Starter Kit for the Travelling Freelancer

Are you about so start a career as a freelancer? Meaning that you are going to spend most of your time in trains, plains, (cheap) hotels and cube farms? Then you should be prepared! Life is usually not improving by this lifestyle, but there are a few aspects which can help a lot to make things more enjoyable during this period of your life. I will try to point you to some relevant issues.

The Communication

  • Get a good smart phone with a sufficient contract for mobile internet access. Not all hotels have Wifi, and usually they charge it. Also take care that your contract and phone allows tethering, so you can easily connect your laptop or tablet to the internet via your phone.
  • Put all your relevant data into the cloud. Many companies do not allow you to bring your own laptop, or install your own software. But most of them give you WWW access to sites from e.g. Google. Staying with the Google example, you can read your email with Google Mail, access your contacts with Google Contacts and your calendar with Google Calendar. Access your relevant files via the Google Drive, and write letters and bills with Google Docs. Having all this in the cloud gives you maximum accessibility and productivity with just a plain web browser. If you prefer Apple you can achieve the same by using Apples iCloud. And both Google and Apple give you apps to access all this data with your mobile devices.
  • Keep your data synchronised between devices. This concerns especially your contacts and calendar entries. If you use the Google solution, buy a smart phone which can synch with these services (each Android phone can). If you use iCloud it is probably a good idea to get an iPhone. There are other solutions, but unless you have to (and know what you are doing), I would stay with the established ones.
  • Keep secured access to your passwords. You will need your passwords while travelling, and you do not want to change them each week. So make your passwords accessible. You can also use the cloud for that, but I would not suggest to put a plain text file there with all your passwords. Either you encrypt the file beforehand, or you use some other dedicated password management tool for that.

The Hotel

Unless you never book something less comfortable than a Grand Hyatt suite you should be prepared for interesting places. Hotels can be surprisingly crappy. There are two main utilities which can still make it possible to survive at least the night:

  • Earplugs. An amazing invention! They really work, and they can save you from a sleepless night. In case you always wondered where they shoot the short clips you never watch on YouPorn, it might be exactly the room next to you. Earplugs to the rescue! Just take care to not miss the alarm. And next time be less stingy when booking. You spend too much time there to feel uncomfortable.
  • Havaianas – you need at least one pair of rubber sandals always within reach – and these are really the best in the world (no, I do not get paid for this). Especially bathrooms can be places where you do not want to touch the floor with your bare feet. With Havaianas you never have to, wear them while taking a shower, no problem here. Absolutely indispensable.

The Leisure

You spend all this time in trains, plains, stations, lobbies, lounges, and hotel rooms – you should not waste all that time. There are many ways to make at least something joyful out of it.

  • Get a tablet computer. With a tablet you can access all your data, watch movies, read books, skype with your friends and loved ones, and play games. Especially when you are travelling these devices are a wonderful companion. If tethering is not possible with your phone, grant yourself a tablet which can also access your mobile internet.
  • If you really love games consider a mobile gaming console like the wonderful Playstation Vita. It has a lot of special features for mobile gaming, check it out.
  • Do some sports! There is a high risk of not moving enough, and eating/drinking too much, when you spend all this time away from home, eating in restaurants. If you manage to go to a gym during the week, that is perfect. Another candidate which does not demand for too much equipment is running. The problem with outdoor activities is that you probably do not know good routes to take. Apps like Endomondo can help you finding a good route, and keeping track of all your activities. Another extremely helpful technique is meditation. You can do that basically everywhere, and just a few minutes each day are sufficient to help you stay relaxed and reduce the risk of getting a Burn-Out fundamentally.

At the end try to be honest with yourself – is this really a life you want to live? For how long? What is the price to pay for the money you earn? You will probably find out that time passes very fast when you are only at home for the weekends. And the days during the week are usually just dedicated to your job. The approaches and things I mention here at least helped me to alleviate these downsides.

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