Well hello there my friends! It’s been a while! Has anything new happened in the past three years? No? Great!
Obviously the world is a very different place now than it was 3 years ago. With COVID becoming a global problem, travel has obviously had to take a backseat to staying safe & putting food on the table. But the world has reopened since then and with that, so have the borders. And many of us have begun thinking about traveling again – or even gone on a trip or two. But for some of us schedules can be tight and time off can be scarce, so allow me to introduce you to a concept I discovered since the pandemic started: the working trip.
First things first. Let’s ask the big question.
Why travel while working? What’s even the point?
Well, let me tell you! Since Covid began, a lot of us have had to rethink our approaches to travel, and a lot of us have had to rethink our approaches to work. It’s harder for some of us to take time off from work in a post-Covid world, and the question becomes: how do I still manage to travel while needing to stay on top of rent?
I’ve personally found that you can still get plenty out of a trip while working your normal hours. With a little bit of flexibility and planning, a working trip can still feature everything you like about traveling: eating the local food, trying the local drinks, hiking the local trails and seeing the local sights. It’s all just within the confines of your work schedule. There’s plenty of time in the day outside of 9 to 5, so why not get a completely different experience and try living like a local for a week? Want to know how? Let me tell you.
1. Maximize Your Time Zone
Whether you work 9 to 5 or staggered hours, your work schedule generally exists so that your time off coincides with everyone else's. The same goes for your trip. It’s important to pick a destination whose time zone somewhat matches your own so that you don’t wind up working hours that would detract from your experience. For example, if you work from 9AM to 5PM in New York, your Tokyo trip would consist of an 11PM to 7AM work schedule. In order to avoid a backwards work day, look for countries similar in longitude to your own. I did a working trip in Argentina recently that was only one hour ahead of my New York schedule, and had absolutely no trouble making that work. When your work day stays relatively consistent, you’re able to work comfortably, while still meeting important deadlines, being present in meetings, all while getting the opportunity to explore your neighborhood for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
2. Invest in a Good Airbnb
Folks, let me tell you something of great importance. A working trip is no place for a hotel. Think about it this way: you’re going to be spending at least 8 hours of your day in one space. Do you really want that space to be confined to the size of a hotel room? This is the time to do some research and invest in a comfortable, welcoming Airbnb that can feel like a home away from home during your stay. Splurge for that rooftop! Treat yourself to that pool! It may cost a bit more than you’d normally spend, but it’s well worth the investment. Do your research and read the reviews! You’ll need a strong WiFi connection in order to stay up to date and active with work, so definitely keep an eye out for that in the reviews.
I would also recommend opting for an Airbnb that features the local culture. Rather than going for a sanitized-looking Airbnb that could exist anywhere in the world, consider trying one decked out in the style of the country you’re in. Because you’ll be working, you’ll naturally have less time to explore your surroundings, so why not bring the surroundings to you?
3. Pick a Spot in the Middle of the Action
When a work schedule anchors you to your home, you’ll want to make sure that anchor is really close to the things you want to see. Pick an Airbnb in a good part of town, complete with bars, restaurants, cafes and attractions. It’ll make going to breakfast and dinner much easier, as well as an hour-long lunch feel much less hurried. All these places will also have a lot more WiFi access, which means you’ll be able to check your work emails and pings with ease.
Speaking of, I really can’t stress how nice a mid-day lunch is during a working trip. It cuts the day in half and reminds you in the midst of your normal work stressors that this is not just another work day back home.
4. Pick a Country Whose Culture Matches your Schedule
This note really only applies to certain countries where work days are slightly different from ours, but it can make a huge difference. Some countries (Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal) have very late dinners that can very-well clear a busy work day. I, for example, work a 10 to 7 workday, which can sometimes cut into dinner plans at home. But when I was working in Argentina, I would have dinner at the completely normal hour of 10pm, since Argentinians generally eat later than we do here in New York.
5. Take Advantage of Weekends
When you’re working abroad, weekends will be your most precious commodity – two full days of
absolute freedom to explore, hike, and see what you traveled to see. Schedule your most exciting activities for your weekends so you can experience them fully without worrying about having to work late or miss a meeting. You can even schedule a day off from work in tandem with a weekend to get a good long weekend out of it.
I would also recommend taking a day off to fly rather than wasting a weekend day on it. Arrive on a Friday and get the full weekend to adjust and explore rather than cutting your weekend short with an inconvenient flight.
6. Get Your Work Done
This is probably the most important point I can make. If your job is giving you the opportunity to work abroad, it’s best to show them that you’re doing as good a job as you would if you were home. You don’t want to give them a reason to think that they made a mistake by allowing you to travel. Do your work, attend your meetings, show them that you’re productive, so that they’d let you do it again next time you want to plan a trip.