Look around at any airport and you’ll see people surrounding outlets, sitting on their laptops and phones. According to the State of the Remote Job Marketplace report, 43 percent of the workforce works remotely at least some of the time. A major perk of distributed work is the ability to be traveling while on the clock.
Another report by Buffer found that 81 percent of remote workers travel while working and many employees are even required to travel as part of their job. With the rise of remote and digital work, it becomes more and more important to get things done while traveling, which isn’t always easy.
Tips & tricks
As a business owner and a digital nomad, I’ve worked all over the world, and learned a few productivity tricks along the way. Whether you’re headed to a conference, balancing remote work with vacation, or trying to squeeze in a project before the holidays, use these strategies for working while traveling.
Get in the right mindset
Theoretically, traveling should be a perfect time to work. You might be stuck on a plane or train or delayed at the airport. What better time to cram out work projects? Good in theory, but not always in practice. You might be stressed, tired, annoyed, or distracted, which leads to subpar concentration and output.
To combat this, put yourself into the work mindset. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Shower, get dressed and prepare for the day like you would at home or in the office.
- Set aside X amount of hours dedicated to work.
- Work early in the morning, before vacation fun starts, so you’re less likely to blow it off.
- Find a good work spot, like a coffee shop. Working in bed may yield a lower productivity level, even if it is more comfortable.
Properly plan for plane time
Planning ahead (especially for long trips) makes all the difference between productive travel time and frustrating travel time. Start by checking that your flight (or bus or train) has WiFi or power outlets. If you have no power, make sure to fully charge your laptop and devices and consider bringing an external battery for your phone.
WiFi accessibility on flights is notoriously hit or miss. Even if you do have WiFi, plan to do work that can be done without internet access. Then you won’t be stuck if you have a slow-loading browser or no WiFi at all.
For example, as a writer, I always outline articles before a trip, including all the research and links needed. Then I write and edit on the plane. While this will look different for everyone, the rule of thumb is simple: don’t count on having WiFi while in-travel, so plan your work accordingly.
Invest in noise-canceling headphones
This is a simple tip that easy for anyone to use. Airports are loud and distractions cut into your productivity and workflow. As explained by the New York Times, “active noise-canceling headphones use electronic processing to analyze ambient sound and attempt to generate the opposite sound. The result is less noise overall.”
Invest in a pair and watch your productivity soar 😉
Make the most of your time
Working while traveling is all about using your time wisely, so be honest about what you can feasibly get done. You may not want to start a new project while listening for gate announcements in the airport. That time may be better reserved for emailing.
I use a to-do list to plan out my time when traveling. For example, I’ll make a list of tasks I plan to complete on the plane versus when I land and have some time before meeting up with friends. Forecasting your work will help you get it all done and still have fun.
Don’t overload yourself
The weeks when I’m traveling, I intentionally underbook myself, knowing that distractions will always come up. For full-time workers, this means saying no to a new project or working ahead of time so there’s less on your plate for a few days.
For freelancers or contractors, this might mean not taking on any new clients during travel times. I know from experience how difficult that is to do because you’re saying no to more income.
However, when played right, you can push off potential client calls until your trip is done or you’re in one spot for a few days. Plus, being less available makes your services seem more in demand, so don’t be scared to say no.
Find the work-travel balance
Working while traveling is great. It allows us to be present for family events without taking too much PTO or losing money on client projects.
However, it can be a double-edged sword. Travel is stressful and taxing on its own. Add due dates and clients into the mix and it can be even harder on your mind and body.
Use these tips to find balance, getting it all done and still enjoying your travel.