5 Major challenges to working while traveling (and some solutions)

This series is for the increasingly large group of people who make their livings on their laptops alone, and who realize that many other “digital nomads” are cutting expenses while spending time in cities like Bangkok and Buenos Aires. Honestly, the sky’s the limit, and people who like to travel are roaming the globe paying 2nd or 3rd-World prices while making 1st-World incomes.

I’ve been doing this myself for nearly a year and a half now, almost all of that spent in Asia where US$10 hotel rooms are surprisingly nice and easy to find. I earlier discussed the great things about working while traveling, but of course there are two sides to every coin. Below are five of the “challenging” (rather than bad) things about working while traveling, and tips for overcoming many of them.

General ergonomics of hotel rooms

Those of us who already work primarily from a laptop can easily take for granted that a comfortable chair sitting in front of a proper-height desk will always be easy to find. On the road, they aren’t. Most cheaper hotels in the cheaper parts of the world (Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe) have a reasonably comfortable bed and perhaps a table or nightstand, but none of them have a proper office chair and desk like you’ll find at the Airport Hilton (for US$150 per night).

This is an important consideration when figuring out just how much work you can expect to do. Let’s say an 8-hour day is simple enough when you have a comfortable workspace, and your alternatives are to work while lying on the bed or finding a nearby restaurant with Wi-Fi. In either of those cases you’ll find that 8 productive hours is going to be quite a challenge or impossible.
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5 Tips for Communicating with Partners and Staff While Working Remotely

If you are taking a 2-week holiday then you might actually be doing it to purposely be out of touch with your clients and business partners. And if you do want to stay in touch then email and an international roaming plan for your mobile will do the trick. But for the group of us who are working on the road as a lifestyle, the communication thing can be a bit tricky.

Email will always be a free and easy way of communicating with many people, but there are times when you need a voice call in real time to move forward. These days there are many ways to make and receive a call, and some of them are free or incredibly cheap. If you’ll be working on a laptop most of the time then you’ll have quite a few choices. Also, while timezone differences can also be a problem, they can also be a big help in other ways.

1. Do you even need a phone?

Sometime in the 1990s, pretty much everyone got a mobile phone, and since then millions of people have ditched their landlines so it seemed like the mobile was part of a new 1-to-1 phone-to-person ratio. But when you are traveling, especially many time zones away from the people you’d speak to, it’s very possible that a phone (or at least phone service) won’t be worth the small benefit you’ll receive.
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