Working while traveling takes discipline. This wasn’t news for us as it isn’t for many of you either. We knew we needed this the moment we decided we wanted to build a life of our own. Freelancers who travel lightly or digital nomads who give up the idea of having a conventional home know well that discipline is key to being successful. But for those who are not doing it yet, it may not be very clear what it actually means.
So what does it mean
Well, it means having a sorta life recipe filled with quantities of things, amount of stuff, methods for getting shit done and tools for making it happen. As well as plans. You need plans to go from idea/thought to reality. Truth is each recipe has unique elements. Those are for you to decide, depending on variables like how much work you want to do, how much money you want to earn, how fast or slow you want to travel. But there are many, many ingredients that are common to all those who chose the freedom of working while traveling.
It’s like when making a stew. Every classical stew needs meat and veggies. But you choose which meat and which veggies. And then depending on the ingredients you chose, you look for the best methods to cook them in order to make your stew tasty, tender, healthy, spicy etc. Damn, I made myself hungry.
Anyway, let me tell you how this whole working while traveling things worked for us in a speed travel regime. Meaning, we changed locations every 2-3 days and drove from and to for more than 4 hours.
Our latest experience in Romania
We recently went on a roadtrip and we thought we should share with you what most of our days looked like to help you get an idea about this type of working while traveling. Unlike our longer trip to Thailand, this time we tried speed traveling on for size. I can honestly say now that it is definitely not for us. While it’s great and we loved every minute of it, it was tiring. Crazy tiring. However, we learned again that discipline is the mother of all things working while traveling. If it weren’t for our healthy habits, procrastination shields and productivity spells, we would have done zero work. And we would have probably gotten into fights about you name what unimportant things.
Where we went
Our roadtrip took us half way around the country and we’ve seen some amazing places and met a lot great people. We went from Bucharest (the capital city) all the North-East to Iasi and Bucovina region in Moldova and then crossed the mountains into Maramures where we explored the whole county. Our way back took us through Cluj and Sibiu and the wonderful Transfagarasan road which we adored (1st picture in the article). The boys from Top Gear loved it too.
In total we drove for about 2.500 km working while traveling and taking pictures and videos and planning and you name it. We planned for this rhythm. However, looking back, we could have done it better. Still it was a successful test and at the end of the article you’ll find a list of lessons learned and wisdom gathered.
What our working while traveling days look like
As a cumulative split they look sort of like this:
- 6-8 hours – Sleeping
- 3-5 hours – Working
- 2-4 hours – Acting touristy, taking photos & processing
- 1 hour – Researching & making travel plans
- 1-2 hours – Eating out or cooking
- 2-5 hours – walking or driving to places
- 1-2 hours – Relaxing, napping, reading, watching crap on the internet
The math is not exact, yes. But be advised, not all activities happen separately nor do they all happen every day. For example, being touristy and taking photos or making travel plans happens while relaxing or eating out too. As well as while driving. We are two, so we split responsibilities and we always talk. And, no surprise here, we are always thinking. We may be out stuffing our faces or scouting for cool things to photograph, but we are thinking about that client strategy as well or about that next article or Googling what’s next. We batch things depending on complexity and how long they take. This is a combination of hacks from the ones I’ve mentioned in the Discipline Rule List article.
How we plan our working while traveling hours
There are only 3 ways of fitting your working hours into your touristy days when you are speed traveling. You can do it in the morning, the evening or split it (a couple of hours in the morning, a couple in the evening).
We usually try to work mornings. That’s when we are most productive and most chill in the brain. Mornings are kickass for thinking and focus. Mornings is when we check our e-mails too (late mornings) and our social media accounts. There is an afternoon session of these as well. I’ve explained this hack too in the Discipline Rule List article quoted above.
Let’s take one day in Iasi for example
Small introduction: We arrived in Iasi on a Saturday evening after driving for about 6 hours. We wanted to be there for a festival so Saturday evening was a perfect time to arrive. We ate and went to see the concerts and got to bed at around 11 pm. The next day got up at 7 am, went out for coffee because we bought none to make at the guesthouse and came back to our temporary house loaded with caffeine and food.
We spent the whole morning working on our projects and setting up things for the following days. Those days implied more driving time and more picture taking time. So the smart move was to get things in order in due time to avoid going into crisis mode. We made our near future travel plans with roads to take and things to see as well.
We went out for a bite again at about 5 pm and then split for our dose of concerts. In conclusion, on Sunday we spent a total of 6 hours working, 2 hours researching, 3 hours for coffees and eating and 5 hours taking photos and enjoying the festival. We wouldn’t have gotten so many things done in so little time in the 9 to 5 regime. I can promise you this. And it’s not because we lacked the time. But because we lacked the energy and we lacked the power to decide when we did things.
Let’s take a day on the move for example
We were headed from Gura Humorului to Borsa. For this we woke up at 7 am again. Usually we get up at 6 am, but this trip put us a little off our usual sleeping patterns. No worries, we just adapted.
In the morning we squeezed in 3 hours of work while drinking our coffee and having our breakfast at the guesthouse. We packed the night before to avoid wasting time in the morning and wasting our most productive hours. We just left out the clothes for the next day and the toiletries + laptops. Check out was at 11 am so it was just enough time to get things in order for departure.
We headed out and bought some food for the road and started spinning the heels towards our new temporary nest. Out next stop to eat was at around 3 pm. The plan was to take advantage of this stop to check on some work we did, but the area had no coverage so no internet. Along the way we paused in several places to snap some cool pics, send Mila (our drone) into the air and stretch our legs. We arrived at our destination at around 7 pm and we were pretty beat. So we just went for a bite, did a quick check on our work and crashed in bed like tranquilized monkeys. The touristy stuff was planned for the following day. And a hell of a day it was.
What we learned working while traveling
1. When you think you’ve planned enough, plan a bit more
2. Plans change, no matter how well planned it all is
3. From time to time accommodations you reserved may not be available or viable
One of them had a plumbing issue. The landlady was kind enough to refer us to an acquaintance of hers, but there was a different price and not something we would have chosen had we had the option. Mainly because the bathroom was private, but not connected to the room. But it was late, we were tired and the place was really nice so we went with it.
4. Energy is finite
And you need to control where and when you invest it. Otherwise it’s wasted.
When you go on a roadtrip, always take at least an hour leeway. You never know what great place you find and want to stop. Or how hungry you might get.
6. Recovery time
Even when speed traveling, give yourself a day to recover and just enjoy the experience.
Sleep before anything else. If you’re tired it all becomes a nightmare.
8. Communicate with clients
Let your clients know in good time that you’ll be constantly on the move and might need to push some deadlines
9. Expect internet surprises
Even places with good internet fail some times. We were in a place with amazing internet, but it kept disconnecting. It happens in the mountains when it rains. Just be patient and communicate with your clients as best you can. Let them know what’s going on.
10. Getting pissed will solve nothing
Especially if you’re a couple. Take 5 minutes, cool off and move on to finding a solution. Learn something from what happened instead of focusing on the fact that it sucks.
11. Charge your devices
Always charge your gadgets every chance you get. Traveling is not a predictable sport.
12. Build discipline
Use the Discipline Rule List to develop good habits and stick to as many as you can even if your environment changes or your plans are messed up.
13. Be patient
Give yourself time to adapt and learn from every experience.
If you’re curious for more pictures from our latest working and traveling adventure visit our Instagram accounts where we will post everything worth seeing: