Staying Connected to Work while Traveling

Staying Connected to Work while Traveling

If you’re going to live and work abroad for a few weeks or months (“workation”), you’ll need to stay connected to your customers, employer, coworkers, etc.  I’ve run into some internet issues in our travels, so here are my tips.

Know your internet speeds ahead of time. Whether you’re renting an apartment or staying with a friend, ask them their upload/download speeds and if there are any data caps. We quickly ran through data caps in Spain – in like 2 hours – and we’re not even sure how we managed to blow through them so fast.

We also made the mistake of assuming our apartment in Wellington would have fast internet because it was in a big city. Wrong. Instead, we had to walk to our coworking space to take 3:30am calls (NZ time) because there was too much of a lag on wi-fi at the apartment.

Skype is reliable, cheap, and generally very clear. Making calls from one Skype user to another Skype user is free, but you’ll have to pay a small amount if you dial a landline. The cost isn’t much: I put $30 USD on my Skype account in 2014 and I only had to add money to the account during our 3rd workation. (I have about three or four 30-minute conference calls per week).

Especially outside the U.S., WhatsApp is very popular. I’ve used that (instead of texts) to keep in touch with the nanny, share pics/video, etc. All free.

Also, disable the cellular settings on your phone and use Skype to make calls over Wi-Fi when you have a Wi-Fi signal, whether that’s in your coworking space, apartment or cafe.

I know a lot of people who bring along mobile hot spots and have unlocked cell phones to use overseas, but for me I just wanted to keep it really simple and not buy any extra stuff to take along. So I generally stay connected by making calls or use the internet only when I have Wi-Fi access. We have AT&T, and we signed up for their international plan during our most recent workation in London. It’s a pay-as-you-go service: When you activate it, you pay $10 for the day for the exact same plan you’d have in the U.S. (all calls, texts, internet access, etc.). That came in really handy when we were lost while driving around in Scotland and a handful of other times. Whatever provider you have (and from what I hear, most other mobile providers have way better options than AT&T), do your research and see what makes sense for your needs.


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