In 2013, I took my business on the road for almost two months while traveling all over Asia. During that trip, several things happened that significantly impacted the way I take care of my businesses when I’m away from my office and home base for longer periods of time. Eventually the things I became aware of during that trip inspired me to write my travel book in The Freedom Project series. If you’re planning any travel that extends beyond a couple of days, some of these things might come as a affect you too.
1. Internet access. Before I left on my Asia trip, several people told me “Wifi is everywhere now.” That statement might be true, however the question is whether the “available” Wifi actually works. Only one-third of the time the wireless internet worked conveniently and right away in the room where we were staying. Another third of the time we were able access the internet after some technical fiddling with connection settings. You can guess that for the remaining times the Wifi simply did not work. Period. Connecting to my online business to do online bookkeeping and invoicing wasn’t as easy as I thought. As a small business owner, sending invoices on time is a key component of getting paid on time. Luckily, calling my virtual assistant to ask her to check my email and deal with some urgent matters for me was a great alternative during those somewhat stressful days in paradise.
2. Receipts. If you’re planning to deduct business travel expenses on your taxes, then you need to save and track your receipts. You need a written record of the expenses and their business purpose. More and more businesses provide receipts on thermal paper: over time the ink fades and smudges with even the slightest exposure to sun or friction. This means that if you shoe-box your wrinkled receipts into a pocket or a compartment in your bag or suitcase before you record your expenses, chances are you’ll be unable to decipher your evidence. I’m not sure what the IRS’s take on this development will be, but I’m glad I had the discipline to record the expenses into my digital shoebox, simply by taking a picture of each receipt using my smartphone and having it human-verified without me lifting a finger.
3. Plastic. The only places where we really had to have cash were a few off the beaten path tourist attractions. We had one Canadian ten-dollar bill with us left over from the previous trip, and apart from that we were able to charge nearly everything to a credit card. When a panhandler tried to hit us up for cash, we were able to say truthfully that we had none. We were putting everything on plastic, sorry!
4. Cell phone coverage. Where population density is low or nonexistent, cell phone coverage is usually likewise absent. A big exception are national parks and other major tourist hotspots.
5. Mail forwarding. This doesn’t affect me personally as much since there’s usually someone at my office to collect the mail, however for those of you working from a home office it’s important to keep an eye on mail delivery when you’re gone for a longer period of time. Piled up mail, even when it’s inside, is often a good indication the house is unoccupied for a longer time. Unlike before, mail forwarding is now mostly centralized and computerized. Previously, individual post offices were in charge of forwarding mail, but now this is handled at the regional or even national level. The post office can put in the request to start or stop mail forwarding, but they have no direct control over the process, and it might take up to 1-2 weeks for request to take effect.
Be prepared for these and other changing conditions while you travel, and you’ll have a better, easier and more prosperous time away from home. If you’re curious to read more about how I go about organizing my travel, get yourself a copy of my book The Freedom Project – Travel, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and finer book retailers worldwide.
The feature photograph for this post is available at Creative Windmill Fine Art Photography.