Man, Laptop And World: How To Travel Efficiently
From A Laptop In Thailand…

Man, Laptop And World: How To Travel Efficiently

Over the last seven months, I feel like I’ve spent more time logging in to hotel Wifi systems than I have in my own office. When you make the decision to travel, whilst working on the move, efficiency becomes a major issue. How can you get the most out of your time, while severing many of those hours in pursuit of greater thrills?

I recommend travelling to anybody who has the chance. If your business is self-managed, it makes little sense to constrain your time and freedom to a single city, especially if you already know that city inside out. Many people cite the influence of outside factors for not being able to travel.

“The wife won’t let me…”
“The kids are too much work…”
“I’m tied in to a rental contract…”

Admittedly, those with less ties than myself have more problems to solve before they can take off around the world, but none of the factors are hammer blows to the idea. They just take a greater leap of faith and/or commitment to overcome.

If you’re stuck between indecision and lack of information, here are a few pointers I’ve picked up along the way:

1. Travel as lightly as possible.

If you are a notorious hoarder of junk, traveling is an excellent excuse to throw out the crap that’s being cluttering your garage for so long. When I moved to Thailand, I completely overestimated how many clothes I would need, and indeed what type of clothes I would need. Sticky heat-trapping shirts barely cool enough for the English winter? Definitely not going to be needed in Bangkok. Did I bring them anyway? Of course I did.

It’s tempting to fit a lifetime’s accumulation of crap in to your suitcase, but ask yourself one question. Is this so important that I can’t buy a replacement while I’m away? The answer to most items will be no. Traveling light makes moving around much easier, not to mention saving you many many pesos in excess baggage charges.

2. Hotel Wifi has a recurring tendency to suck balls.

I’ve learnt that if I don’t do research beforehand, fate will typically conspire to hand me a shitty hotel Internet connection. Working from a laptop instead of a dual screen Mac took some adjusting. Working from a laptop on 56K dial-up speeds merited a full blooded sucker punch to the balls. If you’re staying in a hotel, make sure the Wifi is good and included free of charge. Or risk paying £30 for a few hours of patchy usage at somewhere like Novotel Rim Pae. Screw you, Novotel.

3. Don’t stay in flash, rich, luxurious hotels.

Wifi is worth investing in if you’re running a business from your laptop. But I’ve never understood the craze behind booking hotels for $500/night. Ultimately, a bed is a bed. Unless you plan on doing something other than sleeping in it, why pay through the nose for something that rarely gives you a true taste of the place you’re visiting? Overpaying is considered by many to be a macho display of ballin’. Invariably, traveling with set requirements of the pampered existence you need to get to sleep at night defeats the bloody purpose of traveling at all.

4. Learn the language.

My biggest regret as I move on from Thailand. It’s difficult to truly appreciate a culture if the standard conversation leaves you scratching your head and whipping up Rosetta Stone on the smartphone. Learning a few basic phrases is a must, while learning conversational basics will give you a much better understanding of what’s happening around you. Not to mention, a whole new world of local prices become accessible once you display a better grasp of the native vocab than a regular tourist.

5. Dropbox.

Dropbox is the new rage. Okay, to most people, it’s yesterday’s new rage. I was slow to jump on the bandwagon, but I’m glad that I did. By using Dropbox, you can afford to pull a Tim Ferriss. Sod off the face of the Earth completely, leave your laptop behind and restrict work to bursts of activity in an Internet Cafe just outside the Angolan Jungle. Dropbox gives you access to your important files anywhere, synchronizing them across devices and affording you the title of Digital Nomad.

6. Use time differences to your advantage.

Initially, I was concerned about the time difference when I first moved to Asia. Companies and reps based in the UK, Canada and America would still be asleep while I was busy with work. What if I needed to talk to them? It didn’t take long for me to figure that this was a great blessing in disguise. Zero distractions and zero interruptions. By the time those in America had woken up and replied to my emails, I would be happily relaxing and unwinding in the sun.

7. Have back-up support in place.

When you’re traveling, even with laptop in tow, it brings peace of mind to have somebody ready and waiting to act on any emergencies. I hired a Virtual Assistant from EasyOutsource.com, which is by far my favourite place to recruit cheap but talented labour.

You can have all your mundane tasks handled by a full-time VA for as little as $250/month, although I would recommend you invest a little more for quality’s sake. It’s also better to hire a combined workforce rather than a single employee. An individual is just as prone to “sick days” at inconvenient times as you were back in the day job. Hiring a team removes this worry.

8. Reduce any unwanted papermail before leaving.

In the UK, I use the Royal Mail’s redirection service to have my post sent to family while I’m away. If it’s important, I’ll have them send it on for me. This costs £8/month for domestic redirection and up to £30/month to have mail routed overseas. It’s a good idea to deselect paper statements from your online credit and store card accounts. Who needs to be reminded of yesterday’s vanity purchases, anyway?

For tax purposes, I have any important documents from HRMC sent to my Thai based address. This is easy to do by updating your current profile after receiving the Government Gateway ID. For everything else, I don’t stress. If it’s important, I’m sure the sender will find a better way of contacting me.

9. Tell your bank and credit card issuers where you’re traveling.

Very important and the source of much frustration while I’ve been attempting to use ATMs overseas. Fraud detectors are sent in to a frenzy if you withdraw £500 from a Cambodian street market. Your bank will routinely cancel payments and refuse to process ATM withdrawals if you don’t make it clear over the phone that you will be traveling to a particular region on a certain date.

For this reason alone, I chose to open an HSBC Advance account before moving to Asia. They have a strong presence abroad and it’s reassuring to be able to walk in to a branch that knows your name if you have any problems.

Recommended This Week:

  • If you’re not already registered on PPV Playbook, you are missing a beat sunshine. Easily the BEST place to learn from marketers who are actually making money. It has some awesome case studies. The catch is that you will need to pay some of your hard earned pesos to access it. I swear from the bottom of my black heart, joining is worth every penny

  • Help a virginal Finch. Subscribe to my new FinchSells RSS feed. And if you don’t already follow me, add FinchSells to your Twitter.

From A Laptop In Thailand…

Many Internet Marketers dream of leaving the concrete jungle to go about their work with laptops on sandy beaches. It’s the stuff those work from home jpegs are made of, right? Having stomached the first half of a bitter London winter, I would be lying if I said I haven’t been itching at the balls to fly out here to Thailand and kickstart my new life of luxury.

Even though I’ve only been in Bangkok for a week, it’s already clear to me that the quality of life is worlds apart from what I’ve known in the past. The people are friendly. They call Thailand the Land of Smiles, while my old neighbourhood was more like the Ensemble of Chavs. The food gets better seemingly every day, and my taste buds are on fire. Literally. Somebody should have warned me how the Thais love to douse meals in chilies. Of course, the weather here is bliss too.

I’ve waited a long time to live like a nomad. The biggest challenge now is to remain focused on my work while the sun is beating through my window. And if the last six days have been anything to go by, that’s something easier said than done.

I’ve always believed that your environment plays a big hand in your ability to achieve your targets. If you can’t turn your head away from the television, you’re going to miss tomorrow’s moneymaking niche. If your wife is trampling around your office telling you to do the dishes, you probably don’t want to be scouring through female dating pics.

To put it simply, your working environment dictates what you’re able to accomplish. Nothing affects an attention span quite as harmfully as a poor working environment.

I consider myself lucky to have found initial success as a young guy in my 20s, without any kids, without any mortgage and with relatively few responsibilities. It gave me the freedom of locking myself away in my bedroom and sitting at a desk throwing shit at the wall until some of it stuck. Many of you do not have that luxury.

Whether you’re working in Thailand or England, in a home office or at the kitchen table – you need to be able to cancel out the distractions of everyday life fucking with you. I’ve only just noticed since flying out to Asia how badly television can affect my productivity. How eating out can zap monumental hours out of my day. I’m still searching for a balance between work and play. And no, the equation doesn’t involve ladyboys.

Once you find a situation that allows you to focus properly, it’s easy to find a rhythm where to-do lists become yesterday’s waste in the litter basket. It’s what we call the grind. But it’s damn near impossible to slip in to that grind at the snap of your fingertips. We can become ruled all too easily by the environment around us.

So much of the success we enjoy as marketers is carved through momentum. I believe in the theory of 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration being the blueprint to success. Momentum is everything. If you don’t have an online/offline switch helping you to gravitate between work times and social times, it’s your work that will suffer the most. And probably your friends too when you explode with anger through the stress of knowing you’re not working efficiently and haven’t earnt your ticket out of the office.

There’s nothing I find more frustrating than being frustrated with myself.

I’ve become so tuned in to my former working environment that it’s truly a bitch to get my head down and work in a different climate. When I looked out of my window in London, I would see a stretch of grassy nowhereland and maybe – on a busy day – some dude being dragged along by his dog. When I look out of my apartment in Bangkok, I see a city waiting to be explored. The low hanging fruits of my work over the last few years, ready to be plucked and enjoyed.

How do you stay motivated when everything you’ve worked for is sitting on your doorstep?

I’m treating this first week as a holiday that I’ve earnt. Nobody can travel halfway round the world and expect to snap in to a working routine. So much of my success as an affiliate marketer has come from an almost robotic tendency to stay rooted to one spot and churn out profitable campaigns. It was the by-product of a mundane working environment, but a very effective one.

To get the best out of myself, I need to be in an situation where I have complete focus and concentration. As much as I enjoy working on laptops in the sun, a quiet office where I can shut myself away from the world is just the tonic I need to get by. Maybe it’s the snobbery of a guy who swears by his dual screen, but I’m finding it pretty difficult to function without seventeen windows at my disposal.

Laptops are suitable, I guess, if your entire job involves sending emails. Anything more and I need my Mac. Unfortunately it’s still in transit and my productivity has gone down the shitter ever since. I don’t like having to use my finger as a mouse and I’m acting quite grouchy at the idea of having to work out of my established comfort zone. It all comes down to that environment.

If you’re working from home, you need to become a master of your own work space. Maybe the ultimate goal is to one day pack up your bags and migrate to warmer shores. But even when you’re there, there’s no such thing as retirement for an entrepreneur. Understanding how to get the most out of your working day, and how to control your environment effectively, is a prerequisite to success.

So while I’m sitting here pissing around with a shoddy baby laptop and a failing Internet connection, take a look around the room and see how you can channel some extra focus towards your work. Maybe it’s a television that needs to be switched off, or a little white noise to cancel out the cars from the street below. Maybe you should throw your kids over the balcony. Anything to focus your energies where they need to be. Actually please don’t throw your kids over the balcony. Or at least close this window before you act on impulse.

There’s always a way to control your environment. But you can be certain that most of your competition are chained to their own. Working harder and smarter than the rest, with more discipline and more drive, will nearly always get you results. The problem I’m finding, is how I can maintain that level of focus with the allure of Thailand shining through my window…

Recommended This Week:

  • If you haven’t read it from front to back already, snap up a copy of the brilliant 4-hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. Inspiring stuff for any affiliate marketer.

  • If you’re looking to explore some very different but potentially very profitable micro-niches, take a look at ShareASale. It’s like a CJ that isn’t run by a bag of dicks.

  • Feel free to add Finch to your Facebook. Yes, this is the right link. My real name is not actually Finch. Also follow me on Twitter

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