One of the beautiful things about being freelance, for me, is the ability to run your business during hours that suit you, and from any location that you want. There are some limitations of course; you might have clients who want you constantly at their beck and call, you might need Wi-Fi in order to do what you do, and so on, but for the most part freelancers have a lot of freedom. I was certain from the moment I became freelance that I wanted to work remotely for part of the year, and so I booked to travel around Central America. The plan: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, then Florida for Christmas. I’m currently slap bang in the middle of my trip, and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way about digital nomad life. Here we go…
Wi-Fi usually isn’t an issue
If you plan your travels right, and know that the hostels, hotels or Airbnb properties that you book come with free Wi-Fi, then you shouldn’t run into any problems. I’ve found that in Central America the Wi-Fi isn’t the strongest when every other guest is logged in at the same time, and it’s probably the same the world over, so if you need Wi-Fi try to do work during hours when most people will be out exploring. Also, if the internet fails, there are usually an abundance of cafes, coffee shops and restaurants around that you can go to. You may have to buy something, but it’s a good opportunity to try some of the local cuisine while you work.
You won’t want to work
While the idea of working from a beach is great and all, it turns out that when you get to that beach, laptop in hand and ready to make money while you sunbathe, you won’t actually want to start working. You’ll want to apply sunscreen, lay down for a while without trying to scrunch your eyes at a screen, go for a dip in the ocean, rent a stand-up paddleboard, and partake in the many other fun activities going on around you. It will be hard to start working, so you need to go in with a sense of discipline and know what your goals are for the day.
You don’t need to be available 24/7
The idea of not being available to your clients all day every day might make you hyperventilate at first, and this definitely gave me anxiety when I first arrived in Costa Rica, but you don’t need to stress out about it as much as you think you do. Your clients shouldn’t, and probably won’t, email you every minute of the day, so as long as you tell them the times that you will be available to them (taking the time difference into account), they can plan ahead and ensure they get in touch with you in advance to plan work. You don’t need to disclose that you were taking a surf lesson in Nicaragua and that’s why you weren’t online all morning, but chances are most clients will be fine with that as long as you’re getting the work done by the required deadline. Stay professional and plan ahead, so they never need to worry.
Keep your eyes peeled for more tips as my trip continues, and feel free to share what you’ve learned from your own digital nomad experiences!