While travelling this year I have learnt a lot about how to work and travel on the road.
Mostly by learning the hard way =D
So far this year I have blogged from the mountains of Snowbombing – Austria, the tropics of Costa Rica and Fort Worth airport.
You have to be prepared for every possible situation and I have been caught out a couple of times while out and about.
So this guide will teach you how to work and blog on the road no matter where you are in the world and be prepared for any situation life throws at you.
In fact I’m writing this post from the seat of my flight between Texas & London so we can add that to the list as well now!
Everyone around me is sleeping so shhhh! Daphne date raped herself with a sleeping pill and woke up for 30 seconds to tell me about genocide.
A bit distracting but crazies aside let’s take a look at how to blog & work on the road while travelling!
Live In The Cloud
One of the biggest problems I faced was been able to access all of my files and applications from anywhere in the world.
Whether I was using my laptop on the side of a mountain or only had access to a web browser in an internet cafe, having access to my files and applications was critical.
So I decided to move everything to the cloud with Google Drive which offers a few benefits.
First of all it keeps all of my devices in perfect sync with each other – if I edit a file on my laptop, it is instantly updated on the office machine and vice versa.
Secondly it allows you to access all of your files from any device that has a web browser, which is pretty much everything these days even some fridges have a web browser!
But most importantly it means that everything is always automatically backed up so if your laptop was stolen abroad or your crazy ex burns the house down; you’re still good to go!
At the moment 100GB of storage costs just $5 per month which is pocket money compared to the benefits it offers.
However you can get 5GB of storage free of charge to give it a whirl if that tickles your fancy.
Setting It Up
Just sign up for Google Drive and install the application on your PC. This will create a new ‘Google Drive’ folder, anything you place within it is automatically sync’d and backed up in the cloud.
However I changed the My Documents location on all of my computers to be the Google Drive folder.
The process is pretty much the same for most versions of windows!
I also did the same with the My Pictures folder so every day I copy all the pictures from my camera and they are instantly backed up.
I would be gutted if I lost pictures from my travels and this setup helps to protect against that.
Also check out CloudVault for your Android phone/tablet to automatically upload pictures and videos to the cloud!
You can also get portable versions of applications that you don’t need to install.
Just single executable files that can be ran from your computer, a USB drive or straight from the cloud!
So I have portable versions of all of the applications I use regularly stored in the cloud ready to rock and roll anytime I need them.
Google around for them – they are pretty easy to find!
Dealing With Large Files
The only drawback to this was a lot of my video tutorials, the raw footage and project files can span 10-20GB each.
It doesn’t make sense to have these accessible via the cloud so I created a separate offline documents folder and marked it as a favourite folder in windows.
This folder gets backed up and archived separately on my network & a remote destination using SyncBack.
Music is my life and soul that keeps me going throughout the day; I would be lost without it!
So how do you make sure you always have access to all of your favourite tracks?
Google Music will allow you to store up to 20,000 tracks in the cloud and access them from any device or web browser.
So that’s the software side of things dealt with but what about everything else we need to have a smooth experience working on the road?
Working On The Road Essentials
There are a couple of essential pieces of kit you will need if you are going to blog on the road or work as you travel.
I recently bought a new laptop because my current one was on its last legs after surviving a few rough knocks and bumps. It even cartwheeled its way down the stairs one time!
So I decided to buy a laptop that was strong, lightweight & powerful. It needs to be good enough to edit videos with, but without adding unnecessary weight to my travels.
There are a few good options on the market like the HP Envy but eventually I settled on the cheaper Asus U32V.
It is made of aluminium so is strong & light (1.7kg) but also features a core i5 processor, 2GB dedicated Nvidia graphics and 4GB of ram.
Not seen it cartwheel down the stairs yet though.
Decent Camera With Optical Zoom
You will also need a decent camera to steal souls and capture those precious moments in life.
It should be able to shoot good quality photos and HD video, but most importantly it needs optical zoom.
A DSLR provides the best image quality and lens options but is far too bulky to be carrying around everywhere.
Trust me a phone just doesn’t cut it in most circumstances, digital zoom makes for terrible pictures!
You might have the latest handset but my cheap 2-3 year old compact camera will spank it every time.
At the moment I’m using a Panasonic DMC-TZ8 which I have had for a couple of years out of a bargain bucket but it does the job beautifully and has 12x optical zoom.
They have just released the DMC-TZ40 which has 20x optical zoom and some other nifty features though, tempting! Perhaps when I break the $10,000 barrier.
Or maybe someone from Panasonic is reading and wants to donate one – who knows ^^
If you really want to travel cheaply then you’ll want to avoid the additional fees of taking a suitcase with you, which you then have to carry around as well.
So to make the most of the (usually) free hand luggage I purchased a Cabin Max bag which gives you the maximum amount of storage possible – 44 litres in fact!
It also has a padded compartment for your laptop – perfecto!
They are stupidly cheap to buy as well in comparison with some bags I looked at.
You also need a decent lightweight day bag for when you finally get to your destination.
I just use one of those cheap a** draw string bags – you know the type.
Simple but effective and I can carry everything I need for the day including wallet, laptop, camera, sun screen and so on.
The problem with carrying all of this kit with you is it makes you a prime target to be mugged.
This is a greater risk in some countries than others although regardless of the country you will always read ‘horror stories’ online.
So make sure you protect yourself against theft and accidental damage abroad with comprehensive insurance for your gadgets.
In my case this was already included on my homes content insurance so check your existing policy as you might already be covered!
If not it’s usually only a couple of dollars a month to add to your existing premium.
Anti-Theft / Location Tracking
I use the PreyProject to track all of my devices.
I have it installed on my laptop, home computer and phone.
If I ever lose a device I can track its location, set off an alarm, view its camera, watch what they are doing, erase it remotely, lock it with a password and so forth.
You can activate any of this instantly via the website control panel or by sending your phone a text message.
Not had to use it yet though!
You’re also going to need a few odds and sods to make sure you’re prepared for every possible situation.
If you prepare for the worst, then the worst can never happen right!?
When I went to Snowbombing I had Wi-Fi and could stream films, but I didn’t have a HDMI cable to bring it to the big screen in the room /doh!
Portable Speaker – X-Mini 2
This is the most important peripheral you need. Music gets me through the working day!
So having a decent portable speaker was critical. In the corporate world I was demonstrated the XMI X-Mini speakers which produce an unbelievably rich and deep sound for their size.
They are lightweight, charge via USB and last for around 8-10 hours. Zing!
You really need to hear these for yourself to fully appreciate them!
Avoid the cheap clone knock offs they are no way near as good, trust me I tried 😛
This one probably goes without saying but having a worldwide compatible travel adaptor is pretty important.
I chose to get one that provided both a plug socket and a USB socket to keep all my bases covered!
Plug Socket > USB Adaptor
Even though my travel adaptor has a USB socket I also decided to get a plug socket > USB adaptor.
I haven’t actually used it yet but I’m sure a time will come when having access to 2x USB power sockets will save my skin!
Retractable Network Cable
It might sound stupid but you’ll be surprised how this has helped when Wi-Fi wasn’t working or available.
At Fort Worth airport in Dallas, Texas it costs cold hard cash to use the Wi-Fi.
However there are loads of stations that allow you to use the internet for free and charge your devices, if you have a network cable that is.
See my bag in that picture? Everything I need to work and live anywhere in the world right there!
Retractable Micro USB / Mini USB / Apple Cable
This is the coolest cable in my whole setup – did I just say that? Never getting laid again.
Anyway this little beauty (d*** it) gives me 3 plugs in one and covers a lot of bases from my phone to my camera.
To be honest you need one of these even if you’re not working on the road.
Retractable HDMI Cable
Ok so let me explain the retractable obsession. This is just cable management on steroids and when you have a bag full of cables it’s a pain to untangle them.
So any cables you get; make sure they are retractable – it just saves a lot of hassle!
A retractable HDMI cable is always handy and allows you to hook up to most TV’s in hotels or projectors if needed.
I always like to have 3 memory cards for my camera at hand. I never ever come close to filling one up, never mind 3 but there is method in the madness.
I have 1 in the camera at all times, 1 in my wallet and 1 where I’m staying.
Half way through the day I swap the memory card from my camera with the one in my wallet. That means if I ever lose my wallet or my camera I only ever lose half the days pictures.
At the end of every day I copy the pictures from the camera, to the laptop which automatically get backed up to the cloud.
The 3rd memory card is a just in case spare – they are easily lost/misplaced so it’s good to have a backup at the ready!
USB Flash Drive
I carry a 32GB USB flash drive with me for the ride as well – this is just an empty drive that serves no specific purpose other than ‘just in case’
This saved my skin in Costa Rica when I needed to quickly transfer files from a client’s computer to mine when we didn’t have internet access.
The Doomsday Flash Drive
I also carry another 32GB USB flash drive that looks totally different to the other one so I don’t get them mixed up.
This provides a bootable windows environment along with portable versions of all of the applications I need. Follow this guide to create yours.
I haven’t had to use this yet but if worse comes to the worst and I lost my laptop, I could just plug this into any computer and instantly be up and running with everything I need in seconds.
Call me paranoid but I like to have a spare battery for my phone and my camera fully charged and ready to go.
You never know when you’re going to run out of juice, either while you’re out or just before you head out and there is no time to wait for things to charge.
So keep a spare battery charged and ready to go for your camera and phone.
I don’t do the same for my laptop though because of the sheer weight of the battery and I can access everything through my phone anyway thanks to living in the cloud ^^
Often while you are working on the road you have to use public Wi-Fi to gain access to the web.
The problem is this is not very secure at all – with nothing more than a rooted android phone it is possible to sniff out logins for a range of websites.
The bottom line is if you ever use public Wi-Fi to do anything you are at risk of having your accounts hijacked, its not even that hard to do.
So to get around that I make sure I use a VPN connection from these guys.
This encrypts all of my data/traffic so no one can listen in! This also works with my phone.
You can also use it to quickly change your location online to test things like ad targeting or searching Google from other countries in one click etc.
The one thing I hate more than anything with laptops is the touch pad to control the mouse.
Things just take longer to do with that thing than they would if you had a decent portable mouse!
I went with the Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 which is compact, lightweight and has all of the buttons I need.
There is no need to carry a separate receiver as my laptop has Bluetooth support.
Other Travel Essentials
That’s pretty much all of the techy side covered – with all of that in hand you can deal with most problems quickly and easily.
But what else might you need?
In general credit cards are better for spending on abroad as they offer the lowest rates and charges when compared to debit cards, unless your withdrawing cash.
So find out which credit card has the best rates for spending on abroad and get one – just don’t spend more than you can afford to pay back!
You also want to find a debit card that offers good rates on cash withdrawals.
When you go out always leave one at your hotel or wherever you’re staying so if your wallet is lost/stolen you can instantly hire a hitman to get it back for you ^^
I know we already discussed gadget insurance but you’ll also want to consider travel insurance as well.
This protects you against a bunch of stuff including injuries, illness, cancelled flights, companies going bust or if you need to cancel for any reason and so forth.
I have an annual travel insurance policy that keeps me protected everywhere I go all year long.
Be sure to do your research though as some have significantly better payout rates than others – you get what you pay for in that respect.
There We Have It!
You should now have everything you need to work and blog on the road without a hitch!