With the world on the brink of damnation, who doesn’t have the goal of seeing all there is out there? Traveling is a huge part of who I am and the more I lean into myself and my artistry, I’ve realized I have no choice but to scratch the itch and take my work with me. I got the opportunity to work while traveling a few times this year within the United States but as the new year is right around the corner I know the next step is going abroad.
My good friend and former work colleague, Bora, has been fearless in her travel pursuits. She’s traveled to places like Colombia, Israel, Italy, and Hungary. Not only does she travel solo and meet up with friends along the way but recently she pulled off a 12-hour time difference while working in South Korea and still managed to have a great time. So naturally, I wanted to know her top travel hacks for remote work life.
Lo: Tell us a little about yourself! What kind of creator you are and what you do for work?
Bora: There is a quote from Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time where a demon cat goes “I have approximate of many things.” I think that describes me perfectly. Regarding what pays the bills, I work in the content department at a tech company. My extracurricular interests include, but are not limited to: freelance writing, graphic designing, podcasting, fashion blogging, and gaming.
Lo: Describe your first time working while traveling? What led to the experience, what did you learn the first time around and what struggles did you come up against?
Bora: I was going to say the first time I worked while traveling was recently when I went to Seoul in August of this year, but that’s not entirely accurate. Technically, the very first time was in 2019 when I went to Hawai’i for a “work-away”. There I spent a week with the founders of various start-ups (If you’re wondering, I never started the business I came up with while there – at least not yet). However, I think me taking my work computer to Cartagena, Colombia was the first real-time I for real worked while traveling.
Working in social media means you kind of have to always be “on.” The internet doesn’t go to sleep, after all. Our team is also pretty small, so making sure we’re not all on vacation at the same time is something we always have to consider. In the case of Colombia, I knew there were a few things I wanted to tend to while I was there. That’s why I decided to take my work laptop and a portable wifi hotspot. I brought it because even though I knew there was wifi in Colombia, I wanted to make sure I always had internet access. Additionally, I don’t have an international phone plan so I always had it on me for personal use as well.
I tried getting some work done on the go, usually just my phone and the hotspot. It was manageable since there were days we were driving for one-plus hours, but it definitely wasn’t ideal. I think the biggest thing I learned was being intentional and having a specific space for working. I was at most ease working in the AirBnB on the kitchen island.
Thankfully, Cartagena is at the same timezone I work, so adjusting wasn’t hard. South Korea on the other hand…. was brutal. I don’t want to say its impossible, but all the time management I planned was out the window. I was hanging out with friends all day, rushing home to work at night, then going to bed at sad girl hours. It was rough.
Lo: Where to next?! What things are you looking forward to doing on your next work travel?
Bora: New York! That’s actually where my job is based. I used to live in NYC full-time, but now I’m only in the city a few times a year. My company is throwing a holiday party, so I’ll be in town working from NYC. Most of my coworkers are actually on the East Coast, so I’m looking forward to being in the same timezone as them. I’m also looking forward to coworking with friends. I usually get day passes at WeWork when I’m in NYC, but maybe I’ll try cafe hopping.
Lo: What’s your biggest piece of advice for how to stay mentally sane while working and traveling and how you’ve incorporated (or plan to) that into your own flow?
Bora: Even if the intention of my trip is for work, I still want some parts of it to feel like a vacation. Being in a new place without having the opportunity to explore it sounds awful. Even if its for a few hours actually vacationing is important.
Also set your slack status to “working remotely” or “traveling” the second you leave for the airport. It’s like a heads-up to everyone you’re a bit occupied, like a professional DND.
Lo: So let’s get into these travel hacks! What are your top three for working while traveling?
⁃ WiFi Hotspot
Don’t believe what the internet tells you. Even places as technologically advanced with the “fastest internet in the world” as Korea don’t always have wifi. Its best to always have your own internet. Joining free, insecure networks puts you at risk.
⁃ Days of rest
Traveling on its own is stressful enough on the body. It’s impotant to allow your body to recooperate and adjust. You’ll work better when you don’t feel super tired all the time.
⁃ Dedicated workspace
I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to my working space when traveling. I just need my computer, wifi, planner and a pen. I keep these items on the desk or table in my hotel. I think it helps my brain recognize thats where I work.
There is always the option to look up coworking spaces in the city you’re going to. I know there are American companies with international branches. There are also company’s native to whatever company you’re in that are doing the same thing.
Well, I didn’t find out that Bora was spending her next work trip in New York so it’s safe to say we’ll be catching up and cafe hopping together for the next best dedicated work space. Be sure to follow Bora on Instagram and Twitter to stay in touch with her latest travels and podcast episodes!