In May I flew out to visit my dear friend Emily at BASEDtraveler in Malta for three weeks. My plan was simple: spend the first half of my trip relaxing and catching up with my long-lost friend (OK, we hadn’t seen each other for three months… that’s a long time for us!) and work in the second half. As a freelancer, I have the luxury of being able to work from anywhere, as long as I have my laptop and a good Internet connection. And although I stuck to my plan, it didn’t all work out quite as I had expected.
You see, my laptop decided to die a couple of days after I started my mini digital nomad adventure. That part of the trip was certainly not the chilled break I had imagined (in fact, it involved a lot of screaming, crying and foot stomping… and telephone calls and messages to anybody could help). But after an overpriced glass of wine at my friend’s place of work and a recommendation of a laptop repair man, things soon got back to normal… kind of. I ended up losing about a month’s worth of files (my fault for not backing up my documents on a regular basis – I now do it weekly) and my laptop hasn’t quite felt the same since, especially as it had to go in for repair a second time once I landed in the UK.
But when I started this particular translation project I had had the common sense to back up the files I was currently working on, so I didn’t have to restart from scratch. And my client was so cool that she hadn’t even set a deadline in the first place – something that has rarely happened in my four-year stint as a freelance translator. Plus it was a translation in a field I love: tourism. So even if I had needed to start again, it wouldn’t have been a disaster.
The question people ask me is: “Would you do it again?” And my instant response is: “Yes, without a shadow of a doubt.” It felt absolutely fabulous working from hotels, cafés and my friend’s cute little apartment. The change of scenery did me good, as did the vitamin D from the constant sunshine. In fact, my plan for the beginning of next year – if everything works out – is to work “remotely” from various locations across Europe for a couple of months. After all, with the UK voting to leave the EU, travel to Europe may get that little bit more complicated/expensive for Brits.
My tips for a hassle-free workcation are as follows:
- Make a plan and stick to it. Try not to get distracted by parties or other events going on, especially if you have a high workload the next day.
- Research coworking (or even coliving) spaces in advance – they’re a great opportunity to network and it isn’t always massively expensive if you pick the “hot desking” option.
- Investigate AirBnB options and see whether a host would be willing to have you stay for an extended period and use their place as a temporary office. If not, research local libraries and whether they have free Internet.
- If you decide you want to work from a hotel, make sure they have free Wi-Fi in the room. There’s nothing worse than sitting in the lobby and feeling like you can’t help but listen in on a group’s annoying conversation. Also, read the TripAdvisor reviews carefully and try to find a hotel that won’t be full of late-night revellers (easier said than done, trust me!)
- Print out a few useful phrases in the local language (the most important ones for me are: Where is the nearest toilet? How much does this cost? How do I get to…? Yes, no, please, thank you.)
- Use websites like Couchsurfing or Meetup to meet friendly locals/expats. They’ll have tips on things to do and places to eat that aren’t listed in the guide books.
- If something goes wrong, don’t panic! There’s a solution to every problem 🙂
- Don’t forget to relax. You are on holiday, after all!
- Research and convert your money before you go. For UK residents, this is a great website. If you want to withdraw cash when you’re there, get a Revolut card and set it up properly before you leave. It’s amazing.
Do you have tonnes of experience as a digital nomad and have advice to add? Feel free to leave a comment!