The Ultimate Guide to Running a Business While Traveling

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Managing a business without feeling the trappings of the rat race is a liberating dream that’s not impossible to realize. Ditching the office in favor of the wide-open world lets you immerse yourself in foreign cultures, gain unique life insights, and grow both as a person and lifestyle entrepreneur.

Living abroad can be cheaper, and trips to fascinating destinations replace tedious commutes. Plus, there’s something to be said about being able to come up with quarterly strategies with your toes immersed in foamy seawater.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. The nomadic lifestyle is rife with the stress of constantly getting your bearings and balancing work with the perks being on the road offers. It requires discipline and a positive mindset that doesn’t buckle when facing challenges. You might be lonely sometimes, and many people won’t understand why you’re doing it.

Not put off by that last paragraph? Then you’re off to a good start!

This article contains all the info you’ll want to absorb before running a business while traveling.

The first part covers what you should do in preparation for this monumental life change. The second provides advice and strategies that will improve the likelihood of your success.

Getting Started

image of a person starting to take notes on a small notebook with a cup of coffee, world map, compass, and camera

While freeing from the shackles of office life sounds liberating, a long-term nomadic lifestyle might not be for everyone. It’s a good idea to ease yourself into the new role first and see if the changes sit well with you.

Start with small shifts, like leaving the office for a day or two each week. Use the time to get acclimated to remote work while exploring local sites. You’d be surprised by just how much beauty and history have been waiting around the corner!

It’s also a good idea to do a trial run. Pick a safe destination not too far away and spend a few weeks there. Visiting an entirely foreign country will help lessen any culture shocks you might experience.

You’ll get a sense of the overarching changes you’ll need to make and acquire first-hand experience of your new life. A trial run won’t represent the real deal entirely. Still, it can whet your appetite and either reaffirm or shake up your future decisions.

Choosing Your Destination

image of a right hand holding a pin, pointing at a location in the world map

Creating a comprehensive plan before starting your journey is a must. We’ll get to the business side of it in a bit. For now, let’s focus on your choice of location. Where you choose to travel significantly impacts your business and personal satisfaction. This includes:

● Expected travel and living expenses

● The availability and quality of internet and other amenities

● Time zone differences and potential issues that arise because of them

● Cultural and dietary idiosyncrasies that may give you pause

● Language barriers

● Experiences worth having and local lifestyle

Not accounting for most of these before setting out on running a business while traveling can sour your outlook. Decide which factors are most important to you and vet your destinations accordingly.

Don’t forget to base part of your decision on current global affairs and regulations that govern how long you can stay in one place.

For example, you can only spend 90 days at a time in countries that are part of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone. Some countries regularly publish travel advice that helps their citizens gauge the threat level of places they plan on visiting.

Consult such advice for all the countries on your itinerary.

Gearing up

image of a person, writing on a packing list journal, surrounded by a phone, compass, wired earphones, sunglasses, and a straw hat

The next logical question to ask is what you should pack. You’ll be living out of a suitcase for the foreseeable future, so deciding what to bring and what to leave at home can save you from later grief. Your list of absolute essentials will change and likely grow smaller as you become a seasoned professional traveler. For now, consider the following.

Travel Backpack or Suitcase

The right backpack is necessary for any long-term travel adventure, so don’t cheap out on it! The backpack must be durable and have enough compartments for all your items. These must include a compartment for your laptop or tablet and a means to carry a water bottle.

You’ll want your belongings to be in sight and accessible at all times, so the backpack should conform to carry-on standards. Guidelines differ by airline, but you should be good if the pack is 22 x 14 x 9 inches. You may also want to invest in a smaller day pack for shorter outings.

Clothing

While necessary, stylishness gives way to utility when shopping for clothes you’ll depend on for weeks on end. Get durable, stain-resistant clothing that makes sense for the climate you’ll be living in. Pack some business-casual attire in case you need to meet with clients.

Don’t forget that you can usually cheaply buy items like T-shirts or underwear on the go and adjust your load accordingly.

Electronics

The bread and butter of your nomadic existence, a smartphone and laptop will let you conduct business from anywhere. The question is, should you bring state-of-the-art gear? Unless your job involves resource-intensive tasks like a lot of video editing or coding, you should bring a more affordable and plain-looking laptop.

Expensive smartphones are prime targets for thieves, so consider getting a burner with an international plan instead when you’re running a business while traveling. Whichever option you choose, battery life long enough to get you through the workday without recharging should be a priority.

A power bank and universal adapter are essential to keeping your electronics charged. Rugged portable hard drives are excellent for storing the photos and videos you make along the way. A travel mouse and some headphones will help you get more done while keeping your conversations private in case of the latter.

Finally, a Wi-Fi hotspot is a crucial but often overlooked device that dramatically improves connection security. More on that later.

Establishing Yourself and Your Business

image of a woman typing on a laptop with her right hand and her left hand on a calculator

Traveling may let you escape your dreary corporate life, but you must still pay taxes. This means you must familiarize yourself with the laws you need to follow to regulate your status as a traveler and register your lifestyle business.

For example, US residents must declare a stateside domicile regardless of their current location. A domicile is a state you have ties to or intend to return to. Your home state doesn’t need to be your domicile, which is especially useful if you want to register your business in a state with fewer taxes.

Speaking of, Americans and Brits working abroad are legally obliged to pay taxes as though they never left. Different destinations and origin countries have other policies. Some countries, like Greece & Portugal, offer special digital nomad visas and tax plans to attract people like yourself.

Consult a professional before traveling to avoid double taxation and other nasty surprises.

Once you’ve settled the legal stuff, you should look into creating a dedicated business bank account that caters to world travelers.

Domestic banks will often apply surcharges when you send money internationally. Plus, having to deal with unfavorable exchange rates can put a damper on your earnings. Choose a globally accredited provider that saves you money and trouble.

It might be unpleasant to think about, but you should go into this venture with an understanding that things may go wrong at some point during you’re running a business while traveling.

You could get sick after trying a dodgy local delicacy, or someone might steal your belongings. That’s why you’ll want to take out traveler’s insurance that offers medical coverage and theft protection. Their going rates are surprisingly reasonable, while your peace of mind is priceless.

How to Be Successful at Running Your Business from Anywhere in the World

They say that the worthwhile things in life are often scary.

Little is scarier than uprooting your existence and starting over in a far-off land, especially if you’re in charge and others depend on your decisions. Here are some practical tips on developing the right mindset and setting your globetrotting business up for success.

Plan Things Out

image of a person writing on a notebook with a mug on a wooden coaster

Ditching your current job and taking up residence on a sandy beach may seem like a dream, but there are a lot of logistics to go over before you can make it a reality.

If you take only one thing away from this article, it’s to plan as much as you can in advance. You might not meet your goals or be able to stick to everything each day, but having a structure in place will do wonders for your well-being and your business’s growth potential.

Planning should encompass every aspect of your business journey.

Your broadest plans should concern your business’s purpose, direction, and betterment. Set achievable goals and break them up into manageable milestones to better track how your business is performing. Doing so will let you know you’re on the right track or allow you to make timely changes if you aren’t reaching your goals.

Scheduling is a vital, more specialized part of planning. It pertains to everything from figuring out how long you’ll stay in one place to establishing work routines and setting boundaries. Examine your habits and work out a schedule that lets you work during times when you’re most productive.

Also, remember to set aside days when you can focus exclusively on work so tasks don’t start piling up. It’s tempting to postpone meetings and spreadsheets when stunning vistas and local festivals are calling. However, doing what you need to first will make experiencing them all the sweeter.

Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate and Automate

image of a person typing on a laptop with a vector art on top about looking for someone to hire

If you start small, you’re likely the only one working on your dream. That may do initially, but you won’t be able to micromanage everything once the business takes off. It’s easier than ever to find experienced freelancers to take over managing your website and socials or act as your virtual assistant.

As the business grows, your role will shift more toward becoming its spokesperson and chief promoter. That’s when you’ll need to hire or expand a full-time workforce.

Delegation means trust, so trust that your employees will do their jobs competently. Focus on your unique contributions to the company once you hire the right professionals.

Regardless of your business’s current size, don’t underestimate the power of automation! You can automate everything from bill payments through email responses to bookings if you frequently use the exact airline or hotel chain.

Automating as many repetitive tasks as possible will free up more of your time for meaningful matters and pleasure when you’re running a business while traveling.

Embrace Digital Productivity Tools and The Virtual Office

image of a woman typing on a wireless keyboard connected to a laptop

For all its tragic consequences, the pandemic led to widespread remote work adoption. Tools that connected remote workers and their companies were around before, but now they’ve exploded in popularity and usefulness.

There’s an app or cloud-based solution for almost everything business-related nowadays. For example, you can set up a messaging app for company-wide and team-based communication.

Cloud storage trivializes document sharing even if you’re half the world away. Other solutions focus on optimizing time management, brainstorming, or tracking everyone’s responsibilities.

Technically, you don’t have to see any of your employees for months, yet keep things running smoothly. If you need to or want to chat face-to-face with clients, videoconferencing solutions are a cinch to set up.

You might not be constrained to a physical office anymore, but sometimes one comes in handy.

That’s where the concept of virtual offices comes in. Unlike the name suggests, VOs are real, rentable spaces that provide invaluable office services. These include coworking spaces, mailing addresses, telephony and VA services, and meeting room booking.

VOs are great for when you know you’ll remain in one place for the mid to long term. Having an address for physical correspondence and somewhere to meet with clients adds to your company’s prestige and perceived professionalism even when you’re running a business while traveling. Best of all, VOs are available almost worldwide at reasonable rates.

Be Mindful of Cybersecurity Dangers

image of a person holding the laptop's trackpad

Seasoned travelers know to keep an eye on their valuables, not to trust hotel safes, and lock down their electronics so they’re harder to steal. While your and the physical safety of your equipment is paramount, you shouldn’t neglect the cybersecurity risks your unusual situation amplifies.

Avoiding free Wi-Fi in the many establishments you visit is among the most prudent precautions. Anyone can tap into such networks and track what other connected people are doing. This includes accessing your login information, sensitive data, and confidential company documents.

Remember the Wi-Fi hotspot we mentioned above? It’s a more powerful version of your smartphone’s tether, allowing you to securely connect dozens of devices without draining the battery.

The data plans hotspots come with are usually more generous than mobile ones. That lets you transfer more data at fast and sustainable speeds cheaper. You can also get a VPN to secure the connection further and access region-locked content from anywhere.

Protecting all your accounts with passwords is a no-brainer, but are you doing it correctly? It will take a savvy crook a little time to hack into them if the passwords are easy to guess or have no variation.

Setting up a password manager will fix this. The manager gives you one master password to remember while replacing any others with long and complex passwords that require an eternity to bypass.

You may not always be able to prevent theft. However, you can make access to your accounts harder by activating two-factor authentication. Provided they also didn’t steal your phone, crooks won’t be able to get in even if they saw you type a password.

Don’t let your guard down just because you’re in a tropical wonderland. Be wary of suspicious airport chargers, and don’t be embarrassed to tug on an ATM’s card reader to check for skimmers.

The same goes for online vigilance. Don’t let others know your real-time location on social media, and treat any emails from untrusted sources with healthy suspicion.

Grow Your Network

image of a man wearing a straw hat, denim long sleeves and brown back pack with water bottle on the side, exploring a new city

Much of the joy the nomadic lifestyle brings is meeting new and interesting people. Some of them may turn into lifelong friends. Others have the potential to become loyal clients or even business partners.

People are generally happy to cooperate, especially if you’ve gone to the trouble of meeting them in their home city. Workshops, creative collaboration opportunities, and conferences happen all the time. Take advantage of them when you’re running a business while traveling!

As you make connections with more people, it also becomes easier to establish new ones in places you’re about to visit.

Apart from the natives, there’s an increasing number of other nomads to connect with.

Searching for local meetups is a great way to find kindred spirits, especially if you’re in a large city. These individuals can be instrumental in helping you get your bearings in the beginning.

Some have been living the life for years and can either show you the ropes or know someone that can help with specifics.

Conclusion

Work as we know it is undergoing a fundamental transformation. The notion that you don’t need to be bound by a single location to thrive professionally is among the most wholesome to have come out of this change. Embrace it, and your life is sure to take more exciting turns than it would have otherwise.

Remember the above advice for smoother sailing and a more rewarding journey when you’re running a business while traveling.

About the author

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