Every year, millions more people are entering the world of remote work. The freedom it brings is incredible, but there are also some challenges. How do you stay productive when you are in charge of your own time and schedule? If you get these things right, not only will you be successful in your work, you can also make the most of the flexibility that remote work offers – blending your job with travel, discovery, and making rewarding use of your leisure time. In this article, travel bloggers and digital nomads give their top remote working tips to help you thrive.
Want to dip your toes in with some remote working travel? Also read our complete guide to taking a workation.
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Remote working tips: your working environment
1. Have a dedicated workspace without distractions
Tip by Anu Agarwal, Destination Checkoff
Working remotely gives you more time back in your day as you save time from the commute. It also gives your the freedom to work from anywhere, explore a new destination and enjoy outdoor activities. But it is very important to make sure you have a productive environment set up for your remote workspace.
One of the biggest keys to remote working success is having a dedicated workspace. Wherever you are, set aside a corner as your workstation.
Make sure it is equipped with all the equipment and tools you would need for your work. These could be a proper workstation or even a hotel desk with a comfortable chair, a computer or laptop, a microphone and headsets for calls, and your favourite beverage. The environment should be free of any distractions to boost productivity.
Once you have perfected your workspace for remote working, set up focus time blocks to work without getting distracted. This could be an hour or two where you will not do anything else but work on the task at hand. Having a dedicated workspace and focusing on your work during a focus time block will help you get your work done quickly so that you can enjoy the rest of your day doing things you love.
2. Consider wellness in your remote working environment
Tip by Michele Peterson, A Taste For Travel
When planning or selecting a remote workplace it’s important to look for a coworking space with wellness features that support a healthy lifestyle. Some of the amenities to seek out include a shared refrigerator (to store homemade rather than store-bought lunches), natural lighting, complimentary healthy snacks such as fruit or nuts, a water cooler so you don’t get dehydrated, good ventilation, AC (where needed) and a communal kitchen with a microwave or stove to prepare nutritious food on work breaks. Showers and spa-like washrooms are a welcome bonus too.
Offices with access to outdoor space such as terraces, gardens and swimming pools are becoming increasingly popular at co-working spaces in Puerto Escondido, Mexico and other remote working destinations. Not only does access to green space boost morale, motivation and productivity, but spending time in nature provides mental health benefits by enhancing cognitive functioning, increasing attentiveness and reducing stress.
Some remote work spaces take this concept even further by offering yoga classes, meditation and silent zones. All of this adds up to a healthier, happier and more productive you.
3. Save money with home rentals instead of hotels
Tip by Geeves Joy, Real Girl Review
If you’re a travel junkie who loves to jet-set around the world on your own schedule, working remotely is the dream! Not only does it give you the ability to venture off to a new destination anytime the mood strikes, it also allows you the chance to explore for as long as you want since you don’t have to get back to the office.
After all, laptops can go anywhere. All you need is the right accommodation setup and you’re good to go. However, sometimes the freedom that comes with working remotely can make it easier to get distracted, especially with so many amazing adventures calling your name.
Before you know it, you’re having a hard time meeting deadlines and are too excited by what’s going on around you to stay motivated at your job. That’s when a long-term rental like Airbnb or Vrbo is better than a hotel.
With a more affordable rate for a longer stay, the pressure is taken off of the traveler to get their work done quickly because they feel like they’re missing out on the world outside their door. There can be a balance between work and fun time. Turns out, you really can have it all!
4. Save money by working at cafés instead of coworking spaces
Tip by Katie, Katie Caf Travel
One way to save money while working remotely is by working from cafés instead of coworking offices that charge a fee. At cafés, your cost of admission is tied to the price of your drink and food orders, which makes is a much more economical choice for remote workers on a budget.
Unlike coworking spaces, cafés usually offer free wifi and power outlets for customers, as well as food and beverages to enjoy while you work.
Additionally, working from cafés can provide a more authentic local experience and allow you to soak up the culture and vibe of the area you’re visiting. Some cafés in popular tourist locations, like Bali, have stunning views of the ocean or lush landscapes that you can enjoy while working.
However, it’s important to note that working from cafés may not be suitable for everyone. Cafés can be noisy, and it can be difficult to focus on work or take calls with background music and chatter. In this case, coworking spaces may be a better option.
Overall, working from cafés can be a great way to save money while combining work and travel, and provide a unique and inspiring work environment.
Just be sure to choose a quiet spot if you need to make calls or hold meetings, and always be respectful of the café’s staff and other customers. Remember, a café is not your personal office space, but can be an enjoyable work environment while exploring new places.
5. Compile motivational quotes and videos
Tip by Kristin, Global Travel Escapades
Another tip that can make a world of difference when working remotely is having motivational quotes and videos within easy access. When you’re travelling and working remotely, or even if you’re working from home, it’s easy to become distracted and lose sight of the end goal. This lack of motivation can then result in you mentally spiralling, losing focus, and beating yourself up about not being productive enough.
To combat this, try and compile a list of motivational quotes, perhaps in a Google Doc, and a Youtube playlist with motivational videos that resonate with you. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or unable to move forward, these can serve as a reminder of your ‘personal why’ and help push you through the tough times.
Similarly, having videos and quotations that you identify with can also give you grace and emphasise that it’s okay to take time off. It’s not uncommon for remote workers to feel guilty when they take time off to travel or embark on an adventurous activity, like paragliding through the Swiss Alps. But, by taking a few moments to read some quotes, watch motivational videos, and remind yourself why you’re doing it, you can provide yourself with a bit of support and peace of mind.See our collection of remote working quotes for inspiration
6. Check the wifi connection before booking
Tip by Vicki Sans, Vicki Viaja
One thing can severely limit your stay as a digital nomad at your destination: and that’s a lousy wifi connection. Who doesn’t know the situation when you have some work to do or an important Zoom call with a client, and the connection just won’t work properly?
But there’s a handy tip for that. When booking your accommodation online, be sure to look for reviews from other digital nomads or remote workers. Some booking portals, such as Booking.com, even offer an extra filter to search the reviews for the keyword “wifi”. This way, you can view other travellers’ reviews on the topic in a flash.
If you book your accommodation through other portals or on-site, you can instead find out about the general wifi connection in the region, town, or neighbourhood. For example, if you want to move to Barcelona for a while, you should find out about the local internet connection beforehand. First, check Spain travel forums or Barcelona Facebook groups to see which neighbourhood has a good connection. You will discover that the connection is good all over the city and that fast wifi is already included in many rental contracts in Barcelona.
Whether you’re renting a room or apartment or staying in a hostel or coliving, always check the internet speed and reliability of the connection before booking to avoid any unpleasant surprises upon arrival.Read our guide to taking a workation in Barcelona
Remote working tips: productivity and time management
7. Communicate the importance of your working hours
Tip by Stephanie, Oklahoma Wonders
Something that can be a challenge for remote workers who live with other people is to get their buy-in that your work hours are sacrosanct. Sometimes when housemates or family members see your flexible work schedule it becomes a pattern that your work hours are less important than theirs. All of a sudden demands on your time can pull you away from work.
This is especially hard if you are a parent, as others may not take their childcare duties as seriously if you are also present in the home. It’s really difficult to say no to a crying child who wants your attention, so your partner or childcare need to enforce that you are not available by being extra cognisant to keep children feeling as secure as possible so that they don’t run to you in the first place.
Well intentioned friends and family can invite you to events and put pressure on you to be available to them when you really need to be working.
If you are your own boss, it’s crucial that you get anyone in your circle, especially those living in your home and anyone sharing childcare duties with you, to understand how your working hours operate, what amount of flexibility and control you have over your schedule, and the minimum number of hours you are required to work or you need to reach your business objectives.
8. Find a schedule that works for you
Tip by Claire, Tales Of A Backpacker
One of the benefits of working from anywhere is you can usually choose your own schedule to fit your lifestyle. Some people can just grab a couple of hours whenever they have spare time, but I find it is easier to work out a routine and stick to that.
Having a routine helps to separate work and pleasure, and is very useful for maintaining a healthy work/life balance while travelling. It stops you from working late into the night and the structure can be beneficial so you know exactly what you’re doing and when without even thinking about it.
Of course it doesn’t have to be the typical 9–5 working hours that you left behind at the office! You also want to be able to enjoy the destination where you are, so find a schedule that works for you.
You could go for a swim at the beach every morning, then work for a couple of hours before lunch and go for a walk before finishing off the rest of your work. Or work in the mornings and have the afternoons free, or vice versa.
As long as you work enough to cover your contracted hours to enough to complete the required tasks, the rest of the time is yours to enjoy!
9. Set a log-off time
Tip by Kassidy, Kassidy’s Journey
We’ve all been there: you didn’t get what you wanted to get done today done, so instead of logging off for the day, you work into dinner time, and then past your bedtime.
When you’re working from home, it can be very hard to discipline yourself enough to log off for the night, or not bring your laptop into bed with you.
One of the best ways to combat this, is by choosing a specific log-off time for yourself, and sticking to it. Whether that be 3:00 in the afternoon, or 7:00 at night, it’s best to choose a time and not stray from it.
Just like if you were working at an in-person job, once the clock hits a certain time, you pack up for the day and head home. Why should working from home be any different?
As a travel blogger who works from home, setting my “I’m done with work” time has helped to ensure that my work–life balance stays in tact. Without it, life and work sometimes blur together.
And even as someone who loves their job, it can be draining to be in ‘work-mode’ at all hours of the day and night. Setting a log-off time has helped combat these feelings, and has made my work life much easier.
10. Try the Pomodoro technique
Tip by Cath, Travel Around Ireland
Remote working can be hard for anyone, whether you are a blogger writing about food tours in Dublin, or an IT consultant working on a big document for your client’s global roll-out of Workday.
Productivity is an important factor for keeping on track when you are your own boss surrounded by distractions. Distractions can hugely affect a remote worker’s productivity, and when you have deadlines to meet or a target to hit, you cannot afford to become unproductive.
Using the Pomodoro technique for productivity can be hugely helpful. The Pomodoro technique is a time-management technique where you break a single task into 25-minute focused periods followed by 5-minute breaks. Repeat these steps three more times before taking a longer 15–20-minute break.
The idea behind it is we can be easily distracted after 25 minutes. Giving ourselves a break resets our focus when we reset the timer.
There are various apps available that you can use as the timer. Alternatively, you can use the timer on your cell phone’s clock, or you can put your phone away, avoiding any potential distractions, and use a cheap kitchen timer instead.
A cheap kitchen timer, set to 25 minutes, is a preferable method of doing your Pomodoro sprints as you can focus on the work in hand, avoiding notification distractions from your phone, and its alarm is the only signal you need to take your 5-minute break.
So, if you are a remote worker who struggles with productivity and distractions, put the cell phone away, grab a kitchen timer, and start working in Pomodoro sprints. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done in 25 minutes.
11. Plan time zones ahead
Tip by Sumeeta, Sumeeta Seeks
One of the best parts about working remotely is the ability to combine your working life with adventure! The freedom to work from anywhere with a wifi connection opens up a world of possibilities. But it’s important to be strategic and plan ahead so you can make the most of your travels without compromising your work quality.
One simple hack that will allow you to get ample time in for adventuring while still being present for work is to choose remote work locations that are a few hours ahead by time zone. When you are staying someplace that is ahead in its times, you will be able to wake up before your work day begins, and get a few to several hours of sightseeing in before you begin work. Talk about a great way to start off the day!
For example, say you are based out of Los Angeles and you typically wake up at 7am and start your work day at 9am Pacific Coast time. If you go somewhere in the US Eastern time zone like New York City, then you can wake up at 7am local time and spend the morning exploring until noon before logging in for work. And if you wrap up work at 5pm Pacific Coast time, that will be 8pm New York time – just in time for a nice show or dinner and drinks out on the town!
Strategically choosing where you travel to can help you make the most of your remote working trip. Just be sure to prepare in advance so you can start slowly adjusting your sleeping schedule to cope with the jet-lag.
Remote working tips: useful tools
12. Buy a planner
Tip by Alex Chapman, Twenty Something Traveler
When it comes to remote working, having a planner can be an absolute lifesaver, especially since you might not be around people who can hold you accountable. Even if you think you can keep track of everything in your head, get a planner. It will make your job so much easier. Planners help you remember important dates, create to-do lists, and take notes all in one place.
The best part is that there are several different types of planners out there to appeal to your organisational style. Some planners are more for viewing your month or week as a whole, while some planners really let you zone in on your work one day at a time. Some planners even break it down further by providing designated sections for personal life, work, school, and more.
Maybe pen and paper isn’t your thing, and that is perfectly fine, because there are also several online planners and calendars available out there. Google and Outlook have free versions of calendars that can even send reminders to your email.
My favourite part of having a planner is when I get to check off all my finished tasks as I work throughout the day, because it is nice to acknowledge even the small accomplishments sometimes. I honestly don’t think I would have been as successful through school or any of my jobs had I not had my own planner, so I always tell anyone who is struggling with organisation to make that purchase.
13. Use apps
Tip by Jess, Uprooted Traveler
If you’re working remotely, make sure you seek out apps that can help you work as efficiently as possible.
For example, if you’re a digital nomad living in a trailer or campervan, you can use some of the best RVing apps to help you make sure you can work while you’re on the road. For example, both Campendium and The Dyrt include ways to filter and find free and affordable campsites.
These apps also provide recent user reviews, including the strength of cell service for each major cell phone provider at campsites, so you can determine whether you’ll be able to use mobile internet while you’re camping there.
Not an RVer? There’s still plenty of apps that can help you. Airbnb’s app similarly provides user reviews for short term rentals (including things like strength of Wifi or noisiness of the accommodations), so you can decide whether the Airbnb will make a good temporary office while you’re travelling.
Need something to help with productivity? Toggl is a productivity tool that can help you identify if you’re using your time efficiently or not. No matter what kind of remote worker you are, there are plenty of apps out there that can help you work more comfortably and efficiently.
14. Take backups of gear
Tip by Samantha, International Detours
As someone who is based in a remote region of Pakistan, there is no remote working tip I want to emphasise more than this: double up on essential gear!
While many nomad hotspots have a good amount of luxuries, you never know when malfunction will hit in a far-flung destination. Buying a second laptop or camera may be too out of budget, but allow yourself to think smaller than that.
Purchasing a second power bank that was capable of charging my laptop to full has been a game changer, especially in places with minimal electricity. Likewise, drone batteries and accessories are hard to find here, so I snagged some extras. You won’t even realise how hard finding things like quality memory cards or authentic USB-C cables can be until you need them for a project.
Duplicating affordable essentials (that you likely don’t even realise how much you rely on) will allow you to travel farther and longer as a nomad. You’ll feel more at ease knowing you have backups, and you truly never know when and where they’ll come in handy.
15. Track your time with Clockify
Tip by Ella, Many More Maps
When it comes to time management, there’s only one way to keep yourself on the straight and narrow, and that’s by tracking your time!
It’s SO easy to get carried away spending hours at your laptop but not really achieving anything. Seeing the time you have actually spent being productive right before your eyes helps you to eliminate procrastination and busy work by being realistic about how much time you’ve actually spent working. I use and recommend Clockify for time tracking, and it’s totally free.
Clockify is a web and mobile app that basically works like an advanced stopwatch. You write a short description of what you’re working on, then start the timer. Remember to stop it every time you stop to scroll social media and so on! You can time record loads of different tasks and projects on Clockify, and then, at the end of the day or week, you can see how much time you’ve actually logged. I bet it’s far less than you expected.
I live in London, a city with a very high cost of living. For this reason, I need to be super disciplined with my work to break even, and tracking my time with Clockify has massively helped with this. Heck, even if you don’t live in an expensive area, chances are you want to limit your procrastination with work, and this tool is my number one recommendation to do this.
16. Use a VPN
Tip by Catherine, Traveling With The Littles
When working remotely, or planning a family gap year, the number one tool that you need is a good virtual private network (VPN). There are several benefits to having a VPN; however, the two most important are (1) security on public wifi networks and (2) having access to websites and apps as if you were at home.
While traveling and working remotely, you’ll likely work from coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, and other public places. These places may provide free or paid wifi; however, their networks will probably be public. That means anyone using the same network could steal your data or passwords. A VPN provides an encrypted server, so you do not have to worry about anyone in the Starbucks tracking your online activity or hacking your email.
Have you ever been abroad and tried to access your Amazon media library or a particular website just to be told you could not because you were outside of your home country? A VPN can help you circumvent these problems.
There are many VPNs to choose from, and each one has anywhere from hundreds to thousands of servers around the world. You can select a server in any of these countries to trick your computer into thinking you are in another country. Using a VPN means accessing useful website content that may otherwise be unavailable in your country of travel.
Remote working tips: balancing work and travel
17. Use half days and long weekends
Tip by Amber, Amber Everywhere
If you work for a company and want to maximise your travel, learn to make the most of your time off and take plenty of half days and long weekends. Aim for shorter, action-packed itineraries for 2–4 days. If your company is less willing to allow you to leave early on a Friday, try a later start on Monday morning to allow you to squeeze in one more activity.
You can fit in three full days of activities with a long weekend if you’re willing to take a late evening flight after you’re done working and an early return flight. Trips from Thursday to Tuesday can allow you to explore and get a little work done, especially if you plan ahead to know where you’ll be working from and when you’ll need to be online. As a bonus, mid-week flights are usually cheaper than those on the weekend.
Here’s an example of a one-day itinerary in Cork, Ireland, for someone working a half day. You could grab a coffee and breakfast and spend 3–4 hours working from the Marina Market, a spot with plenty of seating. After you’ve made some progress on your emails, hop on a bus and check out the infamous Blarney Castle, where you can kiss the Blarney Stone. Then, go back into town and enjoy dinner and some live music in a pub before calling it a night.
18. Book day trips in advance
Tip by Catrina, 24 Hours Layover
One thing that really helps me when I am working remotely is to always book day trips in advance when I visit a new destination. That way I am always making time for exploring when on a work trip. For example, when I was working up in Byron Bay I booked a day trip to go snorkeling at Julian Rocks with the leopard sharks – it was incredible!
Not only does booking day trips help me stay productive and focused, as I know I need to get all my work done before I go on the day trip, but it also gives me something to look forward to. I find remote work can be a bit lonely, so going on day trips gives me an opportunity to socialise and meet new people.
I’m also a bit of a workaholic, so if I don’t book day trips in advance I’ll always end up working when I should be having a day off. Pre-planned day trips ensure I take a break from work.
Often there can be several amazing day trips I want to do at the destination, so I’ll book the ones that I really want to do first, so I’m making the best use of my time incase I can only fit in a couple. Booking in advance also ensures the activity hasn’t sold out on the day you wish to go, and often helps you avoid queues.
19. Try housesitting
Tip by Linda, Hiking The Alps
My favourite tip for remote working is, to do housesitting. The concept is simple: people who are vacationing elsewhere need someone to watch the home and, in many cases, at least one pet.
Some house or apartment owners simply do not want to leave their home unguarded; others have pets that cannot travel with them. They all look for a house-sitter on the various portals to take care of the home in their absence.
The advantage for remote workers is obvious. You can discover a new place, city or country and do not need to spend money on accommodation. In return, you take care of the house and usually some cute pets.
This is, however, not completely free as most platforms that bring together homeowners and house-sitters take an annual or registration fee. But that doesn’t compare to what you get in return.
Thanks to this outstanding concept, I have been able to spend several weeks in the last few months in places that I would either never have considered as vacation spots, or would normally be too expensive for me, for example the cote d’Azur in the south of France. I spent four weeks in a beautiful villa with pool, overlooking the ocean, taking care of two cats. I was able to work with the best views ever and could explore beautiful surroundings such as the gorges of Verdon.
20. Create different Google Chrome profiles
Tip by Vrushali, Couple Of Journeys
A simple hack that can help minimise distractions when working remotely is creating different Google Chrome profiles – one for work, and another for travel.
The work profile should be synced to your Google account that you use exclusively for work. This way the Google Docs or Sheets that you use to plan your trips do not show up in Google Drive.
Select a neutral background colour. Add all the bookmarks you need to this profile that help you become more productive, or shortcuts to Google Docs, Sheets, etc. Add extensions that you regularly use for work, as well as those that you use to minimise distractions like social media blockers and timers.
Now create a separate Chrome profile for travel: one with a vibrant background colour, and bookmarks to travel planning websites you use frequently like Klook, Viator, GetYourGuide or Google Flights. Add relevant extensions. Sync this profile with a Google account that you use only for trip planning, so that the Drive associated with this profile shows only your travel planning sheets, packing lists and destination guides that you may have compiled for your remote work trip.
This simple hack completely delinks work and travel. It stops you from thinking about the destination’s offerings and places to visit when you need to work. Likewise, after your work assignments, you can simply switch the profile and focus wholeheartedly on travel research.
Looking to perfect your remote working setup? Take a look at our recommendations for remote working essentials to get started.
Do you have any remote working tips of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below.
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