I had one goal in mind when I joined Location Rebel back in 2012, to build a sustainable online business that would allow my girlfriend and I to travel the world.
Fast forward to today, October 2014, and I’m writing this post on a bus traveling to La Paz in Bolivia with three separate online freelance businesses under my belt.
The past 2 years have been an absolute dream come true for us.
We’ve been able to call ourselves ‘location Independent’ and travel the world wherever and whenever we wanted.
There are many perks to this sort of laptop lifestyle, but this post isn’t going to highlight them.
Instead, I’m going to talk about the six things that can be viewed as negative issues when it comes to both owning and running your own online business while travelling full-time.
Obviously the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages; otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to pursue this lifestyle.
It may seem laughable to consider that there are downsides to a location independent career, but like everything in life, there are pluses and minuses.
Please bear in mind that while some of these points below may seem a little stressful or “not worth it” – we’d definitely never consider trading it for a regular 9-5.
1. Your Travel Perspective Changes
What I mean by this is that the excitement that’s usually felt with going on a trip, the “travel buzz,” can somewhat diminish.
Before we started working online, the anticipation of an upcoming trip was a really special feeling. These feelings can change when you’re travelling full-time.
That’s not to say that we don’t enjoy the whole travel experience, far from it.
It’s just that sheer feeling of adventure is somewhat lessened due to the fact that earning an income online allows us to travel wherever and whenever we like. This may seem a like a perfect scenario for most people and it is for us too.
But, it does take away the raw travel feeling for us from time to time.
2. A Stable Internet Connection is a MUST
I’ve talked about this before, and it’s probably the number one annoyance when it comes to working online whilst traveling: having a decent Internet connection is literally our lifeblood.
When we travel, we have to make sure that we have a strong enough connection to send and receive emails, as we don’t want to have to deal with missed deadlines, which inevitably causes angry and dissatisfied clients.
This can be a constant hurdle to overcome, especially here in South America where we’ve been travelling for the past four months.
In some small towns we’ve literally walked for hours on end to find either a café that has Wi-Fi or an Internet café that has a good connection to get our work done.
This can quickly turn into a very unproductive day when you consider the time it takes to just find somewhere to work from.
Getting a mobile sim card is a good option, but only if you’re going to be in the country for at least a week or so. Even then, mobile Internet in some countries is so erratic that it would drive you crazy trying to tether it up to your laptop.
When we check into a hotel or hostel the first thing we check (even before the room) is the Wi-Fi. If it’s slow or non-existent, then we’ll probably try somewhere else.
A great way to do this is to get the Speed Test app on whatever mobile device you have.
Note from Sean: While I was living in Bali the internet was extremely unreliable. I had a rotation of about 5 places within a mile of my house where I could go if the internet was down at one spot. It’s good to have options and be flexible. Get to know the area you’re in!
3. You’ve got to find the Perfect Balance Between Work and Play
Without a boss or restrictions it can be very easy to let your social life tip the scales – leaving work commitments high in the air.
For people travelling full-time this can easily happen due to the amazing places they get to visit and are working from.
You may think because you’re the boss that you can just work when you want.
This isn’t the case for the majority of us that work online.
Client commitments, pending orders and other projects that need to be seen to must get completed – that’s if you don’t want to lose business in the long run.
Sean’s written about this quite a about both work and play in the past.
And you’ll get a good idea of what I mean.
4. Maintaining Focus and Will Power is Essential
Imagine looking out of your bedroom window and seeing the sparkling Andes mountain range in Mendoza, Argentina or lush vineyards in Tuscany, Italy and having to find the will power to flick open the laptop and get some work done.
This may seem like an ideal situation to be in and it is, but some days it can be an absolute torment to go online and work when all you want to do is explore your new virtual office surroundings.
Focus and will power are a must if you’re going to keep things afloat online!
We constantly have to remind ourselves that if we don’t continue to complete our work schedule, our lifestyle dream won’t last.
This lifestyle is a privilege, not a right.
So treat it as such and don’t take it for granted.
It’s also not enough to just make enough money to get you by. You need to think about putting money aside as a form of savings so that you’ve protected yourself in the short term.
This can be quite difficult to do initially, but building positive habits from the beginning will go a long ways.
5. Having a Hectic Schedule Isn’t Always the Best Move
Enjoying a life of hectic travel while working online can present problems for some people.
Full-time travel (like you’d do on a typical backpacking trip) will quickly zap every last piece of energy AND productivity out of you leaving you feeling drained and unmotivated.
It’s vital that you find a balance between traveling and basing yourself in a location long enough to see your business progress forward. We personally like to base ourselves somewhere for a few weeks, where possible, before peppering in a few short bursts of travel.
The advantage of this method is that you can catch up with work and also plan things for your next bout of travelling adventures.
6. There’s NO Guaranteed Paycheck at the End of the Week!
Here’s where a lot of people have the biggest issue when it comes to working online for themselves.
Unlike a normal 9-5 Mon-Fri job where you receive a guaranteed pay check at the end of each week or month, an online business doesn’t afford you this stability.
The amount of money you earn depends on how many hours you put in and how much effort you give – simple as that.
Put no effort in and you’ll get nothing out.
Travelling and working around the world for a prolonged period of time is only going to work if you work hard to maintain the lifestyle that you’re living.
Sightseeing, accommodation, tours, food, drink and other expenses quickly add up and take their toll on ones bank balance. You’ve got to do your very best to ensure that the majority of months will see your income far outweigh your expenditures.
Making the decision to go out on the town when you have work that needs to be attended to will only have one outcome – your journey will come to a sudden halt at some point or other.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the online beast, it’s next to impossible to predict what your monthly income will be. You can mitigate this some by bringing on clients who pay a flat fee each month or by having a monthly subscription service as one of your offerings.
All this can be a difficult thing to deal with while on the road.
Give it up? Never!
Not having the guaranteed income each month is the number one deterrent when it comes to people holding back on their dream of working online.
Yes, it can be scary living without the certainty of a regular pay cheque, but with hard work, commitment, and strong will power, you can carve out a lifestyle and career that make you happy.
Travelling and working full-time may seem like the perfect example of ‘living the dream’ for many people. And for us, it certainly is.
While it’s all rosy the majority of the time, we wanted to let you in on some of the things that very few people talk about when it comes to running a business online while travelling.
Yes, it’s awesome to be experiencing the beauty of the world while working from a laptop, but there are some elements of this lifestyle that are difficult to deal with.
But in the end, do any of the above factors put me off living a location independent lifestyle?
Let’s think about this for a second. Hmmmmmm…absolutely not 🙂
Carlo Cretaro (@carlocretaro) is a travel blogger and online entrepreneur. Along with his girlfriend Florence, they runs multiple online businesses which fuel their location independent lifestyle. Their travel blog – NextStopWhoKnows is a combination of all things travel, photography and lifestyle design.