The ability to combine work and traveling is the best. For us as Europeans, no other destination fits better than South-East Asia. During the darker times in our home countries, the office hours collide with daylight so migrating and sharing amazing weather with family and hobbies before hacking away at the keyboard helps keep priorities in order.
Before choosing a destination and departing you have to plan so here are few things you need to take into account.
1. The internet
While working remotely in Asia your biggest concern will be the internet. Unfortunately, you will not be able to have sufficient connections everywhere. Talking to other nomads and local entrepreneurs in the area will help you map the challenges and opportunities. Joining local Facebook groups well in advance is great for information and networking.
You need to project your internet usage and think about the level of connectivity you need. Do you need to have video calls or is email and chat sufficient for communication? Do you need to access materials and servers behind firewalls? If yes, set up a VPN before leaving and make sure it works. Take into account that this raises the bar for the internet levels needed.
If you go for big city life there is no need to worry about the internet but for island destinations, you will stay limited to places with good existing infrastructure and remote paradises will stay for weekend trips. Fiber optic connection is not very rare in Asia so aim for that and supplement it with mobile internet. 3 cities in Asia that will not leave you loading: Ho Chi Minh, Cebu, Chiang Mai. For islands with decent internet Bali is our top choice.
2. Tools & tech
Have a phone with 2 sim cards. Get a roaming sim from your home country and supplement it with a local sim on arrival. A secondary back up mobile device is a good idea especially when traveling with active toddlers and power banks are a must – you will encounter situations where you can have mobile internet but your block is without electricity.
Supplement your laptop with a keyboard, mouse, a stand, and cables to get connected to external monitors. This will keep you flexible in working from hammocks as well as office desks. Do not forget about ergonomic working positions and keep your long term spine and wrist health in check.
Understand the power plugs used in the country you are going to and make sure you have several adapters to fit the situation. One larger electrical outlet with a cord is handy to have in your laptop bag. This part is best sorted out on arrival.
Check out the tech stores and repair options in advance as things tend to break in most critical situations. Even though South-East Asians are not big Mac users we have contacts with Apple repairs technicians in each of our favorite destinations.
Finding a community of peers is especially important when traveling solo or having a job that requires little interaction. Join meetups and co-working hubs. A big part of experiencing life is interacting with both like-minded and opposite people. If you are an introvert challenging yourself to be more open will have huge benefits so do get out of your comfort zones.
4. Working hours, timezones and work-life balance
Different timezones are the biggest opportunity as well as a challenge. Know the time difference and plan your days accordingly. Your calendar and timepieces should have the opportunity to show the time in both timezones. Having routines sounds boring but it helps you stay productive on all fronts. Communicate with anyone affected by your physical absence back home as well as your travel companions as what are your working hours, when do you take breaks and what are the best times for meetings.
When working with European partners, clients, employers you will end your working days in the late hours. The tip is not to go to bed right after finishing your office day. Clear your mind, call your parents or friends, read a book, listen to music, meditate, watch the stars, and listen to sounds of nature.
Have you been working remotely in Asia? Do you have some tips to add on our list?