Being able to travel and work from anywhere no longer has to be a dream. However, whether you plan to freelance, just want to free yourself from spending every day in the office or are planning a new startup in a far away location you are going to need to the right tools.
You are going to need a reliable phone system for your business no matter where you are. Your customers or your employer are going to need to get a hold of you. Choosing a VoIP hosted PBX system is a good option since your phone system resides in the Cloud making it is accessible anywhere you are. You can access your phone system via a browser and you can use any phone number you like including a toll free number. Calls will then just be routed over the internet to you at your location, even if that is halfway across the world. Just be sure you have a reliable internet connection, and a VoIP phone, softphone or smartphone app in order to receive/take calls. While you are traveling and away from an internet connection, you can route your phone calls to your iPhone or Android if you have the correct App. Contact your provider for the App that you will need to install before leaving the States.
Document Storage & Collaboration
Trying to coordinate with your staff, vendors and clients with ridiculously long strings of IMs and emails with large files to constantly download while you are on the road is neither efficient nor practical. At a minimum you should be using Google Docs, Livedrive, or Drop Box to share documents and a project management software like Basecamp to manage projects with a team. Keep your email in the cloud as well so that contacts and email can be shared and so that your communication records are never lost.
Your Computer Gear
Tablets may seem like great toys for showing off at the coffee shop or easier to whip out than a laptop when stuck at the airport but they are hardly a good replacement for the power and storage of a laptop. A great smartphone and a large screened laptop will probably be your best combination of tools. A tablet can make a good back up but they are also going to make you a prime target for being mugged in many places you may be considering traveling to.
Getting stuck in a foreign country where you barely speak the language without any cash is not going to be fun. You should know that currency is extremely tightly controlled in some countries, rendering ATMs unusable. Your credit card companies can also slice your limits at will and don’t be surprised if they freeze your accounts when they see unusual charges from unusual locations. Make sure you carry several different types of cards, contact your credit card companies before you leave, and have online banking and bill pay, as well as the ability to transfer funds set up before you leave.
For those traveling in the U.S. a simple WIFI connection or MIFI device can ensure you are never offline. Some European countries offer similar prepaid or pay-as-you-go devices. However, if you are heading anywhere exotic make sure you research internet options before you go. Not all hotels have WIFI and there may not be many cybercafés nearby for you to access the internet. Similarly you cell phone may not work or you may have to pay high roaming charges. Additionally, if you will be using VoIP for your business phone system, you will need a good reliable cable connection as WIFI is not very reliable with VoIP.
Finding Ways to Save on Travel
If you plan on doing a serious amount of travel you’ll want to get better at locating discounts. Hotwire can be good for car rental, Cheapoair and Spirit for flights and Airbnb for discounted lodging. Also tap into the crowd online via sites like Travbuddy and even using outsourcing platforms like oDesk to get the inside scoop from locals. They’ll help you save on hotels and can even hook you up with inexpensive tour guides and translators.