how to balance work and travel


Photo of me and my friend Mark by Brian, taken earlier this week.

When I read this post about combining work and travel as a freelancer over on Breanna Rose's blog today, I felt relieved. Breanna touched on several points that have been on my mind lately. She shared some great ideas, and also talked about her own work habits and how she makes things work.

Although the freedom of a flexible schedule is wonderful, for those of us who really love what we do, it can be hard to leave work behind or deviate from a set workflow. Like Breanna, I've found that planning in advance and working when you can is the best way to allow yourself to take and enjoy time off.

So, as weird as it might have felt to be working until midnight many nights last week and even over the weekend, I'm more than happy to do so because it means I will be able to breathe a bit, turn off my computer, and relax when visitors arrive.

As of next week, Brian and I will be heading back to Canada, where we'll be staying (apart from one short trip back) until late September. Wedding season is about to kick into high gear, and I also have a lot of portrait, editorial gigs, as well as a handful of secret new projects on the books. While on one hand I can barely contain my excitement, I'm a bit nervous about not really having a set "office" (or even city) from which to base myself. To temper my apprehension and to hopefully help you out, I thought I'd share a few tips that I've picked up from past work/travel experiences that can help you prep, stay focused and happy despite a vagabond lifestyle.

Make a plan

I'm currently in the midst of planning out my own work schedule for the rest of June. It does feel very nerdy to map this all out in advance, but I'm committed to staying on track, while still allowing for quality time with family and friends. I'm blocking off a set number of hours per day to work, and I'm also writing a rough plan of everything that needs to be done this month. Everything is subject to change, but even having a basic idea of what I want to do gives me some structure, and will hopefully set me up for more success than just going with the flow every day.

Find a room (or at least a corner) of your own

This is one of the hardest aspects of being on the road. There are so many unfamiliar spaces and also other peoples' spaces that you don't want to crowd, making it hard to feel at ease in your work. I'm planning to stake out/request a work station as early as possible in each city I visit, so I know where it'll be time to get down to business.

When you're stuck, switch up your space

Sometimes you need some fresh air to break up your day, and infuse some new energy into your work. If your creativity is stuck in neutral, head to a library, coffee shop or another friendly place and try working there for a few hours instead of your usual space.

Set office hours

When you're on the road, particularly when you're a guest in someone else's home, it can be really challenging to carve out time to get work done. The best way to do it is to go to one of your designated spaces and set a certain amount of work time for yourself. Turn off social media, cut the volume on your phone, and focus. It's amazing what you can accomplish in just a few hours a day. The best part? Once you're satisfied with the amount you've accomplished, you can go back to spending time with your hosts and not be rude by constantly staring at a screen.

Take advantage of mobile tools

I've mentioned some of these before, but when you travel and work, mobile tools invaluable. My favourites are Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, and SignNow. You can access them from anywhere, and never leave a file stranded on a desktop computer again!

Prioritize

Try as you might, sometimes it's impossible to do it all. In extra busy moments, it's okay to set aside some tasks, but important to make sure you're still committed to delivering what's most important. For me, items like brainstorming, new project development, social media, and even my blog take a backseat to responding to client emails, editing photos, and delivering images on time.

Don't forget about fun

There's no point in travelling or visiting if you're going to bury yourself in your work the whole time you're away from home. Get your work done, then move onto fun and soak up all the quality time you can!

If you're a fellow freelancer, I'd love to know how you prep for time off, and/or how you manage work on the road!