but it definitely takes some of the FOMO pressure off.
Just a couple of extra days let me handle critical work, not fall behind on deadlines, and return important emails. Usually I’ll do this stuff for a few hours in the AM, go out and see the sights, and then I may spend some more time with my laptop for an hour or so before I call it a night.
When I’m traveling for pleasure and digital nomading it up, I book maybe two weeks to a month in one destination. That way I have ample time to see things and explore, but if I end up spending a whole day trying to push a project through to make a deadline, it’s no problem–adventure can go down the next day instead.
But I find work-friendly lodgings to be really key.
If I’m not comfortable, I’m not going to get any work done. I’ll be out the door before I know it, leaving my laptop behind.
I need a space where I can bust out my laptop and work without throwing out my back, straining my neck, or losing feeling in my legs. And I need to be able to type at an angle that doesn’t make my wrists sore. If I don’t have that, my work will suffer (because I’m not doing it).
Yes, you could go to a cafe–this is my boyfriend’s big preference! It’s not always a good option though. There may not be cafes nearby that have consistently high quality wifi, available tables, and low enough noise levels.
And there are times when I don’t feel like getting ready for my day before getting down to business. Plus, having to get all done up and haul my computer down a few blocks just isn’t that appealing when there’s a whole dang city waiting for me. If there is one decent distraction I come across on my way, I totally forget about work.
Let’s not forget about scheduling…
While scheduling can kill spontaneity, it helps me to ensure that I will do and see the things I want to see at a destination.
I will block out time to take a hike, book and schedule tours, make reservations at restaurants I’m itching to try, schedule meetings at legendary bars for happy hour, and find other ways to get the must-see and must-do shenanigans on my books.
And scheduling work is good too. I block out big chunks of calendar time to prioritize big projects and ensure they get done.
While I’m at it, I make sure any conversations that I need to have are scheduled. No “call me later” shenanigans. I don’t want to be getting ready to climb a pyramid, only to have my phone ring with a long shot lead on the other end of the line. And I also just happen to schedule these in the AM. As someone who isn’t a morning person, I’m usually not ready to go out and about until sometime after 11:00 AM. This lets me make the best use of these hours.
There’s more to how to travel and work and having fun successfully.
These were just a few tips–not a definitive guide on what you need to do to have your cake and eat it too.
However, substantial travel durations, a workable space, and smart scheduling can help you make it happen. This carves you a pathway to actually do work. At least it does for me. Any tips on what works for you?