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Insights, New Work, Vanlife, Work Anywhere

Work and travel at the same time? No problem!

Reisen und arbeiten

Why we combine work and travel?

Discovery mode instead of daily routines

Each of you probably knows it: Monday morning, the alarm clock rings at the same time as always and the usual routine starts all over again. Every working day is the same and you’re really stuck in your rhythm. Even if we love our jobs, routine creeps in.

We really wanted to change that. Because if there’s one thing we can’t stand, it’s the seemingly endless dullness in our lives.

Traveling and discovering new things has always been important to Falko and me, and we have usually planned most of our free days with trips. But annual vacation days – at least with most employers – are limited and not nearly enough for our desire to explore 😉.

Work anywhere as the solution

That’s why we decided to work location-independently and thus create new opportunities for ourselves. Since then, our remedy against monotony has been called “work anywhere”. We simply work from wherever we feel like or happen to be. Of course, this is often still our home base in Valais. But through our location-independent jobs, we have created the possibility to work also from other places.

In this way, we can not only use our few vacation days to explore new regions and countries, but also our free time before and after work.

What are suitable jobs to travel and work?

No doubt, not every job can be done remotely. Some jobs are simply not possible without people being on site. Digital jobs, on the other hand, are in the vast majority of cases completely location-independent and going to the office is often only a result of habit or personal preference (one’s own or that of your boss 😉 ). But what are these jobs that are good for traveling and working?

Any job that can be done from home is basically also suitable for combining travel and work. As long as you don’t have any obligations to be in an office, your job is perfectly suitable to be done from other places than home.

In principle, you can travel and work with a “normal” job. Jobs in the digital industry are particularly suitable for location-independent work, for example a job as a software engineer, designer or in sales and marketing. However, working as a copywriter or translator can also be suitable and there should be no obstacles to working on the road. It’s up to you whether you prefer to work for an employer or land your own jobs as a freelancer.

Contrary to many blogs on the subject, we believe that you don’t have to become a travel blogger or YouTube creator or pursue a career as a photographer if you want to work independently and travel at the same time. Successfully earning a living as an influencer is probably reserved for very few people. And even the infamous affiliate marketing is only suitable to a limited extent in the end, because aren’t we all sick of seeing these (sometimes not even subliminal) advertisements in every second blog post?

So before you jump on the influencer boat, it’s well worth considering questioning your current job, using professional know-how you already have and steering towards location independence. If you start writing a travel blog that unexpectedly skyrockets, you can always adjust your model.

What do I need for location-independent work?

Having looked at different jobs and forms of work in the previous section, we will now focus more on the technical aspects of being able to work location-independently.

Internet and mobile data

Today, you can’t do without the internet, and a good connectivity is a basic requirement for location-independent work. Depending on where you work, you can use an existing WLAN or mobile data.

Especially when it comes to mobile data use, for example when you want to work in your mobile home or camper van, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you are using mobile data on the road for the first time, it is worth using your mobile phone as a hotspot. If you go on more frequent work & travel trips with your van, you can always upgrade later with a suitable router.

VPN and security

In addition to having the best possible internet connection, security also plays an important role. This includes simple precautions like locking your screen when you leave your laptop for a moment, but also less obvious issues like secure data transfer.

With the help of encrypted VPN connections, you can access a public network when you’re on the move without having to worry about the security of your data. It sounds complicated, but it’s easy for anyone to set up with a subscription from providers like NordVPN.

We have written a detailed article on the topic of mobile internet in the van and security, where you can read many more details.

Workplace

Besides all the technology, something as simple as your surroundings also play an important role when it comes to location-independent work. On the one hand, when you travel, you naturally want to experience something, discover something new and get around as much as possible. On the other hand, you need a quiet place for your work where you can think and work comfortably.

That’s why you should make sure you choose your remote workspace in advance, whether it’s a hotel room, a holiday flat or the parking space for your van.

In order to work even more concentrated, we also recommend noise-cancelling headphones, often abbreviated as ANC (active noise cancelling). These headphones, which are available both as in-ear and over-ear models, block out ambient noise and contribute to a distraction-free working environment. For us, they are therefore standard equipment, whether for video calls or for more focused work.

How to combine travel and work?

Short trips to extend our weekends

Oh, we love our short long-work-weekend trips. 😍 Instead of just jetting off in the van for the weekend, we then set off a day or two early. It’s important to us that we’ve researched our destinations for these short trips well and that the destination is no farther than a three-hour drive away. We know exactly what to expect at the campsite or pitch and can arrive relaxed in the evening.

Fully equipped for remote work, we work in the van the next day. When we close our laptops after work, we start our weekend trip already on site. And instead of “pulling up stakes” on Sunday and getting stuck in the usual return traffic, we often add an overnight stay and postpone the return trip until Monday evening.

Longer van tours

When we plan longer van trips, during which we also have to work at the same time, we naturally take this into account in our planning. We plan longer travel days on the weekends, while during the week we become real slow travelers. Then we don’t cover huge distances, but enjoy chugging slowly from one campsite to the next. The main thing is that the internet speed is fine for the next working day. 😄

We’ve had great experiences with this slow way of traveling and making progress one step at a time. We can break our routines so wonderfully, every day we wake up at a different site, work in a new place and are already excited about where it will take us in the evening. A (working) day could hardly be more varied.

Working in a tourist home, cottage, or apartment

Especially in winter, van life is one of those things. Basically, we don’t have a problem with winter camping. But when it comes to living and working in a van as a couple without interruption, the cold temperatures outside can quickly become limiting.

For this reason, especially during the cold season, we like to switch to a self-catering vacation home, cabin or apartment once in a while to break our daily routine. As long as the accommodation meets our need for both tidiness and internet speed, we’re happy to sleep in foreign beds. 😄

Combination of cottage and van

Since Corona we avoid hotels and need is the mother of invention. Therefore, we asked ourselves why not combine both – cabin and van. Far away destinations, such as the Lofoten Islands in Norway, we would reach without a van only by spending a few nights in hotels. But since we like to stay in some of the beautiful accommodations every now and then, the idea to combine the two came up.

Thus, we travel there and back by van, so we are independent regarding the daily driving distance. This is especially important for us when we are working additionally during the day. On-site we use a cabin or an apartment and enjoy the comforts of a “real” home – including a toilet with flush, a warm shower of more than 1.5 minutes, and an electric oven!

The best mindset for working remotely

If you want to combine work and travel, you should have a few attributes to make your working day outside of your own four home office walls a success. Extensive travel preparation, early scheduling and the discipline to reliably complete your work even in the most beautiful places in the world are definitely part of a professional mindset for location-independent work.

Discipline

A common cliché about travel and work is that digital nomads don’t actually work, but spend most of the day surfing or skiing. Sure, it’s tempting when you have the opportunity to work in the most beautiful places on earth to enjoy them too. Working from anywhere requires a certain amount of discipline.

You should always set out with the attitude that your work will not become a secondary matter. Your professionalism is shown by the fact that you plan your discovery tours outside of your working hours and complete your tasks just as reliably as you would in a home office or in the office. In this way, your discipline also strengthens your employer’s confidence in you and your work on the road. Only your view may be more attractive than in the office.

Organizational skills

Of course, customer meetings, stand-ups or team meetings also take place when you work on the go. If your trip only consists of a three-hour flight over the weekend, planning is relatively easy. However, if you are going to be traveling a long distance by public transport, car or camper, and you are even planning to be on the road for several days, you need to be well prepared. Take important appointments, deadlines and meetings into account in your travel plans, ensure there is enough buffer between travel and working hours.

Your available internet speed is also a crucial factor in order to be able to work successfully while traveling. In many countries, you can find network coverage maps from the mobile phone providers that will help you plan your travel route so that you actually have network coverage during your working hours. This is also part of a professional travel and work organization, because remote work thrives on good communication.

Flexibility and creativity

Despite all the discipline and planning, things do go wrong. No network in the dead zone, car breakdown or defective laptop. Such situations are annoying, but are simply part of everyday life, whether in the office, at home or on the go.

A flexible attitude helps you to see these situations more calmly and to find solutions. When traveling you don’t have your usual “safety net” to fall back on and when quick action is required, you need some creativity. You might find a café with Wi-Fi nearby, an IT shop that will help you quickly in the event of a breakdown, or an e-commerce shop with express delivery. Stay open to unconventional solutions instead of getting angry about problems that arise, because this does not lead to any helpful solution.

Why choose work and travel?

In our opinion and experience, there are endless reasons and ways in which we could combine travel and location-independent work. It remains beyond dispute that these days are sometimes exhausting, require some careful planning and sometimes a lot of improvisation. But that’s what makes this kind of work and traveling so exciting and that’s what it’s all about for us.

We have found a way to break our daily routine by combining our working day with traveling.

If you have also had experiences with traveling while working, feel free to write your story in the comments. We are curious about your adventures!

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