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Per Starke
Per Starke

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Mastering the Remote Work & Travel Balance: My 8-Week Journey in Australia

Hey there! Ever thought about mixing work with travel? Well, that's exactly what I did during my 8-week
adventure across Australia. Thanks to my job as a web development freelancer,
I was able to flexibly manage my tasks and work hours, turning what could have been just another working period into
an unforgettable journey. Not only did I manage to stay on top of my client projects and other work projects,
making it a professionally rewarding time. I also had the incredible opportunity to explore the vibrant culture
and breathtaking nature of Australia. So, if you're curious about how to successfully combine work responsibilities
with wanderlust, keep reading! I’m excited to share personal anecdotes as well as tips on how you can do it too,
without sacrificing work quality or travel experiences.

I originally published this post on my blog. If you like, read it on there and check out my other posts. If you want to continue reading on here, feel free to do so, what counts is: Enjoy reading! :)

Essentials for Remote Work on the Go

Working from Liminal Coffee at Melbourne City, Australia

Pre-Requisites for Remote Work

Before you pack your bags and set out on your travel adventure, it's crucial to ensure that your
job actually supports remote work. If you're self-employed, like I am (well, by now I work partly self-employed and
partly as a working student, but during my trip, I only had the freelance job), you likely already have
the flexibility to work from anywhere. However, if you're employed by a company, you may need to discuss and
negotiate remote working arrangements. It's important to establish a clear agreement on flexible work times and
locations to avoid any misunderstandings. For my trip down under, having this flexibility was key to balancing
my client work with my passion for exploration.

Essential Gear

When it comes to working remotely while traveling, packing the right gear can make all the difference:

  • Backpack: Invest in a quality backpack that can carry all your essentials without straining your back. This isn't just your typical travel luggage; think of it as your mobile office. Use this for daily trips, so you can leave the rest of your luggage in your accommodation. Make sure the bag can fit the following items which I recommend having with you all the time during your work/travel trip:
    • Tech Supplies: Your laptop, chargers, and a power bank are non-negotiable. Also, consider a universal charging adapter if you're traveling internationally, as power outlets can vary widely. The best approach is to research the respective power outlets before you start your trip.
    • Connectivity: An e-SIM card or a local SIM with unlimited data ensures you're never without internet. This is crucial for staying connected and productive, no matter where you are.
    • Comfort and Convenience: Noise-cancelling headphones can be a game-changer, especially in noisy cafes or co-working spaces. Don't forget sunglasses, comfortable clothing, and a water bottle.
    • Extras: I like to carry a book or e-reader and my gym equipment. These aren't essential for everyone, but they help me keep a balanced routine.

Staying Put vs. Moving Around

While it might be tempting to city-hop every few days, I've found that staying in one place for an extended period allows you to establish a routine, find your favorite work spots, and really dig into the local culture. During my time in Australia, I spent four weeks in Sydney followed by three and a half weeks in Melbourne, with a short work-free road trip in between. This setup allowed me to not only focus on my work effectively but also explore each location thoroughly and make trips to places nearby. If you're planning for a remote work trip, consider a similar approach for a balance of productivity and exploration.

Time Management Strategies

Working with a view, from Library at the Dock, Melbourne City, Australia

Effective time management is crucial when balancing work with the thrill of exploring new places. Here’s how I kept productive and still managed to soak up the experiences of traveling:

Daily Planning

One key tip to successful remote work while traveling is setting a clear schedule.
I made it a practice to plan my days the night before, allocating specific blocks of time for work and for exploration or relaxation.
This structure helped me stay on track with client projects while also carving out enough time to enjoy the destinations I visited.
Remember, the more you plan, the less you leave to chance, especially when balancing work projects with adventures.

Some people argue that overly planning everything can make your days less rewarding. I actually see it very differently: Detailled planning allows to do more of what you love.

Efficient Routing

Travel logistics can make or break your work schedule.
It's a practical tip for saving time to plan your daily travel routes smartly.
For instance, if you're headed to a particular attraction, consider working from a cafe or co-working space on the way. This method saves time and energy, preventing unnecessary back-and-forth travel.
During my time in Sydney, I rented a scooter, which was a game-changer. It gave me the independence to visit remote spots and manage my time more effectively. Scooters are great for beating traffic, especially in bustling cities, and they add a fun twist to your travel!
But the means of transportation depend on the place you are visiting and on your personal preferences. Some cities like London are famous for their efficient public transport, so you can easily make use of that. Smaller cities might be best to explore by renting a bike.

Avoiding Distractions

Staying focused can be challenging, especially with the distrations of phones, social media and all the available short-form content.
To combat this, I set strict guidelines for my work hours: no social media, no Netflix, and no phone usage, unless work-related. Outside work, I continued these practices to enhance my experience - no TV shows or movies, and less than an hour on my phone daily, mainly to keep in touch with friends and update my Instagram Stories (Just as a quick comparison: The average screen time in Germany is more than 5 h). This drastic reduction in screen time allowed me to not only focus on work but also to truly engage with the incredible places I visited instead of constantly being distracted by my phone.

It’s also helpful to set goals for what you want to achieve each day and week - this keeps you motivated and on task, ensuring you spent your time on the things that matter to you. Instead of creating endless to-do lists, focus on the most relevant tasks each day and week that really move the needle.

By integrating these time management strategies, I was able to maintain a productive workflow and still have ample time to explore. Each day felt rewarding, both professionally and personally, making the remote work and travel experience extremely satisfying.

Finding Ideal Workspaces

Working from Melbourne Skydeck, with stunning city views

Whether you're dialing into morning meetings or coding away on a project, finding the right spot to work can significantly enhance your productivity and enjoyment.

I strongly suggest to not work from your accommodation most of the time.
Instead, use the exploration of different workspaces as another opportunity to experience more of the area and culture of the place you are visiting. You can make the most of the local coffee culture, get in contact with natives or other travelers at libraries, or find accountability partners for focussed work in co-working spaces.

Variety of Spaces

It's important to identify what type of environment boosts your productivity and experience. Common options include:

  • Cafés: Great for a relaxed atmosphere. Look for ones with strong WiFi, ample power outlets, and a good vibe. Cafés are ideal for shorter sessions or when you need a change of scenery.
  • Libraries: Perfect for deep focus work. They're usually quiet and equipped with all the facilities needed for a productive workday.
  • Co-working Spaces: While there's a cost involved, co-working spaces are fantastic for longer sessions. They provide professional amenities and the opportunity to network with other professionals. Costs can vary, but they're generally a good investment if you need a consistent and equipped place to work.
  • Outdoor Seating Areas: Weather permitting, these can be uplifting and inspiring. Just make sure your devices are charged, and you have a data plan ready if there’s no WiFi.

Personal Experiences in Sydney

In Sydney and Melbourne, I embarked on a mini-mission to discover the best remote work spots. I tried various cafés, each with its unique charm, and eventually found a few that fit my needs perfectly. They offered excellent coffee, reliable WiFi, and didn't mind if I camped out for several hours with just a coffee and snack. Randomly, I stumbled upon Sydney's Darling Square - an outdoor area with communal seating and nearby street food. The open setting meant no worries about opening hours, and the ambiance was just right for a few hours of emails or design work. Libraries became another favorite, especially for tasks requiring deep concentration. Whether it was a public library or a university one, the quiet environment was ideal for productivity.

Tips for Finding Workspaces

Always Google or search for recommended remote work spots in the area. Many cities have lists compiled by other digital nomads or remote workers - these can be goldmines of information. For Sydney and Melbourne, I’m working on compiling my own lists of tested and approved workspaces, which I’ll share in future posts. This can save you a lot of trial and error and make your work-from-anywhere experience smoother and more enjoyable.

By exploring different environments, you can keep your workday fresh and stimulating, all while enjoying the new settings that travel brings. The key is to find places that not only provide the resources you need but also inspire you to be productive.

Working According to Weather

Weather can play a significant role in planning your remote work and travel activities. It's a smart strategy to align your work schedule with the weather conditions to maximize both productivity and enjoyment.

Adapting to Conditions

When you have the flexibility of choosing your work hours and location, you can adjust your activities based on the weather forecast. On days when the weather is less than ideal, it might be more appealing to settle into a cozy café or library to get your work done. This way, you're not feeling like you're missing out on great weather, and you can stay comfortable and focused indoors.
Conversely, when the forecast promises clear skies and pleasant temperatures, it’s a perfect opportunity to take your work to an outdoor setting or wrap up early and go exploring. Sunny days are ideal for enjoying the outdoors, whether you're heading to a beach, hiking in a national park, or just exploring city streets.

Flexibility Enhances Experience

This flexible approach allows you to make the most of your surroundings and ensures that bad weather doesn't derail your travel experiences. By shifting work indoors during rainy days and working a bit more, you can save the sunniest days for adventures, making your travel experience more enjoyable. However, it's also worth mentioning that exploring in the rain can be its own adventure - many cities and landscapes show a different kind of beauty under overcast skies.
And of course: Don’t let rain spoil your travel and mood!

Using the weather to guide your schedule isn’t just about staying dry or soaking up the sun; it's about making smart choices that enhance your productivity and leisure time. This adaptability is one of the great benefits of remote work while traveling, letting you blend work and play in the most enjoyable and efficient way possible.

Meal Planning and Health

Balancing nourishment with convenience is a vital aspect of working remotely while traveling. Proper meal planning not only saves time but also ensures you're adequately fueled for both productivity and adventure.

Efficient and Enjoyable Eating

Meal prepping can be a game-changer for the remote worker on the go. By preparing your meals in advance, you ensure that you always have healthy and satisfying options at hand, which saves you the time and hassle of finding food during your workday. For instance, I often prepared my meals for the next day in the evening. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks were packed to eat on the go, allowing me to maximize my time exploring or working without the interruption of frequent stops for food.

Wraps, sandwiches, protein or oat bars, fruits and nuts are some great examples for practical on-the-go snacks and meals.

However, it’s also essential to balance efficiency with enjoyment. While it's practical to snack on the go, it's equally important to occasionally slow down and savor your meals. Some days, I’d have my dinner prepared to enjoy at a scenic spot I'd visit in the evening - having dinner with a view of the coast is incredibly rewarding. Other times, I treated myself to dinner at restaurants or tried local street food, which allowed me to enjoy the local cuisine and culture more deeply.

Balancing Work and Travel

Wilsons Promontory, Coast View from Green Mountains, Australia

Finding the right balance between work and leisure is crucial when you're traveling and working remotely. It's about making sure that your work commitments don't prevent you from enjoying the new environments around you.

A Day Well-Balanced

One memorable day shows how I managed to perfectly balance productivity with pleasure. I began the day with an energizing short sunrise walk along the coast, which set a positive tone. Then, I hunkered down at my favorite cafe, where I completed a client project by noon thanks to the morning's fresh energy (and the amazing coffee :D).
Feeling accomplished, I treated myself to a beach break, enjoying some ice cream and a swim under the sun. Later, I shifted to Darling Square to wrap up a pro-bono project where I had set myself the goal to finish it this day. There, amidst the lively atmosphere and over some delicious street food, I felt both productive and relaxed.
I rounded off the day with a cozy walk through the Botanic Gardens and past the Sydney Opera House - I give you a goosebump-guarantee for the nighttime atmosphere there!
This day was a perfect blend of meeting work deadlines and enjoying local experiences, illustrating how focused work, setting clear goals and using well-planed time blocks can lead to a fulfilling balance of work and exploration.

Additional Tips for Remote Working Travelers

Tech Tips for Remote Work

You can leverage technology effectively for a smoother remote work experience:

  • Cloud Storage: Ensure all your documents are accessible no matter where you are by using cloud storage services.
  • VPNs: Maintain security and privacy by using a VPN, especially when accessing public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Productivity Apps: Utilize tools and apps that enhance remote work efficiency, like task managers and time-tracking apps. I recommend Google Calendar for planning your work/travel blocks and managing your time.

Social Interaction

Engaging with locals and fellow travelers can enrich your travel experience significantly:

  • Networking: Use co-working spaces and local events to meet new people who can offer insights and tips on the area.
  • Cultural Exchange: Don’t shy away from interacting with locals to deepen your understanding of the culture and perhaps discover hidden gems in the city.

Insurance and Safety

Don’t overlook the practical aspects of traveling:

  • Travel Insurance: Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers everything from health issues to lost luggage.
  • Health Precautions: Keep up-to-date with vaccinations and have a plan for accessing medical care if needed, to ensure your health doesn’t disrupt your work or travel plans. By keeping these additional pointers in mind, you can ensure that your remote work adventure is not only productive but also safe and socially enriching.

Wrapping It Up

There you have it - my compact guide to mastering the art of working remotely while soaking up the joys of travel. Remember, the secret lies in preparation and flexibility: set up your remote work essentials, manage your time wisely, find your perfect work spots, and don't forget to plan meals and take care of your health.

Embracing the digital nomad lifestyle is all about striking that sweet balance between work and wanderlust. With the right mindset and a bit of organization, you can turn any destination into a dynamic workspace and a thrilling adventure. So pack up your laptop, choose your next destination, and get ready to expand your horizons - both professionally and personally. Happy travels and happy working!

Top comments (1)

per-starke-642 profile image
Per Starke

I'm keen to hear your experiences with remote work, either traveling or from home. Share your experiences, tips and challenges here.

Thanks for reading and have an amazing day everyone!