Digital Nomad: The Ultimate Travel & Work Routine
Many people have claimed that the travel and work lifestyle is either unsustainable or outright impossible. Speaking as someone who had recently quit his full-time job and had been living without income for 2 months, the idea does seem a little far-fetched. It was not until I started to pick up a few works that the idea came back to me and as most passionate people would do, the moment I realized that there is an opportunity to travel, I took it.
Today, I'll share my experience experimenting with the ultimate travel and work routine I came up with while in Japan and how you can adapt it to your lifestyle.
The only one prerequisite (and the most important) is you have to make sure that the work you are doing can be done remotely. Jobs that are perfect for the travel and work routine are journalists, photographers, designers, developers and technology entrepreneurs (feel free to add more in the comment). Of course, this rules out all the work that requires you to be in one place physically. As long as you can deliver your work online, this routine is for you.
Choose Your Destination Wisely
There is a reason why I chose Japan. It's because, in order for me to work effectively without jeopardizing my client's business, I needed a reliable infrastructure. I needed to be able to respond to their emails, report progress, and deliver work on the go. This will not be possible If I decided to do a 15 days trek to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal, so choose a reasonable destination.
Hours of work per day
Work out the number of hours that you need to work per day and slot them out before you plan your travel. This will help you organize your day more efficiently.
Internet access is your priority when it comes to finding accommodations. Plan this before hand. Do some research on the availability of free wifi around the places you are going.
Free wifi in Japan is not as widespread as I thought when it comes to cafes and restaurants. I either had to go through a painful process of registering (all in Japanese), or I had to eventually pay for it. I ended up renting a wifi hotspot that gave me unlimited 3G Internet access where ever there is a phone signal all for the cost of USD3 per day. The key is to prepare before you arrive.
Buy a Macbook Air
Well, it doesn't have to be a Macbook Air but anything that will allow you to carry your laptop anywhere you go without making it seems like a chore. I preferred Macbook Air because it is one of the thinnest, power efficient and most durable laptop I have and that's what you need in order to work efficiently while on the go.
My Perfect Routine
My plan was to somehow work 6 hours per day, 5 days a week. After a few experiments, I had finally come up with the perfect balance:
Work in the morning and at night
Everyday, I started working at 7 or 8 AM for 3 hours and by 10 or 11 AM I would go out and explored the city until 6 PM and then I would work again for another 3 hours before heading off to bed. That gave me almost 7 - 8 hours to explore the city each day, which is more than enough to make it feels like traveling.
Work While Taking A Break from Travel
Of course, you don't have to stick to the schedule all the time. If you want to work at a cafe somewhere while resting between your exploration, you can and then afterward you can subtract your time from the remaining of the day.
In Japan, my preferred workplace is at a cafe called Doutor, mainly because they have plug sockets on almost every table in their cafes.
Work during down times
You can also work during down times, and trust me, there will be plenty of down times when you travel. I have worked on a 5 hours Shinkansen ride from Kyoto to Kumamoto. I have worked on a train from Tokyo to Nikko. I have worked during the 4 hours layover at the Kuala Lumpur airport. The key is work whenever you can because after all, this is a travel and work routine.
Travel like Mad during the Weekend
The good thing about this routine is that it makes you feel like home most of the time so when it comes to your weekend, instead of going to places you normally go when you are home, you have the option to actually go on a full-travel mode. Hell, I even summited Mt Fuji during my 2 days break. That's the beauty of this routine, you don't have to go far to travel because you are already in the middle of it all.
Tips & Tricks
Every single day, I would give my client an update on what I had been up to either through a simple email or Skype. Do not disappear for more than 2 days. The key is not to make it looks like you are traveling. After all, you are simply changing the environment around you. Work should never be affected by your travel schedule.
Stay at a Hostel or use Airbnb to Save Cost
Traveling can be expensive if you are not careful. Hostels are a lifesaver for us solo travelers. The price point (USD25 - 40 in Japan) enables us to stay longer without breaking the bank. If you plan to stay longer (say a week or two) in one place, try Airbnb.
Bend to the Client's Will
If the client wants to Skype at 12 PM, reschedule your day to make it happen. You can postpone a few times but don't do it often. The client paid you to be available when they want you to be, so don't be a slacker!
Leave rooms for Errors
Don't plan your trip too tightly. Leave a few unplanned days in case of urgent work or unplanned meetings. During my Japan trip, I decided to stay in Kyoto for 3 days without any plan and then I worked out my plan afterward. This allowed me to be more flexible to both the client and myself.
Yes, It is possible to work and travel
The fact that I wrote this post is a proof that it is possible for you to also work and travel like I did in Japan. The future is right now. You can either cling onto the old lifestyle that people who don't know any better do, or you could lead the way to become the remote workforce of the future and live the life you have always wanted.
Give this work/travel routine a go and let me know how your experience went or if you have your own, don't hesitate to share them in the comment below.
The Solo Traveler’s Resources is a series of posts by Bucketlistly where we will explore the ways of life of nomads including how we work, travel, and what we carry in our backpack.
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