Many of us dream of hitting the open road and never looking back. But, unless you recently won the lottery, it’s usually not a viable option to forgo the security of a 9 to 5 job — and the paychecks that come with it.
So, to understand how one can successfully combine work and travel, we asked a few experts: three travelers who seem to effortlessly manage remote work and near-constant travel.
This is what they had to say.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE TRAVEL WITH WORK AND EVERYDAY LIFE?
“Travel is my work! As a travel blogger and photographer, it’s my job to seek out new people, places, and events to cover. It’s easy for me because I live out of my backpack; I don’t have any kind of home base, nor an official schedule I have to adhere to. There’s no worrying about vacation days here!
“The biggest struggle is finding the balance between traveling and working on the blog. It’s easy to get caught up in emails and social media, and writing and editing, at the expense of travel time. Sometimes, I just need to bite the bullet and skip out on an activity or two, but usually I stay in each place for a longer period of time so I can allocate a few days for work and a few more for exploring.” — Alex of Lost with Purpose
“Traveling definitely takes a toll on your everyday life — on everything from relationships to your diet and health. I struggled for the first two years, and it affected every aspect of my life enormously — being away up to 10 months of the year, sometimes for long stretches of time on back-to-back photo assignments. Fast forward to present-day, and I’ve found some methods that help balance everything for me.
“Prior to each trip, I establish the best communication method based on where I’m going — with my partner, family, and friends. I take seven days off between each travel job; this time is used to focus on eating healthy, running my business, and, most importantly, spending time with my partner and friends. I eat a plant-based diet when I’m at home, and I eat as healthy as possible when I’m traveling, while still making an effort to try local dishes in each destination. I dedicate a lot of time to my health, wellness, and sleeping.
“Two years ago, I relocated to Vancouver in an attempt to balance my lifestyle. Moving closer to an airport, surrounding myself with entrepreneurial friends, and being near a great outdoors scene was probably the turning point for me in balancing everything.” — Callum Snape
“I am lucky that my job does not require being tied to an office (as such, there isn’t a balance, per se, between how much I travel and how much I work because it all happens simultaneously). As a travel journalist, I can work from anywhere in the world — and I often do.
“When I am on the road, I make use of downtime (i.e. long flights, train rides, waiting time, etc.) to handle email, social media, and “office work,” while my more creative work (writing, photo-editing, etc.) happens early in the morning or late at night. If I travel for a prolonged period of time, I tend to stick more to the typical “office hours” schedule to ensure I don’t get behind. But the beauty of this lifestyle is in the flexibility. The freedom to not be attached to an office at all times allows me to take a Thursday off to travel to the only craft brewery in Jordan, which I did just a few weeks ago.
“As far as everyday life goes, having a strong support network and a routine to follow are key. I would not be able to do what I do without the help of my family. For example, when I am traveling, they take care of my dog. Routine (regular exercise and sleeping/eating habits) help me stay as fit and healthy as possible when I am on the road and make the transition back to home base much easier to handle.” — Yulia Denisyuk
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO INTEGRATE TRAVEL INTO THEIR LIVES MORE EFFECTIVELY?
“Figure out what you’re good at — or what you’d really like to be good at — and find a way to do it online.
“There are an endless number of ways to make money on the Internet these days, whether it be coding, consulting, working as a virtual assistant, teaching languages — you name it. Many people have skills they could offer to others online, but they simply don’t realize that working online is a viable option.
“Master a skill, make sure you have a good portfolio or set of testimonials to prove you know your stuff, and start seeking out clients. If you’re able to do all of your work remotely, you can travel anywhere and everywhere, so long as you have an Internet connection!” — Alex of Lost with Purpose
“I think the most important factor to consider is communication. Be very open with your partner, friends, and family about the best way to talk or text during your time away. Go through your itinerary, know if you’re going to be able to use your cell phone while you’re away or if you’re going to have easy access to WiFi. There are so many communication tools right now — WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Viber, Skype, FaceTime — so pick which one works for you, based on where you’re traveling.
“Taking time off and not overdoing it is also key. Don’t do back-to-back travel for long periods of time and, when you’re away, take an hour or two each day to slow down and rest. And always make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating responsibly.” — Callum Snape
“Consider incorporating shorter, more frequent trips into your year. In the States particularly, we have this mentality of two-weeks-a-year vacation. Using your vacation days strategically will allow you to take more (albeit, shorter) trips. For example, you could take a Friday and a Monday off and fly to Dubai for a weekend (which I actually did when I was still in the corporate world — it was a blast!). Combine your vacation days with a government holiday to extend your travel time or consider finding a company that supports a more generous vacation policy (they are still a dime a dozen, but that number is growing!).
“If you do end up making frequent trips, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Frequent time zone changes and jet lag take a huge toll on the body — so learn to listen to what your body needs (sleep, water, exercise), and take extra doses of multivitamins when you are in transition periods.
“Finally, I would say that nothing has enriched my life more than being able to travel frequently in the past few years. The experience of seeing new places often and not staying put in one place changes the way you think, feel, and react to the world. In my case, I’ve started to consider things that were once impossible as now being within reach. I’ve realized that certain lifepaths and structures we are used to are just that: structures put in place by someone else, for someone else’s benefits. Once you start seeing that, there is no going back to an old way of living. Growing personally, trying new projects, reaching new goals, and connecting with awesome humans all across the world becomes the new normal, all because you said “yes” to more travel in your life.” — Yulia Denisyuk
Header image by the Pattiz Brothers