The following post, written by Becky Trowbridge (a freelancer and fellow Executive in Sweatpants), is part of an ongoing series to provide you with additional perspective into the virtual workforce.
If you’re planning to simultaneously travel the world and freelance, it’s important to be well prepared. After all, your freelance career is likely what’s bankrolling the trip. Building off a previous article about my two-month-long European backpacking / freelancing experience, I’d like to recommend a few tools that any traveling freelancer should consider. In this article, I’ll cover the following considerations:
- Tips for communicating with clients while traveling
- How to get Internet access while on the go
- Hosting private meetings in public (and noisy) areas
- How to protect your files while traveling
- What to do to keep your electronics properly charged
With a little preparation and a few affordable tools, you’ll be ready to board that plane in no-time.
Skype Keeps You Connected
One of the first things I did was to set up a Skype phone number, so I could easily make and receive calls. Although I do much of my communication via email, I’ve found that there is no substitute for the occasional voice-to-voice conversation, especially while traveling. As pointed out on the free section of this website, Skype is a free application, available on Mac, PC, iOS, and Android devices.
Bonus: my family and friends could also reach me via Skype, which seemed to go a long way towards easing some worries about my adventures.
Depending on where you’re traveling, WiFi may be easy to find. If that’s the case, you can download the Skype app on your smartphone and make calls from your regular phone. I gave up my data and calling plan and added a small international texting plan.
For travel lasting more than three months, I recommend getting a pay-as-you-go phone in the area you’re spending the most time. Since I used my smartphone as a camera, alarm, exchange rate calculator (there’s an app for that!), and more, I found myself carrying it everywhere despite ditching the data plan. I’ve also heard others say that the OneSimCard (pictured left) is pretty useful if you have an unlocked GSM phone.
If you’re planning to carry your smartphone, iPod, or other wireless device, you can download helpful apps for just about anything. TripAdvisor offers great city guides that include self-guided walking tours and maps. Also, many museums and sites offer their own smartphone apps, so be sure to take a look at what’s available for your destinations.
Blocking Out the Noise
In my first week of hosteling, I discovered that hostels can be incredibly noisy (as can coffee shops and restaurants for that matter). Skype has the sometimes unfortunate ability of being so clear that it can magnify unwanted noises. In a fit of despair just before a oDesk client meeting, I ducked into a Poundsavers in Wales and spent $1.65 on a surprisingly good pair of headphones. I didn’t even consider packing a device like this, but now I can’t imagine a working trip without one. There are many great headsets available on Amazon.
Bring a reliable laptop and at least one flash drive or external hard drive. Cloud-based systems such as Google Drive are especially useful while traveling, as you can access files from any computer with your unique log in information—so if your laptop gets stolen, you’ll still be able to access your work.
Depending on your travel plans, you may need an outlet
converter. I picked up a universal converter at Wal-Mart for about $10 and was able to use it throughout the UK and Europe for two months. If you’ll need to charge more than one device at the same time on an ongoing basis, go ahead and spring for a second converter (not a bad idea anyway, in case something should happen to the main one.)
Also, be sure to charge everything every chance you get. There’s nothing quite like a 12 hour train ride without music, ebooks, Word documents, or even a pen…not that I would know.
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Do you have tips for combining travel and work? Share in the comments below!