Striking that chord between work and travel at the same time is one of the biggest draws for online teachers, and indeed for the entire digital nomad movement as a whole.
Staying on top of professional tasks as you gallivant around the world takes practice and discipline, but you will likely find the process ultimately rewarding.
Changing your setting can help prevent burnout, as long as you keep your professional life organized.
You’ll notice one consistent theme as you read this article – consistency. The biggest challenge is setting and keeping a schedule, and ensuring that your workflow stays the same no matter where you are.
This article picks up at the point of being ready to go.
By this I mean you have students/clients and aren’t stuck in a day job any longer (we have plenty of advice for getting to this point – check out our blog for more). Here are five tips on how to work and travel at the same time.
Maintain a consistent schedule
Whether you work better in the early mornings, evenings, or by sticking to business hours, a consistent work schedule makes work and travel at the same time much more sustainable for the long term.
Try to replicate your optimal work schedule from home while on the road. This helps with getting work done and provides that accomplished feeling of being ‘done with work’ for the day once you put the laptop down.
Create a consistent workspace
You’re not in an office setting on the road, but your workspace should be similar no matter where you are. By this I mean you need to have the same tools, have a quiet space for lessons and calls, be equally comfortable, and be free from distractions whether you’re in Bali or Austin.
A common concern among many online teachers and freelancers surrounds what their students or clients will think if they learn that you travel and work at the same time.
Are you actually working or are you lounging on the beach? (as an aside, the fact that many still haven’t realized that these two things can be one and the same is unfortunate).
A speaker at a conference I recently attended offered the best tip I’ve heard for alleviating this problem. She went to an art shop and bought a tapestry to hang on the wall behind her workspace at home.
While teaching online or taking part in Skype calls, the person or people on the other end of the call see the tapestry behind her. When she travels, she brings the tapestry with her and hangs it behind her whenever she has to get on a call.
The background looks the same as always, and no one suspects she’s not behind her normal desk.
If you want to avoid being asked where you are, try to keep a quiet and consistent backdrop to your lessons. Even if this is just a white wall.
Avoid having items or scenery visible that draws attention away from yourself and the lesson at hand.
Be ready to say ‘No.’
Even though you’re traveling, work has to take priority over sightseeing and adventure. When you have a lesson booked Wednesday afternoon, that invite to visit a museum must be declined or rescheduled.
Keep your work time and playtime separate, and everything will work out much better.
The same goes for rescheduling lessons and appointments. Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you need to always be on call, or be giving lessons in the middle of the night. For hints at saying no, check out this article from Tim Ferriss.
Stay organized and have proper tech tools
Of course you need a good laptop and strong internet. On top of that, you’re going to need portable versions of everything you use at home. A coworking space solves the internet issue, as wells providing a desk and often a place to host calls. Many provide easy access to a social network, as well.
I am a big fan of Asana for organizing my calendar and daily task list. On my iPhone’s clock, I plug in multiple different time zones so that I know what time it is for each of my students and clients.
Another handy thing to have is a comprehensive travel backpack such as the Tortuga Setout, which features accompanying packing cubes.
This keeps all of your clothes and work gear super organized and handy and is the perfect piece of carry-on baggage. Keep your small cords and electronics – i.e. phone charger, backup battery pack, headphones, etc. – in one place.
Keep your laptop and work gear together, also. That way, you know where everything is and can grab it quickly.
Keep boundaries between your students/clients and your personal life
You’re on the road, but your students don’t necessarily need to know that. A big factor in work and travel at the same time is maintaining your distance when necessary.
On the other hand, network as hard as you can in the spots you hit. Go to happy hour meetups and meet new people, and don’t be shy about telling people what you do.
As you travel and meet more and meet more people, it’s surprising how quickly referrals come in.