Freelancers who travel for business are in a unique position. Depending on their clients, they may have more flexibility and freedom to work from anywhere so long as they have a strong internet connection, compared to people who work regular office jobs. However, they don't have some of the corporate protections and budgets to fall back on.
As a freelancer on business travel, knowing what to avoid and how to stay productive can help you maximize your time and keep to your travel budget. As someone who travels over 100,000 miles a year, I understand all too well the unique challenges you may face. Here are things you should look out and aim for when traveling for business as a freelancer.
1. Stick to a routine.
If you are traveling for an extended period of time and have several clients you work with, establishing a routine is essential. Depending on your clients, you may already be "on-call" and on a schedule during certain hours of the day. If that's the case, stick to those hours as much as possible, especially if you are in a noticeably different time zone.
For instance, when I'm in the UK, I know that around 2 pm is when people back home in the U.S. are usually starting their day. I try to keep in sync with them as much as possible. Doing something similar will show your reliability and dedication to your work by still being available during your normal hours (with certain exceptions of course).
2. Use technology.
Because you don't have a team of people to organize and prepare your travel, you'll need to map everything out on your own. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps and tools you can use to keep track of everything.
For instance, TripIt is great for keeping all of your travel itineraries and confirmations in one place. You simply forward your confirmations and the app creates a master itinerary for you. It even alerts you to any changes in your travel and can help you know when the best time to leave is.
Using a ridesharing service can also be quite helpful. I can see the city while not having to worry about figuring out public transportation or roads when I have my luggage in tow and am usually quite tired. I also enjoy using the services because I usually end up getting the best tips on where to eat and other awesome tips on local places to visit from my Uber and Lyft drivers.
Another good use of apps is to help keep track of finances. Your credit card issuer likely has some sort of service to help you see what you're spending. I suggest signing up for notifications regarding your spending just in case your card information gets hacked.
Just be sure to pack along power adapters and converters to keep your items powered up. Also, consider investing in easy to travel with items that will make working away from your desk more comfortable. For example, I bring a small laptop stand with me as I work better when my laptop is elevated.
3. Prepare for the unexpected.
If you are going to be doing a lot of traveling or will be traveling to places known for bad weather, political turmoil, or other external factors, consider purchasing travel insurance. Also, book your travel on a travel credit card that comes with insurance protections.
I also recommend saving relevant phone numbers and addresses in your notes app. This way, you'll have important information ready and won't need to rely on the internet or a signal to get it.
4. Join loyalty programs.
If you aren't already signed up for loyalty programs that the organizations you'll be traveling with offer, consider doing so. You may earn perks like free WiFi, discounts, and upgrades for being a member. Plus, you may as well earn points for something you're already doing.
5. Don't overdo it.
Maximizing your travel when you're a freelancer is ideal but don't feel like you have to do and see it all. While you should definitely aim to enjoy yourself and find ways to relax, you are also there for business purposes. Therefore, your main priority is to focus on the work that is needed.
6. Get a business credit card.
In order to keep your work spending separate from your personal spending, consider getting one of the best small business credit cards. This way, you'll have records when you do your taxes. Plus, depending on the card, you'll have extra travel perks and protections.