We've covered remote work and travel in a few previous articles. But honestly, this topic is endless. As exciting as it is, working and traveling might also be very confusing. "Where do I start?" "What is the best country for remote work and travel if you're a newbie like me?" "What will I need on the road?" And so on. We'll address these and other questions traveling professionals struggle to answer. How do we know which questions are the most important? We have first-hand experience! And believe us, we have the hottest tips prepared just for you. To warm you up a bit, let's start with the perks of traveling while working remotely!
The Benefits of a Remote Work Trip
1. Your Home Currency Will Take You Further
One of the best things about working and traveling is that you can enjoy a much higher standard of living than you would at home. How? Work from places where the cost of living is lower than in your home country! You can rent an oceanfront villa in Thailand or Bali for the price of a cramped apartment in many cities. We're not kidding!
Of course, it's not as easy as it sounds. But if you do a little research, you'll eventually come up with a list of places that both spark your interest and offer a low cost of living.
2. You Can Travel in the Off-Season
Weather can play a significant role in a trip. Rain, snow storms, or wildfires can quickly spoil your plans. In many places, the weather is better outside of typical travel seasons. In the same way, if you visit a city in the middle of the tourist season, the streets will be full of people, prices will be higher, and there will be long lines to get into an exhibition or take a picture of a tourist attraction.
Luckily, you can choose when and where to travel with remote work. And if you manage to find a happy balance, you'll enjoy both good weather and empty tourist spots.
3. You Can Work When You're Most Productive
Are you most productive in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Do a little self-research and build your work routine around it. Whatever you choose—filling your morning with little joys like a quick hike or surf and then working regular business hours, or doing work early in the morning so you’re free in the evening—plan your day wisely and make the most of your productivity and free time!
4. You Can Work From Anywhere
Whether you choose to work from the beach or in the middle of a rainforest, believe us, beautiful views will leave you no choice but to stay inspired and motivated. Opt for places that please the eye, and even the most routine work will become less tedious. After all, you're no longer in a small cubicle with a dozen other people. Your desk is now facing the ocean or mountains. Isn't it cool? Of course!
5. You Can Have an Extended Holiday
A very short annual vacation allowance is the norm for many people working in offices. Even if a company provides its employees with generous annual leave, there are often numerous restrictions on how long or when they can use it. You're no longer one of them, so congrats! Or maybe you're making plans to break this cycle.
Just imagine how wonderful it would be to go on a weekend getaway without having to rush back home on Sunday so you can go to work the next day. All thanks to remote work! But don't get us wrong, work should always come first. But you don't need to be present at the office, so you can wake up on Monday and work straight from your holiday house.
Ways to Travel and Work Remotely
Now that we've piqued your interest: let's consider which mode and style suit you best. There isn't one right way to work remotely and travel. Quite the opposite, you have many options. Feel free to adapt any lifestyle or create one of your own!
Freelancer vs. Full-Time Employee vs. Business Owner
Let's face it: you have to work to afford travel. Unless, of course, you inherited a lot of money. But this article isn't about that. So, deciding where and how you'll work is first on our list.
If uncertainty around your workload and income doesn't scare you, freelancing might be a good option. More and more companies, both large and small, are hiring freelancers and offering them hourly or project-based pay.
Perhaps adapting to a new lifestyle and starting your own business all at once might not be the best idea. However, if you're a business owner already and can manage your business remotely, why not give it a try? Besides, many digital nomads start their own companies after a few years of freelance work.
If you want a steady income and regular working hours, try to find a job in a company that allows remote work. You can even combine different types of work and see what you like the most.
A Digital Nomad or a Digital Slomad?
Trust us, even though going from place to place is fun, it takes a lot of time and energy. And "remote work" is not synonymous with "less work." You still need to put in those hours to earn that money for your travels. That's why many digital professionals choose to slow down and settle in places for a bit longer than planned. And that's absolutely fine—being a slomad is as good as being a nomad!
Find out what pace you're most comfortable with, and keep it up.
Home-Based or Location-Independent?
Some people let go of all their belongings to travel the world with no strings attached. Others choose to keep a home base they can return to and take a break from moving around. A third group takes the middle path, settling in a new place for a while.
A Downshifter or Career-Ambitious?
Would you prefer to leave a well-paid job to downshift and settle somewhere on an island with just a few other people around you? Or are you still looking to advance your career? Remote work can accomplish different things for different people—it all depends on what you want to prioritize.
How to Plan a Remote Work Trip
1. Budget Thoroughly
Most likely, your primary expenses will include food, housing, and transportation. But the cost of living will vary based on where you live and how you get around. Research taxi and public transportation rates if you're planning to live in a big city. Consider buying a monthly pass as it will save you money in the long run.
If you decide to settle on an island somewhere in Asia, add the cost of renting a car or a bike to your budget. In rural areas, using a bike or car is the only way to get around. But don't rush to book in advance. From our experience, it's easier and less expensive to handle this piece upon arrival.
If you like to budget your trips, here are some additional costs to consider: a night in a hotel, a week or month's worth of rent, a mid-range meal, and a daily, weekly, or monthly pass to a coworking space.
2. Have an Emergency Fund
Never spend every last penny. Maintaining an emergency fund is an excellent practice for everyone, not just those who travel and work. However, unexpected expenses occur more often when traveling than at home. And despite your best efforts, it is nearly impossible to predict every expense. You may have a toothache even though you went to the dentist for a checkup right before leaving. Or you may suddenly discover that you forgot to pay for your luggage when booking flights.
So, always make sure you have some money set aside and don't dip into it unless it's an emergency.
3. Pack Light
Our main advice is not to take too much stuff. Firstly, since you'll constantly be moving around, you don't need heavy luggage. Secondly, you won't know what clothes are appropriate until you get there. Oddly enough, your usual clothes might be uncomfortable or seem out of place. It's easier to buy things you need along the way. Bikinis, sunglasses, and rain ponchos will probably be available at your destination.
You'll accumulate things as you travel, so the less you take with you, the better. Never get upset over a T-shirt that you forgot at home!
4. Make a List of Your Work Equipment
Working from home while traveling requires many things you wouldn't need for vacation travel. Make sure you have everything you need to get your work done. That's why it's a great idea to make a list of work essentials. Here are a few items to consider:
- A laptop, a tablet, or whatever you use to do your work
- A good laptop case to protect your equipment while moving around
- Noise-canceling headphones
- A laptop stand to prevent back and neck pain and look good on Zoom calls ;)
- A portable laptop desk
- A wireless mouse so your hands don't get sore
- Essential office supplies like notebooks, pens, and paper
- Zoom shirts and decent-looking clothes if you plan to attend business meetings or other work-related events
- Prepare All of the Necessary Documents
Accidentally leaving your work equipment at home is frustrating but manageable—you can still buy it. However, finding out that you forgot your passport when you're already at the airport is an absolute nightmare.
To avoid forgetting essential documents, make a list of what you need and put it in your carry-on. Check and double-check your documents before you set off. And always keep your travel documents in a safe place.
We also suggest you make copies of all your documents, such as your passport, ID card, driving license, medical insurance, visas, certificates, COVID-19 vaccinations, etc. Making scans and storing them on your computer is also a good idea.
6. Book Accommodation
We recommend staying in the hotel for the first few days after arrival. When you're more settled, you can start looking for long-term accommodation. Why? From our experience, rushing to book an apartment or house months in advance can be a big disappointment. Often, people realize that the rental is not in a good location, the place is not comfortable for remote work, or it's just different from the pictures on the website. It's always better to see it with your own eyes and get a feel for it!
7. Сheck Your Company's Policy
Every company has its own rules about where you can work and for how long. Some companies allow their employees to work outside the country for six weeks, while others have a limit of 90 days. And if your company doesn't care if you work from home or another country, then lucky you! In any case, you should know these rules before you start planning your trip!
Those who have just started looking for a job—make sure you land a job that meets your travel expectations.
8. Check the Tax Policy
For the most part, people are considered tax residents in countries where they spend more than half a year. However, residency alone does not automatically make you a tax resident of the country. If you're planning to stay in one place for an extended period, you need to notify your employer.
To get an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), you need to go to the tax office in your new permanent residence and complete the required paperwork. You'll need an ITIN for a wide range of purposes, such as opening a bank account in the country where you're now living. For this reason, we suggest you research tax policies before setting out on your journey.
9. Check Your Insurance Coverage
Whether on vacation or working while traveling, getting decent travel insurance is a must. If you don't have it, don't wait to get it! Make sure it covers the medical services you may need during your trip: outpatient care, emergency doctor visits, dentistry, and prescription drug costs. If you plan to engage in extreme activities, make sure that your insurance covers these as well. This way, you can avoid unexpected expenses and ensure that you receive proper medical care if something happens.
Don't forget that the quality of medical care may be much lower than in your country and that foreigners often have to pay more. All of this together makes getting decent health insurance well worth it. With proper insurance, you'll avoid unexpected expenses and ensure that you'll get the care you need if something happens.
And because your travel insurance might have a limit, don't forget to check the validity of your travel insurance policies based on the length of your journey.
10. Get an International Phone Plan
Staying connected while on the road is essential for both work and personal safety. While traveling outside the country, buy an international phone plan through your mobile provider, or get a local SIM card for the country you're visiting when you arrive.
Top Locations for Remotely Working While Traveling
You might be wondering, "Where is the best place to go?" As long as there's a strong internet connection, the answer is: pretty much anywhere. We're kidding! It's not that simple. So check out our list of other must-haves:
Fast and Stable Internet Connection
Unfortunately, a good internet connection is not always available, even though a place might be full of digital nomads. For example, in many Southeast Asian countries, WiFi is not always reliable. However, there are still ways to ensure a decent internet connection. We'll tell you exactly how in the next section of this article.
Good Value for the Money
Like we said, opt for countries that have a lower cost of living than your country. You can live a great life so long as you make a living in a stronger currency than is circulated locally.
A Thriving Digital Nomad Community
Digital nomads are neither tourists nor locals. That's why it can feel lonely sometimes. To avoid this, choose locations with well-established digital nomad communities so you can hang out with people from your tribe.
Whether there are coworking spaces or cafes and coffee shops that are nice for working, find out if your travel destination checks this box.
Things to Do and Places to Go
The whole concept of traveling and working revolves around having a happy work-life balance. That's why the place you choose for working should have a few tourist attractions or outdoor activities, like hiking or surfing, that you can enjoy when not busy. Isn't this the reason you left your cozy nest?
Okay, now that you know what makes an excellent remote work location, let us share our favorite picks, places that have it all:
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Bali, Indonesia
- Cebu, Philippines
- Palawan, Philippines
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Playa del Carmen, Mexico
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Lima, Peru
- Medellin, Colombia
- South Africa, Cape town
- Bansko, Bulgaria
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Tbilisi, Georgia
- Gran Canaria, Spain
- Barcelona, Spain
- Lisbon, Portugal
The list keeps going. And no surprise—the trend of digital nomadism is growing, so more places that meet the needs of traveling professionals are popping up. Feel free to find gems of your own!
Essential Productivity Tips for Remotely Working While Traveling
1. Invest in a Workspace
While working and traveling, having a comfortable workspace is essential. Working from the couch, bed, or even a dining table will not make you productive. And because your productivity levels will drop anyway, our best advice is to invest in a good workspace. Whether it means paying extra to have a decent work desk at a place you're staying or buying a membership in a coworking space, it's worth it!
Working from coffee shops and cafes is also an option. But keep in mind that these places aren't designed for productivity.
2. Have a Backup Internet Connection
We'll never stop stressing the importance of having a stable Internet connection. After all, your job depends on it. That's why, even before you leave, you should activate international roaming on your phone. It will come in handy during flights and transfers.
As soon as you arrive, buy a local SIM card, preferably with unlimited data. It's also a good idea to get a portable router in case everything else stops working. Remember, an unexpected WiFi outage can ruin your entire day! And when you're looking for a place to stay, always check the WiFi speed. A few websites and mobile apps can help you with this.
3. Create a Fixed Work Schedule and Stick To It
It's easier to get distracted while doing remote work as there are no colleagues or bosses to keep an eye on what you're doing. At the same time, you can choose to work whenever you're more productive or have fewer distractions, taking into account the time zones of your company or clients, of course.
We've discovered that starting and finishing your day on time keeps you on track and makes you most productive (unless you're trying to meet a deadline). Our best advice is to set your personal work time limit and stick to it. You can go even further and fill your schedule with activities that will ensure a healthy work-life balance. Early morning surf? A short walk during your work break? Promise to work your full schedule and go for it!
4. Get the Most Out of Time-Management Software
When moving around a lot, losing yourself in the spiral of events and experiences is easy. Find out what meetings you should be present at and add them to your schedule so that you're always up to date. Having a personal assistant to remind you of the critical things on your list is even better. The good news is that you don't need to hire anyone! There are tons of apps that help you track tasks and schedule work meetings. And even more than that—they send you notifications!
Most likely, your company already uses such software. Make sure you get those apps on your phone and use them. Even if worst comes to worst, and you have an urgent call or task, you'll always have your phone.
5. Don't Forget to Take Breaks
Always try to balance the amount of sitting with moving and work time with screen-free time (when you don't use electronic gadgets). Even if you have too many urgent tasks, there are exercises that you can do right at your desk. But remember that leaving your workplace to move around is crucial for your health and productivity.
Making simple snacks such as fruit salads or smoothie bowls might help get you away from your desk and moving a little. And they're also healthy and tasty!
6. And Days Off!
Even if you live in a tropical paradise that makes you feel like you're always on vacation, don't forget to take proper days off. Otherwise, you're sure to burn out fast. And take our word for it: being burned out while working and traveling is no fun.
Now you have a list of excellent places for digital nomads and a how-to guide for traveling the world while working. Even if you don't follow all of our tips, consider them before you go on your first remote-work trip. And last but not least—always believe in yourself. You can make it work!