Back in 2014, my husband and I decided to do the unthinkable. We packed up all of our things and moved into a 300 sq ft. RV. Today, this story is not as anomalous as it was a few years ago. More and more jobs are becoming remote, especially for virtual assistants (ergo the term “virtual”).
To be honest, as much as I love traveling and exploring, I didn’t think I would like hitting the road full-time. I’m very Type A and have always been a rule follower, so the thought of going against societal norms was terrifying to me. Plus, I’m very social and was legitimately nervous about getting a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) while on the road. While the thought of working from anywhere was appealing, I was nervous that I would feel isolated.
With a helpful nudge from my husband, we decided to buy a fifth wheel and hit the road…it was the best decision we ever made!
The opportunity to become a digital nomad is amazing, it doesn’t come without some challenges, especially if you’re planning on working full-time. Below are some helpful tips to help you thrive in the workforce while exploring everything the world has to offer.
What is a Digital Nomad?
I’ve heard this term used in a few ways, so for the purposes of this article, I’m defining it as a person who loves to travel, live, and work from anywhere at the same time.
How to Stay Connected
The number one question I get asked about working full-time while on the road is how to stay connected. This was the most important thing for us to figure out while on the road because not only do we have our regular day-to-day tasks to complete, we also have numerous video conferencing calls throughout the day, so basic WiFi doesn’t suffice. We need it to be strong and stable enough to handle two videoconferencing calls going on at the same time.
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t stressful at first. We thought we had it all figured out prior to embarking on our journey, but quickly realized we had some fine tuning to do. Don’t make the same mistakes we did early on.
Get a WiFi Hotspot
Get a WiFi hotspot through your network provider. Be sure to look for deals. If you’re traveling with somebody, I’d also recommend diversifying plans to optimize cell service. My husband has Verizon and I have AT&T and that has proved to be very helpful when one has service and the other does not.
Don’t Trust Campground WiFi
If you’re planning on staying in campgrounds while on the road, many advertise that they either have free WiFi or WiFi for a small daily rate. Here’s the thing: Many of these campsites cater to travelers and retirees, not full-time workers. We were lucky if we were able to send emails out using most campground WiFi.
There are a plethora of apps out there to make your life easier on the road, so be sure to do your research and find the ones that work best for you. One of my favorites is Wi-Fi Finder. It does exactly what you think. It finds Wi-Fi hotspots anywhere in the world and filters the results by free/paid, provider, and venue type to find the perfect work spot.
Stay Connected with Your Team
As a VA, you’re likely working with another person, if not a team of people, so you need to make sure you have quick and easy ways to communicate and stay organized. A few of my favorite tools include Asana, Slack, Sococo, and Skype.
Where to Find Work as a Virtual Assistant
Aside from connectivity, we also often get asked how we found our jobs. Some of my favorite sites that list remote work include:
- Don’t Panic Management (shameless plug, but we’re an awesome group and are always looking for more awesome people to join the team!)
Things to Be Cautious About
Expenses Can Sneak Up on You
Although you’ll be getting a paycheck while traveling, it doesn’t mean you’ve won the lottery and can spend money on anything and everything wherever you go. A few areas you have to budget for include:
- Data – If you’re using your data plan for WiFi, your rates will likely go up.
- Coffee shops – We LOVE working from coffee shops on the road. It’s a great way to meet locals, however, if you go too much, the amount spent can really sneak up on you.
- Gas – Remember, you’re going to be driving a lot more as a digital nomad. Plan accordingly.
As a digital nomad, don’t try to fit in as much as possible in as little time as possible. Take your time and really try to live like a local. We like to spend three weeks at each location. The first and last weekend we use to travel to our destinations, and the middle weekend is spent exploring our current town. As a virtual assistant, you’ll be working during the week with minimal exploring time (at least less time than you would if you were on vacation), so don’t rush your stays.
Drive times are another big thing to consider in terms of timing. For us, travel days are stressful. We try to put those on the weekends so that if anything unexpected pops up, it doesn’t interfere with our workday.
Speaking of drive times, many campgrounds are on the outskirts of towns and may not always have the best cell service. Factor the drive to and from town into your day if you need to commute for connectivity.
Find a Routine that Works for You
While life on the road can be spontaneous, as a virtual assistant, it’s important that you set some sort of routine for yourself. This will help you add a bit of structure to the work day and will show that you are dependable to your employer.
Make Health a Priority
It is so easy to dedicate all of your time to work and exploring—there’s just so much to see! However, you MUST make exercise and breaks a priority. When we first hit the road, I would spend hours and hours in front of my computer trying to get work done so that I could explore that night. I literally wouldn’t stand up for HOURS because I was so in the zone. While I thought I was being productive, I was really doing myself a disservice. If you want to be your best self while working, take those breaks to refuel.
I used a technique called the Pomodoro Technique to help boost productivity while still encouraging myself to step away from the computer.
A big part of living as a digital nomad and a virtual assistant is making sure you have the right gear. These tools keep me productive from all over the world.
- Portable laptop with long battery life
- WiFi Hotspot
- Cell phone booster to boost your signal
- Reliable Headphones
- World Time Buddy
- Zoom or Skype
A few years ago I couldn’t imagine life as a digital nomad, and now I can’t imagine life any other way. You don’t need to be a billionaire or a retiree to see the world. With the right determination and the right job, you can hit the open road in no time.
Have questions about being a digital nomad while working full time? Send me a message!