Traveling and working remotely can be thrilling. But can you have a work-life balance in a remote work lifestyle? Especially when traveling full-time? I provide answers in this article with real-life examples and personal experience.
Let’s get into it!
How Does Remote Working Affect Work-Life Balance?
Remote work can affect work-life balance in a variety of ways. Some people have a difficult time clocking off when working remotely. In contrast, others struggle to focus on work and get distracted easily. And when you add travel into the mix, achieving a work-life balance as a remote worker poses different challenges than someone with a traditional nine-to-five job.
One of my friends, who has a remote work lifestyle, recently returned to her home in the United States after living six months in Kosovo. She reported feeling stuck in a different country, working all day instead of sightseeing and being active. Her reality wasn’t the experience she dreamed of.
Can you relate to her struggle with work-life balance while traveling and working remotely?
It’s easy to have glamorous images in our heads of Instagram-worthy travels while balancing a career. For example, we might set out to work a few hours in the morning from our Airbnb with a fabulous view. Then, live our best lives the rest of the day, frolicking to unique restaurants and relaxing on sunbeds oceanside. But the reality doesn’t always match up with our expectations. A work project may end up taking longer, causing you to stay inside behind your laptop all day. Or it could rain on your beach day. Or perhaps you’re running low on cash flow, so going out to eat isn’t within your budget.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance while location-independent is possible. But it requires intentionality.
What Prevents Work-Life Balance When Working Remotely?
You’ve likely heard the phrase “work-life balance” countless times throughout your career. How this plays out for a remote professional can look different, but the principle is the same. Finding a work-life balance is vital to one’s health, even when you have a dream job.
I can be guilty of too much work and little play. But I’m on a continuous journey, and I think sharing and learning together is important. Finding outlets and ways to decompress from work may seem obvious when traveling to exotic lands, but it’s sometimes easier said than done. Time, budget, health, or resources may factor into finding a balance.
Let’s look at four things that can distort a remote professional’s work-life balance. Along with each, I’ve provided an action step toward finding balance in that area. Remember to adapt these action steps to fit who you are and what makes you happy.
Many remote professionals live location-independent lifestyles and love to travel. But travel can add stress and unforeseen challenges to daily life. For example, you may have flight delays, become ill, or have something stolen. Travel fatigue can directly affect your work-life balance.
If you travel full-time, you might also experience decision fatigue. Constantly planning a route and booking lodging can become exhausting, especially when traveling solo. And when you stay in an unfamiliar city, it takes time to figure out how to get around and where certain shops are located.
ACTION STEP: Plan around your travel days. If you have a full day of travel, don’t schedule work-related tasks on that day. This will likely make your travel days more tolerable, and you’ll be able to handle unforeseen problems with less stress. And advanced planning can lessen decision fatigue.
Working remotely can sometimes lead to loneliness. Long days in front of a computer can take its toll. Be sure to check in with yourself occasionally and see if you need more human interaction.
Travel can help provide opportunities for socialization. But, if you’re an introvert, talking with strangers in a restaurant or at an attraction might not come naturally.
ACTION STEP: One way to help prevent loneliness is to purchase a co-working membership. This is a great way to meet other professionals and develop an additional social circle. There are co-working spaces all over the world. Simply do a Google search in your area to see what’s available.
I was in Lisbon, Portugal, for a few days and checked out one of their co-working spaces. It gave me fast WiFi for the day, and I also met some people and got helpful tips for things to do in the city.
Always Being On
Working outside a traditional nine-to-five can feel like you’re always on. Whether checking emails on your phone during dinner or working into the evening, one can lose track of the line between work and personal time.
Work-life balance in a remote work lifestyle requires discipline and routine. In other words, setting rules for yourself can help you stay on track to get work done. And it provides you opportunities to be off.
ACTION STEP: Bring balance to your work week by scheduling your day even though a traditional office does not bind you. You may also consider implementing a timer. For example, if you plan to work six hours on Monday, set the timer on your phone to ensure you end on time. Once the timer goes off, immediately jump into something that will get your mind off work, such as exercise, preparing a meal, or going out with friends.
Always being on can cause stress to the mind, body, and soul. Consider practicing yoga daily, meditating, or engaging in mindfulness. These are things you can do while traveling as well.
Remote professionals are often in roles that require a lot of sitting. This can cause back pain, neck strain, leg swelling, carpal tunnel, and other ailments. The physical strain can prevent you from enjoying travel and activities.
Eye strain is also a symptom of too much time looking at a computer screen. It can cause headaches, dry eyes, and neck tension. Ensure your screen is 20 to 25 inches away from your eyes to help reduce strain. And consider blue light filter glasses.
ACTION STEP: Schedule walks and stretches throughout the day to keep yourself healthy while working remotely. Using a stand-up desk can also be helpful. If you’re traveling, you could use a kitchen countertop in your rental apartment or hotel lobbies often have high-top tables. The key is to move as much as possible each day.
Add plenty of movement to your travel days as well. It provides physical benefits and mental benefits. On long flights, I get up every hour to stretch my legs. Even a short walk down the aisle helps my circulation.
Need help achieving a work-life balance? I offer lifestyle coaching for professionals embarking on full-time travel.
Achieve a Work-Life Balance
If you struggle with work-life balance while working remotely, I recommend numbering one to three on a piece of paper. Then, write down three action steps you’ll take over the next week to bring a healthy balance back into this area of your life.
Keep practicing until your daily routine leaves room for you to feed your mind, body, and soul.
What have you done that helps you maintain a work-life balance? Share in the comment section below.