Ahoy, remote workers! Who hasn’t dreamed of taking a cruise and maybe getting a little work done along the way? Or perhaps you’re one of those intrepid souls who has taken off on a round-the-world voyage with your family, blogging as you go.
Here are some tips to ensure you’re covered when working remotely at sea—from managing time zone differences, to spotty Wi-Fi connections, to courtesies when working around other travelers and locals.
1. Review your schedule before departing.
Putting some effort into advance planning will make your entire trip more enjoyable. If you’re independently setting sail, plot a course that takes into account your availability and restfulness for any important meetings or presentations. If you’re heading out on a commercial cruise, note the timeframes for touring at each stop and check out area locations that could offer a solid Internet connection (larger hotel lobbies are generally a good option). Inclement weather can wreak havoc on even the best-laid plans, so managing teammate and client expectations ahead of time will be key.
2. Always have a technical plan B.
Sure, the ship promises excellent Wi-Fi access throughout your journey, and you’ve already mapped out places with free Internet in your ports-of-call. Logging into your project dashboard with an umbrella drink in hand will be a breeze! (Cue the record needle scratch.) Expect it all to fail, likely when you need it most, and you won’t be gravely disappointed or experience major setbacks. Explore wireless hotspot options as well as your mobile phone’s roaming services for tethering before you leave, and you’ll have smooth sailing when it comes to getting and staying connected.
3. Pay attention to other travelers.
While this cruise might be just another fun workation notch in your digital nomad belt, for others, it just may be the long-awaited trip of a lifetime. So try not to sour the experience for fellow travelers who’ve taken a break from their professional lives: don’t take work calls in lounges designed for leisure or on deck where others gather to relax or admire the views. Be aware of your volume level even below deck in your cabin room, and if you find a spot where other workers seem to be congregating on board, by all means, join them. When you can afford the private yacht, you can be that always-on businessperson—but that day is not today.
4. Be respectful of the local culture.
You’ve landed in an exotic, unfamiliar place. Why is your first instinct to crack open your laptop in a well-lit, quiet location with Wi-Fi and find a working power outlet? Unless you’ve disembarked in a major metropolitan area or capital city, you might not only be out of luck on finding the above, but your actions could be seriously out of sync with the local way of life. This can involve a variety of cultural norms, ranging from preferred noise levels in shared spaces to standard business hours for cafes and small businesses.
5. Don’t forget to have fun!
This deserves to be added as a best practice, as so often the focus on traveling while working becomes unnecessarily skewed by the work part. It’s okay to leave your laptop behind, taking opportunities to hike, swim, explore, and savor the new sights of each destination. These magical moments that require your presence and attention in order to be fully appreciated aren’t going to compete well with a tab-filled browser or a pinging cell phone. Remember: just because you can work from anywhere doesn’t mean you should.
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