One of the wonderful things about freelancing is that a freelancing job is mobile. It doesn’t matter where you happen to be when you work, as long as you meet your deadlines and produce high quality work.
This flexibility of location has led to a new breed of freelancer–the location independent professional. These are freelancers who combine a love for travel with their freelancing careers.
But, becoming a location independent professional may not be as easy as it seems. In this post, I’ll share some areas to look out for if you plan to work and travel. I’m also inviting any location independent professionals to chime in with their own experiences and advice.
Combining Travel and Work
The first thing you need to consider is whether you will be traveling as a lifestyle of just taking an occasional trip. Obviously, if you just take a trip every now and then your task will be easier. You probably have a home base where you have a full office set up. You may be able to make do with minimal equipment during your short trips.
However, if traveling is your long-term lifestyle, you have different concerns. Here are some things you will need:
- The right equipment. As a mobile professional, you will need the right tools for the job. While a tablet or smart phone might be all that you need to do work on a short trip, as a long-term traveler you need more. You will probably need a high-powered laptop. Look for something that is also lightweight so that it is easier to move.
- An internet connection. WiFi has become much more widespread over the past few years with free locations in restaurants, most hotels, and even at roadside rest stops. Like any other freelancer, you need the internet to do business. One of your first tasks when you arrive at a new location will be to get connected as quickly as possible.
- A smart phone. While you may not be able to do a large project on your smart phone, it is still an incredibly useful tool that can keep you connected to clients while you are on the road. You can also use it to check email or even your social media accounts.
- Virus protection software. As a traveling freelancer, you need to have top-notch internet security. Make sure that your passwords are secure and your virus software is updated. You may even want to invest in a personal firewall.
- A web presence. A web presence is important to all freelancers, but it is especially important to the mobile freelancer. Make sure that you have a website, email, and a strong social media presence. Remember, you may not always be able to network locally, so online networking will be very important.
Even with the right tools, you may face additional challenges as a location independent professional that an ordinary freelancer doesn’t face.
Things for Traveling Freelancers to Be Wary About
Here are some of the challenges that mobile freelancers have to overcome:
- Spotty or slow internet. While WiFi is widely available, not all WiFi is created equal. Many free connections are slow. And even though the internet seems to be everywhere, keep in mind that there are still locations where you will have trouble connecting. If you are going to be in the wilderness (such as in the middle of a national park) or in a country without a well-developed infrastructure, you may not be able to find a connection.
- Legal concerns. Location-independent professionals may also face legal concerns. If you do not have a “permanent” address, what laws apply to your business? Where should you pay your taxes? To overcome this, many mobile freelancers pick a home base even if they know that they will not spend much time there. Check with your own attorney to discover what is right for you.
- Paper files and other storage. As a traveling freelancer, the last thing you want to do is lug around a lot of paper files. While a metal filing cabinet may be practical in a stationary home office, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for a freelancer on the go. An alternative is to try to eliminate as much paper as you can by saving files to the cloud-based apps or apps that provide online storage.
- Distractions and discipline. A traveling freelancer may face more distractions than a home-based freelancer. For one thing, you have less control over your environment. While you may be able to keep the noise down at home, in a hotel you may find yourself stuck with noisy neighbors or a room next to the elevator. It takes self-discipline to keep working in less than ideal surroundings.
- Time management. As a traveling freelancer, you want to see the locations that you visit–that’s the whole point of traveling. As a long-term traveler, however, you also need to get work done so that you can afford to live. The best way to accomplish both goals is to schedule both work and free time. You may find that as a mobile freelancer you prefer to work fewer hours a day than you did at home. (Take this into consideration when setting your rate.)
More Resources for Traveling Freelancers
Are you ready to learn more about mobile freelancing? Here are some more great articles and websites:
- Location Independent. A whole website devoted to location-independence from those who have been there. You’ll find a number of articles that deal specifically with issues and concerns that location independent professionals face.
- Thrilling Heroics. Despite the unusual name, this blog is filled with tips and ideas for traveling and working. Of course, you’ll find other information here too, but there are whole categories devoted to “Digital Nomads” and “Location Independence.”
- 10 Digital Nomads to Learn From at Corbett Barr. This blogger has tapped some well-known online personalities for their traveling tips in this post about digital nomads. Not only is the information helpful, it’s encouraging to hear from those who live a location-free lifestyle.
- Becoming a Digital Nomad: Options for Working Remotely from Anywhere at almostfearless.com. This article is about the traveling lifestyle from someone who has done it successfully. In fact, the authors of this blog have actually created a documentary on the topic.
Do you live the location-independent lifestyle? Are you a digital nomad?
If so, I’d love to hear from you. Add your own tips and resources in the comments below.
Image by Kossy@FINEDAYS