The Balancing Act of Traveling and Working Abroad

Man standing on a rock near a waterfall

This life abroad feature was written by Ben Pastore 

As a freelance travel writer, it was inevitable that I would experience the life of traveling abroad while working. For me, the intersection of my work and travel interests coincided in 2017 on the fascinating island of Sri Lanka. There, I learned the challenging balancing act as a young professional traveling abroad. I learned how to work effectively to fully enjoy the adventure opportunities of the destination. I will now cover a few of those lessons and how you can benefit from them, regardless of whether or not your digital nomad lifestyle is temporary or permanent.


Set Your Boundaries (& Stick to Them)

If you’ve chosen the life of traveling abroad while working, you’ve already proven to have a sense of adventure, and therein lies the most challenging dilemma a digital nomad has to face. On the one hand, you have work responsibilities, deadlines, and the usual professional pressures. On the other hand, the urge to explore the cities, beaches, and attractions at your destination will be a constant source of temptation. The solution? Set some boundaries and stick to them.

While in Sri Lanka, caught between looming deadlines and the call of the beach right outside my door, I quickly realized that the only way I’d be able to walk the tightrope was to allot my time accordingly and give that particular aspect my full attention. Hard as it was when it was “work” time, I buckled down and got to it, with the upshot being that my non-working hours were filled with opportunities to explore the exotic destination around me. Being able to take a break by strolling along the beach was quite an upgrade from my home office.


There’s No Place Like Home (Base)

While freedom is an essential factor of this lifestyle, there’s something to be said about choosing a ‘home base’ that will allow you to maximize both your productivity and your thirst for adventure.

On my trip, I based myself just north of the capital city of Colombo, where infrastructure and internet service was reliable and reasonably priced. This also served as a convenient base of operations for day trips to the walled city of Galle and the punishing climb up Adam’s Peak. Taking a day off here and there to explore allowed me to accomplish my work and not miss out on the quintessential travel experiences.


Travel Light and Pack Smartly

The term ‘digital’ nomad indicates that your laptop will be an irreplaceable lifeline for carrying out your work. The ‘nomad’ part suggests you also want to move around. As a result, it’s imperative that you evaluate how much to bring with you and how to protect your crucial equipment.

Once again, balance is needed. Packing lightly with interchangeable outfits and layers will give you the most value for your baggage allowance. And since your laptop is arguably the most important thing you’ll bring, it would make sense to invest in a lightweight case and/or backpack, such as the Fury or Meta from tech-centric outfitters Ascentials Pro.


My time traveling while working abroad—though temporary—was equally challenging and exhilarating. But by exercising a little self-discipline when setting boundaries between work and playtime, choosing a suitable base of operations, and bringing and protecting my essential gear, I could walk the fine line between my professional duties and the thrill of exploring the destination I came to see.

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