The lifestyle of a digital nomad can be adventurous, empowering, and downright liberating. Whether marveling at the natural wonders along Indonesia’s archipelago or sipping lattes in Parisian cafés, you have the choice of where and how to spend your days. You’re the captain of your life and the master of the winds that sweep you around the globe. You are completely free.
Though those words are true in theory, anyone with any experience of working and traveling simultaneously has undoubtedly had that romanticized depiction shattered. This is because, at some point, your travel destination must double as an office and you need to transform from carefree backpacker to diligent worker at the opening of your laptop.
Whether you’re a content marketer, copywriter, or blogger, it’s a challenge to balance the writing life with ambitious globetrotting. We’re here to help you find and master that balance, so that your version of a nomadic life can be as ideal as possible.
The unique obstacles of travel
Balinese volcanoes may take your breath away, but they’re not exactly WiFi router-friendly. Café crèmes taste like heaven, but not even they can cure your jet lag. Some lively Australians have invited you to drinks later, but you have three deadlines to meet by the following morning.
Nomadic brethren, you know as well as we do that these things happen all too often. There are, however, specific Achilles’ tendons that we are vulnerable to, which we can learn to protect. These include time zone issues, accumulating workload, inconsistent internet connections, and other tech failures.
The good news is that these issues can be prevented or solved with pre-travel prep, easy-to-learn scheduling tips and a few handy gadgets. So let’s dive into some top-notch advice that our roaming writers have gathered to help keep your writing on point and travel adventures memorable (for the right reasons!).
Jet lag, time changes, and deadlines
This was the plan: fly from New York to Oslo, sleep in your beautiful Norwegian hotel, and finish your first blog about the fjords the following day.
This is what happened: you saved some money on a cheaper airfare which meant a 3am JFK departure and a midnight touchdown in Norway. But you slept well on the flights and it’s early evening back home, so you’re nocturnal when you arrive at the hotel.
The next day, you develop a screwdriver-in-the-temple migraine because jet lag is real. You missed the transport to the fjords because time zones are confusing. And now you somehow have to write an article about a place you know nothing about. Great, just great.
Here’s how to avoid having a day from logistical hell.
Prepare your body in advance.
Go to bed progressively earlier each night throughout the week preceding your flight. A 4pm bedtime tends to be inconvenient for most of us, but shaving a couple hours off your day will work miracles when adapting in the east. (Reverse this logic if you’re heading west.)
Also, be sure to keep well-hydrated before, during and after your flights.
Allow for downtime after flying internationally.
Your brain is not impervious to chronological confusion—don’t expect to land and be able to bash out a literary masterpiece immediately. Give yourself a full day to recover before beginning any work. In fact, your body would prefer a longer adjustment period if you can afford to give it one.
Change the time on all your devices.
Nowadays, many phones seem to change their local time automatically upon landing. However, watches and laptops generally aren’t so independent and require you to make the changes yourself. And do make them, because otherwise you’ll get confused, be late for meetings, and miss your deadlines.
Schedule ahead of time.
If you’re running to a strict timeline, be sure to create a solid plan in your calendar including all meetings, deadlines, and travel destinations.
Staying connected when crossing borders
For most folk, the internet is a source of entertainment that spurts out videos of cats and double rainbows. But for us gallivanting wordsmiths, it has become a crucial commodity on which our careers and income depend. No matter where we are, we can hardly afford to go a day without researching, emailing, or navigating. Unfettered internet access is something to consider before jet setting.
This is how you can remain online while traveling.
Local SIM cards
This is probably the simplest and cheapest option for staying connected in most countries. Get a prepaid SIM card from a popular local network as soon as you land. Now your phone will be connected 24/7 and you can hotspot your laptop on the fly.
This option works when you’re traveling in just one country and if you’re okay with doing most of the heavy researching on your phone. However, if you’re doing a Eurotrip and your work is media-based, or if “Netflix and chill” is your thing, then consider buying or renting a portable WiFi hotspot.
Portable WiFi hotspots
This is a great option if you can’t or won’t restrict your data usage. Here is a comprehensive review-based article by TravelisLife.org comparing devices suitable for international travel. If your travels are long term and EU-centric, then Hippocket WiFi is a cost-effective option.
Note that these hotspots don’t work in ALL countries, so do your research. And get a SIM anyway; it makes life so much easier.
Prepare for the worst and win in unfortunate situations. Being stuck in a remote Vietnamese village during a monsoon is bad enough. Don’t make your situation more miserable by trying to download your offline maps THEN. It won’t work, so do the prep and update your offline maps in advance. The villagers probably won’t understand you, either, so also have your offline translation files at the ready.
For offline maps, Maps.me is a great app to have installed. Alternatively, you can select areas to download for offline situations on Google Maps and Apple Maps. Again, be sure to pre-download the regions you’ll be traveling to.
Free WiFi: cafes, bars, and restaurants
Although tricky situations can sneak up when you least expect them, generally you’ll be in relatively civilized areas where free Wi-Fi can be easily found at restaurants and bars.
Connecting this way also pushes you to be social and interact with fellow travelers (or locals!). This in turn adds to your travel experiences and treasured memories—isn’t this why we’re nomadic in the first place?
Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean giving up your professional writing career!
Freelancers are in a unique position. We can write about tech giants from a spot on the beach, or discuss medical breakthroughs from an Italian cafe. Global communication has revolutionized the workplace, and PubLoft is taking advantage of this to provide consistent, well-paying writing opportunities some of the best writers from all over the world.
Learn more at publoft.com/writers and join a community of people like you.