Jarrett and I recently embarked on our first ever Cross Canada Road Trip as a couple, driving my mother’s car across the country from Victoria, BC to Halifax, NS, where she is moving to be closer to us [We have been living independently and far from both of our families for a while now, so this next chapter is an exciting one!].
Jarrett and I are both freelancers, so we were able to pick up for 14 days in August and navigate our way through the mountains of BC, the wide open prairies, and then the beauty that is northern Ontario and beyond. And by navigate, I not only mean navigate through the geography, but also through work, and through life. It was an amazing, decision-affirming trip, in more ways than one.
As in life, we learned some lessons on the way home to Halifax.
If you are working remotely or location independently, and are ready to venture out on the road, here are some lesson’s learned, from us to you!
- Batching your tasks saves you hours of wasted time while trying to enjoy the scenery. We experienced car trouble in Rossland, BC and were waylaid for four days. Thankfully we had friends in town who were kind enough to take us in, and it gave us an opportunity to plan out the rest of our trip. I successfully scheduled 2 weeks worth of content on my Facebook Business Page, which kept folks engaged throughout my travels, and allowed me to check out for a time. Same with email. I checked once per day first thing in the morning and then put my phone down so I could see where I was.
- Buy some extra data or update your phone plan so when you need to work, you can. I paid for an extra date package to make sure I was covered for the trip, and this meant I could check in when I needed, and not be worried about finding a solid internet connection, which was sometimes lacking.
- Call in advance and find out about the quality of the internet connection in the place where you plan to work. One of my pet peeves while travelling is setting up shop in a cute cafe, and then having the internet be terrible. Worst! On the days we planned to work, we made sure to call ahead to various cafe’s to make sure the internet was solid, and gave them a heads up that we were going to park ourselves there for a few hours.
- Choose your work days, and treat them as such. Same goes for your non work days. We realized that working 1-2 hours off and on per day was way less enjoyable than parking in one spot and getting some serious work done, thus allowing ourselves the pleasure of NOT working the following day.
- Find fun and inspiring places to work – it makes all the difference in terms of productivity and work love. Bonus points for finding a place that serves some great food and drinks, and has a fun vibe. Our favourite spot on this particular trip was the Broken Paddle Coffee Roastery and Kitchen, in Kenora, ON.
- If you are on a long haul drive, try to have a majority of shorter 3-4 hour, early morning driving days that are followed by one long 8-10 hour travel day. This way you can enjoy your afternoons in your various destinations. This is a lesson we learned the hard way. We averaged 8 hours per day, mostly because we had a deadline due to Jarrett’s work schedule. In hindsight we should have taken an extra week, extended the trip, enjoyed more time in more places, and incorporated more working days into our working vacation.
- Think about the activities you want to experience, rather than each destination itself. This was an amazing trip for various reasons, but I do wish I had spent a little more time thinking about the activities I wanted to experience in each location, and then tried to book things a few days out. White water rafting in Ottawa, for one! It’s on our list for next time!
- Manage your expectations and don’t go too crazy with the planning. In direct contradiction of #7, I recommend planning one fun things per day, and then leaving the rest wide open. I’ve been known to be a mega planner. This trip was completely different because I literally didn’t plan a thing until the day of or day before we reached each new destination. I had an amazing time because I had literally no expectations of how each day would turn out! Not over planning also allowed us to pivot as need be, with ease, especially if urgent work items came up and we needed to stop and get some things done.
- Set work goals and identify tasks and the timing of such tasks (plus any deadlines) in advance. Identify calls, bigger projects that require large chunks of time to complete, and try to set weekly and daily goals for work, and then plan your travel days around the deadlines and daily work volume. For example, don’t plan for an 8 day driving day on the same day you actually need to make a deadline!
- Try to avoid rushed, shorter trips, and attempt to take 3-4 weeks at a time. You don’t want to rush through your work-cation. Life is an adventure and if you can make your time work for you, then do it. See more, do more, work more.
All in all, this was a fantastic foray into longer term travel and work. Both Jarrett and I had some major realizations about how we live and what we want for our future. Just taking 14 days outside off our normal routine was enough to get us thinking about what adventures will come in the next 6 months!
I’m sure you have an adventure in the back of your mind, that you’ve been putting off for years because work got in the way. Not enough vacation days left, too much unpaid time etc. If you need some inspiration about how to work differently, in a way that might help you go on that adventure, check out Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week.
A Three Day work week would be completely fine with me, and this book helped me clarify not only the tangible steps to take and tools to use, but also the philosophical reasoning why we all have so much trouble living alternatively to the socially acceptable version of success.
More thoughts on this later.