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Are You a Road Warrior?

Travel weariness can make it difficult to concentrate on the tasks away from home while still worrying about the work that needs to get done for your business.

Michele Chiappetta
May 28, 2019

The ability to set your schedule, work remotely, and travel when you want is a driving force behind many people’s decision to launch their own business. Working from anywhere: it’s one of the most significant advantages of being your boss.

It’s also one of its biggest potential pitfalls. It’s all too tempting to take your laptop on vacation and work instead of relaxing. And sometimes, you have to work while on the road. But you don’t want to risk turning what should have been a fun trip into a troubled time of trying to solve business problems.

How do you solve this dilemma? In a nutshell — planning. Planning helps you avoid the pitfalls of the road warrior life. Here are tips from small-business owners who have learned firsthand what to do (and what not do) when working on the road.

Before you travel be strategic
Sure, you can schedule yourself to work eight hours daily when you’re traveling. But do you want to? Plan your calendar with travel time in mind. Work longer hours to finish up projects before you leave home. Schedule new projects to begin after you return. Set deadlines that account for the time you’ll be away.

Stay someplace comfortable
Don’t want to work from a drab hotel business center? Roxanne Roark of R3 Media suggests renting an Airbnb. “A good place can mean relaxing while you get work done later. A bad place is stressful on top of work and travel stress.”

Get creative with workspaces
You don’t have to use a noisy coffee shop. Public libraries offer free Wi-Fi, quiet environments, and ample parking. Patty Farmer, a business growth strategist, suggests coworking spaces. “I check to see if they have a day rate available and just pop in there to be uber-focused and productive and meet new entrepreneurs.”

Get equipped
What do you need to work on the road? Instead of a laptop, consider using a tablet with a portable keyboard. It’ll travel easier. Also, your phone may be perfect for U.S. calls, but Skype and WhatsApp may be better for international travel. Take earbuds too — they make phone calls more private and easier to hear in noisy places.

Don’t assume you’ll have internet
Some places (even hotels and Airbnbs) may not have strong Wi-Fi signals. Before you travel, figure out where you’ll get the best online access when you need it. A personal hot spot through your phone carrier or a mobile router (such as MiFi) are options to consider. And consider investing in virtual private network service to ensure your personal information is protected.

Stay powered up
“If I had to pick just one [piece of advice], take the opportunity to charge your devices whenever you can, as well as bring external chargers,” says Jared Carrizales of Heroic Search.

While you’re on the road set clear priorities
Follow the cardinal rule of scheduling: Plan the big items first, and make them nonnegotiable. This can be setting aside family time, blocking off a morning to focus on client follow-ups or anything else that helps you.

Be realistic
Don’t overschedule yourself, and don’t be overly optimistic about what you can do. Katherine Patterson, brand and business strategist, says, “I try to be realistic about how much I’ll actually be able to get done while traveling — and then take about 20 percent of that off.”

Limit your must-do work tasks
It’s easier to accomplish assignments when you’re focused. So, decide the few top tasks that have to get done, and do them. Shanae Wursten Arave, who worked and traveled full-time for 10 months in 2017 with her family, says, “I always had a list of my must-do six items so as soon as I sat down [to work], I would waste no time.”

Save your work
Working on the road makes forgetting to save a document or having a computer crash even more problematic than when you’re home. Take precautions to ensure you can always access your documents. Nephele Tempest, who often travels for her job, suggests a simple solution: “Bring a thumb drive or portable hard drive to back up work in the event of poor internet or cloud storage access.”

Take advantage of the change of pace
Sometimes, getting away from it all can improve your productivity. Mark Burleson, director of software and support for Life.Church, says, “Use the time for deep work, if possible, without the constant normal office interruptions.”

Keep up self-care routines
From fast food in the airport to a lack of access to workout equipment, traveling can make your health habits suffer — which can hinder your productivity. Take time to stretch, eat well, and even meditate to give yourself some love while you’re on the road.