Meeting deadlines during a month-long trip to Ecuador was supposed to be a breeze. But a local energy-saving strategy of scheduled power outages caught us by surprise and short-circuited our workday. Unplugged, we relied on extended-use laptop batteries, advanced planning and a restructured mix of work and sightseeing to handle professional obligations during our trip.
Our lesson: Working from the road is possible with flexibility and careful planning.
Maximize time differences: The five-hour time difference between London and Miami enabled us to mix segments of pleasure and business. The morning shift included hours of sightseeing before our co-workers in Miami even had their first cup of morning coffee. With a mobile office in a London, we worked in the early afternoon and still enjoyed several hours of summertime leisure before the late sunset at 9:30 p.m. Or, if your prime working hours coincide with your client's night shift, take advantage of the limited interruptions to produce work faster than a traditional work environment might allow. If necessary, split your work time to allow for customer interaction during part of the day, and keep a separate block of undisturbed hours for longer projects.
Ask the pros: Lara Dunston and Terence Carter (www.grantourismotravels.com) pair their travel writing and photography skills to live and work on the road full time. Their top tip? Schedule duplicate backups of critical data, using both cloud (Internet) storage and a portable drive. For productivity, they prefer furnished apartments or holiday homes rather than hostels. It also helps to communicate in advance with office-bound co-workers or managers when your on-the-go access might be sketchy. In Dubai, Dunstan and Carter once lost access to the rest of the world for three days when a ship severed a cable in the Persian Gulf. On a recent stay in Puglia, Italy, they found the best Internet access was not in their house, but at a nearby olive grove. "That was great fun until it rained," Carter said.
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Know your limits: A crazy work schedule sabotaged the laid-back atmosphere of a Caribbean cruise. Unrealistic expectations and a faltering Internet connection provided an unhealthy recipe of stress and inefficiency. To meet workplace deadlines, we missed a formal shipboard dinner and an important land excursion. What's more, fueled by nervous energy, we forgot to save the final version of an important document. In hindsight, the quality of the work would have been better if we had worked less and vacationed more.