Hello all! I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted and I am planning to get Kay Writes Stuff up and running again but in the meantime, I’ve got something I need to get off my chest.
Whenever you hear someone talking about the joys of freelancing it’s tagged with a few key buzzwords. And anyone who has looked into freelancing as a side gig or full-time job will know what I mean.
You hear about the power of being your own boss, setting your own schedule, working on your own time, making money from your own words, seeing the fruits of your labor published and of course, the freedom to work ANYWHERE!
For me, whenever I tell people I work as a freelance writer, the one thing that comes up time and time again is how awesome it must be to be able to work from home and remotely.
And it is! Or at least was until my family hoofed it to Ireland for my sister’s wedding and I foolishly thought it would be no problem to work while there.
After all, I’m a freelancer, the whole point of my job is the freedom of being able to work wherever as long as I have my laptop and some wi-fi. The magic that is an unlimited data plan sustained me during road trips in the US, so really, how hard could it be to duck into a pub for a few hours and get some work done?
Oh me of misplaced optimism.
When I discussed my travel plans with my editor the only thing that really worried me was the time difference. My current job expects me to deliver five articles before a certain time and I wasn’t sure how it would work out with a six-hour time difference.
If only I had known then that the time difference was the least of my problems.
My editor assured me through many emails that working while traveling was a breeze. He traveled all the time he said and was able to get tons done so it would be no issue for me to work.
And that was that.
Now, there is one important caveat to this story and that is that I am an EXTREMELY anxious traveler. Even though I love to experience new places, everything from buying plane tickets to boarding to finding my way around puts my stomach in knots.
This might have only made the situation worse.
My family made the travel arrangements with the express knowledge that I needed access to wi-fi and so we only booked Airbnb with wi-fi. I also checked to make sure that the trains had wi-fi as well because we were going from Dublin to County Kerry via train.
I got ahead of my workload and finished my articles early during the days we were flying to Ireland and everything seemed to be going well but then…. we got to the Dublin Heuston Train Station.
From the moment we touched down, I felt like some crazed Indiana Jones on the search for wi-fi like it was the fountain of youth.
If I had a nickel for every time I asked an attendant, server, or bartender for wi-fi I would have a heck of a lot of nickels!
The time difference wasn’t ever a problem, (in fact it worked in my favor as I was six hours ahead of the game instead of behind), what was however, was the reliability of getting decent WI-FI. On one of our train trips, 3 hours of potential work time was completely a bust because the wireless wasn’t working.
When we got into our Airbnb, we didn’t know how to get the wi-fi working because the helpful properties manager didn’t know when we were coming even though my mom had emailed her our TOA, and it was about four hours before we got a hold of her.
Wi-fi on the plane cost a pretty penny and so I actually ended up losing money for every article I sent.
It was a valuable lesson to learn because as much as my job does allow me the freedom to work from anywhere, I now know that I won’t be working anywhere without guaranteed wireless internet or data.
Next time your friends go gaga over your awesome job as a freelancer just keep in mind that it’s no walk in the park. Plan your international vacations with care and be prepared for hiccups.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, blogging, freelance writing, and content writing are all jobs and take work, and deadlines and commitments are a priority even when you’re working for yourself.
However, if you do find yourself traveling abroad, or even just on a short trip a few hours away, here are a few tips to help you meet your deadlines stress-free.
1. Make Your Plans As Early As Possible
If you know that a big trip is in your future, lock down your travel plans as soon as possible. I’m talking flights, hotels, etc. The sooner you know where you’ll be the sooner you can find out what your options are for work time and reliable wifi.
2. Research Is Your Best Friend
Even if you’re just going camping for a weekend, research ahead of time what the wi-fi situation is like. For me, this could have saved a lot of stress if I had known there was a library in the town I was staying and that train wi-fi wasn’t reliable. Check with airlines to see what kind of internet is available on flights and make a list of wi-fi hotspots (coffee shops, diners, libraries, restaurants, along with their hours AND directions so you know where to go when you have to get some work done.)
3. Upgrade To Business Class If You Can
Do you have a long international flight ahead of you or even a four-hour flight with some time to kill and a deadline to meet? For my family, flying economy was our only option but oh man, did those little sardine seats leave little room for anything but staring straight ahead just waiting to reach our destination. At one point I was sitting with my laptop half closed with the keyboard squished into my stomach because the lovely people in front of me had their seat reclined all the way. If I could have, I would have bought a business class seat asap because not only do you get a little more wiggle room, often those sections are specifically designed with more outlets and table room for setting up laptops.
4. Update Your Editors and Clients
One thing you absolutely have to do is keep your clients updated about any upcoming travel plans. If someone emails you about an article or asks you to go over something, the last thing you want to do is get back days, or even weeks later. While many might be understanding, simply emailing clients after the fact and apologizing that you were away from your computer or didn’t have wifi won’t cut it in today’s fast-paced, plugged-in lifestyle. I was at a conference once and a woman discussing business startup tips for entrepreneurs said that no matter what, she always responded to emails within several hours.
For me personally, I try and make sure that I respond within a day.
If something happens while you’re traveling, it will be much better that your clients know that you’re working away from home and hiccups happen rather than just feeling completely ignored.
5. Get As Much Done Ahead Of Time As Possible
For me, I’m a nervous flyer. I fly all the time but still, something about taking off has me clinging to my armrest like it’s the last lifeboat off the Titanic. Because of this, I specifically worked my butt off to get all my articles in days early so that my flying day was free. This didn’t work out on the way back unfortunately as I was just way too tired and jet-lagged to get ahead before we left.
6. Set Your Priorities And Stick To Them
The hardest thing for me was remembering that I was in Ireland to get my sister’s wedding organized and celebrate the day with her, and to spend time with my family, all while working my freelance job too. It was a lot of things to juggle and it left me totally drained by the time I got back. This was my first experience working while traveling and I have a feeling that after a few more times, it will all get easier.
If you find yourself working while vacationing use your work time wisely. Will there be some downtime or not so nice rainy days – use those to your advantage. Are you OK sitting at the hotel while your family or friends go sight-seeing? Can you skip the shopping and chill at a local cafe while everyone else loads up on souvenirs?
It’s all about planning, prioritizing, and sticking to your commitments and schedules.
Happy Travels and as always write on my friends.