How You Can Use a SIM Card with Your Smartphone Overseas: Unlocking, Local & International SIM cards

Running a business as an international globetrotter has never been easier, there’s no question. Getting from A to B is more convenient and more affordable than any other point in human history, and the Web means we can communicate with ease no matter where in the world we end up.

While the Internet has made overseas communication a lot easier than it used to be, there are still some gaps when it comes to convenient chatting.  There’s the struggle to find decent WiFi in many parts of the world, the need for the right kind of power cord or adapters, and a few other hiccups you can run into when trying to get connected away from home. And the biggest pain in the neck by far is using the same smartphone both at home and abroad.

Use-a-SIM-Card-with-Your-Smartphone-Overseas-LiveWorkAnywhere

 

Use a SIM Card with Your Smartphone Overseas

The first major problem is that not all phones work with all cell networks. If you’ve ever bought a phone from someone other than your service provider—Amazon, eBay, a guy in a parking lot, whatever—you may have already run into this difficulty. Even if you’re staying in the US, you have to make sure your phone has the right hardware to work with your network of choice, and it’s not always as simple as it should be.

Second, assuming you’ve found a phone that works with all the networks you’ll be traveling through, there are roaming costs that can quickly send your bill through the roof. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, “roaming” simply means you’re using a cellular network that you don’t normally pay for. If you pay T-Mobile each month but end up making calls that go through a Verizon-only cell tower, T-Mobile has to pay Verizon for the use, and T-Mobile will pass those fairly significant charges on to you.

If you have a strictly US-based plan, you’ll be roaming anywhere else in the world you go. Even if you’re using your smartphone while connected to WiFi, you might not be safe—texting and phone calls might still end up on your cellular service plan, and they won’t be cheap.

There are a couple solutions to these international cell phone problems. Here are my two favorites—if you’ve found something you think we should know about, let me know in the comments!

T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan

AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint we could say have had a more US-centric approach to cell phone service. T-Mobile has long been owned by Deutsche Telekom, a German company that operates cellular networks and provides customers service in countries all over the globe. It makes sense, then, that T-Mobile is the most international-friendly of the major US service providers—if you’re on one of their Simple Choice plans, you already get unlimited data and texts in more than 140 countries (as long as you’re using one of T-Mobile’s networks—it’s still possible to get caught roaming, so be careful).

I was in Doha, Qatar recently and my T-Mobile plan allowed me to text friends, post to Instagram and Facebook, and do most of what I typically do with my phone without spending an extra dime. After years of unreliability when it comes to staying in touch while abroad, it was nice to be able to rely on!

using-phone-while-traveling-LiveWorkAnywhereThe clear downside is that calls made over the cell network aren’t unlimited. In fact, they aren’t included in the plan at all and cost $0.20 per minute. You might be able to get around using a VoIP app like Google Voice or Skype, but these services tend to charge for international calls, too. And if you forget to use the app to make a call or pick up an incoming call without thinking, you’ll be hit with a surprisingly large bill.

T-Mobile ONE

Starting September 6th, T-Mobile introduced its T-Mobile ONE plan. At a glance, it seems pretty similar to the Simple Choice plans in terms of international benefits—unlimited text and data in most countries, but without calls included. You can also add a plan for your tablet and/or any wearables nice and cheap, though, so this might be worth looking into if you’re not already with T-Mobile.

AT&T Passport and Sprint Global

AT&T also has a Passport plan that offers unlimited texting and reduced prices for calling and data usage. There’s also an additional monthly fee, however, and all in all it’s pricier than T-Mobile. If you’re already with AT&T and only planning on traveling for a short while this might be your best bet, but if you’re willing to shop around I think you can do better.

A friend using Sprint also just informed me that they have a very similar plan to T-Mobile.  It just launched a few months ago.  So, T-Mobile now has some competition.  But the fact that all the major carriers are recognizing international calling and communication via your smartphone and allowing you to use a SIM card with your smartphone overseas (in fact, the same card) while traveling is a giant leap forward in international communication.

 

Unlocking Your Smartphone and Getting an International SIM Card

T-Mobile’s plan is plenty for many, but there’s another way to achieve true smartphone freedom that any might find more appealing: an international SIM card for unfettered travel and spontaneity.

We won’t get too technical, but basically your phone’s SIM card allows it to”talk” to a cell network. If the network doesn’t recognize the SIM card, it won’t let you connect, or it will notify the network to charge those pricey roaming fees. You can get local SIM cards for each place you’re traveling, but you’ll need to get a local service plan, and international calls will still be expensive. An international SIM card that is designed to work with cell networks around the globe means you can use one phone to connect virtually anywhere.

Unlocking Your Smartphone

The SIM card is only one barrier when it comes to using your US-bought smartphone on international networks. You also need to make sure your phone has the right hardware to connect to a particular international network, which is pretty easy to do once you’ve selected an international SIM provider. Service providers also install software on their phones that can prevent you from using other carriers, so you’ll probably need to “unlock” your phone—mess with the software so your phone can work anywhere.

Unlocking your phone is perfectly legal and, when done correctly, perfectly safe. Digital Trends put together this awesome and updated unlocking guide that covers every major US carrier. You might have to bug your service provider a bit—they know that unlocking means you’ll be using someone else’s services—but they’ll get it done if you keep at them.  T-Mobile may take up to 6 weeks to unlock whereas Sprint will unlock instantly with a phone call – but, they will only lock for overseas and disable unlocking on US soil.  Once unlocked, you simply swap out your SIM card for the international SIM card you’ve purchased, and you should be good to go!

Getting an International SIM Card

Not all international SIM card providers are equal, of course. They all have their own coverage areas/countries and their own prices, and you should definitely research your selected provider based on where you want to travel. My personal favorite, and so far the one that has beat the competition hands-down for the places I’ve traveled, is OneSimCard.

OneSimCard sells you its international SIM cards for a flat rate of $29.95. There’s no monthly charge or connection fee, and your SIM card will work for calls and texts in more than 200 countries! You get both a US and an EU number for your phone, and incoming calls to the EU number are completely free, as are incoming text messages. Outgoing calls cost $0.25/min.—not bad when you consider you aren’t paying ANY monthly service fee—and you can also purchase them in bundles at a discount. Calls are even cheaper using OneSimCard’s VoIP app, which comes free with the SIM card.

Your international SIM card from OneSimCard will also give you access to mobile data networks in up to 180+ countries, depending on which SIM card you select (they have three available), with data rates as low as $0.02/MB. And of course, you’ll still be able to use data via any WiFi spots you find in your travels absolutely free.

For convenience and ease when you’re traveling to multiple countries, it really doesn’t get any easier than OneSimCard. When you’re back in the States you can swap out your cards again, and if you tuck your international SIM card somewhere safe—in a baggie with your passport, perhaps—it’ll be there for you the next time you’re ready for an international adventure!

Get Unlocked and Go International Today!

unlocked-your-phone-liveworkanywhereThe barriers to international travel are falling every day. Whether you’re a business of one, have a small office you need to keep in touch with, or are a key figure in a multi-billion dollar enterprise, there are plenty of ways for you to stay connected as you travel. The Internet makes document sharing, social media, and a whole lot more readily accessible from your smartphone, and now you know a few tricks when it comes to texts and calls, too.

So what are you waiting for? You’re running out of excuses—stop reading, go get your international SIM card or switch up your phone plan (hint: try T-Mobile), and start booking those tickets today. The world is waiting!

How to Find FAST and RELIABLE Wi-Fi Working Remotely

Operating as a digital nomad, a freelancer, remote worker or a startup entrepreneur, finding reliable wi-fi is CRITICAL to your daily operations.  Wi-fi cannot be overlooked or underrated.  

I took off to Costa Rica in 2009 lured by the promise of wi-fi near the beach.  Little did I know at the time … the line was shared with 12 other locations (just think dial-up speeds) and the power went out regularly – and by regularly I mean 1-2x daily.  

Caution: Just because someplace offers wi-fi, it doesn’t actually mean you’re getting the type of connection that you’re used to.  

How to Find FAST and RELIABLE Wi-fi

When you set up shop and get ready to call your client for the big meeting, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper connection for the communication tool of choice.  

First thing, always check your wi-fi speed to determine the strength.  Generally speaking, you need at the very very least 1 mb download speed to be able to be functional and make a (choppy) Skype call.  

Keep in mind, this 1 mb refers to a DEDICATED connection, not shared.  It must be a consistent 1 mb or it will randomly drop the call.  You don’t want this.  

Testing your Wi-Fi Speed

Go to www.speedtest.net

You’ll see a screen that comes up.  It first detects your location and a place to “ping” a local server.  Then you’ll see BEGIN TEST.  Click Begin Test.  

speedtest-strong-reliable-wifi-remote-work-liveworkanywhere      speedtest-net-strong-wifi-liveworkanywhere

A little man will come up and your wi-fi speedometer will begin to calculate speed.  

I prefer at least 4 mb download at minimum.  Let’s be real, most of us are probably multitaskers and window or tab switchers. Having a call is one thing but you’ll need to switch back and forth to your notes.  So, make sure to have at least 4 mb dedicated (there’s that word again) speed.  

What do I mean by dedicated?  Not a shared network – or, having a limited number of connections.  If you have 10 people sharing the same 4 mb connection and one person attempts to stream a video on YouTube, he/she will hog all the bandwidth and leave you with very little or a dropped call.

Ensure the line is private and protected and that you know how many people are connecting into the same wi-fi network to avoid surprise drops and delays.

detecting wifi speed remote tools liveworkanywhere

How strong of a wi-fi connection do I actually need?

The answer to this is that it depends on what you’re actually doing.  If you’re making a Skype voice call, you need less than 1 mb (though I wouldn’t recommend ever going below 4mb).

For a Skype VIDEO call, you need 4 mb non-shared minimum in order not to have any hiccups.  I would suggest an 8mb connection if possible as your minimum target.

Here’s a handy chart you can keep with you when determining your connection speed and pairing it with the app you plan to use.

(Click image to see complete infographic)

 

Where Do I Find Strong AND Reliable Wi-Fi? 

When you go to a new city, the adventurer in you most likely doesn’t want to find your usual Starbucks.  However, coffee chains, particularly ones you know already, can offer reliable wi-fi, overpriced coffee, and a place to get things done.

1) Coffee Shops (particularly chains)  

Sometimes I just feel like having a coffee, saying hello to friends, brainstorming something creative, and not having a meeting.  For those times when I want to just enjoy local scenery or culture, I seek out a local independent coffee shop with a unique flavor and local vibe to study local culture.

But when reliability matters, I feverishly hunt down a chain location.  These vary from country to country.  A few staple chains are: Starbucks (worldwide), McDonald’s (worldwide), Burger King (Eastern Europe), Costa Coffee, Einstein Coffee (Germany).

I have yet to find a Starbucks anywhere in the world that doesn’t have good wi-fi, air conditioning, and doesn’t allow you to sit for hours at a time on your computer.  This is my number one go-to for reliability.  Tourists and large pre-work and mid-afternoon coffee drinker crowds may be your biggest noise distraction but generally speaking you can sit for hours and won’t be disturbed.  

wifi-app-example-liveworkanywhere-find-good-wifi-mobileNote:  Not all locations are identical – sometimes you’ll need to ask for the wi-fi code, and wi-fi times might be limited, so make sure to check before you plan out your meeting schedule.  But at the very least you can start out at a Starbucks to figure out your next stop(s).

Here is a list of apps for finding wi-fi while you are mobile.

A couple that I’ve found useful are Free Wi-Fi and Passwords Hacker.

If you are just in the mood for coffee, here’s a list of apps for coffee shops (and you can probably double the caffeine with wi-fi access).

2) Accommodations / Home Office 

Always always make sure where you’re staying has wi-fi – and strong wi-fi that isn’t shared with everyone.  

If you’re staying in a hostel make sure that the wi-fi is in the room, not just the common rooms, so that you can have quiet concentration time.  

If your budget allows, grab an AirBnB studio apartment with wi-fi.  It’s perfect for quiet space and your very own dedicated wi-fi.  The extra price can be worth the potential loss in business.  Make sure to ask your host to test your download/upload speeds using speedtest.net and make sure it’s not a shared line.  

3) Co-working Spaces 

Co-working spaces are popping up all over because of the need for strong, reliable wi-fi and consistent power.  For a monthly fee, you get strong wi-fi, less noise than a coffee shop or cafe (though choosing the right co-working space for this is important), a community of likeminded people (again, choosing the right place will be important to tie into a community that will be mutually beneficial for business growth), consistent power, a desk to sit in, and long working hours.  

Co-working spaces vary so it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for.  Do you want a social community?  Do you want business networking?  Do you need quiet, private space?  What kind of a community, if that’s one of your criteria, is important to you?  Do you want a fancy, upscale co-working space or one that caters more to artists?  

AnyPass can help you find the perfect space every time, especially when you are on the go and don’t have time to do the research.  It’s helpful to know what type of place you’re looking for beforehand.  

Some co-working spaces will offer you a free pass for the first time you visit.  A google search for “co-working spaces in _____ (city name)” will help guide you.  If you want to save time or if your time is limited, contact us at AnyPass and we will do the research for you so you have a place to plug into that’s right for you, right away.  

 4) Private Office Space

Co-Working spaces also offer private offices for those times when you need zero distractions.  WeWork is quickly growing into a worldwide behemoth of private office spaces that are generally affordable for market rates.

Regus is another option for worldwide office locations with a variety of options from mail handling and phone calls to desks and conference spaces.

Be sure to join the network ahead of time to ensure seamless bookings and management of spaces.

5) Private Cable Wi-Fi Networks boingo-wifi-location-types-liveworkanywhere

In the US, most people have some sort of cable network for their Internet.  We have networks like Xfinity and TimeWarner Cable (TWC).  You may be out on the desolate coast working in a van (like I was recently in Western Washington near the surf town of Westport) and still see an Xfinity network pop up.

In South Africa, you might see Free Wi-Fi or Telecom Hotspot.

Sometimes all you need to do is log in to the network or buy a day pass and you can be up and running.

Boingo is also offered at 100 million hotspots worldwide so you might see this pop up at airports or public places like shopping malls in cities around the world.   These are some sample venues of Boingo locations: Airports, Businesses, Restaurants, Hotels/Resorts, Public Spaces, Retail Spaces, Schools/Residential, Travel/Commute, Venue/Theater.

Some Unexpected Places working with wifi via carfi namibia africa 4x4 safariwifi speed carfi namibia africa

Wi-Fi isn’t limited to coffee shops or apartments.  Here is a picture of me working in Namibia, Africa, getting speeds of 21-36 mb down from a 4×4 camper with CarFi, car wi-fi that plugs into the cigarette lighter.

I mentioned my Mitsubishi Delica earlier and working from the van with a Tmobile Hotspot.  Watching the sun rise and set while spending the day by the beach are days I will never take for granted.

When not on the road, I’m often working from my houseboat in Seattle, again with a Tmobile Hotspot.

Some Cities are Better Than Others

While digital nomad cities are all the rage these days for amazing climates and inexpensive startup costs, what you’re gaining in a suntan you may be sacrificing in loss of connectivity.  

chart of public wifi speeds via statista on liveworkanywhere Source: Statista 

Based on data collected from public WiFi hotspots across 172 countries, countries in Europe are the fastest and most well connected.  

If you can afford the higher cost of living, then finding a spot in one of these countries might be to your favor.  

So where’s a great place for you to live?  

Stay tuned – we’re working on a reference chart that will help you determine the best places for you to live, based on your needs and preferences.

Where NOT to find strong wi-fi that’s consistent and reliable 

1) Independent coffee shops 

These CAN be a good bet in many cities and you absolutely can find them.  Many cities, and with good reason, find cafes are for peaceful dining and socializing.  

Here are some guides to finding wi-fi and places to work in nomad-friendly cities <link to LWA city guides>.  However, when you’re first setting up shop, try a chain first so that you can (nearly) be sure of the ability to get work done.  

2) Cheap Hotels and Hostels

While these locations may offer wi-fi, you always get what you pay for.  Party hostels are cheap because they are overcrowded, there for you to socialize (not work), and wi-fi is not considered essential.  

Mobile Wi-fi as a Backup: Mi-fi, SIM, Hotspots – even Car-Fi! 

We’ve identified where to get strong and reliable wi-fi based on the best locations.  But when you’re globe trotting you may be in some areas where there is no Starbucks, no McDonald’s, no Cable Wi-Fi network.  Sometimes there’s no cell reception and you’re forced to work offline.  But for those times when there IS cell phone reception and you are able to get data, it’s great – and highly recommended – to have a backup.

I recommend always having an unlocked hotspot with you, a local SIM card with a data plan and an unlocked mobile phone, and the ability to update your phone’s data plan in only a few clicks.

Do You Need Mobile Wi-fi?  Hotspots versus SIM cards.  

Well, that all depends.  

If you have your AirBnB studio with wi-fi, then you probably won’t need it, unless you plan to be out and about a lot.  

If you’re working from cafes with strong wi-fi that let you sit and work, you won’t need it.  

If you choose to work from your hotel / hostel room, a boat on a marina, a campsite, a mountain (with cell phone reception), a bus/train, etc then you will likely want to have mobile backup.  

wifi hotspot tmobile live work remotely I carry around a TMobile ZTE hotspot and I also have a TMobile simple plan iPhone that I can upgrade within 2 minutes online to activate as a hotspot.  

Most cities will offer you a mobile hotspot option.  Just go to the local carrier shop and ask for a hotspot.  Generally speaking, it will cost around US $100 for the hotspot and some credits.  

If you want to spend less, then make sure your phone is unlocked and buy a local SIM card with a data plan.  You can start out this way from $20 USD and you’ll only have one device to worry about carrying around.

On the other hand, depending on how quickly you go through data, you may want to carry around a hotspot.  Data plans for phones are catching up, but hotspots as of this posting are still faster and have better data capability.

How Does Mobile Internet, or Mi-Fi Hotspot, Work? 

Mi-fi is a short term for mobile wi-fi.  Since you are mobile, or planning to be, you should consider this as an option.  

Does my mobile device work overseas?  As of this writing no.  

The reason – because it’s tied to a local cell phone carrier / company and there is high competition.  

When you go to a new country, similar to purchasing a SIM card, you would purchase a data plan with that SIM card (to have wi-fi on your phone) or you would purchase a hotspot, or mi-fi device, like my TMobile hotspot.

The hotspots (mi-fis) also have a SIM card.  Unless you plan on living in the same location for 2 years or longer, it’s best to find a hotspot with a month to month, or prepaid plan.  

Some options in the US are: TMobile, Verizon, AT&T.  

Mobile wi-fi also means being connected while in the air or in the airport.  

Services like Boingo and GoGo offer services to help you stay connected in the airport and in the air, respectively.   AnyPass automatically connects you with these services as your partners.  

Any tricks you’ve found for finding fast and reliable wi-fi that aren’t listed here?  Please share!

 

How to find strong and reliable wi-fi for remote work via liveworkanywhere

SHH! Finding a QUIET Place to work with Wifi – Get Real Work Done When Traveling

my-office-space

When you can work anywhere, you can have almost anything at your fingertips. Sun and surf, inspirational views, a mid-afternoon glass of wine or beer (we’re not here to judge).  But when you don’t have a dedicated office—or when you’re traveling away from your home office—there’s one thing you can’t count on “anywhere” to provide: A quiet place to work with wifi to get some real work done.

The term “quiet” is relative.  You may need absolute silence, or you may need white noise.  Everyone is different, and you’ll determine what’s best for you based on your own work style.

You’re less productive when you’re stuck in a cubicle working for a boss and chatting with passerby co-workers. As a nomadic entrepreneur, you need to figure out how to be productive when you work for yourself.  You need to find a place to focus – no matter where you are in the world.  A daunting yet doable task.

Setting Up Shop 

Before we get down to the good stuff, quiet places to work with reliable wi-fi, let’s talk first about getting set up.  Let’s face it – finding a quiet place to work (particularly with good wi-fi) is not an easy task in general (which is the reason you’re reading this article).

So, let’s get set up:

1. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Imagine sitting in an airport (I bet you can) and there are people constantly walking by you.  Or you’re in a co-working space and quiet spaces to work stock photo everyone wants to come up and chat with you.

The only time that noise cancelling headphones didn’t work for me was when I was working in Buenos Aires.  I was in my own apartment, on a conference call, when suddenly, the power company started to jackhammer into the side of the building, unannounced.  The call was dropped when the power cut out… but that’s another issue.

Noise cancelling headphones won’t block out a jackhammer below you, but they will allow you to block out most background noise and allow you to focus intently on your work.  Bonus: People will see you with those giant earmuffs hugging your ears and your laser-like focus and they will tend to leave you alone.

I’ve tested dozens of in-ear headphones and regular headsets and my favorite – based on feedback from people I talk to that can actually hear me and based on the amount of background noise that’s reduced, are the Logitech USB headset.  Tip: The $30 USB headphones are even better for noise reduction than the more expensive wireless version.

2. Mobile hotspot 

Don’t you love sitting down to work in a coffee shop, ordering your coffee and biscotti and sitting down only to find out that you can’t get online?!  When you approach the barista it’s only then that they inform you that the wi-fi is down and the technician won’t be in until the following day.  Bad luck for you.

As a backup, for a nomadic entrepreneur or freelancer, a mobile wi-fi hotspot, also called mi-fi, needs to be top of your packing list.  When you don’t want to work in a coffee shop or place with wi-fi, as we’re about to get to below, you’ll need backup.

I use a Tmobile hotspot that’s pre-paid monthly and I also have a Tmobile iPhone in which I can very quickly upgrade my plan for extra gigabytes and downgrade when I no longer need the wi-fi boost.  Phones as hotspots are nearly catching up to the power of the non-phone hotspot.  However, I have both.  The phone as a hotspot is a great backup but also uses more battery power.  You never want to be without wi-fi, so I recommend both.

3. Get Comfortable, Get Power, Block Time

Quiet usually means you’ll be sitting for a little while.  So plan things like:

  • comfortable seating with back support
  • close to power outlets or power supply
  • check the hours for closing times

4. White Noise  

Get your playlist for your favorite time-to-focus music ready to go if background noise and headphones aren’t enough to keep your attention on work.

5. Plan for Interruptions 

Some people love to talk – no matter where you are or what you’re doing.  Headphones and that laser-like focus staring at your screen will detract a lot of the would-be interrupters.  But, it’s sometimes unavoidable.

One of the best lines I’ve found if someone interrupts you is to simply say you’re preparing for a meeting or that you have a deadline due.  Politely setting boundaries is great when you’re interrupted unwillingly.

Most importantly, get back to work immediately.  Don’t allow an interruption to turn into a break to check email.

Okay… Now that you’re comfy, have your wi-fi hotspot, noise-canceling headphones, are prepared for anti-breaking concentration, and you have a dedicated time where your power won’t go out or the shop won’t close – you’re ready to get into the zone.

Quiet Places to Work (Shh!) with Wi-fi 

If you’re a working traveler (or a traveling worker), here are a few spots to consider when you really need to buckle down and work.

Airports 

I love airports.  Really.  They have everything you need: Wi-fi (if not free, then through partners like Boingo), Coffee, Food, Restrooms, Seating, Power Outlets.  I don’t mind getting stuck on a long layover or even spending the night (as long as I’m prepared) because airports are a great place to work.

With a little preparation, like the noise cancelling headphones and a wi-fi hotspot, you can set up shop.  There are all strangers around you so it’s easy to be ignored.  Find a corner near a plug and get to work!

Co-Working Spaces

There’s probably no better blend of traditional business and the new world of flexible entrepreneurship than the concept of co-working.  Virtually every major city—and many smaller ones—have co-working spaces available, and they can give you an ideal place to work when you’re out seeing the world.

Just in case you aren’t aware, co-working spaces are shared office spaces where you can basically rent a desk alongside other startups, entrepreneurs, and small companies. They tend to be open-plan, modern-style offices, and let solopreneurs as well as bootstrapped startups and growing companies find affordable, dedicated space that workers on their budget.

Much of the co-working industry is geared towards companies who don’t need much dedicated space and want to split other office expenses. They also cater to local solopreneurs who don’t like working out of a home office. And most of them have the odd desk available for short-term rentals…like if you happen to be passing through or visiting for a few days and just need a quiet, professional place to set up shop.

There’s obviously a cost component to consider when it comes to co-working, but you’re virtually guaranteed a place where you can focus on work without being completely isolated. Plus you’ll have a solid WiFi connection (I can’t imagine a co-working space that doesn’t provide one), which you know is a must when you’re working on the go.

Many co-working spaces are divided into separate levels.  Traditional co-working space may also be called “hot desk” – an open floor plan surrounded by several other busy bees like yourself.

The only potential downside to this type of setup, of course, is distraction.  Community sharing is great, and valuable, but not conducive to getting real work done without interruption.

Co-Working spaces will often also have the option for a private office or the ability to rent a conference room.

If you need a quiet space to work, without distraction, then opt for the private space or the conference room.  Tip: If the conference room or office has windows, shut the door and face your back to the windows for least amount of visibility (disallowing interruptions).  If all sides are windows, make sure to wear those headphones and make little eye contact.

Coffee Shops

Wi-fi is all but ubiquitous in coffee shops these days, too. Most of them are fine with you camping out by a power outlet for hours at a time, but only if you order every couple of hours and leave a nice tip!

This might not be the best solution if you need absolute peace and quiet to get work done, but many people find the background buzz aka white noise and people-watching opportunities provide just enough distraction to keep their minds from totally wandering.

Some coffee shops have conference rooms or private rooms that you can rent or arrive early to get a good seat.

Switch it up and find a quiet coffee shop on the outskirts of town or in a new neighborhood – this is a great way to find a seat or a table, unfamiliar faces for less chitchat, and some on-hand caffeine to fool those productive hours.

Find some great crowdsourced coffee shops here.

Rent an AirBnB Studio

Renting a private room, or better yet, a studio, on AirBnb can really help you get some quiet time to yourself.  A studio allows for no roommates or distractions.

Tip: Before you book you’ll want to make sure they have good wi-fi.  To test wi-fi you can ask your potential host to go to speedtest.net.  The minimum connection I recommend is 8 gb down, but that depends on what you’re doing.  If you’re just checking emails or a simple Skype call, 4 mb is fine.  If you’re having video conferencing calls and sending files, then I recommend 20 mb.  Learn more about wi-fi speeds needed for remote work here.

The right accommodations can mean the difference between productivity and lack thereof.  The difference in cost for private versus shared will likely be the difference between less stress and business progression versus delays and less productivity.

Your Car / Boat / Van / RV 

Dead serious.  This one only works, obviously, if your travels include a personal vehicle, whether it’s your own car, a rental, or borrowed from a friend—it’s probably not worth the Uber rates 🙂

Some may object to the cramped quarters and lack of amenities provided by the typical automobile or boat, but there are actually a lot of advantages to using a four-wheeled or floating office.

First, you have total privacy. You don’t have to worry about anyone else setting up rules or causing a distraction. Your space is entirely your own, just like you had your own (small, bathroom-less) office.

Second, you can get a corner office view if you want one. A scenic overlook, the top of a midtown parking garage, on a cliff overlooking the ocean—whatever vista you want to visit, your car can get you there and give you a quiet workspace when you arrive.

Last but not least, your car (or boat, or van / RV) gives you an easy way to get connected almost anywhere. Plenty of businesses, including many big box stores, food chains, and of course coffee shops, now offer free wi-fi to anyone in range. Find a parking spot in close range and you’re good to go.

I’ve spent months working from my houseboat in Seattle, and this morning I was working from my Mitsubishi Delica overlooking the Pacific Ocean.. until the beautiful sunset.  A Tmobile hotspot and a 12-hour (okay…8-hour) battery on my Macbook Air, with a laptop table, a good 4G signal, and a latte and it’s the ultimate quiet spot – with the ultimate view.

Libraries

Once upon a time, libraries were the ultimate place to get work done. Quiet, technologically connected at a time when many businesses weren’t (albeit dialup!), and the best repositories of research material you were likely to find in any given locale. Things have changed a bit—OK, a lot—for libraries in the Internet Age, with virtually all the world’s information now at your fingertips and digital communication with all points on the globe available in your pocket.

But…

Libraries are still great places to get some work done when you need some peace and quiet in and don’t have an office to head to. Librarians are great at enforcing the “quiet” rule, and most offer free wi-fi.  Some even offer private or even soundproof study rooms to really shut out the distractions, and if you happen to want or need a book for some reason – in the age of Google, there are plenty on hand.

Public Parks and Campgrounds 

Though not always reliable wi-fi (hence the mobile hotspot backup), you can still find free networks in many city centers and even parks.  Several campgrounds have wi-fi and once again you can work from your moving vehicle or your picnic table!

If  you don’t have a hotspot or your phone doesn’t have hotspot capabilities….change that. For the traveling entrepreneur/freelancer it’ll pay for itself many times over!

Get Down to Business Without Being Tied Down to an Office

Freedom. It’s what our lifestyle is all about, and it’s what we build our working life around. It doesn’t mean we work less hard or are less productive, it just means we get more creative in the way we do things. Finding quiet places to work in every city on earth—and all the non-cities in between—is just one of the perks of the job.

These are a few solutions to the workplace solitude situation. Is your favorite on the list?  Have any other tips to share? Let me know in the comments, and tell everyone in the world where you’re posting from!

It’s Not Worth It … Death by Overworking (Karoshi)

karoshi liveworkanywhere

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Ever feel your heart pounding in your chest?  Ever feel like you’re going to have a heart attack?  I know I do.  There is a term for this in Japan, they call it Karoshi.

I first learned of this term while watching “Happy”, a Netflix documentary.

Karoshi is a Japanese word literally meaning “Death by Overwork”.

I hit pause on the remote.  This is a REAL thing.  I’ve felt stress and I’ve felt my heart pounding in my chest when I am exhausted and overworked. But I never really paid full attention to it before – until I heard what can happen as a result.

Case Studies on Karoshi:

  1. Mr A worked at a major snack food processing company for as long as 110 hours a week (not a month) and died from heart attack at the age of 34. His death was approved as work-related by the Labour Standards Office.
  2. Mr B, a bus driver, whose death was also approved as work-related, worked more than 3,000 hours a year. He did not have a day off in the 15 days before he had stroke at the age of 37.
  3. Mr C worked in a large printing company in Tokyo for 4,320 hours a year including night work and died from stroke at the age of 58. His widow received a workers’ compensation 14 years after her husband’s death.
  4. Ms D, a 22 year-old nurse, died from a heart attack after 34 hours’ continuous duty five times a month.
TWENTY-TWO years old?  34?  37?  Is this you?  Stress and age do have a correlation, but don’t underestimate the toll that stress can have on you.

karoshi liveworkanywhere

Causes of Work Related Stress:

  1. All-night, late-night or holiday work, both long and excessive hours. 
  2. Stress accumulated due to frustration at not being able to achieve the goals set by the company. 
  3. Forced resignation or dismissal from staff cutbacks. 
  4. Acting as the middle man for layoffs. 
This really struck me and also resonated with me – and maybe for you, too.

 

What can you do to not be a victim of Karoshi?

How to Manage Stress

1. Exercise – a lot, cardio in particular, to work the heart.
2. Force yourself to take breaks. Set a timer and get up when it goes off. Working longer hours doesn’t mean better results. Unwavering self discipline in practice will change your life.
3. Find a vice.  Hot showers, going camping, playing guitar – do something that allows you to feel Zen.
4. Diet.  What you put in your body plays a critical role in your output.  Amp up your fruits and vegetables and lower your caffeine and alcohol.
5. Take walks.  Apart from your exercise routine, get some fresh air during your work day.
6. Seek emotional balance.  Spend time with the people who lift you up and give your heart joy.
7. Meditate. 20 minutes twice per day sit quietly with your eyes closed to calm your thoughts. Mental and emotional also effect the physical self. Meditation is proven to reduce stress.

 

In short, it’s just not worth it.

________________

I had this post saved as a draft for some time.  But today, I got a message from an ex coworker’s wife saying that he had passed.  I spoke with him 12 hours ago and now he’s gone.

 

The reason, she said, is because of the first three reasons above – overworked, unachievable goals, and unforeseen dismissal for reasons not related to performance.  He was stressed about work and he had a heart attack.

 

This message all too eerily reminds me of the phone call I got in November a few years ago.  Richard was working at his desk when suddenly he had an aneurism that led to a stroke, and he instantly passed.

 

The saddest part of both of those stories?

 

They both left behind young children.  Robert has a newborn baby boy, less than 6 months old, and a daughter whom he helped with homework every night.  Richard had a four-year old daughter who considered her dad her best friend.

 

Now, because of unnecessary stress, they aren’t able to see their children grow.  They’ve left their wives behind and they have become only memories.

 

Stress is a serious thing.  No matter what path you take in life, you will always be okay.  If you find yourself in a situation where you’re overstressed, get the courage to make a change for a path with more balance.  You owe it to yourself and to your family, and to the lessons you can leave for future generations.

What Motivates Us to Work? … Not Stress

Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational (great book) says in his Ted talk that what motivates us – what really motivates us – isn’t money.

In several studies, he concluded that “most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose

Extreme overworking, trying to impress the boss, getting your life out of balance – these are not heroism.  Even a step beyond corporate slavery, it’s tragically fatal.

 

Life isn’t all about work.  It’s about feeling a sense of purpose, and making an impact.  When you create, when you give something of yourself, you want to see your work rewarded.

 

“Ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort before their eyes,” Ariely says. 

 

What can you do if you aren’t feeling rewarded?  Change jobs, become your own boss.  But, do not fall into the trap of overworking and giving all of yourself, leaving your family behind, only to have your work not be rewarded.  It’s not worth it.  Wouldn’t you rather become a case study about what you accomplished?

 

Stress is manageable.  You have to work at it.  But working at reducing stress – THAT is worth it.

——

Source of case studies and causes https://www.ilo.org/safework/info/publications/WCMS_211571/lang–en/index.htm

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Creating a Daily Routine to Ensure Long Term Success

Mobility Criteria 2. Develop a Daily Routine - Liveworkanywhere

Mobility Criteria #2: Creating a Daily Routine

Want to make a real difference in your life? You can and this begins with the actions that you take each day.

When you’re in the corporate world, your days all look relatively similar:

  • Get up
  • Get dressed
  • Listen to the news
  • Go to work
  • Get coffee
  • Check your email
  • Go to a meeting at 10
  • Have lunch at 12
  • Go to another meeting at 2
  • Go home at 5

However, they’re much different when you’re no longer in the corporate world because you get to dictate your own schedule when you work for yourself. This provides an overwhelming sense of freedom as you choose where to be and when. But… you might also feel a little lost. So, leaving the corporate world to work remotely requires that you establish a routine.

“Success is made in your daily routine.”

Success is found in your daily routine

I remember when I left Adobe, trying to imitate my schedule each day. Wake up (well, roll out of bed and go to my desk), get coffee, and start working at 9 am. But, what was I supposed to work on, exactly? Should I create meetings? With whom? Should I eat lunch at 12?

I would stay up until 3 am sometimes doing work because, in my head, staying up late meant that I was being productive. But I never quite got momentum and I wasn’t sure where to focus.

I was burning the candle at both ends with unpredictable results.

It took years to learn how to establish a routine yet, looking back, I realize it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done. Creating a daily routine helps keep me focused, on track, and productive. Sure, you get to dictate your schedule, but it’s the details in your daily routine that matter.

Routine leads to success. Make your routine robotic and your life will become less chaotic. It sounds ironic, but adding discipline into your routine actually allows you to have more freedom.

What does my daily routine look like?

My Daily Routine

Though it may vary by location, especially as someone who travels around the world crossing different time zones and cultures, I have a routine that I follow each day.

My routine beings with waking up by 7:30, then exercise and meditation for 35 minutes minimum, and then setting milestones and reviewing them. If my schedule changes or I have to run out in the morning before exercising, I adjust. But I still get the most important things done.

Then, with a cup of black tea and a light breakfast, I sit down and get at it.

First – and very important – I write a to-do list. I just use Notepad or an equivalent. I’ve tried several other tools, but this one works for me and I always default to it. I think it’s because it’s quick and reliable and just easy to read.

Next, my to-do list must be prioritized and milestones set. This reduces the amount of stress I feel and really helps my focus and clarity.

I’ve actually written my routine down and taped it to my wall. I had a blue Sharpie and piece of typewriter paper. I wrote down everything I needed to do each day to keep myself on track (even feeding my cat and brushing my teeth – not kidding) and I pinned it to my door.

Here’s what my blue Sharpie’s list looked like:

  • Get up by 7:30
  • Feed Jack 
  • Brush teeth
  • Eat small snack
  • Go to the gym
  • Work out for 35 minutes, burn a minimum of 500 calories
  • Eat blend of protein and carbs, low caffeine (exercise replaces caffeine)
  • Start work by 9 am
  • Set milestones
  • Review schedule
  • Make calls 10 am – 2 pm
  • Take a break at 2 pm go for a walk to energize
  • 3-5 pm for afternoon meetings
  • 5 pm take a break
  • Have dinner at 6 pm and spend time with family / friends
  • 7-9 pm go for a walk and spend time with family / friends
  • 9-11:30 pm prepare for the following day
  • Read something inspirational before falling asleep

Of course, life doesn’t always happen on autopilot, but what I am doing is forcing myself to create a schedule and stick to it.

Creating Your Own Daily Routine

Although this is what I do, don’t overlook the importance of establishing your own routine.

I suggest you come up with your own routine and write it down. I prefer not to waste paper and to have everything in one spot, so I use Notepad or TextEdit on Mac to store my daily milestone list. But come up with what works best for you.

I do want to note that there are a ton of productivity tools out there (Evernote, Reminder List, and tons of apps). Not that these aren’t good tools, but to manage yourself and your daily routine, you really just need something simple. By the time you learn to use a ‘tool,’ you will have wasted time you could have spent taking care of 5 items from your list. Notepad is just quick and what I call an anti- procrastinator.

(Note: Writing on a physical notepad works even better for committing thoughts to memory via the electromagnetic impulses in your fingers.)

Now, just do the routine for the habit-forming 21 days and you will start to do it without thinking. If you get off track, go back to your note.

But the important thing is, don’t delay. Create your list – and follow it.

With a posted routine, can you still be spontaneous? Yep. Can you go to your daughter’s soccer game? Yep. Just prepare your schedule in advance so you can arrange and rearrange and plan around it.

But most important is setting aside time to create and check in. Healthy body and healthy mind are of utmost importance. Find 4 hours per day. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Venice. You can find 4 hours to keep yourself on track.

Also, monitor what you do in your spare time. It’s good to be spontaneous but what you do in your spare time, how you choose to spend your time and with whom, is an indicator of your success.

We’ll get into more later about your routine and dissect your day but, for now, just remember routine is key. It may sound robotic but it’s a way to build routine into your day and to manage yourself and your life.

Go back to that list, often! Check in with yourself.

Tips for Daily Routine Success

Once you’ve established a routine, scripted it out, and learned how to have the discipline to follow your script, it helps to do some other things to help make the process easier.

Some of my best tips for daily routine success include:

  1. Go to bed early. Early to bed, early to rise. This keeps you out of trouble and helps you stay focused and fresh. The first thoughts of the day are most important.
  1. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Do not try to be a ‘useless hero‘. Get sleep every night. Good sleep. It makes a huge difference. Burning yourself out helps no one.
  1. Exercise each day. Make this the first thing you do each morning (instead of drinking coffee). Aim for 35 minutes minimum, shortly after you wake up. No excuses. Do it for 21 days and you’ll notice the difference. Remember: Your physical health feeds your mental health. For me, this involves taking a walk, after which I am able to sit down, make a list of my milestones, and bust out the next 4-5 hours of hard, focused work.
  1. Meditate each day. Some people prefer to meditate upon waking up. For me, this doesn’t work. Instead, I meditate and prepare for the coming day during my daily morning walk or exercise because this is when my mind is most open to creative ideas and better able to focus. During the day, when my mind needs a break from stress or fatigue, I take another walk or listen to a meditation app and take the time to slow my heart rate and mind.
  1. Study each day. What you feed your mind is critical. Listen to audiobooks or read on Kindle. Consider business books or think about new skills you want to learn or practice. Reading in the morning stimulates creativity for later in the day and reading before you go to bed helps the mind stay focused and learning while you sleep. Steven Covey says that everything we know has a half-life of two years, so you must constantly be upgrading and sharpening your skills if you want to stay on top of your game and keep your business competitive.
  1. Break tasks into milestones. As you’ve learned in the milestones post, you want to break your tasks into achievable chunks. Then, accomplish those tasks. If one takes too long, break it into smaller, more achievable tasks.
  1. Think through your workflow. Think through your milestones in your head before you even sit down to produce. Envision yourself having a successful day. Visualize yourself accomplishing your milestones. Then execute like a boss.
  1. Put a time limit on tasks. Forced deadlines help you get focused. That’s why it is beneficial to time yourself. Can you get that project done in 30 minutes? Try it. Do the best you can.
  1. Don’t be a perfectionist. Perfectionists tend to either get termed lazy or uptight – neither of which is going to help you. Instead, set deadlines to let go of the sense of “perfect makes done.” DONE makes done. The more you time yourself to get things done in a limited period of time, the better you’ll train yourself over time to produce – and in a way that is satisfactory to you.
  1. Practice self-discipline. The most important aspect of being an entrepreneur, especially a traveling entrepreneur, is self-discipline. It is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not. Follow your list. If you have an off day, it’s okay. Just don’t let it turn into two days. Get up and get back in routine as quickly as possible.
  1. Extinguish negativity. You only have so many hours in the day. Don’t get caught up in drama or in things that won’t move you forward. Don’t let other people, especially negative people, rule your thoughts during your day. Every second of the day belongs to you; it is your time, choose it carefully and selfishly. If you do have to interact with negativity, prep yourself beforehand and decide how you’ll handle the situation, how you’ll steer yourself back into focus. A little mental preparation before a tough situation can have a very powerful effect on the outcome.

Overnight successes take years on average. What every success story has in common is commitment. Never give up, ever.

Success is made in your daily routine.

This is one of 15 articles, each one addressing the 15 different mobility criteria necessary to live and work anywhere. To learn more about the remaining mobility criteria, click here

Create Daily Milestones from Daily, Weekly, & Monthly Goals

Mobility Criteria 1. Create Daily Milestones - Liveworkanywhere

Mobility Criteria #1: Create Daily Milestones 

Do you use Evernote, Trello, iPhone apps, or some other list-creating resource?

There are so many apps and blogs and posts about how we can create and check off our lists BUT…

We don’t always focus on list prioritization so we don’t get done the things we need to get done.

And even when we do, it’s still just one big long list that seems like an endless abyss.

That’s why it is important to create milestones. Daily, weekly, and monthly milestones.

What are milestones and how are they different than goals?

Milestones vs Goals

If your list has tasks like “release feature 3.0,” that’s a GOAL.

Instead, a milestone is something you can achieve that day. A milestone is also broken into tasks.

Let’s look at an example:

GOAL (30 days) = Release feature 3.0

Milestone (today) = Set up new project in git

Tasks (supporting the milestone) =

  • copy folder into local Sites directory
  • create new git repository
  • link local folder to online git repository

See the difference?

Basically, goals are long-term ideas of what you want to accomplish and milestones are the steps that you’re going to take to get there.

It’s About Hitting Goals

Milestones ultimately help you hit your goals.

One way to do this is to start with the end in mind and work backwards (see Steven Covey’s 2nd habit).

So…think about your business goals. What’s important to achieve this year? This month? This week? Now the tiniest chunk…today?

What can you do today that will have an impact on your business and move it forward?

Remember we are aiming for success, so you want to make your milestones achievable.

If your milestones aren’t achievable or feel overwhelming, then they are too big. Reduce them until they are the right size for you to accomplish them.

Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Sure, you might not get everything done on your to-do list, but getting 3 things accomplished is much better than getting 6 things half-finished all because you were trying to rope the moon.

Success Begets Success

Setting achievable milestones is also important in order to feel “done” or that you’ve accomplished something at the end of the day.

This makes you want to have that feeling over and over again so, in that way, success begets success.

Plus, there’s nothing more rewarding than deleting a task or milestone because you’ve accomplished it.

It’s done. No looking back.

You’ll sleep better, have more peace, and less stress.

Remove Guilt

Feeling overwhelmed and under-accomplished will kill you so you also have to remove guilt if you don’t accomplish every milestone you’ve set for yourself.

Things happen. If you can’t achieve them, just put them on tomorrow’s milestone list, and start over. Forgive yourself and move on.

This is important!

I am a perfectionist and a hard worker. If I can’t accomplish something, sometimes I take it personally. But we are human. We all fall. The important thing is to get back up and keep on going.

No strings. No emotion. Just get back in the ring. The sooner the better.

Are you ready to start creating your own daily, weekly, and monthly milestones?

Practical Exercise: Create Your Own Milestones

You are probably full of energy, ideas, and to-do’s that have been bubbling in your head as you’ve been reading. Now is the time to write them down and then narrow down the list.

Ask yourself: What’s been lingering that if you just took the time to get it done today you’d 1) feel better and 2) be able to focus on your other pressing milestones that you want and need to get to?

Right now, I want you to take out a piece of paper or your device and write:

What are my milestones today?

  1.  _________________________
  2.  _________________________
  3.  _________________________
  4.  _________________________

(Remember: Milestones must be achievable.)

Here’s an example list I’ve had:

Milestones today:

  1. Call / arrange the dentist (been waiting on this one forever even though it only takes 5 minutes!)
  2. Call Raj and ask about his schedule for tomorrow and Friday, lock in interview time
  3. Call Aweber and ask about transferring existing subscriptions
  4. Release Father’s Day campaign for Beer2Buds

These are small tasks, but they are each profound. Let’s take a deeper look at each one and why it was so important to my success…

  1. Health. If we don’t prioritize things like health they will come back to haunt us later.
  2. Meetings. This meeting was for hiring a new employee to do sales/biz dev.
  3. Task management. Calling a provider and technical setup for my user base.
  4. Business Development. Crafted and launched a newsletter, outbound content marketing to drive inbound sales.

Even though each one was important, notice that I didn’t add things that took more than 2 hours maximum and, at minimum, 5 minutes.

Now that you have your milestones set, commit to achieving them first thing in the morning.

Use Your Mornings to Your Advantage

Your most important part of the day is the morning. You’re freshest, your mind is the clearest, and you have the most energy.

After 4-5 hours of hard core productivity, your battery will start to run low. So use the time when you’re at your highest energy to accomplish those milestones.

If, once these are accomplished, you want to take on more, by all means do. But what we’re trying to avoid here is burnout or creating an endless list that will not get done.

What we’re also trying to accomplish is the creation of successful habits. Feeling good, feeling accomplished, having enough rest to keep your mind fresh for the next set of milestones.

We want achievable goals that we can reach in one day. If a task is longer than 2 hours, it’s too big. Break it down into smaller pieces.

Do this and, at the end of the day, you feel accomplished for what you’ve been able to do versus overwhelmed by what hasn’t gotten done. Then, do the same for tomorrow.

Having a hard time staying focused on hitting your milestones?

Refer Back to the List

When I get distracted or sidetracked, as often happens, I remember I have a list. I refer back to it and, in all her glory, there she is, telling me what to do.

I’m instantly back on track.

The beauty about having it written down? Have you ever found yourself in this scenario:

You’re hard at work. You’ve had your caffeine, read you’re online motivation, and you’re fired up, ready to get at it.

About 45 minutes into your hard work, your co-worker walks in. He got a haircut and a piercing. You comment on it.

“How was your weekend?” you ask. And it begins.

Thirty minutes later, ugh, you’re wondering, “What was I gonna do again?”

You’re adjusting in your seat. You take a bathroom break. “What was I gonna do again?”

Twenty minutes later the mailman comes. Your new Kindle arrived. Yes! You can’t play with it now because you have a meeting in 20 minutes. But you open it, turn it on, and show it off. Then you diligently put it away.

After your meeting, you sit down. The client was angry. You’re exhausted. You stare at your screen. “What was I gonna do again?”

“Oh yea, eat lunch.”

Before you know it, the day is gone and you’re left with nothing done.

Now…this is what a day looks like when you’re being productive, in the same scenario:

Each time you ask the question “What was I gonna do again?” you Ctrl+Tab back to your notepad.

There is your list. You read it and it refocuses you.

You are now back on track.

Manage yourself by what you wrote in the morning when you were in your most creative and productive zone.

Crack the whip on yourself! If you want to, say “yeehaw, back in the saddle again” each time. Or not. It’s up to you.

But when you create daily, weekly, and monthly milestones—and meet them—you’ll feel that kind of excitement!

This is one of 15 articles, each one addressing the 15 different mobility criteria necessary to live and work anywhere. To learn more about the remaining mobility criteria, click here

A Pre-Travel Checklist – Some things to do before traveling

Pre travel list - Live work anywhere

There are a few things I do each time before I leave on a trip to make sure that I have no hiccups and can continue to keep my schedule, life, and work – in continuous flow.  Here is my travel checklist and some tips I’d like to share.

1. Check Schedule & Calendar 

Staying productive from anywhere is the true goal of a remote worker, freelancer, or digital nomad.  Your clients, schedule, and calendar matter.

Plan For Existing Meetings

First, take a look at your calendar to see what meetings you have coming up.  Make sure that you plan your flight and all your time in transit around that meeting or call.  Leave yourself enough of a buffer between flights, metro stations, taxis, ubers, etc so that you can get there in time to have your call and actually have the head space to make sure it’s effective.

Everyone is different but you never know if the taxi will be late or overcharge you and your head is in haggle mode when it should be in sales mode.  Be mentally prepared and give yourself the time to focus on the call in a quiet space with good wi-fi.

Set Your Upcoming Schedule

calendar liveworkanywhere pre travel planning Next, decide if you need to schedule any other meetings that week.

Make sure your flight and travel plans are scheduled around your meetings and that you will have strong wi-fi and quiet, low-noise for meetings.

Figure out how you will work around the upcoming meetings.  If you’ve committed to being there, it’s important to show up, and you need to plan accordingly – or rearrange early.

Confirmation Meetings

Even more importantly for travel, confirm your clients or business partners will be there (it’s a pain to reschedule, especially on the road, beside the obvious fact that people need to honor and respect each others’ schedules).

I don’t always tell my clients that I’m traveling.  Not because I’m hiding anything but to keep them from panicking.

This is a double edged sword.  If I say I’m leaving, they tend to panic.  It’s that knee-jerk reaction that we are still programmed to believe that traveling means shutting off.  This is changing.  Soon, clients will just say “okay, safe travels, talk to you at our next meeting.”  Some clients already just know and say something like “… wherever you are in the world.”

Set Expectations & Be Accountable

The truth is – just show up.  Be accountable to yourself and to others.  In general, meetings are canceled or rescheduled all the time.  If you’re not traveling, yet you are in the same city and had to reschedule, it’s viewed as normal.  But, if you tell people that you’re traveling then people tend to think your’e on vacation and you rescheduled for that reason, which portrays irresponsibility and can backfire on you.

Traveling while working personally makes me even more accountable.  I don’t like to waste my own time especially when on the road.

Practicing integrity and being a person of your word, and consistency, is what is important.  Not the place.  Meeting goals, deadlines, and being accountable are what matter most.

2. Bring Food & Water 

You never know when you’ll have an extended layover, the drinking fountain breaks down, or the stores close early.  Make sure you have enough supplies for a just-in-case situation.  Plus, it’s nice to have snacks and not be parched.

First thing I do (after security if in an airport) when traveling is to fill my water bot Brita-Water-Filter-Bottle-liveworkanywhere-pretravel-planning tle.  Even though you have to empty it before security if you’re getting on the plane, you never know when you’ll be stuck without something to drink.  So find a water station and fill up.

Ideally bring a water bottle that has a filter, like a Brita filter, so that you can safely drink most tap water, depending on where you go.

Buy snack food.  Packing nuts, dried fruits and granola bars ensures you’ll never be stuck starving.  They take a long time to go bad, plus you can avoid the $20 dollar sandwich at the airport.

3. Banking & Financial 

Set Travel Alert

Important – set your travel alert with your bank.  Have you ever tried using your card only to find out it’s not working?  It always happens at the worst time – when you’re about to pay for your next meal (that you’ve already eaten!), about to buy that sweater you’ve had your eye on, or need money to pay for a taxi.  Figuring out how to call or contact your bank when you’re out and about overseas can be an especially fun challenge.

Setting an alert ahead of time will avoid all of this!

Reciprocity

Additionally, look online at which bank(s) offers reciprocity so you can save on ATM fees.

bank-reciprocity-liveworkanywhere-pretravel-planning

For example, I bank (partly) with Bank of America.  You can google “set travel alert with <add your bank name here>” to find out if you are able to save on fees with your bank.

There are some credit cards, like the Delta Sky Miles card from American Express that allows you to save on international fees completely.  For ATM cards, check with your bank.  To the right is an example from Bank of America.

https://www.bankofamerica.com/deposits/manage/how-to-pay-when-traveling-abroad.go

4. Keep Local Currency Pocket Change  

Bring enough cash to cover at least the way to the airport / train station and enough for the return trip when you land.  I usually bring $20 USD or Euros each way for the airport and the subway or bus trip.   If there’s some left over, I get to buy local snacks.   pocket-change-liveworkanywhere

Another $20 USD in my bag for when I land.  Enough for breakfast and a bus ticket.

If I have local currency ahead of time, I usually carry about the equivalent of $20 for when I land.

If you don’t have local currency, all you have to do is pull cash out of the ATM at the airport wherever you land.  The rate of exchange may be a little high (unless it’s on the reciprocal bank list) but it’s generally cheaper than going to the currency exchange bureau.  When I land, I suggest taking out around $100-$200 USD or the local equivalent.  This is enough to get you started with transportation, food / coffee, and a little extra for the unexpected.

Try to pay with a card (now that your travel alert is set) and save the cash for incidentals and until you arrive at your destination and until you know the next ATM spot where you’ll do your next cash withdrawal.

5. Necessities Checklist  

This can vary but for me the necessities are:

  • passport-us-liveworkanywherepassport
  • ticket booked with confirmation (and make sure I check in online beforehand to avoid long lines)
  • credit cards (1 main, 1 for backup)
  • laptop and power cord
  • international power adaptor that covers the country(ies) I’ll be going to
  • money ($20 usd each way)
  • map (or picture of map) of transportation, i.e. subway maps for New York City
  • smartphone
  • contact information while abroad dispersed to family, friends, and clients
  • bathroom kit i.e. toothbrush (though I can buy this when I land if I forget it)

I always have my necessities with me.  I can leave from anywhere and go anywhere at pretty much any time with just a backpack.  What I don’t have I pick up when I arrive, like toiletries.  It’s always fun to buy shampoo in which I recognize the brand but cannot understand the label.

6. Accommodations Check  

I am pretty adventurous but I like to know where I’ll sleep when I land, especially if I am jet lagged from a long i accommodations-packing-list-liveworkanywhere nternational flight.  Usually arranging the first day or first week in a place will give you time to get oriented – and you can go from there!

One day versus one week is very different.  I tend to book only one day if my destination is not so far away and there’s not a huge time or cultural change.  I will book up to one week if it’s farther away, there’s a big time change, and if there is a language or huge cultural change.

I landed in South Africa today, for example, and I’ve booked an AirBnB apartment for 8 days to not only see the city but to get myself situated and talk to locals about where to go next.

So, fellow traveler, what’s on your pre-travel checklist?  Do you have an item on your necessities list that you don’t see listed?  What’s your priority when landing in a new place?

Downsizing to 4 Boxes : An Experiment in Minimalism

an experiment in minimalism

I spent the past 10 years wanting to travel. I spent the last 10 years accumulating stuff. Finally, I drew a line in the sand. I was going no matter what. Not an easy decision and something in need of planning but well worth the effort.

I decided to reduce my life down to FOUR BOXES. I had two houses, a car, a cat, a relationship, tenants, a business, a job, a car, a social life, photos, cd’s, DVDs, furniture, paperwork – you name it!

What I decided to do was make a list of the things that were most important to me and what I couldn’t do without. Then, I decided to get rid of everything else. It’s unbelievable how much ‘stuff’ we can build up! After simplifying my life and liberating myself and reflecting, I really don’t know how or why we do it. Of course there’s the old “keeping up with the Jones’s” or simply adding more things for the space we have available. Either way, it’s not fulfilling and somewhat narrow minded. To release yourself of the ‘ties’ we have, whether real or imagined, is quite the freeing experience.

My list:

  • Picture albums (with a backup digital copy)
  • Legal paperwork for house / business / etc
  • Precious items that were gifts or could not be replaced

Really that was about it. I had two houses at the time and I made a plan to sell the first one. It took 3 and 1/2 months but finally after cleaning, prepping, and marketing it sold. Huge check off the list!

minimalism experiment four boxes
That’s it! Can you believe it?

What next?

My job. My car was easy, I got in a small bumper crash and it decided no longer to run. So, I invested in the city bus. I had a heart to heart with myself. In another post I talk about the loathe I have for the corporate world, and although a great opportunity for me (there are many if you are a glass-half-full person), I released the chains and gave my notice.

Everything else was easy. Several trips to Goodwill, many posts on Craigslist, happy and willing friends to offload stuff onto, digitizing all music and movies, and online storage for everything that was important to me (with backup).

I’ll go through little by little what I use for tools to help me be mobile and work virtually.

I wasn’t able to sell my other house since, as we all know, the market went South. But it still feels good to have a place to call home and go back to. For several months I tried to find the right tenant to occupy my home. Giving them a few deposit slips and contacts in case something goes wrong or needs fixing and voila! Off to Central America to prove that living and working abroad can not only cost you less in stress and also in the dollars you spend.