Most freelancers have a base from which they work. It can be their home, a cafe, a co-working space or anything else in the city they live in. But the true challenge comes when they start traveling. Or maybe want to take a vacation. While we had experience with work as freelancers, work as nomads or location independent was something we haven’t previously experienced. But our long trip to Thailand was a great way to test how working while traveling would feel for us and whether we could do this as a lifestyle. Let’s say we tested a prototype of the lifestyle. And what an experiment it was. We went to Thailand with a backpack each. Yes, we went minimal.
We planned this trip in advance so we were careful not to take on projects new that would require many working hours daily. We had a festival we were preparing, some social media clients, some website content. So we took into account some work daily, around 1-2 hours in the morning and 1-2 in the evening on average.
Work + on the road
Our trip was long. We booked our plane tickets 4 months in advance and in order to get the best price, we settled for 3 layovers. It seemed like an ok compromise. And in the beginning they were short. 5 hours flights from Bucharest – 5 hours in London – 7 hours flight from London – 5 hours layover in Doha and then after 7 more hours in the air we would arrive to the place of amazing beaches. I say in the beginning because by the time we entered the month of our departure, the flights schedules had already changed 3 times. Classic. No worries. However, this meant adjusting our plans as we now had a 10 hours layover in Doha and were going to fly by night and reach Krabi very early in the morning.
Working while traveling to and from London + layover
Our layover in London was pretty short. It was late evening and we were getting sleepy. So we got on the plane and tried to sleep as much as we could. But with not much success. Sleeping on planes is no walk in the park, even if you have decent leg room. We just weren’t designed to sleep while sitting on our behinds. Our backs hated us when we got off the plane. Also, no work done for 24 hours, with all departure preparations, flights and such.
Working while traveling to and from Doha + layover
Our second layover, in Doha found us exploring the city in the morning, then retiring into the coolness of the airport. We thought it would be a shame not to visit since we had the time and we’d probably never visit on purpose. We tried to work a bit, adjust our social media posts and ads, but the internet wasn’t very friendly. So we gave up and instead went into their quiet rooms and tried to catch up on our sleep. By this time we were beat. Evidently no working while traveling.
Working while traveling to Krabi + first day
After so many flights and so many hours spent around airports we were exhausted. I’m not gonna complain, don’t get me wrong. We had fun, we saw a lot of things, ate overpriced airport food and laughed about it. We spent some great quality time together and while we didn’t do any work for our clients, we did manage to do some planning and some brainstorming on our own projects. This is the time when FCK.WORK was born. So I could call it one of the best periods ever. But man, was it tiring.
We got to the hotel in Ao-Nang after a 30 minutes mini-bus ride and simply crashed in bed. I myself can hardly remember the moment. As you well suspect, no work was done during that time. We got up in the evening almost not remembering where we are, groggy and jet lagged like a mo-fo. We both agreed that we’d be better off spending the rest of the evening getting some good cooked food in our bellies and exploring that beautiful place we came all the way to see. Work would have to wait for after we’ve had a good night sleep in a proper bed with proper leg room and proper pillows. No working while traveling happened that day.
I’d set off planning to write a short piece on the subject of working while traveling, but as you’ve noticed I have miserably failed. Still, I won’t cut anything out because the feeling of small chaos in this writing resembles the one we felt after planning, replanning, traveling, layovering, traveling some more and eating things our bodies hated us for.
Our Ao-Nang schedule
Now we had settled into our hotel, found out what we needed to know about clothes cleaning services, food and supermarkets as well as what we could see and do around the area. So we had a meeting. Yes, a meeting. Between the two of us. And we planned the days to come according to our work loads and activities. We divided the days in chunks and allowed these chunks to move higher or lower on the scale on the 24 hours we had in a day. Okay, okay, not 24. I confess we slept more than usual (8-9 hours) so we had 15-16 hours daily.
Here’s examples of 2 different days:
- 8 am – waking up still jet lagged, showering and going down for coffee and breakfast, laptop in hand and actually waking up
- 9-11:30 am – breakfast, being fully awake and getting some work done
- 11:30-12 am – preparing our backpack for the day: towels, waterproof phone bags, water, swimming suits, puttin on sun lotion
- 12 am -1 pm – getting to the beach we wanted to see, a sort of private beach, but accessible to public
- 2 pm – we got hungry so we got something to eat and devoured that Phad Thai on the beach like bosses.
- 2:30 – 5 pm – we baked in the sun, read some things, did some more planning for us, brainstormed some possible future clients and went for a swim. We were in the water when the rain started. It was one of those movie perfect moments that I thought I’d never experience. It’s a day I will always carry with me.
- 5:30 – 7:30 pm – we left the beach and went to get a thai massage. O. M. G. that massage is magic. I think that and the food is what I miss most in my present daily life…. Ah, who am I kidding?! I miss the whole package.
- 8 pm – we were back at the hotel waiting to stuff our faces with food and mango smoothies.
- We chilled till 10 pm, planning the next day work and fun and all.
- 11 pm – in bed like good kids.
- 6:30 am – waking up, jet lag long gone, shower, planning the day, setting work priorities
- 7:00 am – coffee, breakfast
- 8:00 – 12:30 am – work
- 12:30 am – getting ready for the day’s adventure. We booked the Krabi Sunset Cruise, with snorkeling and swimming with glowing plankton
- 1:30 pm – we set sail
- 9 pm – back to the hotel, dinner and chill on the hotel terrace + checking and answering e-mails and such.
- One backpack is enough
- Travel is both fun and exhausting
- Layovers are a pain, but if planned and researched properly can be a good opportunity to get a bit of work done
- Be patient with your body, jet lag hates everyone just the same
- Establish your routine from the very beginning and stick to it, but
- Be flexible with your routine if you want to nail this working while traveling thing
- Talk to people even if they’re not digital nomads or traveling freelancers. You’ll learn great stuff. Great life related stuff.
- Be patient with the internet. This is especially valid for those coming from countries with killer speed, like we did. What a shock it was.
- Eat everything that makes you curious. We tried insects at the Night Market. And I hate insesct. They give me panic attacks. It was nice to finally get some revenge.
- Get out of your comfort zone. While your routine while traveling might borrow from your home routine, in the time you spend visiting places try to fit in some experiences that you couldn’t do at home.