My family and I are originally from Washington State, but we called Western Massachusetts home for many years. Every summer when I was growing up, we would make the long journey cross country to visit relatives in Washington.
For about a dozen years, we drove. WE DROVE. That’s right, Massachusetts to Washington: 6,000 miles roundtrip every summer!
What do I remember the most?
Profound boredom in the back seat, my sister giving me stink eyes and wedgies, finally reaching the beauty of Montana, the motel swimming pools, my heartbreak over losing a brand new pair of sneakers one year, and the dozen or so boxes of books that my dad hauled with us every year.
Boxes of books that somehow fit inside the cavernous trunk of our puce Chevrolet Caprice like a 300-pound corpse. Boxes held together with rope that left burn marks on my hands when the time came to drag them around.
My dad, a biology teacher and a cool character in shades and a swanky fedora, needed his reference library at all times and so we operated a private cross-country bookmobile.
Now … my pack mule days are over and traveling light and working remotely is my norm.
I am currently writing from Buenos Aires where my husband and I are working remotely.
Aside from my laptop bag, I brought a total of one, 15-pound GoLite carry-on roller bag.
I think I may have brought too much; a few items clocked some miles but will go unused. I have fine-tuned my technique over the years and I know that there is always room for less.
Here is my 3-step packing guide:
- Lay out everything you could possibly want to take.
- Cut the amount in half repeatedly until you have a few flexible outfits. When you think you have removed enough items, remove some more. Unless you are traveling somewhere truly remote, rest assured that you will be able to buy any missing items.
- Essentials check: Got your passport? Hugged your cat? Okay, go!
Once the travel piece is out of the way, the fun and work routines are next.
My husband has been traveling and working remotely for years and I have adopted some of his key tips for helping to ensure that this goes smoothly:
- When booking your accommodations (we use airbnb most of the time) ask the host about their wireless plan – how many megabytes? If they can’t answer this, move along to another listing. Keep in mind that hotels will usually not be able to tell you this, or they will refer you to their IT department.
- For working at cafes, in addition to other basic words, learn how to say password in the local language. In Spanish it is contrasigna. Once you are connected, go to www.speedtest.net to check if this will be a good place for you to work and to Skype.
- Consider a backup plan. What would you do if your electronics break down or disappear? This is a tough one, but a good risk management practice.
Having fewer things to worry about when you travel and a good idea of what to expect for working conditions when you arrive, go a long way in reducing stress.
Of course, basics including staying hydrated, healthy, and safe are the primary essentials and a great number of factors vary country-by-country.
Here in Buenos Aires, there are apparently a number of co-working spaces popping up, showing that the trend is growing globally. I have not tried them, but a local friend mentioned that they are full of mostly men, working in very tight quarters, and most likely looking over your shoulder at what you are doing. I will leave that experience for another time.
Here’s to traveling light and working remotely!