By Becky Wong
Setting off from London and learning as we go
Around two years ago in May 2017, myself and my partner got rid of the bulk of our belongings and packed up the little that remained into storage. We had quit our full-time London jobs and let our landlord know that we wouldn’t be extending the lease on our one-bedroom flat. With one suitcase and a rucksack each, we boarded a flight to Italy to stay with a lovely couple in Florence for a month.
We had planned to base ourselves for 2-3 months at a time in a different location around the UK and the rest of Europe. We’ve so far managed this a number of times basing ourselves in Italy, Portugal, Scotland, and Yorkshire. We’ve spent a month in Bulgaria and had other shorter stays in France, Spain, Brunei, USA, Norway, Malta, Switzerland, around the UK countryside to name a few.
We started out with a slower pace of bouncing between bases in 2017. Family weddings and other commitments took us around a much faster pace for most of 2018 and in the last month this year in 2019. As long as we’ve had our laptops together with access to Wi-Fi we’ve been able to take our work with us to spend more time with our family and loved ones.
What we learned works well for us while working remotely
Being location independent can be challenging at times. We’ve found it all to be incredibly worth it! If you’re thinking about travelling while working remotely or if you’ve already begun but you’re curious to hear how others are doing it then here are a few things we’ve learned from our journeys working remotely on the move over the past two years.
Have a base. If you plan to work and travel at the same time you may find it works better if you stay somewhere for longer. That way you can focus on your work while still having time to explore the area on evenings and weekends (or if you work flexible hours, whenever you clock off!). If you’re trying to build a business or a client-base, it helps to stay in one place so you can have time to focus. You’ll be able to settle into where you’re staying for a while without constantly being on the move, worrying about where you’re going next.
Create a routine. The first thing we do when we arrive into a new place is get to know the local neighbourhood. We usually find our favourite, nearest café or coffee shop and find ourselves in there most mornings. We bounce between working in cafes, at home or in co-working spaces. We’re early risers! So we naturally wake up between 7-8am. We have our first cups of coffee and sometimes go for a run. Having a routine helps you to stay on track if you have work to do. It also helps you to settle into a new place faster as you get to know familiar faces going to the same places time and again – a new place can become home very quickly.
Maintain support networks. This could be keeping in touch with family and friends. This could be making new friends in the places you go to. This could be joining online groups with others who share similar experiences to you or who could introduce you to people who are based where you are. Having a supportive network is important. I’ve been lucky that I have my partner/co-working travel buddy with me along the way. It’s still been amazing to have kept in touch (and met up with in different countries) with our friends from London, catching up with other friends who live abroad and meeting new friends online and in person everywhere we go to.
Bring practical and versatile gear. Keep your travel gear minimal, practical and versatile where you can. If you have things than can be used for many things, even better! My hiking shoes are hybrids so I can run in them and hike up hills. I have one pair of smart shoes that doubles as my “fancy shoes” for the weddings we have attended over the last year and a half while travelling as well as being my “client-facing shoes”. If you look at my Instagram feed I’m sure you’ll see the same few dresses, tops and skirts on repeat. Our standard look is now mostly “outdoor adventurer ready for wind or rain” wherever we go! Additional note: Packing Cubes are your best friends.
Immerse yourself wherever you are. Get to know your hosts and neighbours. Chat to the shop owners and the restaurant staff. Talk to your taxi drivers. Ask locals where best to eat, where to drink, what events are happening that you should check out while you are there. Go to meetups. Join in the local events. Learn the local language and try the traditional dishes. Do the “tourist” things. Find other travellers. Wherever you are, your time there will be so much more colourful if you are sharing stories, swapping tips and seeing the views of those around you while you are there.
What about you?
We’re by no means any experts. We’ve had quite a few hurdles along the way. There is no “right way” to travel or one-size-fits-all way to work remotely. Everyone has their own way of juggling remote work with travelling that works well for them. These are what we have found to work well for us!
We are always winging it when we are facing brand new situations and are always looking around us to learn from other travellers, freelancers and digital nomads. So we’d love to hear from you! Let us know what you think. Let us know what has worked well for you!