How can you work and travel?
In a week or so myself (Jamie Twigg - founder of 543 Design) and my partner are hopping on an Air New Zealand flight to Hong Kong before Cathay Pacific whisks us off to Europe for a two month working adventure. Over the next couple of months I'll try to give an idea of how we manage to balance the working travel life, and in this blog we look at how you can make it happen for yourself.
How do you get the time off?
Most people reading this will be employees wondering how travel for a couple of months without leaving their full time job. The first thought that springs to mind is 'my boss would never give me that much time off'. All we would say is there is no harm in asking - and in asking the right way. It can be a real benefit to a company keeping you on the job in a small way while you are away. Would your work rather lose you completely for 4 weeks, or have a few hours work coming in from you every day for 8 weeks? It's a win win - you get a trip, come back happy and refreshed, and the workflow continues to flow uninterrupted. So figure out how much leave you have, how long you want to travel, then split the difference into part time work over the whole trip.
The other option of course is figuring out how you can work for yourself. Whether you start your own company and manage others from afar, or contract/freelance in your chosen field, the end result means a great deal more flexibility in travel. There is plenty of risk in going out by yourself, but also plenty of upside. Most desk jobs can be done remotely these days - you just have to find the niche/aspect of your industry that isn't geographically tied, and base your work around that. If you decide working remotely while you travel is an absolute must and can't figure out how you could make it work in your industry...then there's always a change of career!
Where can you go?
You've got your time off...now it's time to pick where to go. If you're going to continue working, the golden rule is find an internet connection when you need it. You are going to be fairly useless halfway up Mt Everest, so make sure to plan your work around any internet dead spots on your travels. We're heading to Europe this year, so it shouldn't be an issue, but we still look very closely for that little wifi symbol whenever we are booking accommodation. In that regard, booking.com has been an absolute godsend.
Also just have a little think about time-zones for when you are working while travelling. Being on the other side of the world can actually be fantastic - all the communication comes to you overnight, which means you can get up in the morning, respond, push out a couple of quality hours of work, and then in the evening be available for New Zealand as they come online. So long as you communicate well about when you'll be in touch - everyone is very understanding.
How does it work day to day?
In reality when you are travelling you want to get out and experience the world. You want to spend your days sight seeing and chatting to locals. You want to try new food and experience new things. You definitely don't want to end up locking yourself in a hotel room all day to work. It's crucial to find a balance:
But OMG...the cost!
Travel isn't cheap. Unless a fantastic airline swoops in and upgrades you to Business Class (*wink* *wink* Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific social media teams who are so on the ball they've read this far...) - you're going to end up forking out a fair amount of coin as you travel. It sounds incredibly dull, but planning really is the key here. We've known our trip has been coming for months now, so booked most of our accommodation and travel early, and have spent those months paying for it. That means that when we take off, food and entertainment are all that's left to cough up for. Ultimately, having regular pay cheques continuing to come in while we travel is going to be one of the best things about the work/travel experience...but if there is one thing that I've learnt in past trips that I've worked on...a little hard work and planning before the trip goes a LONG way.
The tools we are using...