I first published this on Reddit, and am reposting it here.
Seeing the world is something that appeals to many of the most impressive people I’ve met. There’s something special and valuable in learning how to live somewhere and somehow else. However, your 20s are the most valuable years for investing thanks to compound interest. Also, my 20s and 30s are the years I’d like to learn the core skills I’ll be using in my career down the road (not that I won’t pick up more along the way).
Would you believe me if I told you I traveled around four different countries last year and my career and bank accounts are still in good shape? I just returned from a two month working trip across the West Coast. Before that it was exploring temples in Tokyo, before then a jaunt to the beaches of the Philippines, and before that it was watching New Year’s fireworks in Bangkok on the Chao Phraya river.
Travel as education
One of the biggest reasons I’m able to travel and work is because I don’t go sight-seeing on these trips. Well, I do, but more than that the goal of these trips are to learn. I observe the ads in different countries, check out what companies are doing with their email newsletters, how they’re getting new clients, and look at the copy and marketing efforts in different places.
These trips are also designed to help me find my perfect work balance while I travel. I learn what country I can work best from, what type of accommodations suit my work life balance, and how to stay in touch with a distributed team from whatever timezone I’m in.
How to work while doing it
So, getting down to how I make remote work work. I’m in the marketing industry, which encompasses a lot of things these days. My main focus is on content; copywriting, editing, distributing content and strategically placing content on various channels. I have training in SEO and social media, and I basically just love to write.
This factors into remote work pretty well, I don’t need anything other than a laptop and an Internet connection to research and write my articles. I make sure to track my time with Hubstaff so I can bill clients appropriately and make sure I stay on track with work. When I’m traveling, I try to aim for 5 hours of total work a day with 80% or higher activity levels.
The tools I used
Here’s a snapshot of the tools I use when I work from anywhere in the world.
- A Lenovo ideapad – My current laptop. My very first laptop was a ThinkPad tank laptop from IBM. I’ve tried to stick to IBM and Lenovo every since. I find their laptops to generally be fairly reliable, but a little prone to the dreaded blue screen of death.
- Samsung Galaxy S5 – My trusty water-resistant phone that I’m comfortable taking to the beach with me. I downloaded all the apps and widgets I need to fix my schedule and work from my phone.
- Hubstaff – Time tracking software with randomized screenshots and activity levels. This tool shows proof of work, proof of productivity, and tracks time accurately down to the second. I just select my task, hit start and begin working. I also get paid automatically.
- Skype – Calls and instant messages to anyone around the world, as long as you have an Internet connection. It’s easy to catch up with team members, start your own company “water cooler” chats, and make quick calls to discuss work.
- Trello – A free project management tool that uses virtual kanban boards to organize tasks. There are boards, lists and cards where you can attach files, due dates and assign different team members.
- Google Drive – I could not live without my Gmail account and all the great things that come with it. All of my files and spreadsheets are there, even my resume! I keep folders for different clients and store everything I need to know for them in my Google Drive.
The career choices you can take
The first step you can take towards working and traveling is to propose remote work with the position you have now. If that’s not an option, the most common professionals I see doing remote work are writers, programmers, graphic designers and customer support specialists.
Below are a few places to start if you want to get into those fields.
- Copywriting – Copyblogger’s Copywriting 101
- Programming – Code Academy
- Graphic design – Canva Design School Blog
- Customer support – HelpScout’s Complete Guide to Customer Support Training
- Remote work in general – Hubstaff University