Last ten weeks I enjoyed coffee in nine cities, visited sixteen companies, met five members of Happy Melly team and had both very productive and very unproductive days. I learned accordingly and created a list of rules which might help you to travel around Europe and work at the same time.
0. Enjoy the ride
Enjoy every day.
If you feel miserable, lonely, tired then take a break from work, go and visit your family or friends and come back.
Never think Next week will be better. You don’t know what next week will bring to you. Learn to find small good things every day. They make your journey terrific.
1. Select places to stay carefully
I prefer to use AirBnB. Renting a room or an apartment is cheaper than hotel and much more comfortable if you stay for more than four days. However finding a good place requires some experience.
Do not try to save too much money on renting. Badly selected room or apartment with unstable wifi and no work desk could easily ruin your week and bring a huge amount of frustration.
Before renting a place it’s better to ask an owner if you could watch YouTube videos of good quality with it. It doesn’t give you 100% guarantee of stable connection but at least you will have a moral right to leave a bad review.
Try to find a place at least 2-4 weeks before your arrival. You’ll have more options to choose from. Besides that finding a place on AirBnB takes time. Some owners rent their apartments through several services and its availability on AirBnB doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get it.
Don’t forget to research where city centre is and how far a place of your choice from your meeting points. If you need spend more than 30 minutes to get there by public transport, it may be a good idea to consider other options.
2. Keep your working habits
Being in a new place doesn’t make you a new person. If something doesn’t work for you now, the chance it will work for you while travelling is very low.
If you have never been productive working in a cafe or a co-working space, plan to work from home. If you like to have a nap after lunch, plan to be at place where it’s possible.
Your weekly routine will be completely disrupted. If you want to make some work done try to preserve as much as possible of it.
3. Increase your slack time
Some days will be unproductive. There’ll be bright sun outside, a new charming city or a hangover after a party the day before. Just accept it and start enjoying these moments.
To absorb new experience increase your slack time for at least 15-20%. Otherwise you find yourself in a situation with too many unfinished commitments.
Your journey might be either very enjoyable or very stressful. It’s up to you to decide what you prefer.
4. Define per-city budget
If you plan to move from one city to another define a budget for each city and track your expenses. I use a simple Google sheet for it with several categories. With predefined budget it’s way easier to decide if a thing is expensive or not.
When you choose an amount you are ready to spend for a city subtract 10-20% from it and set the new amount as a budget. These 10-20% will be your safe net and let you feel comfortable even when your expenses are higher than expected.
And yes, stay away from pubs in Scandinavia!
5. Always keep some cash
Some countries are more card-friendly, some are less. For example, in Germany the only place that always accepts your MasterCard or Visa is ATM. And I fear always is too bold statement.
The last situation you want to find yourself in is another side of a city in the middle of a night with no cash to pay for a bus or a taxi.
6. Limit number of meetings per week
Meetings are time and energy consuming. After each visit to a company I need at least several hours to recuperate.
When I was in Hamburg I had four companies to visit and three additional meetings in six days. After that craziness I spent two days just lying on a sofa, sleeping, reading and doing nothing.
Two visits and two meetings per week are maximum amount of social interaction for me to stay productive. Experiment and find your golden number.
7. Use Google Maps for public transport routes
Public transportation systems differ from city to city. You’ll need at least two days to adapt to a new one, especially if a city is large one. Google Maps helps you to build a route to any point, shows you a number of stops and what platform to take.
It is the most useful application on my smartphone.
8. Take care of your friends and family
Being far away from your family and friends doesn’t mean you should talk less with them. It’s the opposite. Their support, comments, laughing faces and kisses will help you to remember you’re not alone.
I flew over to Croatia to spend three days with my family and tomorrow I fly for three days to Saint-Petersburg to my friend’s wedding. I ordered some car part from a German shop and sent it to Russia. I spent several hours shopping — I hate shopping — to buy a couple of items requested by my friends. Their emotions and feelings are worth all money and efforts.
Grab any chance to help your family and friends or to meet with them. Even if you think it’s too expensive. Money come and go, relationships stay forever.
9. Have warm socks
Douglas Adams showed us that towel is the most important thing to have for galaxy travellers. If you travel in Europe in spring replace a towel with warm socks.
Heating in many houses is already switched off but buildings are not warm enough yet. Especially floors. It’s no brainer to catch a nasty cold.
In my case there is one more reason. My thinking abilities are linearly correlated with temperature of my feet. Lower the temperature, more stupid I am. Keeping my feet warm is another trick to stay productive.