Ever since reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss a few years ago I’ve been fascinated by the location independent lifestyle. It has occurred to me many times that, apart from the odd occasion I go to meet clients, I can pretty much do my job anywhere in the world.
So, I’m writing this post from Recife in the northeast of Brazil!
One of the many things I love about running my own design business is that I can work when I want. Now, I can work where I want.
As we all know, perfect prior preparation prevents poor performance, and this is true of running your business abroad.
In the video above you’ll see how I sync all my relevant files on two computers (my workhorse iMac and my MacBook Pro for travelling).
I submitted a question on the Apple Support Communities and I got told about a neat free app called SyncTwoFolders which, er, syncs two folders. You don’t want to be endlessly copying over stuff from one machine to another and thinking to yourself “I’ve done work for this, this and this client, I need to copy this, this and this”. SyncTwoFolders automatically detects which files have been updated and which are new and copies only them.
Of course, another solution would be cloud back-up which I didn’t go for as I have about 80GB worth of work. However, see below for the best cloud-based solutions.
What to take
In the end I decided to take my trusty MacBook Pro and a small external drive to back it up while out in Brazil. This has worked really well and I have been able to complete client requests as I would have done normally.
I did have, however, one complete disaster! TAP (Air Portugal) lost my luggage so my laptop’s adaptor was missing meaning I was without a laptop for days.
So, the first bit of expert advice when travelling abroad whilst running your own business: carry all your essential items with you as hand luggage. This includes the laptop and the adaptor cable as well as other essentials.
As explained above, I used SyncTwoFolders to copy my files across. But you have to remember everything, remember to install all the software on your laptop as you have on your computer. If there’s one thing you forget you’re bound to need it!
For backing-up on the cloud, here are the best services. (Thanks to Suraj Sodha for these tips.)
- Google Drive – great free service for upto 5GB. Download the app and then you can just drag and drop files onto a folder on your desktop and they’re backed-up. Don’t expect Google not to snoop on the contents of what’s on there, though!
- Dropbox – great user experience! Free 2GB. 500MB free per referral.
- Carbonite – Automatic, secure & affordable online back-up service for small businesses starting at $59/year. They have two week or one month free trial periods.
- BackBlaze – has free options but it can back up everything for $5/month, which is pretty awesome!
- Amazon S3 – not for backup but great for storage.
- Dreamhost – another great storage option is one of the hosts I regularly use, Dreamhost, they have unlimited bandwidth and space so you can just chuck a load of stuff up there you may need at some point. And they’re a great host!
Disclaimer: some of the links above are affiliate links.
One of the most important things when you’re going away is money. I find the best way to get money abroad is by withdrawing the maximum amount of cash from ATMs. This way you pay less bank changes.
However it is also a good idea to let your bank and credit card company know where you’re going. These companies are very sensitive to fraud and if they suddenly see your card being used in a different location they can block it. This can leave you without access to your money when you most need it.
In the video above I show you around the apartment I’m in now in Recife.
Finding a place to stay
I found the lovely apartment you can see in the videos through HomeAway.com (affiliate link). The great thing about the HomeAway site is that “Internet Access” can be specified when you’re searching (plus a number of other features like pool, satellite TV, etc., depending on your requirements).
Booking airline tickets
Book early to get a cheaper and the most direct flight. Make sure you’re only flying with one airline at a time. If you fly with multiple airlines on the same trip there’s more likelihood of something going wrong and then they’ll blame each other when it does.
Complain on Facebook and Twitter
You think we spend time on social media to further our brand? Well, yes, but it pays to complain about an airline if something goes wrong on social sites. When thousands of people are aware of your complaint it’s amazing how much more receptive the company can be!
Don’t forget the sun block
Trust me on this one.
Also in the podcast I mention the books that were recommended to me by my Facebook friends over at my Facebook page.
If you haven’t Liked my Facebook page yet, please do so!
If you are interested a location independent lifestyle or becoming a digital nomad (as I am), here are a couple of great blogs to help you:
- Thrilling Heroics – Lifestyle entrepreneur & location independent digital nomad Cody McKibben on adventure travel, lifestyle design, freedom, remarkable living.
- Tropical MBA – Dan Andrews explains how to start and grow a global business from your laptop. This is also the home of two great podcasts.
Why Brazil? That has more to do with my personal connections here (I know people and I’ve been here to Recife before). Asia is a much better destination for digital vagabonding as it’s cheaper.
However, Brazil is an exceptional country with bags of potential. I sometimes feel that Brazil has a great future in the same way as England has had a great past. I haven’t gotten involved in any specifically Brazilian projects since I’ve been here but I’m always on the look out!
Finally, here’s my first YouTube video which isn’t about design or marketing (!) and shows the walk from my apartment to the beach.
You can do it
Traditionally when we go on holiday, we spend money and stop earning. Now, with a laptop, an internet connection and perfect planning, it is possible to run your business while on holiday.
This can lead to a better quality of life for you and your family as well as more adaptability, flexibility and an increased global nature for your business.