Traveling for a few weeks is pretty easy. Working away from home for a few months requires a little more planning (and apparently a little more anxiety, eesh!).
On Saturday, we’ll move our home office to Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France, for the next few months. The eight-hour shift east will be more than a change of time zone that requires us to work in the evenings rather than the mornings. I suspect it will be a shift in our perception of freelancing that will make the word “telecommute” take on a more global meaning.
But enough of the high-falutin’ ideological stuff. If you don’t take care of some mundane details before you leave home, you won’t be working from another country–you’ll be wasting time making expensive phone calls or shopping for an extra power converter.
Mail: The post office will only hold your mail for a month. If you don’t have family or friends around who can pick up and sort your mail, Earth Class Mail might be your best bet for collecting your mail and sending you anything you need. Otherwise, leave behind pre-stamped, pre-addressed flat-rate envelopes for your mail jockey so it’s easy for him/her to send you anything.
Phones: This isn’t news, but I have to reiterate that Skype is the thing that really makes it possible to work from anywhere. We’re going to buy a U.S. number through Skype so anyone can call us–in fact, they won’t even know they’re calling Skype, or calling us in France. Unless I get that crazy echo through my headset.
Your car: Your car can sit at the airport for two weeks. But it can’t sit there, or anywhere, for months on end. Someone has to take it for a spin once in a while, so hand over your keys to a friend who doesn’t text while driving.
Power adapters: We usually travel with one adapter for a computer, one for everything else. Since we’ll both be working, though, we’ve picked up an extra so we don’t have to fight over a single adapter.
Prescriptions: Take care of these at least a week before you leave. It might take your pharmacist a few days to extend refills from your doctor or wrestle with your insurance company for a vacation supply of your medication.
Gardening: We’ve done everything we can think of to make our home lives as low maintenance as possible. We don’t have kids, pets or even plants. We don’t have grass or a yard. We have a 30-by-15 foot rectangle of a few bushes and a lot of rock. And we still have to weed the rocks every few weeks. If you don’t figure out a plan for your yard, or in our case, “yard,” your neighbors or HOA or both will hate you when you return.
Smugness: Obviously it’s best not to be smug at all, but if you’re a little smug, keep it to yourself before you leave. Your friends at home won’t appreciate statements like, “Sucker! You’ll be working in your dismal cube next week while I’ll be working on the beach/in a European cafe/from a sailboat.” Plus, you don’t want that smug karma to bite you in the ass–you could find yourself working from an eight-Euro-an hour cyber cafe with medievally-slow Internet on a keyboard you can’t comprehend.