5 Steps to Balancing Travel and Work

If you check my facebook and blog it looks like I've just been traveling for these past few weeks and not working at all, but in reality, I've been doing both.  Here are my six steps to perfectly balancing work and play to maximize both profit and productivity.

I  truly believe that mixing up hard productive work with taking breaks and doing nothing is the best way to get ahead.

Frank Herbert

Step 1:  Head Down Preparation

In the weeks or months before you want to travel, just put your head down and get to work.  Most people daydream about their upcoming trip, spend all day doing research or visiting forums.  Don't. Book your flights, the first few nights of hotel, and figure the rest out along the way.  Use your time to build your business so you'll have enough money to do whatever you want once you get there instead.

Also use this time to get any priority work aside so when you do travel you'll be able to go in maintenance mode and just answer emails on your schedule instead of actively working and building.

Definition: Maintenance mode refers to a point in a program's life when it has reached all of its goals and is generally considered to be "complete" and bug-free.

*See bottom of this post for "how to build a passive business"

Having a Sunday beer in Prague

Step 2: Take Mini-Vacations + No Laptop Sundays

As tempting as it is to work as much as you can, humans need breaks.  It's easy to work 10 days straight, but then after that you might be burnt out for weeks.  Its better to work smart and keep your brain and body working strong than to try to overwork yourself.

One day a week, preferably sundays, don't open your computer at all, not even facebook.  Then once a month, take an entire weekend off and go somewhere.  It can be somewhere close by, a hike, camping, whatever you want, but take both Saturday and Sunday off and rest your brain.

“In matters of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

Step 3: Work Hard, Play Hard

When it's time for your trip, enjoy the crap out of it.  Don't be cheap and skip out on activities because they are out of budget.  If you're in Borneo and want to go dive in the best place on Earth, don't skip it because it costs $250, just do it.  Experiences really are priceless.

"Don't say you're can't afford it, ask yourself, how you can afford it."

As for drinking, enjoy yourself a Beer in Czech Republic, even have a shot of Absinthe but don't waste your vacation being hung over.  Work hard, play hard means waking up early, walking around and seeing everything you want to see in a city, not just the inside of dark pubs.

Step 4: Take Days Off of Vacation By Working During Vacation

It almost doesn't make sense, but the best way not to get burnt out during vacation is actually to take a working day during vacation.  If you're like me, as much fun as it is to see different sights and cities, sometimes it gets too much.  The best way to prevent that is to spend a day between travel and just sit down, get a day pass at a local coworking space and catch up with everything you need to do or just write a blog post, edit photos, or whatever else you want to do.

Working and using your brain productively is the best way to balance input and output.  If all you are doing is receiving input by seeing more sights, hearing more history and finding new places, then you will be off balance.  Spending a day to be creative, write, work or build is the best way to feel fresh again.

At Loffice Coworking in Budapest

Step 5: Brainstorm for the Big Picture
It's really easy to get caught up doing the same thing and putting out fires when you're in your home routine.  Being on vacation and not working lets you think about the big picture and what is truly important for your long term goals.

For me my best ideas come whenever I meet up with friends and take a long trip somewhere, and talk business in the sauna, ice bath, on the train or in a thermal hot spring.  Since we can't actually work during that time, it's easy to come up with ideas and churn through the pros and cons before getting started.  For me, taking 3 week trips every 3 months forces me to have systems in place for whenever I'm gone, and every time I get back, I think up another big picture idea, store or business that takes me a few months to implement but doubles my income before the next trip.

How I manage my businesses when I'm traveling:

First I cut out the 80% of nonsense that isn't necessary.  Things I've cut out include dealing with customers that want big discounts, going out looking for clients, and answering phone calls.  I deleted all products that are worth less than $50 in profit, raised my prices for services and I now have an employee who answers all of my customer service phone calls.

Spend even more time and give even better service to the customers who are willing to pay for it, don't take on clients that don't value your time.

Second automate and streamline everything.  If someone is going to order something from one of my online stores, I don't want them to have to call in or even email before buying.  I want all of the information to be in front of them, and make it easy for them to purchase.

The easiest way to make more money is by making it easier for customers to give you that money.

Business Tip: If you ever see a product that you want to buy, but the ordering process is a pain in the ass, start your own business and make it easier for customers to purchase those items.

For me, I wake up every morning and spend 30 minutes to check email and forward orders to my suppliers.  All of my order receiving is automated so the only thing I actually need to do is take a quick look to see what people bought, where they came from, and forward the order to my supplier.

For the items that say "paid" that means I have seen the order, it all checks out and have forwarded it to my supplier and charged the customer's card.

Items that say "not fulfilled" are still waiting to be sent out by the supplier.

And items that say "paid and fulfilled" means the customer has paid, I've charged their card, the supplier has sent the item, and I have forwarded the customer their tracking number.

It seems a bit confusing at first, but once the store is setup and you have a system and flow, it's actually kind of fun.

“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.” ― J.M. Barrie

Office of the day in Berlin

Done with work by 10am

That's it.  While traveling, it doesn't make sense to work all day so make sure you're done by 10am with the exception of days you want a physical and mental break from the action.  You've worked hard these past three months to build your business, automate the income and hire employees for customer service. Now go out there and enjoy the sights.

View from the top of Berlin at 10am

More Resources:

If you haven't yet started a location independent online business:  Start Here.
Want to hear how other entrepreneurs manage to work and travel:  Listen Here.

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Post a Comment

  1. Johnny,

    What are the steps you took to create your habits?

  2. Great post as always Johnny!

    I think it's the second or third time I see you mentioning your employee who handles your customer service calls.
    Would you please share more about this? is he/she an american? how did you find him/her? what are his/her responsibilities? how much does this service roughly cost you?
    I would love to hear more about this topic..

  3. Hey Or, she's American and only costs me less than $200 a month. Anton talks about how to hire phone support from the states in his course and a lot of people talk about ways they did it in the member forums so I just followed along. But you can try oDesk as the easiest place to start.

  4. Mainly a lot of trial and error, which is why I like sharing it publicly, hoping that it'll make it easier for others to get started.

  5. great post Johnny! I just quit my job and started online marketing/SEO at home. I wanna start my own blog about travel BIG TIME! :)

  6. I think you can hire someone on or odesk,com like most people do. You will find lotsa good English speakers overseas who can be your virtual assistant for a cheaper rate

  7. Awesome post! I sent you a message via Facebook if you have a moment.. I'm eager to get going but trying not to be impatient ;-)

  8. What was your daily schedule like when you started? I'm saving money for Anton's course. Are there additional costs?

  9. I worked a lot when I first got started with - My daily schedule was wake up at 7am, go to a co-working space or a coffee shop and work until 4pm everyday taking an hour lunch. I worked Monday-Sat with Sundays off. Did that for about 2 months before sales started coming in.

    Additional costs are $26 a month for Shopify (if you use my 20% off discount link in the resources page) and maybe another $100 total in misc. but no other startup costs.

  10. I definitely agree with the taking digital sabbaticals. It's all too easy to run ourselves into the ground, hunched over a laptop for hours on end, not recognizing that we're burning out. I'm certainly guilty of this. Even one day a week not using an electronic device of any kind helps!

  11. Let's make it a priority to take off 1 day a week #digitalsabbatical =) Just don't go online on Sundays to tweet that you're offline.


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