So you haven’t been in your office in you’ve-lost-count-how-many months… Why are you still working hunched over your kitchen table, thinking a zoom background will distract from your unwashed hair? Maybe it’s time for a change. Have you ever wondered how it’s possible to travel and work your 9-to-5 remotely? 

Read our ultimate guide to working remotely from the beach

The largest change I’ve considered in my 7 year corporate insurance career, was whether to quit and fulfill my dream of traveling long term. Was I willing to give up the security provided by my salary, benefits, and 401k, in order to shed the handcuffs of a few fleeting days of PTO? Ultimately, I decided I was not. I still traveled often, but had given up on living somewhere, versus hitting spots in quick succession, until COVID hit. 

The second I got wind of the pandemic jumping shores, I saw my window of opportunity. As trendsetting tech companies began mandating work from home, and my clients began cancelling on my out of state meetings, I started my mental packing list for an escape to Thailand with my laptop in tow. I held my breath until my company followed suit, and the very next day I bought a one way ticket, readied my apartment for an extended leave, and made it all the way through security at O’Hare to reach an apocalyptically quiet terminal 5. The silence knocked the wind right out of my sails. 

I retreated to a corner near my gate, my back to the wall as I fidgeted with my boarding pass. My mind came up for air for the first moment since hatching my plan. Wait… was this a good idea? Why was it so hard to convince my husband? Why were we the only Americans there? The anxious masked faces, sense of unease in the air, and impending disapproval of my family quickly shook me out of my fantasy. I ran scared and defeated from the terminal, surrendering my ticket.

Four months and a much better understanding of the virus later, I decided my dream was perhaps not as rash as I originally feared. My husband and I began bookmarking embassy pages and scouring haphazard blog posts of “countries allowing Americans.” We slipped the idea into conversations with our colleagues… what would their reactions be? It seemed the travel shaming had eased a bit, and people were even intrigued by the concept. Some were doing the same domestically, or would be if they weren’t restrained by pets or children. If we were still logging in and doing our jobs as we would from our tiny apartment, what was the difference? Wouldn’t it be easier to socially distance in a town of 10,000 rather than a metropolis of 10 million? 

After a few weeks of researching our options, we decided on Turkey and flew out in late July. The time zone put us 8 hours ahead of Chicago, which gave us the whole day to explore, hike, join a tour, swim in the Mediterranean, or have a long lunch before working from 5pm to 1am. I am a night owl and love to sleep in, so working in the evening felt surprisingly natural to me. Plus, it steered us away from the temptation of higher risk evening activities like an indoor bar. We would either eat dinner at our “desks” or go out for an hour or two during what would be lunchtime at home. On days when we couldn’t break away from work, Turkey’s lively evening scene meant that we could sit down for dinner as late as eleven or midnight. 

In addition to the memories of exploring this vibrant country, I walked away with a refreshed reminder on the importance of work-life balance. Working late meant that it was much easier to step away from the computer at the end of the day (because it was time to sleep) and I could evaluate more clearly the next morning if I still felt the need to put in extra work. Sometimes I still had to, but taking the step back made me realize it could often wait until work hours. I focused on prioritizing my finite 8 hour day, and did a lot less procrastinating. 

The ability to work from anywhere gives you the power to customize your workday. Find the perfect combination of time zones, climates, hemispheres, and cost of living that works for you.  Are you an early riser? Head to French Polynesia and get your work out of the way from 4am to noon. Tired of paying exorbitant rent to live downtown? Non-renew your lease and head to Bogota where the average apartment costs $350/month. Hate the cold? Swap hemispheres and work from 11am-7pm after a morning stroll down Copacabana Beach. COVID has disrupted all of our lives, and nobody would have wished this reality upon us, but maybe this newfound flexibility can be your silver lining.

Note: Passion Passport encourages all travelers to stay at home unless you can provide for the safety of your health and others beyond reasonable doubt. While we will be sharing hotel properties in forthcoming emails, this is in no way an endorsement of careless and unabated travel. 

Lily traveled to Turkey in August 2020. Since then, she took another work remotely trip to the Balkans, some of the only countries left in the world without entry restrictions. To read more tips about the logistics of traveling while working, you can read her Instagram captions here.

Have you been working remotely away from home, or are you considering it in 2021? Let us know on Twitter