I’ve spent much of the last ten years traveling. A large part of that also involved working in the “fringe hours” and making the most of working on research and writing projects in the midst of travel. This post does include affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy for more information.
I have worked beside pools, in parks, on buses, on long road trips as a passenger, in countless hotel rooms, internet cafes, friends’ kitchen tables, business centers and airline lounges, on planes, and most of all, on trains. This year I spent a month traveling around the US by train (and plane and bus) and running my company, and writing a book, while I traveled.
Here’s the thing, I know that working from anywhere is not possible for everyone. But for anyone who is a knowledge worker, or whose work does not require a large or bulky piece of specialist equipment, it may truly be a possibility. So to assess if it is possible to be location independent, ask yourself how much of your work can be done in many different contexts with minimal equipment needed.
So how do you optimize your ability to work on the move, to work from anywhere, and truly gain location freedom.?
First step is to minimize those activities that are location specific. Start by changing up where you work each day for a week – visit a local library on one day, a coffee shop or two on another, your living room rather than your office on another. This will help you figure out if there are any bottlenecks or technology needs. Setting yourself up properly can take time and some strategic investments in a technology set up that works for you.
My equipment set up took time to develop and while I share it here – because it took me lots of time to find the right resources and information – to help you, it is important that you base your technology investments on your needs.
Firstly, look at your use of cloud technology, Software As A Service (SaaS) products, and tools which can help you automate and make your work life portable.
Practically, I pack as light as possible while on the road. If you are working while in the middle of a move (like a PCS with the military) then make sure that you have a dedicated bag and maybe a tote box you carry with you with work related materials.
Look carefully at all your key work processes. For example, the team member who handles finances for Anna Blanch Rabe & Associates works remotely, so we have set up a process where I scan receipts using a scanning app and submit to a secure document vault, or use an app to record travel expenses attaching a photo of the receipt and syncing it with the accounting solution we use which is secure and cloud based. This finance piece is a game changer as bookkeeping was an area where I ended up with a large backlog because i couldn’t do it all on the road.
So what do you need? After you’ve looked at your systems and processes, do an assessment on the utility of the equipment you already own and the gaps in your process.
Ensure that you build in redundancy. For example, I use a copy of my password log for key information I need on me to ensure that I have a redundancy in case of technology failure. But, I also have a pretty compact set of equipment.
On the low tech end, a pad of paper and a pen, or a notebook might be all you need, but for most of us, having an internet capable device is an essential to any possibility of working untethered to the office.
I find I am most productive with a laptop, a smartphone that can be used as a internet hotspot for internet purposes, a portable battery for my cellphone (not a skimpy little one) and a set of headphones. For longer trips I might also take a portable powerstrip.
Here is my packing list in terms of electronics and equipment:
Travel organizer bag for electronics
Anker 20100 Portable battery charger
AllPower 30000mAh Portable Laptop charger
Belkin Swivel 3 powerstrip with surge protector
External hard drive
Don’t overlook the importance of your luggage. I work with luggage that is as light as possible – mainly because I make sure I can carry all my own luggage. I plan to be self-sufficient whenever i choose which luggage pieces to use. For example, I take my R.Riveter Otto handbag, my rolling back pack (for electronics) and a small rolling suitcase. Packed it weighs less than 60 pounds in total. This is what I took for the American Identity tour in August 2017!
Being location independent is as much about working out what you can live without as it is what you need. But the reality is that the technology exists for working from anywhere to be possible for so many more people!
Speaker. Reader. Thinker. Writer. Traveler. Advocate
Anna Blanch Rabe, founder of Anna Blanch Rabe & Associates, works with Law Firms, Socially-responsible businesses, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations to develop and effectively execute strategic, digital, and narrative initiatives to gain exposure, develop community-capacity, and reach new customers. Anna is an Australian-born speaker, writer and advocate. Connect with Anna on Instagram, facebook page, & Twitter.