Working and Traveling At The Same Time - Our Location Independent Offices

Starbucks in Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Working and travelling at the same time is not for everyone. We know this too well. When we first discussed the possibility of "location independence" we were both very scared. Our knowledge of how to work remotely was so limited "location independence" sounded totally unachievable.

And now, three months or so into our travels, we can certainly say we are location independent. Thank goodness for the Internet, podcasts and other people who have wondered how they can escape their 9-5 jobs and did it.  The knowledge we gained through reading, listening, asking questions and learning from our own mistakes has got us to the position we are in today.

Our Office in Langkawi, Malaysia

Our "normal" schedule, I say "normal" as our schedule is "normal" for us, is get up, perhaps a swim in the ocean or a pool, have breakfast, work for two hours, have lunch, perhaps another swim, work another two hours, then have the rest of the afternoon and the evening to do touristy stuff.

Yes, it is still a full day. The difference is that we are in a location of our choosing. We get to see and experience new things when we are not working. If we get bored we can relocate to anywhere else that takes our fancy. Compare this to a regular working day at home. Get up, have breakfast, go to work, sit at the same desk all day, maybe go to the gym after work, come home, watch tv, go to bed, Monday through Friday. And that is a good day, you went to the gym, somewhere other than work or home!

Who could resist looking out at a view like this when working remotely, Koh Phangan, Thailand

Being location independent when travelling certainly isn't for everyone. It is a hard skill to master and it is something that we are both still working at. We do however have two tips for people considering it:

Have a schedule

We have found that we still need a schedule. Without one we can easily get distracted and miss an entire day of work. You go to a museum in the morning and think "I'll work this afternoon." Then some people you met at the guest house are heading to the beach and you think "ok, I'll work tonight." Then someone tells you about a bar running some amazing drinks specials, tonight only... Your schedule can be flexible and change with your circumstances but set a schedule then stick to it.

Figure out what helps you concentrate

You'll notice that Andrew is wearing headphones in many of the photographs in this post. Andrew has always worn some sort of headphones while working, even when working in a quiet office. As well as helping shut out distracting background noise they are a subconscious prompt that now it is time to concentrate. Is there anything from your office that you can bring with you to put you into work mode?

With a sturdy Internet connection, we can work from anywhere in the world. The world is our office.

Working location independently from a couch in Penang, Malaysia

Drinking Beer whilst working location independently in Langkawi, Malaysia

Our Garden Courtyard Office in Penang, Malaysia




MTB Where We Have Stayed Advert



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5 comments

  1. Helen 20 January, 2012 at 14:22 Reply

    Hi guys, love the office styles. Puts a whole new meaning into the words ‘open plan’. Loving every one of your articles. Lotsa love Mum/Mil xx

  2. John Hunter 22 January, 2012 at 15:44 Reply

    Thanks. I have a few questions that you could be thinking about answering in future posts.

    I would love to know how you get internet access in each location. Often broadband requires a year contract… Also specifically how you find housing (maybe you look for housing that has it provided?). And how do you deal with visa issues. And finally what kind of business structure you have? Do you have a business registered somewhere? Where?

    • Andrew 22 January, 2012 at 18:07 Reply

      Hi John. We’ll answer these questions more fully in a future post.

      Just quickly though, in Malaysia and Thailand at least an Internet connection almost always comes with your accommodation. Pretty much every hotel, guest house, serviced apartment building or whatever has wifi set up.

      When going somewhere new we typically arrange two nights accommodation via trip advisor or agoda. We spent that time looking around for something better and cheaper. There’s lots of places not listed anywhere on the net that are nice enough and much cheaper if you put the leg work in.

      Visas need to be dealt with country by country but they are always a headache. Getting to know some others living there can be an easy way to get information on the least painful way forward.

      We’re both Australian and all of our financial stuff happens there. In Australia its easy to get set up as a sole trader or with a company. Speak to an accountant :)

  3. Federico 4 June, 2012 at 04:20 Reply

    “We’re both Australian and all of our financial stuff happens there. ”

    Right, but believe it or not, in some countries you are not allowed to work without a work visa, even if your work is over the internet for people who aren’t even in the country, and even if the payment transactions all occur outside the country as well. The laws weren’t designed with your job situation in mind, and they are written very broadly in some places, which seems to make “location-independent” work illegal, depending on where you live and what visa you get. I’m not saying you’ll get caught, of course. But I personally prefer (strongly) to do things legally, if possible. Any thoughts?

    • Andrew 4 June, 2012 at 18:30 Reply

      Thanks for reading :) Staying on the right side of the law is certainly preferable. Do you have any links to information about which countries you mean? That would be of interest to us and a great many other people I’m sure.

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