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Work Better While Traveling with These Tips

Business man walking in front of an airport while checking his phone
Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

Whether it’s a business trip or a working vacation, sometimes, it makes sense to mix work and travel. But while working on the go is something many people fantasize about, in reality, it can be much more complicated than working in your regular office.

However, it doesn’t have to be so hard. With the right approach, working on the go can be a great way to see new places without breaking the bank on vacation expenses. Want to get more out of your work-related travel? Try these tips.

Reduce Your Workload Temporarily

If you plan to work and travel long-term, you’ll need to balance your normal workload with your travel plans. Over time, you’ll find an on-the-go workflow that works for you.

But if you’re just taking a short trip, it’s helpful to bring your workload down a notch.

This doesn’t mean you need to work the bare minimum. However, it’s wise to avoid major projects and big deadlines when you’re on a trip. Say no to any extra responsibilities that are outside of your regular work schedule—or schedule them for after you return. Delegate tasks if you can.

Traveling can often bring unexpected delays and difficulties, and having a slightly lighter workload will ensure you have the flexibility to work with those challenges. Try to schedule your biggest projects and deadlines for at least one week before or after your trip.

Prepare for Time Zone Differences

When you’re traveling, any work calls or long-distance meetings will need to work around time zone differences. If you can’t schedule them for when you’re back home, just be aware of how the time difference might affect your schedule.

Remember that not every conversation and meeting is worth losing sleep over: sometimes, the same information can just as easily get relayed in an email.

Also, you can sometimes use time zone differences to your advantage. For example, you might be able to start your workday before your clients or coworkers get online, giving you an uninterrupted block of time that’s hard to find at home.

Stock Your Lodgings with Groceries

If your company isn’t paying for your meals while you’re gone, a quick visit to the grocery store at the start of your trip can work wonders.

Even if you’re in a hotel with nothing more than a mini-fridge and a microwave, pick up a few snacks and quick meals. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also save time spent going out and finding food when you get hungry mid-workday.

Explore Nearby Businesses

woman working from a cozy restaurant
Gaudilab/Shutterstock

It’s valuable to have some food available at your home away from home. But that said, it’s also great to get out and work at a nearby cafe or restaurant when you can.

Spending every day of your trip sampling dishes at restaurants can get expensive. But spending a couple of days doing it will help you enjoy your vacation more without cutting into your work time.

If your work supplies are portable, bring them to an intriguing local hangout for the day (or a few hours). You’ll get a chance to experience a bit of local cuisine and culture, making your average workday feel a bit more fun.

If it’s possible, try to walk or take public transit when you visit these establishments. This will let you see more of the local area, and you might discover other useful stores and businesses along the way.

Schedule Your Free Time

If you typically make your own work schedule, make sure to schedule your time off for your trip, too. You shouldn’t spend 12 hours holed up with your work if you don’t have to when you have a new city or country to explore.

Even the most businessy of business trips can usually afford you a little bit of free time. While work can easily bleed into your free hours, setting a specific time to stop for the day will make it easier to put work down and have fun. Plus, having downtime can help spark breakthroughs when you get back to work.

Also, make sure your free time isn’t packed with an itinerary of activities. Since you’re already managing the responsibilities of work, try to make your time off a bit more open-ended, so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Pay More for What You Need

When traveling, the temptation is often to save money however you can. But on a working trip, sometimes paying a little bit more can pay off in the form of more work done.

For example, it might be better to spring for that direct flight than to have a long layover where you won’t be able to focus. Or maybe a solo Airbnb is worth the extra cost so you won’t have to work through disruptions from housemates. Working while traveling always requires some flexibility, but try not to cut corners that will affect your ability to work.

Pack the Proper Tools

When you work while traveling, sometimes you need different supplies. Make sure you have what you need for your trip.

For example, if you’re traveling internationally, arrive prepared with the right outlet adapters for your electronics. Or if you’re not sure about the Wi-Fi situation at your destination, set up a hotspot on your devices before you leave.

Consider a Longer Trip

When you’re an employee on a business trip, you don’t usually get to choose how long the trip lasts. But when you’re planning your own working vacation, consider making it longer than a typical vacation. You’re not taking time off work, so your budget might be able to handle those extra days. Plus, the added time will allow you to both get all your work done and to experience the location thoroughly.

Working while traveling is a delicate balancing act. On your first couple of work trips, you might feel like you’re out of your element. But it gets better with practice, so if you have the option to work and travel, don’t give up on it. With these tips, you can set yourself up to work hard (and play hard) almost anywhere in the world.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a Master's in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph's University. Her work has appeared in publications like Racked, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rum Punch Press. She was awarded a 2017 Writing Between the Vines residency.  Read Full Bio »

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