Freelancing on the Road

One of the biggest advantages of taking the Cloud Commute to work is the ability to work anywhere in the world and get the job. As a matter of fact, Tony Brush, also known as The Traveling Webmaster, has been taking this new way to work for quite some time now. Here are his thoughts and suggestions on how to truly unplug and start freelancing on the road.

The best thing about freelancing is that you have freedom. However, as a freelancer, you may not be aware of just how much freedom you have. Freedom comes in many forms, and “Location Freedom” is something that is very important to a certain type of person. These people have itchy feet, an incessant desire to travel and explore, and experience new places and different cultures.

A decade or so ago, if this was you, you would either have to pick your career with travel built into it, or you would have to alternate between work and travel – working and saving up for as long as necessary, then blowing it all on the journey of a lifetime – and repeating as often as your CV would suffer it, and the CV really did suffer in the process. For me, and many others, one of the hardest aspects of work was that I had to suffer being pinned down to one location for years, when I was aching to see the world.

The great fortune of the modern IT world is that this is now an option. Working remote for the “permies” is often viable after a satisfactory trial period of working on-site has elapsed, and for freelancers that log in to Elance for example, remote work is implicitly part of the deal. For many, this means working from home, but really, your home can be the road, and your office, a USB stick.

This is not idle talk. To demonstrate what’s possible, here’s a personal story. A couple of years ago I spent three months living in the jungle in Belize. The experience was incredible. I expected the sheen to wear off during this time, but in fact, my appreciation grew as I adapted to the place. I saw some of the most amazing things while living there that I have ever seen in my entire life. However, on weekends I would travel to nearby towns for food supplies and to do work. I would hit the internet cafes and work on crafting articles, web code, and so on. The whole process was actually very simple.

I was working on my own business, but had I been “freelancing”, it would have been essentially the same. Besides personal pleasure, there are good economic reasons for spending a period abroad like this. Many people see travel as an expensive luxury, and if you’re talking about fortnight long holidays in tourist destinations, then it is. However, the majority of the expense is the flight, and you get a richer experience when you leave the tourist trail. Longer term travel means the cost of transport becomes proportionally less significant, and finding your own way around a country means you gain a more profound cultural experience for less money. So, in every way you win. You can take work with you, put in the hours that you decide, and have a much more fulfilling lifestyle.

However, there are a few technical and security issues to be dealt with. Here are some recommendations:

Whether you’re taking a laptop or a memory stick to use in internet cafés, you need to prepare for your hardware and software needs while on-the-move. As far as internet cafés are concerned, no matter where you go, they are much like those in the USA, the UK, or anywhere else for that matter. Everything else in a country can be dramatically different, but the Internet is a strangely universal world. Many cafés stay open all day and for much of the evening, so you can cram in long days when work is thick, giving you more space to enjoy the times in between.

Security. Whether you use Wi-Fi with a laptop or public computers at an internet café, you need to be aware of privacy issues and how to keep confidential files from being accessed or being unintentionally left behind on public machines. A firewall and anti-virus software are musts of course.

Protection of privacy in case of loss of hardware.
Many scandals have occurred as a result of public sector workers losing confidential information. Even careful people make mistakes from time to time, or lose hardware through no fault of their own (e.g. theft). It is crazy, in my opinion, to gamble your business or career on your faith that this will never happen to you.

The solution is to protect yourself and your data in case this were to happen, and there are numerous very safe ways to do so, so that if you were to lose a device or have it stolen, the data it carries – your emails, letters, code, client information, online banking details, etc. – would be inaccessible to anyone into whose hands the hardware fell. Please note, a password to log into your computer can easily be bypassed – if you are taking a laptop on your travels, you need a more sophisticated system of protection. Petty theft is more frequent in some countries than others; break-ins can happen anywhere in the world. I’m not advocating paranoia – just preparation. Take steps to protect yourself against worst-case-scenarios, then go out and enjoy yourself.

Backup plans. This ties into protecting yourself against loss of hardware. Here the issue is being able to get back to where you were after the hypothetical loss of such hardware.

For most people, the experience of travel is an overwhelmingly positive one, however, it is important to assess risks in advance, and mitigate their possible impact as much as possible. Doing so allows one to be carefree, without being naive or careless.

For myself, my preferred way to work and travel is using a data stick with software encryption. This is inconspicuous, I can take it anywhere, and it doesn’t take up valuable space in my back-pack. If I were to lose one, I truly would not care. They are extremely cheap and are widely available.

About the Author
Besides having a passion for world travel, Tony J. Brush is a lifer in IT. Tony also practices hypnotherapy and teaches meditation and martial arts. The Travelling Webmaster eBook, available from www.travelling-webmaster.com (via www.oakebooks.com), explores the best use of various solutions to the above issues. His plans include adding a travel guide for internet cafés around the world to a future update of the book.



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