People, I am lucky. I have the incredible opportunity to work remotely. This, in tandem with my wanderlust and love of travel, means I’m on the go more often than I’m home. And while this is the most fun and exciting way I can imagine spending my life, it also creates a different relationship with work.
Anyone who works for a startup, does freelance work, or is their own boss knows that the schedule in no way mirrors the 9-5. Being your own boss means that you get to choose when and how you get the work done, but there’s one non-negotiable term: The work needs to get done.
For people who are just starting to work remotely, or work while traveling, questions always come up about the balance. So, I sat down with Next Gener Alex Simon and his co-founder Frank Scerbo to talk working while traveling. Their company, Elude, is based on travel – so it only makes sense that they decided a recently to ditch their homes and live life on the road, trotting across the world and running their startup at the same time. Here’s our conversation.
Haley: Tell us about Elude.
Alex: Elude started with the simple question of, “where can I afford to travel to?”
Having no destination in mind, we show our community exactly where they can afford to travel based on two inputs: budget and time. Think “where can I go for $500 next weekend?” Elude showcases both flight and hotel options within your budget. It also caters the destinations based on the users personal preferences.
We believe that building a loyal and transparent platform to access travel will encourage more people to get out of their comfort zone and discover places otherwise unimagined.
H: So, you up and left the country recently, deciding to travel the world. Tell us about this choice!
A: The act of traveling pulls you out of familiarity and pushes you to learn about how other people live. It’s such an important way to grow and it teaches you a lot about yourself. Our goal is to create a travel company that instills a permanent feeling of wanderlust and excitement to explore new places. I feel like committing to a nomadic lifestyle is the best way to promote how beneficial it really is. I can honestly say that I am my most creative and authentic when I’m outside of my comfort zone. Traveling has changed me as a person and that is what we want for others.
F: Choosing to leave a hometown is uncomfortable. But the best kind of growth comes from pushing your boundaries. Being in a strange new place, hearing different languages, eating weird and wonderful food. These are the types of things that make you think a little differently, it gives you a new perspective and helps create fresh new ideas. We live in massive world, why not see as much of it as you can!
H: I agree! For me, time moves slower and I feel more present when I’m in a new place. I feel like I can actually get more done because I’m not burnt out. Changing up my scenery helps my productivity, all while crossing off items on my bucket list. How do you balance work and travel?
A:….I don’t, but I’m trying! Balance is something we’ve still been struggling with. Between time zone changes, taking calls on the side of a café that has the best Wi-Fi, or -better yet -setting an alarm for 2:00am to jump on a call with one of our investors is something we’re trying to “balance.” I think for me, being able to travel and work certainly takes discipline. More discipline than I had working 60+ hours at an Investment Bank. There is a crazy amount to see in new places and it could get very distracting trying to do both. For me, I try to find a happy place between working throughout the day and exploring the city when possible.
F: Working while traveling can be tricky. It’s tempting to want to sightsee and check the best restaurants on Yelp. But the reality is, your best friend is a coffee shop and a Wi-Fi signal. When we get to a new city, finding a good spot to work is priority number one. It’s crazy when you look up from your computer and 6 hours has gone by and it’s already dark out. Usually we end up passing through the highlights of each city on our way to and from a Wi-Fi café or meal. It is nice though to take a minute and do a mental zoom out and take notice of where you are in the world.
H: It’s always helpful to me to plan things out beforehand. I’ll allocate certain time chunks to work, and then plan the rest of the day around traveling and sightseeing, which is also helpful for making the most of my time in a new place. Then of course, I make sure I have plenty of time set aside if, for whatever reason, I don’t get my work done (WiFi is usually the issue here!). So, for our audience of remote workers, what are your best tips to them?
- Keep up with the time zones! It’s crucial to know what time is best to reach out for people that live elsewhere. Using Google Calendar will help with this!
- Fight off jet lag so you don’t fall behind. Even if you are tired try to push yourself to get up early, that way you won’t lose a days work. Eventually you will back on track, promise!
- Always charge your electronics at night. We have learned this the hard way! You never know when you won’t have access to an outlet.
- Create lists of action items. This will help you become accountable for what you need to get done. What’s better than checking something off a list?!
- Working remotely means there is no set “off time.” So it’s up to you to respond promptly, answer calls efficiently, but also know when you need to break until the next day.
- Choose to walk! Even if it’s a 30 minute walk, do it. Breathe new air, see new faces and take in the city!
- Take out a few bucks in the local currency, it makes small coffee transactions easy.
- Learn the “please” and “thank yous” of the language you are going to be immersed in. It’s only polite and can help spark a conversation with someone. 😉
- Reach out to groups. If you belong to an entrepreneur group on Facebook or LinkedIn, tell people you are in their city! I’ve met with some awesome people for lunch in LA, Paris and Osaka. You get to share stories and not feel alone in a new place.
- Pack a snack – trust me, you’ll be happy. 🙂
H: Love these tips.. and all too relatable on the advice for power outlets and cash for coffee! Any final thoughts for our readers?
A: Balancing remote work and travel can be difficult, but completely possible! We definitely feel fortunate to work within the travel space because exploring new places is what inspired us to create this community in the first place. Traveling throughout new countries is what keeps us on track and motivated to alleviate stress from the typical booking process.
In order to get work done and take in new experiences the best advice we can give is to plan out your days accordingly. For instance, if you’re in France and need to log in, pick a coworking space near the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. When you need a break you can take in the sights without committing all of your time to sightseeing.
F: This type of lifestyle takes some getting used to, it’s certainly not an easy road to trek. But through our experiences, it’s one we wouldn’t trade for anything.
Travel is discovery, and discovery leads to new ideas and breakthroughs. Use your time in a new place to inspire your work and fuel your future.
Do you work remotely, or travel often? Join the Next Gen Community to connect with a global community of entrepreneurs like yourself. Get their travel tips and meet up with them when you’re in their city – we have a list of Next Gen chapters here!