The Way We Work

Working and traveling can be both exhausting and rewarding. Whether you’re traveling for pleasure but can’t afford to drop all of your clients, have work that requires you on-site in a location abroad or some combination of the two, you’ll need to balance the rigors of travel with the demands of your work and the local attractions.

The following are some ideas to help make work and travel merge more smoothly:

suitcase11. Packing… Light and Smart.

You’ll be bringing a laptop, so be sure to check your charger for the following: “Input: 100-240v.” If your charger passes this initial test, then a search on for “travel adapter” will yield a $5 adapter that converts power for most of the globe.

Keep your travel documents in a brightly colored folder. It’s hard to lose, and – if you do – it’s easier to find. After a recent redeye flight from Detroit to Amsterdam, I found myself saying to the gate agent, “I left a neon yellow folder in seat 21C.” Lost and found again within moments!

Also, bring a bathing suit, because they’re small and light and you never have one when you want one, and swimming in a hotel pool just feels better than the pool at your local YMCA. Don’t ask me why, but you know it’s true!

For more info, check out The US State Department’s exhaustive list of pre-travel considerations, and’s excellent guide to packing light.

airplanefall2. Jetlag

Adjusting to your destination’s time zone is crucial if you’re staying long enough, and planning on operating on local time will help you adjust to your surroundings.

Carefully managing your food/drink and sleep schedule can go a long ways for minimizing jetlag. It can be tough, but I find forcing myself to eat and sleep on the local schedule is the quickest way to adjust. Eat when the locals eat, sleep when the locals sleep, drink lots of water, and stick to your regular consumption of caffeine.

Everyone is different, and the simple formula above won’t work for everyone, so check out MSNBC’s tips for Fighting Jet Lag.

3. Staying in Touch

Skype is great when you have access to free wifi, but in some places, like airports, the wifi access is just as expensive as a phone call. So, check your carrier’s online account system before you leave, and enable International Roaming and Text Messaging. For AT&T, it’s a small fee, $15 for both, but it’ll keep you from receiving an obscene bill during those times when you absolutely have to use your phone. You can turn the features off when you get home. In addition, if you need a local number at your destination, prepaid SIM cards are available in most international destinations and – for calling home – calling cards can be purchased locally or online.

4. Getting work done

Combining business and pleasure on a trip can be tough, but setting a schedule and sticking to it can go a long ways towards accomplishing both. There is no motivation to finish up your current work load, like knowing that there is a tour, hike, dinner or pub on the other side of your task. Don’t take on too much work while you’re traveling. Be realistic, but know that you can get a fair amount done if you plan ahead.


Alex Hornbake

Freelance Tech Writer

Alex Hornbake is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. He joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, and brings more than a decade of technical expertise to his clients. Alex shares his point of view to help you make informed decisions for your personal and business technology choices.