We naively thought that it would be fairly easy to work while traveling. Although it has been easy in some locations, we never anticipated the level of stress that working would add to our trip. Much of the stress has been introduced by factors outside of our immediate control like access to dependable Wi-Fi connections. As a result, we’ve had to be flexible and creative with where we choose to work. We’ve not always found the most comfortable or glamorous places to work, but being flexible is sometimes the only way we can get work done. Here are some the “flexible” work locations we’ve used.
The Front Door Stoop
During our recent stay in Airlie Beach, we found that our Wi-Fi signal was strongest by the front door. We also noticed a trend at night (when the office door was closed) that the signal would diminish or disappear altogether. So at all hours of the evening, night, and morning you could find Kevin on our door stoop trying to pick up a Wi-Fi signal. He was able to periodically pick up a weak signal but it came at the price of a few mozzie (mosquito) bites! He was most successful when he finally relocated his “office” to the front stoop of the office.
We have stayed at a few accommodations that had a fantastic patio. Talk about an office with a view! Our patios in Cable Beach, New Zealand; White Sand, Tasmania; and Airlie Beach, Australia were some of the most picturesque office spaces we’ve enjoyed to date.
One week while we were in Tasmania, Kevin had a client deadline and was struggling for two straight nights to establish a connection to the internet. He needed a stable connection to not only complete the work but to then send the final files to his client. His efforts were futile in our motel. The connection came and went like a faint breeze.
In a final act of desperation—at 1:00 AM—Kevin got into the car and drove to the center of the small, Tasmanian town in order to take advantage their advertised free Wi-Fi connection. We had tried it out the previous night at dinner and it worked great. Hopefully it would allow Kevin to meet his deadline!
The great news is that Kevin was able to connect to finish the project. However, the bad news is that the connection was limited to 40 minutes per 24 hour period. He was not able to get the final version of the file uploaded for his client before his time expired!
We have encountered more weak Wi-Fi signals that I care to mention. When sitting on the floor next to the door does not work, then we have found ourselves moving outside our room to seek out a signal. On multiple occasions you could find one of us sitting in the hallway or near the elevator in an attempt to hold on to the elusive Wi-Fi signal.
On a few occasions we arrived early to the airport on a travel day. On other occasions we’ve had a few hours to kill on a layover. Regardless, we have passed many hours at the airport by doing work—I’m currently writing this blog post at an airport!
Buses & Trains
We used buses frequently while we were in Europe. In order to make good use of the time, Kevin would frequently pull out his monster laptop and start working to pass the time on the bus. This worked well when the bus was not full, as we had room to spread out. On a full bus, the elbow room wasn’t always adequate. Likewise, we found working on the train in Europe to be a good way to pass the time. There is usually quite a bit more elbow room on trains.
While in Auckland, Wi-Fi was (again) very hard to find. Our apartment offered it, but it was extremely expensive for small amounts of data. We thought coffee shops might be the answer, but they too only provided small amounts of data for use within a thirty minute window. Ugh!
After a little research, we discovered that Auckland’s public library has free Wi-Fi. It was limited to 200 mb per 24 hours, but that was 24 times better than anything else! Not only was it a good and free option for Wi-Fi, but it was quiet and provided work spaces to use for free. Obviously, the library isn’t ideal if you need to use Skype to make a call, but it was an ideal temporary work space that allowed us to get some much needed work done.
Desks, Tables & Coffee Tables
When booking accommodations, I have learned that Kevin really needs a desk or a table to work effectively. On a few occasions, Kevin has had to make do with a coffee table and sit on the ground. But in most places, we’ve had some sort of table available to us. Some of the tables have even come with a fabulous view—like over the bay in Hong Kong—while others have been basic and good enough to serve their purpose.
While in Cairns, we stayed in a fabulous beach bungalow. It was perfect in nearly every way. The only exception was the lack of a table! All of the flat surfaces were too low and Kevin was simply unable to find any place to set up shop. After exploring and creatively looking at ever room in the bungalow, he discovered that the loft bed above the kitchen had a flat-topped headboard and two large beanbags. Somehow he was able to create a lounge-style, secluded office where he spent a lot of time trying to meet a client deadline.
Some of our remote offices have made working fun and somewhat enjoyable, whereas others have contributed to higher stress levels and resulted in a few sleepless nights. I’m hoping that we have far more of the productive work environments for the remainder of our travels.