How to Freelance While Traveling
I get a lot of travel anxiety. That might seem ridiculous considering I’ve been to so many places, yet I still get that heart racing feeling a few days before my trip. Most of my anxiety is about how to freelance while traveling since that’s my primary source of income.
As a freelancer, you don’t get to formally take days off. There are no sick days. There are no missed deadlines (hopefully). Yet, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and for me that thing is travel. The reason I was drawn to freelancing in the first place is because it naturally lends itself to travel. As long as I have an internet connection, I can work.
This post is not only a way for me to address my travel anxiety for my upcoming cross-country trip, but it’s also a way to share what I’ve learned in my years of working from anywhere. I’ve worked in crowded hostels in London and in loud Croatian coffee bars. I’ve figured out how to make sure work doesn’t get in the way of my trip.
Note, this post isn’t talking about HOW to become a freelancer. If you’re interested in learning about that, I have a dedicated post on the best freelancing jobs for recent grads as well as how to become a successful freelance writer.
Choose Your Destinations Wisely
Today basically everywhere is on the grid. You can find wifi in just about every city in the world. That being said, I most often run into issues with things like bad hotel wifi and slow connections.
When looking for your next destination, consider the wireless situation. Will your hotel or hostel have a fast internet connection? Are there nearby coffee shops that you can count on to have a strong connection? You should always have a backup plan in case one method fails. (I’m looking at you St. Christopher Inn in London).
Talk to Your Clients or Editors
If you’re working on going with the same clients or editors, you’ve likely developed a relationship. I’ve found that it’s always a good idea to let them know that you have travel plans coming up. Give them sufficient notice like you would with any job. I’ve always had my clients be exceptionally understanding, and it’s a giant weight off my shoulder to know they won’t hold it against me if I need an extra day for an assignment or if I don’t respond to emails as quickly.
Not sure what to say? This is my go-to email to my editors:
I wanted to give you a heads up that I will be traveling next week from August 8 – August 15. I’ll still be available for assignments and edits, but I might not be as responsive as usual.
Thanks for understanding!
It can be as simple as that, honestly. If you want to go above and beyond, you can let them know the dates or times when you’ll be the most available. For my upcoming trip, I expect to be able to respond pretty quickly, but I’d rather leave a buffer just in case.
Plan Time to Work
The most important thing I’ve found in my experience is planning time into your daily schedule to work. When freelancing while traveling, it’s so easy to get caught up in the destination and procrastinate your client work or personal work.
I think of it this way: I’m lucky enough to work from anywhere, so I can afford a few hours of time each day to get my job done.
I’d definitely recommend getting your work done in the morning. Nothing is more exhausting than trying to get work done after a long day of exploring. Plus, getting your work out of the way first thing means you can be stress-free the rest of the day. When I travel with others, I get up early to get my work done. Yes, I might get an hour or two less of sleep, but it’s worth it to get the work done before I start the day.
Bring the Equipment
I made the mistake of only taking my iPad with me to London a few months ago. It was so frustrating to type 5000+ words a day on a tiny keyboard, plus formatting docs on an iPad is a nightmare. I ended up using my friend’s laptop whenever possible, and my iPad was nothing but dead weight.
Yes, dragging a laptop around is heavy, but it wasn’t worth the pain of not bringing it. Be realistic about what you need when you freelance while traveling. Investing in a small, portable laptop can be a great way to bring your work on the go. I don’t have the time or patience right now to drop money on a new laptop, so you better bet I’m dragging my senior citizen of a brick laptop around the Pacific Northwest this week.
Get Out of Your Room
If you’re the type of person who can’t get work done if there are any distractions, this might not be for you. But, if you’re a coffee shop or nature lover like me, get out of your room. You’re somewhere new! Soak it up!
Nothing makes you feel like a local faster than a slow breakfast in a cafe or coffeehouse. Just bring your laptop with you and enjoy the view. Yes, you might be working, but at least you’re not at home.
Even if you’re not a freelancer, sometimes there’s work you can’t put off even during a planned trip. Whether you’re a blogger, a student, or a freelance writer like me, having a plan will help you make the most of your trip. Even though I spend a percentage of my trips getting work done, I never feel like I miss out on anything.
I wouldn’t trade freelancing for anything. Not only does it mean I can write every day (and get paid!), but I also have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. It’s not hard to freelance while traveling when you prioritize both your travel bucket list and your projects.