Can I Really Be a Traveling Freelancer? Tips for Success — Part 1

Get work done anywhere! Image courtesy of Kayti Burt.

As a professional freelance blogger, I have the option of working from anywhere. Usually this means my neighborhood coffee shop. (OK, and occasionally my bed.) But sometimes it means a random city far away from my home and my normal routine.

Some people assume that freelance blogging is all about doing what you want to do when you want to do it, but this is far from the truth. It takes a lot of self-discipline to survive as a freelancer, and I’m not always so good at it — especially when I’m on the road.

This past month I spent a good chunk of time visiting friends in Washington, D.C. and passed much of that time blogging. I also spent some time considering what makes for the best working-while-traveling experience. Here are the eight strategies I came up with:

Keep some semblance of routine.

Working while traveling often involve coffee.

For me, routine usually involves espresso. Image by Kayti Burt.

This is the most important one, and probably the most obvious. Though your work routine will be disrupted when traveling (especially if you change time zones), it is important to keep some things the same.

I always try to find a coffee shop from which to work. They tend to have a universal quality that immediately sets me to work mode. If you’re not in a city, try finding another quiet space away from where you’re staying.

Find the best tools.

I take my Canon Rebel on the road to work while traveling.

My Canon Rebel camera comes with me on all of my adventures. Image by Sarah Poekert.

I promised myself this article wouldn’t be An Ode to My Macbook, but I cannot stress enough the importance of having reliable tools as a blogger. For me, this means my beautiful, beautiful Macbook Pro, but it was hella expensive and I was not always in the financial position to have such a lovely piece of equipment at my side.

When backpacking through Southeast Asia, I used my trusty netbook — an Acer Aspire One — and it was just as dependable (if not less beautiful) for a fraction of the price. I also consider my Canon Rebel camera an integral part of both my blogging and travel experiences. I bought mine refurbished online four years ago, and it is still kicking.

Organize your digital space.

Organize your digital space while working from the road.

Image by Flickr user Jean-Baptise Maurice.

I have an unhealthy degree of connection to my computer. It is my constant in this crazy, crazy world — my portal to a community and culture I consider an integral part of my life. This means I need to keep some semblance of organization, even if my system of categorization only makes sense to me.

Remember: Keeping your digital space organized is just as important to your mental health as keeping your physical space organized.

Be compassionate towards yourself.

Remember to give yourself a break sometimes when working while traveling.

Flowers floating near Angkor Wat. Image by Kayti Burt.

I am a recovering perfectionist who tends to relapse while traveling. I want to see everything. I want to have the perfect trip, while still being the perfect little worker bee.

I have been working at exercising more compassion in my life — both towards others and myself. Letting yourself off the hook for not completing everything on a work or travel to-do list can be just as important (if not more so) than making the to-do lists in the first place. Growing up as a working class kid in a capitalist society, I often need to remind myself that I am more than my productivity.

Next month’s post will include even more great tips for being a successful traveling freelancer, like whether time or energy management is more effective.

Have you ever worked from the road — professionally or on a hobby or passion project? Share your difficulties and strategies for getting stuff done in the comments below!

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