I bet you’ve seen the appealing pictures of the kind – folks sitting on the beach with their laptops, sipping a drink, gazing into the ocean.
Lucky bastards, right?
Come on. You don’t really think this is what a typical freelance routine look like, do you?
Indeed, many freelancers manage to marry work with traveling. At the same time, it involves a great deal of challenges.
Let’s put it this way. Any traveling involves some stress, positive in most cases, but still. You arrive in a foreign country having 0 acquaintances and knowing very little about everyday life. You’ll need some adaptation time, for sure. Combine it with the need of finding new freelance projects, misunderstandings with the clients, unpredictability of the work schedule and any other unforeseen circumstances.
To sum up, it’s a lot of stress for you. If you aren’t mentally prepared, you just won’t play it cool.
Freelance + travel combinations
How does one alleviate the pressure?
My thought on that is to minimize the level of uncertainty for two major factors. Here are the examples:
Long-term stable clients + unknown location ?
Having the certainty with freelance projects helps a lot. You are able to plan your work schedule and dedicate the remaining time for whatever is important to you. With the right self-management skills, you will have enough time for work and fun. Finding the right balance is up to you.
Unstable clients / unpredictable projects + familiar location ?
You start the day by not knowing what assignments you’ll have or how much time the work will consume throughout the day. It’s difficult to plan and even more difficult to stick to those plans. But given you are in the familiar surrounding you don’t have to think over all the everyday stuff. You don’t risk going for a walk in the evening and not knowing how to go back (as that’s a perfect time for the offline virtual maps to stop responding or for the phone to go off, but whatever).
Unstable clients / unpredictable projects + new location ?
That’s the toughest one. Mix all the uncertainty from the previous case and add here all the unknown related to the new accommodation. At first, you always lack something you are used to at home. You buy the overpriced stuff simply because you don’t know what everything should cost. You don’t distinguish tourist traps from deals for locals and so on. Apparently, long terms trips may be a solution here. At the same time, I would hate to sound discouraging. Everyone is different. You may be eager to try the whole uncertainty package, then go for it! It’s not going to be easy, but if you believe you can do it, who may prove you wrong?
My “work from paradise” try
I like this picture. It was taken during my 1-month stay on the island in the Atlantic ocean. Does it look like a “freelance dream” to you? Let me give you a bit of context here.
I’ve spent most of the summer home working like mad, seldom taking any time off, even on weekends. Obviously, after such a marathon I was at the limit of exhaustion. And then I headed for that trip, arrived at the outstanding island. The house where I lived had the terrace, overlooking the ocean and the mountains. The idea of working from there was just too appealing, not to give it a try.
Not a big deal, indeed. I just had to wait for the evening time, so there would be some shadow at the terrace. The Internet signal was very weak. Hence, I was suggested to open most of the doors and windows in the house which would reinforce the WI-FI coverage. Eventually, I got a chance to have an hour of “work” with the view you can see in the picture. Very unpractical, highly distractive (no way to focus on the laptop screen when the mountains are one look away). But yeah, now I could put a tick next to a virtual checkbox in my mind.
Work from paradise
Is the surrounding location that important?
After that trip, I’ve actually started re-evaluating the importance of the location. Meaning it’s not like you won’t have bad days if you are surrounded by blossoming trees and live in 20 minutes walk proximity to the ocean.
At the same time, the work process is much more challenging. Think about it: at any given moment instead of sitting in front of your laptop, you could enjoy the warm weather outdoors or lie on the beach. Imagine the level of self-motivation it takes to actually get to work. There is no one there to force you, you take that decision on your own. Or another thing is when you do your best and work hard, but it doesn’t really matter. For example, in crowdtesting, you may simply end up working for free when your defects are rejected or you don’t find any. Such a shame, you could have gone to see the sunset instead. Honestly, you start appreciating the regular vacations. Boy, isn’t that nice to switch off completely from any professional activity and relax?
Anyway, different things work for different people. You may be fine altering work with vacations or combining traveling and professional duties. Which formula will work best for you?
You never really know unless you try.