If you’re a freelancer chances are the idea of being able to work from anywhere is what attracted you to the freelance lifestyle. Most freelancers know the hassle of staying productive when they’re the only ones setting the schedule. But what about those that are location independent and move from city to city? Is it really possible to travel the world and work at the same time? It is if you have some serious self-determination and time management.
I myself currently live in Berlin but travel every so often and make regular visits to the US and UK. With that experience, I’d like to share with you five helpful tips to becoming a location independent freelancer.
1. Get your finances and legal documents in order
Know if you need to rent a coworking space or if you prefer to work at the library. Depending on your type of trip, you may be able to get your travel expenses deducted from your taxes. For example, if you are setting up a client meeting in another city or country but are paying out of pocket, you may be able to claim it as a work expense. Check with your accountant to be sure. Be aware that if you’re a US citizen living and working abroad you need to make sure you’re claiming your taxes properly. Consult with an accountant specializing in working with expatriates to make sure you are getting it right. Also be sure to notify your bank before you travel to make sure they don’t freeze your accounts while you’re away.
2. Check your travel documents
If you are planning on staying in a country for a longer period of time, make sure you have the correct visa allowing you to stay. The last thing you want to worry about is Immigration denying you entry because you didn’t read the fine print. Make sure to know the country’s rules regarding working as a foreigner. For example, technically it’s illegal to even look for work when you’re visiting the UK as a tourist. When you arrive in the UK you need to have proof of lodging and finances so bring relevant documents to avoid any problems.
3. Know when you’re most productive
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Know when you’re at your most efficient so you get the most out of your day. Since you’re setting your own schedule, if waking up at 7 am only makes you fall asleep at your desk, don’t waste your precious time. Test out a variety of schedules and see what works best for you. I’ve found it helpful to continue sticking to somewhat of a 9-5 schedule since that’s the one I’m most used to but you have to experiment with what works best for you.
4. Plan ahead
One of the many perks of being location independent is that you get to set your own schedule that may include traveling to many interesting places. If you’re not one to be able to do work on the road then make sure you plan to do it all before your trip. If you don’t mind spending a few hours in your hotel room while traveling then by all means, bring your work with you. I personally get a lot of work done on airplanes. This is where time management comes in and if you’re not the kind of person that can do well without supervision then you may need to rethink freelancing altogether. Don’t miss any important deadlines. Account for unexpected hiccups in tech or lodging, like bad Wi-Fi or even jetlag.
5. Set up a work/life balance
When you’re a freelancer and working from home you can go days where you don’t even have to leave your house. Make sure to try and connect with the real world. Set up a makeshift calendar and stick it in front of you so you can see it every day. It may be tempting to get some work done after hours but don’t forget you have a life, too. I personally like this calendar from Jessica Hische. It can be daunting to meet new people (especially when you may not speak the local language) but luckily, websites like meetup.com have a plethora of different events you can attend so you’re not cooped up working in your room all night.
Being a nomadic freelancer is not easy but if you have the skills and determination you can definitely make it work. You can try to plan a short getaway to see if being location independent works for you. There’s no shame if you prefer to stay in one place or alternate between locations. I myself live in Berlin now but travel every so often and make regular visits to the US and UK.
If you’re ready to take your work on the road, also check out these useful links:
- How to get your German Freelance Visa
- Nomad List: the best cities to live and work remotely
- Teleport: place scout for startup people
- Desktime: global coworking space directory
Have you done any traveling as a freelancer? Add to this post and share your experiences below!