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I travel while I work. Most of my long-time readers already know this (I’m in Thailand this morning). I’ve been on the road for two years now.
Working remotely is easy for me at this point. My role is clear, my team is comfortable with my situation, and our technology works with only minimal issues.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve visited Germany, Poland, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Portugal, England, Italy, Turkey, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. I’ve been able to get considerable work done at each stop.
While folks who’ve been following this journey know what I do and how I do it, there are many others who are stunned by my travel when it comes up in conversation. Many are surprised that I can make it work. They’re surprised that the technology works well enough for me to stay gone for so long while continuing to be productive.
I had a conversation last week with someone who had no idea that he could call me anytime, anywhere for free. He assumed that an overseas call was expensive. Of course, it’s not. In fact, it’s typically free. The world is dramatically smaller than it once was. We’re all much “closer” than some might imagine.
That’s why, today, I’m running through a quick list of what I’ve done to make this work and how I do it on a day-to-day basis.
Here’s how I make this work:
We got rid of our stuff. Having less stuff frees up space physically and mentally. Lisa and I have both reduced our possessions down to a carry-on bag. That idea seems daunting when you have a house full of things, but—once you’re on the other side of it—it’s dramatically easier than you might imagine. Having less stuff cuts the cord so you can move easily. Being light and unburdened facilitates this lifestyle in many ways.
I’ve also got a suit stored with DUFL, which will ship it to me on a moment’s notice. And I’ve got a box of winter clothes (that I hope never to see again) sitting in a warehouse at MakeSpace. Having not needed this stuff in nearly two years makes me wonder whether I should stop paying for the storage.
I’ve got an iPhone. We use Google Fi for many of our calls. It offers an inexpensive voice and data connection that works in 135 countries. We typically also buy a local SIM card because it’s usually even more inexpensive. We make many of our calls on FaceTime, Skype, or Google Voice. We can receive calls on our American number or on any of the common messaging services. It’s seamless.
3. Cloud Apps
All of our software lives in the cloud. We use Slack, Zoho CRM, ShareFile, XpressDox, Google Voice, Google Apps, Zoho Expense, QuickBooks Online, and a bunch of other applications. They all work from anywhere, and they all work perfectly once I’ve got a decent Internet connection. Sometimes, like way up north in a rural part of Ireland, the Internet is slow. But I haven’t yet been unable to get things done.
Booking places to stay is easy because of Airbnb. We’ve found awesome places nearly everywhere we’ve visited, and our apartments are often in areas away from the typical tourist zones. Being in a real neighborhood gives us a much better sense of a place and access to more local people for interaction. Plus, Airbnb spots nearly always provide us with more space at a price lower than a hotel.
Life without a car used to mean taking taxis (at high fares), riding public transit (often slow), or walking. Now it means Uber and, at least for me, it’s better than owning a car. Uber has served nearly every place I’ve visited, and it makes getting around as easy as clicking a button on my phone.
6. Nomad List
Nomad List comes in handy for comparing destinations on factors critical to nomads (like Internet speed). It’s also good for comparing cost of living data, availability of housing, safety, etc. Reviewing it is part of our routine when we’re picking our next stop.
7. Charles Schwab
Schwab has a free bank account that comes with an ATM card. Of course, we all have ATM cards already. What makes the Schwab card different is that (1) the account is free, (2) it reimburses all ATM fees (including international fees), and (3) it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. This card is a no-brainer. I’ve also been blown away by its excellent customer service.
8. Co-Working Spaces
Most cities, and even many small towns, now have co-working spaces. These are basically more casual versions of a Regus suite with a community/connection component added in. Co-working spaces typically provide a desk, Internet connection, coffee, and often someone interesting willing to join you for lunch. If we’re sticking around for a while, I’ll usually seek out the local co-working spaces, pick one, and use it for the duration of our stay. It’s convenient compared to coffee shops, where a power outlet might involve getting there first.
9. Cooperative Clients
This wouldn’t work if our clients didn’t accept the systems and processes required to facilitate my absence. We spent years learning to develop sales, marketing, management, and financial processes that work without my physical presence. We spent a very long time building a business culture of accountability, independence, and professional management. For us, our firm has been a laboratory conducting experiments on how to make life and business work for our team and our clients who pay the bills to make it all possible. We pass along much of what we’ve learned in the educational programs we offer at Rosen Institute.
The novelty of travel is a big part of the appeal. But sometimes novelty is the enemy of productivity. Novelty stimulates creativity and results in a better work product, but that’s only true if you settle down and do the work. A routine encourages you to stay productive, even if your co-working space looks out on the Bosphorus. Personally, I get up early and get to work. I stay on task until lunchtime when I run out of gas. I use the afternoon and/or evening (depending on time zones) for making calls, catching up on reading, and doing tasks that don’t require the same mental intensity as the tasks I do in the morning.
Working from the road isn’t for everyone. But it’s definitely great for me, and it might work for you. We took some long trial-run trips before we hit the road permanently. That’s a good way to put a toe in the water and see what you think and how well your business is prepared for your departure.
Working remotely is easier than ever. Traveling while working full-time, if that’s your dream, is completely manageable for many of us now. Hopefully, my list will give you some insight into how to make it happen for you. Hopefully, I’ll see you on the road.
Other Digital Nomad Lawyers articles –
One Year as a Digital Nomad Lawyer
Two Years as a Digital Nomad Lawyer
Three Years as a Digital Nomad Lawyer
Four Years as a Digital Nomad Lawyer
These 11 Truths Quickly Transform You Into a Successful Older Nomad
11 Road Warrior Essentials for the Nomad Lawyer