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How to Travel While Working Remotely

Do you want to work remotely and travel?

I’ve been combining remote work and travel for quite a few years now and in this article I want to share with you my tips, experiences, and different ways you can combine remote work and travel.

Switching From Working From Home to Working Remotely and Traveling

an open suitcase with clothes, with a laptop, camera and other small items around it

The modern workplace has transformed dramatically over the last few years. The most game-changing difference is that many of us no longer need to be in a specific physical location to do our jobs. Many companies are now set up as “remote first” organizations.

For a lot of people, the ability to work remotely means working from home. This allows you to save time on transport, set up your office the way you like it, and maybe allocate your work hours differently to accommodate other commitments, such as childcare.

But why work from home in a country with a high cost of living when you could enjoy a beachside existence, pay low rent, eat amazing food, or explore parts of the world that you have always wanted to see?

If you can work remotely, why can’t you work from anywhere?

In this article, I am going to talk about how you can work remotely and travel at the same time. It will cover a few important topics.

Firstly, what does it mean to travel while working remotely? It can look very different in different situations.

Secondly, I’ll share some tips for how to manage meeting your work commitments while enjoying traveling, since it can be a difficult balancing act!

And lastly, I’ll look at a few of the legal and procedural things around employment law and visas that you need to consider before deciding if and how to travel while working remotely.

Tip: if you aren’t working remotely yet, then check out these articles as well:
How to Start Working Remotely And Make It Work For You and How to Become a Digital Nomad – 7 Useful Skills to Have

Different Types of Remote Work Travelers

3 women at a table with their laptops, laughing while working remotely and traveling
There are many ways you can combine work and travel

When we talk about remote workers who travel, most of us think of digital nomads. And many see digital nomads as remote workers who backpack their way around the world while working on their laptops.

But being a traveling remote worker can look very different depending on what you want.

A full-time digital nomad more or less leaves their home country and plans to travel continuously while working.

For some digital nomads, that does mean moving every week or so to discover a new destination. But these types of digital nomads have usually decided to travel for a fixed period, for example, one or two years. They move frequently because they have a lot of places to see in a relatively short period of time.

These days, an increasing number of digital nomads have embraced slowmadism. This means that they might spend two or three months in a location, or longer, really getting to know it before moving on to the next.

”Slowmads” are less likely to stay in hotels and more likely to rent apartments or houses directly through local contacts or via online platforms.

Digital nomads that spend more than six months in one place start to blur the line between digital nomad and expat.

The term expat is usually used for individuals who live outside their home country permanently. They are different from digital nomads because they tend to be employed locally in the country they chose to move to, or they are retired.

But if you are a digital nomad who has become more or less permanently based in a specific place, perhaps on a one-to-two-year digital nomad visa, you have become an expat digital nomad.

And not all digital nomads travel full-time.

Part-time digital nomads might work from an international location for maybe three months of the year. You will often see remote workers from colder countries “head south” for the winter to enjoy the sun and warmth, and maybe take advantage of long school holidays for kids to experience somewhere new.

There are also people who like to take regular workations. This just means that instead of taking time off to travel, the remote worker decides to pack their laptop and meet their work commitments while enjoying a chosen travel destination in their time off.

These are all valid ways to travel as a remote worker and you should choose what suits your lifestyle and priorities.

Tips for Working Remotely and Traveling

a guy in a coffee shop holding a phone, with 2 laptops on the table he is sitting at

Balancing your time to both meet your work commitments and enjoy yourself can be tricky.

The best approach will depend on how you are traveling.

If you are traveling for a short period of time, on a workation, you’ll want to organize your work schedule around the most important things you want to see and do.

If you are changing location frequently, you’ll need to develop routines that allow you to settle into a new location and focus on work quickly.

And if you are spending a couple of months in one place, you might want to research coworking spaces for better Wi-Fi and networking opportunities to help you connect with other remote workers.

Regardless of which of these categories you fall into, these are my four top tips for working remotely while traveling.

1. Know Yourself and Plan Accordingly

You need to start by being honest with yourself about how you work and travel so that you can plan accordingly.

If you know that you get distracted by the smallest thing, don’t plan to work from your apartment balcony overlooking the bustling city.

If you know that you enjoy a drink in the evening or don’t work well late at night, don’t assume you’ll get important work done at midnight after getting home from a long day.

Before you start traveling, it is a good idea to spend some time tracking your work. This will help you understand how much time you need to spend on different tasks, when you are most productive, and where you waste time.

We all have those time drainers that are really just a form of procrastination. They could be automated, handed off to someone else, or just not done.

Take this information, combine it with the main things you want to do while traveling, and create a realistic plan for how you are going to fit it all in.

And don’t forget to factor in sleep and rest! Traveling can be very exhausting, and you are neither productive nor enjoying where you are if you are sleep deprived.

Your schedule should be flexible enough that you don’t miss spur-of-the-moment opportunities, but fixed enough that you get everything done.

Also Read: How to Stay Productive While Traveling

2. Make Smart Travel Choices

As an extension of knowing yourself, you should make smart travel choices based on what you know you are going to need to balance work and travel.

For example, if you plan on working from your accommodation, is it realistic to think you will be able to do this from a shared dorm room in a hostel? Or do you think you will be able to tune into an important Zoom call while on a ten-hour bus trip between destinations?

If you plan to work from your accommodation, you might want to pay a little more for a larger space with more privacy and comfortable working conditions. If you have important meetings or deadlines that you can’t miss, make them your priority and plan your travels around them.

One thing that can make a big difference is to bring the right equipment with you. In addition to your laptop, a few key pieces of gear can transform a standard desk into a comfortable and usable workstation.

This could be noise-canceling headphones and a microphone for Zoom calls, or an ergonomic cushion.

Think about what will help you to get comfortable and focus on work.

3. Learn to Switch Off

a woman facing away from the camera, jumping in the air with a green valley in the background
Enjoying working remotely and traveling in Peru

While the challenge for many people is actually getting their work done while traveling, for others it is switching off from work!

Are you the type of person likely to miss something you really wanted to do because you just had to get “one more thing done”? Or are you not fully present during fun experiences because you’re constantly checking work emails on your phone?

You need to be able to set clear limits between work time and downtime. And this of course is good practice no matter where you are in the world.

Set yourself office hours or work hour limits so that you can clearly define when you are working and when you are not. If you are clear with clients and coworkers about when you are available, they will generally respect your space.

If you know you struggle to let go of work, you can also temporarily turn off your work profile in Google when you are off the clock. Or use an app like FocusMe to block notifications from work-related apps during certain hours. This means you won’t be distracted by an email notification when you pull out your phone to take a picture.

Also remember that even if you are traveling while working, you still need to take time off to recharge your batteries. Remember to plan proper vacations too!

You can read my article on Why Digital Nomads Need Holidays (and How to Take One).

4. Make Sure You Have Good Internet

If you are a remote worker, you can’t do your job without decent internet.

This is something you need to think about when deciding where to travel to. You won’t be signing into a Zoom meeting from the middle of the Amazon Rainforest.

But no matter where you are traveling, plan how you’ll stay connected.

You might get lucky and have excellent internet at your Airbnb. But you might also find yourself dividing 20MB between 10 guests, or stuck with 2MB download limits at your nearest café.

Research your options beforehand and be prepared to pay extra for good internet.

If you’re staying in one place for a while, you might be able to get a fiber connection set up. Or you might have to purchase a local SIM card with a lot of data.

If you travel a lot, it is worth investing in a portable mobile hotspot.

The Best Places to Travel and Work Remotely

a group of remote workers sitting at a table with their laptops in a small cafe in Valencia
Working remotely in Valencia, Spain

What the best destination is for you to work from, mainly depends on you.

Of course, stable internet is important, which will exclude a few remote locations. But, most parts of the world will, especially if you plan your trip properly, have a way to offer suitable internet.

Do some research into what the destination you have in mind is like for remote workers. Are there good places to work from? Are there interesting events you can join while you are there? Will it be high season or low season when you are there?

Some destinations attract a lot more remote workers than others.

If you are looking for a community and a good infrastructure for remote working, traveling to more popular digital nomad destinations can be a great option.

These destinations include Lisbon, Bansko, Valencia, The Canary Islands, Madeira, Chiang Mai, Bali, Medellin, and Buenos Aires.

Remote Work and Travel Programs

a woman facing away from the camera looking out over a valley filled with palmtrees
Exploring Colombia as part of a remote work program

Talking about community, there is a growing number of remote work and travel programs you can sign up for.

Remote Year is the most famous one, which started back in 2015 by offering year-long programs taking you to a different city every month.

Since then several other organizations have started, most of which offer much shorter programs.

Venture With Impact is an example, and another one is Kino Italy. Both offer 1-month programs bringing remote workers together in one specific destination.

But, a Google search will give you many more options.

And if you’re not looking for a fully organized program, then coliving spaces (providing shared living and work spaces) are another great option to easily connect with like-minded people.

You can read this review about a coliving space in Montenegro, to get an idea of what it could be like.

Can You Travel as a Remote Worker?

a woman working on her laptop on a terrace surrounded by greenery with several other laptops on the table

In theory, if you don’t need to be in a specific location to do your job, you can work from anywhere. But it does not always work that way in practice.

Some companies have “work from anywhere” policies. A good example is Airbnb. They literally allow their workers to work from anywhere, as long as they meet their deadlines and commitments. Pay and benefits aren’t tied to location, and they have health and safety policies that cover their workers no matter where they are.

However, even Airbnb has restrictions. For example, Airbnb employees can only work in a foreign country for up to 90 days, and they must maintain a permanent residence in their home country for taxation and payroll purposes.

This is an important limitation and something to look into as you plan how you want to combine work and travel.

If you are an employee, how will traveling affect your pay? Are there restrictions on where you can go and how long you can stay there? Do you have contact hours that will be affected by your time zone?

If you stay in another country for more than 183 days, you become a resident for tax purposes. This can impact both your individual tax liability and that of your company.

If you are a freelancer, contractor, or entrepreneur, it is generally easier to travel, as you are not restricted by your employer’s policies. But you do need to consider things such as your tax residence and paying into social security or pension funds.

In addition to all this, there is also the question of which visas you’ll need while traveling.

While, technically, you should not be working in another country while on a tourist visa, it is not a problem if you work remotely for a company abroad. Working restrictions are generally in place to ensure that you do not take jobs from local workers or receive local wages.

Depending on where you travel and how long you intend to stay, there can be benefits to applying for a digital nomad visa if it is available.

Digital nomad visas are relatively new types of visas that a growing number of countries offer. These visas give temporary residency to remote workers that meet certain requirements, which differ per country.

As well as letting you stay in the country longer, digital nomad visas often let you do things like open bank accounts and sign contracts. This is important if you want to enter the local rental market instead of relying on more expensive hotels or Airbnbs.

If you think you’ll want to stay in a certain country longer than what a tourist visa allows, looking into a digital nomad visa is a good option.

Traveling While Working Remotely – Is It All Worth It?

a woman sticking her head out of a train in India in a green, mountainous setting
Working remotely and traveling in India

Sometimes when I talk to others about the logistics and challenges of becoming a traveling remote worker, people ask whether it is all worth it.

Choosing to travel and work remotely comes with certain challenges. It’s a different and generally slower way of traveling.

But is the sometimes stressful balancing act between work and travel worth the payoff? I would say 100% yes!

Ask anyone who has embraced the digital nomad lifestyle the same question. I think 95% of them would agree with me.

Also Read: Emotional Challenges of Digital Nomad Life & Practical Solutions

Why wait for a retirement date that may never come to do and see all the things on your bucket list? You can do those things now, and you may even save money by exploiting the lower cost of living in other parts of the world.

But more than that, the digital nomad lifestyle helps us embrace the idea of a better work-life balance.

It is easy to lose sight of all the things you are missing out on if you are stuck in the same place in the same routine. But when you go somewhere new it becomes much harder to justify to yourself why you’re sacrificing your personal time for work.

Combining work and travel, and experiencing living abroad, for even a short period of time, can teach you important life lessons. And they will forever enrich your life, even if you choose to go back home.

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Author: Andy Stofferis
Andy is a seasoned digital nomad who has been traveling around the world for over 10 years. He has a passion for hiking and exploring new cultures, and he loves sharing his insights and tips on his blog, Andy Sto. He has visited over 50 destinations and plans to explore many more.

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