Many of us dream of traveling more and relish at the thought of working abroad. Check out this blog for helpful tips on how to work while you travel, so you can keep making money and keep building your brand, while you’re on the road. Full disclaimer- this blog is intended for new or small sized businesses and we specialize in small business marketing.
As I write this, I'm currently working on my laptop on an airplane going to Morocco. I’ve just spent the last month walking through Spain on the Camino Del Norte, and much to my boyfriend’s dislike and disappointment, I actually was able to get a decent amount of "work" done while walking. (I was learning things and brainstorming and taking notes, which any entrepreneur knows is work)
Yes, this is astonishing to many and many of my clients have been privy to my voice texts and phone calls of an out-of-breath Alex walking up a mountain with her dogs while detailing some grand scheme to employ. For those of you reading this, you might think, "how can she work while she hikes?" “I would trip and fall!” Or maybe, “why not just enjoy where you are and that moment?” And guess what- I hear you and I've heard it all! Blame my ADD, blame my hyperactive brain, blame the love for my job?
Let me start off by saying that I have many trails back home on Oahu that I almost utilize like a gym. I have gone on them so many times and taken in the view so many times that I’m not only able to work while I walk, but I always know my favorite parts of the trail to stop and look around and I make sure to do just that. As for tripping- I’ve just gotten used to working while walking and I am quite good on my feet :)
Ok, so back to the present. I’ve been on a plane for the past two hours sandwiched in an uncomfortable middle seat on a Ryanair flight to Agadir and in this time have culled all my photos from Spain, listened to 4 business podcasts and taken notes, written out a blog plan for 3 months, and I’m working on the remainder of my social media strategy to accompany my blogs and grow the business! How? I take advantage of my resources when I can, and I plan ahead to have the resources I need to work on branding and strategy no matter where I am!
What do I mean by this? Well PlanIt does social media marketing and content creation for multiple brands, but we also have to keep our stuff up to date. We have to look fresh, provide valuable insight, attract new customers, engage with our current audience, and more. How can we get hired to execute brand building and brand strategy for other businesses if we don’t also work on our own brand marketing? How can we get hired to shoot commercial photography and videography for businesses if we don't showcase our work? We can’t!
This blog is about how I’m able to work on the marketing for my own business while I travel, but in order to be paid by my clients while abroad, a lot of pre-planning and work in advance had to happen. I’m talking - creating content calendars 5-6 months in advance in order to be creating and editing all necessary content to schedule for posting while I travel. This also means have people on your team you can also trust and have worked with for quite some time before your travel, people that you know will be able to continue their tasks while you’re gone. This also means mapping out, creating, negotiating, and signing of any contracts that are coming to term with current clients and letting new clients know that the start date of their services will be delayed for a short time. To be honest, the delay is quite often welcome once they find out their necessary homework that needs to be done prior to PlanIt starting their services. (Link to other blog about work flow here) It also gives clients more time to budget properly and get other things done that are taking up time and energy, so that when you are ready, they are ready to dedicate more time to all the new services they will be paying for.
So that’s how I plan for our clients and make sure I can continue getting paid. But how do I plan for the marketing and growth of my own business? KEEP READING!
I knew if I wanted to travel for 2 months in Europe and Africa, I couldn’t fully neglect my work so this is how I prepped.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO TO WORK FOR YOURSELF, WHILE TRAVELING
1) EQUIPMENT PURCHASE
My editing laptop is super heavy and expensive so my first step was to purchase a MacBook Air on sale at Costco. This will now be the computer I use for all travel and something I should have done long ago (my other laptop doesn't even fit on a tray table these days). It will also be utilized anytime I want to work in public places. It’s lighter, smaller, and has the basic necessities to do anything I’d want- plus fits in my purse!
2) EQUIPMENT SET UP
Next step had to do with prepping the laptop. I am a huge fan and long time user of Adobe Suite and with the subscription service I pay for, I am entitled to using the apps on 2 different sources. Editing on the go- CHECK!
I rarely have enough time to take the classes and listen to the educational podcasts I'd like to when I’m home, but what better time than when you are walking 12-22 miles per day for 30 days straight plus flights, buses and cars?! So I did some research into entrepreneurship and digital nomad podcasts that would both inspire and educate me on things I can improve upon. I downloaded a ton of these into my Spotify so that I could listen on airplane mode. Read about specific suggestions in a blog coming soon!
4) PACK WHAT YOU NEED but ideally things you won’t be devastated by the damage or loss of. Shit happens.
In order to be efficient, there are a few key pieces of technology I always bring along while traveling internationally.
- multi country converter
- SSD drive with files you need to work on and plenty of available storage space
- Portable phone charger to charge while on the go
- Apple AirPods
- DJI Mavic Pro Mini with 3 batteries and the insurance plan (its light weight and they will replace or fix multiple times over the time period of the insurance. The quality of photo is lacking compared to their nicer models, but its smaller, cheaper, and lighter, so if something happens I won’t be as devastated- note that this was used in Spain but is illegal in Morocco)
- Canon R6 with 35mm lens and spare battery with charger (or something comparable. I chose this particular camera and lens set up because the camera isn’t new and the lens is on the cheaper end, compared to my others)
Since I was backpacking for a month first, there were a few things I would typically bring that I left in England with a friend and now have with me for the remainder of the trip
RF 100-500 lens —> yes this is pricey and heavy but for the trip I’m doing to Morocco, I thought it was worth while to have a good zoom lens as an option and the weight is no longer a significant factor since I carry it on anyway
MacBook Air—> I did not hike with this so I made sure to have enough space on my camera cards that I wouldn’t need to upload. I also had everything recording in doubles just in case something happened to a camera card.
Dongle with additional ports and a card reader- the Air doesn't have a camera card slot
5) THE RIGHT PHONE PLAN
Switch to TMobile for the international phone plan if you plan to travel frequently and want to be able to still use your number. With the newer iPhones there’s no physical SIM card so you can’t swap for a local one when you travel like you once could. Sooo many places still don’t have WiFi or at least reliable WiFi, so it’s nice to have a backup and it truly is a GAME changer. While the data will be super slow at times, it’s better than nothing. For $50 per month you can also add on 5GB of high speed data and unlimited calls. I totally recommend this but if you do this, make sure to TURN OFF your iCloud updates because it WILL consume all your high speed data without you even realizing it (a sad sad truth I discovered)
6) OPTIMIZING YOUR PHONE WORK FLOW
Download the app version of the programs you use on your computer to your phone and make sure you utilize them to the best of their ability. Some of the apps are amazing, but things like Later only let you schedule stories from your desktop, so schedule posts from your phone and plan ahead for your stories/do your stories whenever you have your computer!
7) OPTIMIZING INTERNET CONNECTIVITY
Whenever you have Internet, take advantage. Download/upload any images, videos, or podcasts that you need. Map out what you can do without internet and don’t do any of things when you have internet, unless you’ve done everything you want to do!
8) COMMUNICATE WITH LOCALS
Download WhatsApp. This is often the only way to communicate with businesses while you’re abroad. You can call and text them through this. Plus send images. This is a little digression from working abroad and more into living abroad, but it’s worthwhile and used all over! Plus if you don't plan for an international phone plan, it's a way to make calls!
9) A CREDIT CARD THAT WORKS FOR TRAVEL
Invest in a credit card with no foreign transaction fees and a good points mechanism. You also want to make sure it gives you insurance on rental cars and lost baggage and has a super easy help line if needed. Add it into Apple Pay because most places (at least in Europe) offer tap to pay (even the train system in many countries rather than buying tickets). You can even put your business PLUS personal credit cards in there and tap accordingly. But also bring your debit card because many places outside of Europe, and oddly many taxis within Europe, do not take cards!
10) A GOOD PHONE REALLY DOES MATTER
Invest in a good phone. If you create and store a lot of content, make sure to pay for iCloud storage so your phone isn’t always full and you’re able to capture content of your adventures without your work content clogging up your whole phone. At the same time, make sure your phone has a good amount of storage so that you have the ability to store what you need on your phone and have the ability to download from Cloud as you want! A good phone will give you a good camera and if you know how to use it right, for the most part you won't even need a camera unless it's for things far away or if you're shooting something that will be blown up larger than a phone image!
1) Make sure to have e-books, movies, tv shows, music playlists, game apps, and non work related podcasts at your disposal. You are traveling and on vacation after all. It’s great to learn new things and be efficient with your time when you can, but your first priority needs to be enjoying your time.
2) I highly recommend downloading and regularly doing Duolingo. Despite you thinking everyone will speak English, that couldn't be further from the truth. So learn basic phrases, numbers, foods and have your translator app ready!
As always- I'm an open book! Reach out with any specific questions about working abroad!