I’m leaving for Thailand soon and I’m stupidly excited. However, my childish enthusiasm is tempered by the niggling doubt of how the hell I’m going to make money while I’m there!
So here are some of the tools and practices I’m going to employ to ensure the smooth continuation of my business while I’m in south east Asia.
But first, why am I going away?
There are many answers. I read The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss years ago and that may have sown a seed. If you are unfamiliar with the book, it’s a blueprint of how to “live more and work less” by utilizing outsourcing, various productivity hacks and passive income.
I’ve been running a graphic design business full time since 2008 and, more recently, selling e-books and video courses. During this time I was married and living in London as my ex-wife needed to stay here for work. So my business has been “location independent” for some time although I’ve been living in one of the world’s most expensive cities.
But, there are other reasons. I have lived abroad before (many months in Portugal and Brazil teaching English as a foreign language as well as backpacking around SE Asia). I have always felt more alive outside England. However, upon return there was an empty bank account and societal pressure to “buckle down and get a proper job”. (Well, not this time).
For me, being rooted in the culture you were born into creates blocks. The pressure to conform is greater. Cutting loose from familiarity aids creativity. Eckhart Tolle would say that you are more “in the now” when you are away from home because you’re endlessly aware of and excited by the present experience.
So why am I going away? Because I think it’ll be good for me. And, you’ll make the world a better place the more happy and creative you are, or so they say.
So let’s start with the essentials. There are only 3 things I need to run my business: my laptop, my phone and my brain – all three of them are subject to poor performance every so often so they need to be looked after.
The most important bit of tech I’ll travel with will be my shiny new MacBook Pro.
The scariest thing that could happen is losing my laptop. Not only did it cost a lot of money, it also has software and 300GB of files that I need.
I must stress at this point that Thailand is one of the safest countries in the world (people leave their possessions lying around and regularly forget to lock their apartments and mopeds with no adverse repercussions).
However, I’ll be locking my laptop which will hopefully stop a criminal emptying my bank accounts as they’ll need to enter a password to wake the computer up. Although, this isn’t “Fort Knox” level of security.
I have also installed HiddenApp which will tell you where your Mac is (works with iPhones as well) which can lead to stolen devices being recovered.
Let’s say the laptop is lost, stolen or run over by a bus, and can’t be recovered – what do I do? This is where the backup comes in.
To backup, I’m taking a WD 2TB Passport USB external drive (about the size of a pack of cards) for onsite backup using TimeMachine.
But, even better, I’ve bought the Pro 1TB plan from Dropbox. I’m delighted that they recently reduced their prices (I assume because of the competition from Google’s Drive). For $100/year I think this is a great deal – all my client stuff and video files backed up on the cloud. The only downside is that it’s going to take weeks to upload.
So, if I lose the laptop, I can get another one and should be fully operational with in a few days.
If you want to travel with a phone you are better off owning the handset rather than being on a monthly scheme in your home country. Make sure that your phone is unlocked and buy cheap Pay As You Go SIMs in the host country. This will give you a local number and unlimited data.
To ensure that you are still reachable you can use Didlogic to set up a number in your home country that will go through to your phone abroad. Your clients will never know that you’re answering from a beach bar. 🙂
All phones can be protected by a lock screen and there are several apps that offer greater protection that the inbuilt mechanism.
There are also third party apps that will track a missing phone (like Cerberus for Android devices).
On Android, you can backup all your phone contacts to Gmail and there are third party apps that will allow you to backup all sorts of information from your phone. There is similar backup available on iCloud with iPhone.
My brain and body
So I’ve covered the first two essentials of my business, the laptop and the phone, now let’s turn our attention to the other essential: me!
How do I keep my brain and body healthy and find time to service my clients and create content whilst on the road?
Exercise and health
I’ve been here before, backpacking through Bangkok’s Khao San Road, trekking through the mountains in the north, relaxing by the Andaman sea, catching the slowboat along the Mekong to Luamprabang – all, as I remember, involved lots of fast food and alcohol.
It’s easier for me to be healthy in London – it’s cold which makes running advisable; it’s expensive which makes fresh vegetables and supermarket purchases more economically attractive; it’s big which means you don’t go out to see friends much, and, for me, it’s home, which makes my meditation and exercise routines easy to keep up.
So I’ve started a morning routine of exercise (very short Tai Chi and Qi Gong movements) followed by a short meditation. I hope to keep this up. Plus, there are gyms in Chiang Mai which I hope to frequent. Sadly, jogging is out of the question in tropical climes.
Finding time to work
The downside to travelling, seeing the world, meeting new interesting people and having a ball is time.
Again, in London, I’ve found it easy to lock myself away and crank out the content and the client work when needed. How will it be in Asia? I’ve done nothing to prepare for this. I haven’t pre-written any content for the next few weeks and I haven’t outsourced any extra help. We’ll have to see…
You can do it
During the 8 year history of this blog, I have written about how you can set up an online business that will allow you greater financial security and personal freedom. Now it’s time to put it to the test – and let’s not forget to have fun!
I’d love you to tell me what you think. Are you location independent? Do you want to be? Have you worked on the road before? Let me know in the comments.
There are many great blogs and resources about digital nomadism, location independence and the more general subject of lifestyle businesses. Here are some of the ones I like:
- Mish and Rob are a couple travelling the world and trying several web-based businesses at MakingItAnywhere.com. Their newsletter is awesome.
- Dan Andrews with his business partner, Ian Schoen, have a great site at TropicalMBA.com and a great podcast of the same name – they are the dynamic duo of location independence. I have just joined the Dynamite Circle, to network with a private community of entrepreneurs whilst on my travels.
- And, I’ve always been a big fan of Cody McKibben at ThrillingHeroics.com.