Ever since I was in 10th grade I’ve been wanting to spend more than two weeks at a time in a foreign country, whether for a semester abroad or a temporary project. But for a number of reasons, I had to wait about eleven years to make that dream come true. And when I finally made my move, the timing was actually about as bad as it gets. Because founding a startup means taking on a huge responsibility – not just for the success of the company, but for the team as well. But the thought of facing another winter of freezing temperatures forced my hand and made me turn to another old maxim that had motivated me to become an entrepreneur in the first place: If you don’t like it, change it!
So my team and I put our heads together and I decided to leave winter behind and travel to Thailand for three months, armed only with a laptop and a backpack weighing 12 kilos. No cold weather – just beaches, sun, and temperatures in the eighties. Now that was something to look forward to. And I actually managed to make it happen.
Just between us, it takes a lot of discipline not to spend every day on the beach, but to open your laptop and get down to work. Because at the end of the day, that was why I was there. To work. Remotely. Which is no problem these days, praise be.
But there are a lot of things you have to plan in advance and take into account once you get there. I’ll limit myself to three main points here, but know that they don’t even come close to covering all the bases:
- Location and infrastructure
Before you go, research locations that offer you the infrastructure you need for working (coworking spaces, a very good 4G network, etc.). One resource I used was Nomadlist and other forums for the digital nomad scene. So I can say that a lot of the things you’re told are right. I also equipped my old smartphone with a Thai SIM card from True Move that offered 13 GB per month for a few hundred baht. This let me work a bit more flexibly.
- Timeframe and costs
Establish some parameters on how long you want to spend at each place. I recommend planning in month-long intervals. Why? In addition to the fact that you get more than just a snapshot impression of the place, there is the monetary factor. If you book things like apartments and coworking spaces by the month, you can save up to 50 percent. Make sure you include flight and transportation costs in your planning, because the route you choose will have a big impact on the bottom line. Yep, that’s me channeling my inner Scrooge.
- Planning meetings and tasks
Figure out how to adjust your regular meetings to your new time zone before you go. So if our management meeting regularly took place in the evening German time, we moved it to the morning German time. And structure your work around these appointments and always stick to this schedule. I know how hard this can be when it’s eighty degrees outside and what you really want to do is go to the beach. Comfort yourself with the fact that there’s almost always a bit of time left over for the beach.
And you still have the weekend.
Work hard and be disciplined. But have lots of fun, too. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Oh, and by the way – my assumption that the weather would be better in Germany by March was a serious miscalculation. What I’ve learned is to stay abroad longer! Now I’m ready for the winter of 2018-19.
I have so much more I could say and not much left of my word count. So let me know if there are any details you’d still like to hear – you can e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author:
Patrick Luik is the founder and Manging Director of CODE2ORDER, which in 2018 was named winner of one of the most important awards in its industry. In 2016, he became the youngest person in the history of the Reinhold Maier Foundation to be appointed to the board of directors. His particular interests lie in digital business models and the digital nomad lifestyle. Luik has been a CODE_n resident since 2015.