Here it is. A 100% genuine report about what it’s like to work remotely on a surf trip.
In 2016, I spent three warm summer months on a camping site in Moliets, France. Here is what I discovered.
The public perception
In the mysterious interwebs you will find thousands of reports about how awesome it is to travel the world and to work remotely at the same time. You will find an infinite amount of images of human beings laying in hammocks with their laptop placed where it actually belongs – on their lap – while simultaneously raving about how wonderful it is to have the ocean in the background.¹
The very idea in itself is miraculously beautiful and particularly appeals to the hard working people that are seemingly trapped in a nine-to-five job. The desires of limitless freedom, endless flexibility, and working from anywhere in the world is what makes this thought so attractive. Especially when social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat contribute their fair share to this kind of wishful thinking.
We all want a shot at the perfect life after all, right? A fabulous life between constantly perfect waves, many new friends, and an easy going but not too boring job is what we are supposedly missing out on. The reality, however, looks utterly different.
Impacts of your environment
Please don’t get me wrong. In my opinion, working remotely has many advantages that even outweigh the disadvantages. I just want people out there to know that it is not all sunshine and cake. Especially when you are working remotely on a surf trip.
It is quite hard to avoid meeting new, awesome people whenever you are wandering around in our tiny world.² It is always nice to make new friends and through them find new homes all over the world. But…meeting new people is not necessarily good for your working life. When traveling, it can be really hard to find a quiet place to work in silence. Imagine you are trying to sit down and work for six hours straight. But somehow the universe keeps on sending random people over to the place that previously looked so abandoned to you.
“What are you working on there?” – “Are you coming to the beach with us?” – “Have you checked out the waves yet?” – “Are you joining us for dinner tonight?”
The intentions of your fellow human beings may be mostly kindhearted for the most part. That doesn’t interrupt your workflow any less, though.
Then, there are the people that simply want to annoy the sh!# out of you. Think of extremely unfriendly camping site receptionists that stop their golf car at your completely overpriced spot just to demand, in an impolite way, that you remove an innocent, little trash bag. Not only do those mean people hurt the feelings of the trash bag ³, they also shatter someone’s beliefs by destroying the illusion of the saying “the customer is king.”
Working in hammocks
Now back to those POV hammock pics (is someone having dirty thoughts?) from show-offs with man buns – it is so harmful for your back when you are working in an unhealthy position all day long. Ideally, you should lay down and sleep in a hammock, which makes the working part awfully hard. Keep working in that hammock, but do not be surprised if back pain becomes your new best friend in your travels.
Dependence on the internet
The internet is the best thing since sliced bread and the discovery of surfing, as long as you have access to it. However, it can be quite difficult to establish a solid internet connection despite us living in 2017. Of course, you can plan ahead a little bit and make it easier here and there. But, you cannot foresee all circumstances that are going to cross your path. That is actually one of the exciting characteristics of life.
Thus, you may somehow unexpectedly manage to build a connection to the mystical depths of the interwebs when you least expect it, but in some cases you may not be able to do anything because the internet is so slow. Now translate this to the working remotely situation – it takes you ages to get anything done. Even the simplest tasks appear to be as difficult as you or me beating Kelly Slater in a Pipeline match-up. Slow internet keeps nagging at and my God given urge for efficiency.⁴
My tip for anyone traveling through France – Free Mobile offers a SIM card with 50GB LTE internet for an easy 30€ (this includes 10€ for the SIM card). If you do not travel through the deepest jungle, you should be fine with this option.
I am convinced that the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages of working remotely. It must be said, though, that it is not always all peace ’n pancakes. You can prepare for the surf trip as much as you want, but there are a few things and disturbances that you simply cannot avoid. Sure, you can live and even work under those circumstances. But if you are truly dying to have success with your company or in your job, working remotely on a surf trip probably is not the ideal long-term solution. Also, it is quite nice to have your personal little refuge, from which you can rule the world someday.
¹ – Please don’t be surprised if you come across an abnormally high quote of man buns while scrolling through those Instagram pics.
² – It really is a tiny world, isn’t it? I would love to hear your stories where you randomly met someone you know in the middle of nowhere. Those are very unpleasant circumstances if you can feel the fire of a self employed and want to achieve something with your doing.
³ – No, I am not talking about myself here.
⁴ – In case you were wondering – yes, I am German.