Traveling while running a business full-time has not been easy, but it has been one of the most fulfilling decisions I’ve ever made. At the age of 26, I left my corporate ties behind to jump into entrepreneurship and at the same time continue to pursue my love for travel. It taught me that you do not have to choose between being a broke backpacker or putting your career on hold: if you want to see the world and build something epic, you can do both.
Background: I own and manage a small business in the Philippines for almost 5 years. We are involved in the production of corporate giveaways and promotional items for local and international companies. We have a warehouse and a production facility with almost 20 employees. I do client and supplier meetings on certain days of the week, manage payrolls, supervise the projects, and do logistics when I need to.
Sounds complicated huh?
There’s a way to balance everything out. It requires discipline, but by developing a schedule around your own rhythm, it can be accomplished.
1. Think About How Much Time Off You Have
They might be entirely obvious but weekends are hugely important when it comes to travel plans. 52 weekends a year equals 104 days off. Add this with around 10 non-working holidays and you have 114 days off. Also, whoever invented public holidays on a Monday or Friday deserves an award.
2. Plan Your Trip
I usually plan my trips around the weekends. Whenever I travel local, I grab a late afternoon/evening Friday and Sunday night flight (or ride) on a short weekend jaunt – that’s two full days to have fun. #WeekendWarrior If it’s an international trip, the maximum number of days I take are five so I won’t be away for too long. If I do need to be away for an extended period, I always carry with me my laptop so I can get things done and catch up with work.
The key to making your pleasure trip a real pleasure, is to prepare customers for your absence. Be sure to communicate your plans with your clients and keep them informed of how you are managing things away from the office and for how long are you going to be gone. If you have clients who tend to procrastinate, tell them you’re going to leave (or be will be unavailable) starting several days before you actually plan to leave for your trip. That way, you won’t have to deal with their last minute requests when you want to be packing and getting ready to leave.
4. Leave Detailed Instructions
Before you embark on this journey, make sure that you have trusted people behind. Otherwise, you won’t feel going elsewhere. Give them detailed instructions on what needs to happen while you are gone. I assign responsibility for handling problems to one employee, but let the others know that if that person isn’t around, they could and should handle any problems that needed immediate attention. I also tell them to notify me of the outcome of the issue.
5. A Stable Internet Connection is a MUST
When you’re running a business, you have to be reachable most of the time. Expect getting phone calls from from your clients or your employees while you’re on you’re trip. This is why I always carry with me a portable WiFi router. Making and receiving international calls is expensive, especially if you do so regularly and for long periods. There is a way to save on this; you can either Viber or use other applications to communicate with them. The methods that rely on the internet will save you more money as they are cheaper than an actual call. Also, you don’t have to look for cafes or depend on your hotel for internet connection.
6. Set Vacation Rules for Yourself
I get it. You can’t completely leave your business behind while you are on a trip. You will get tempted to do so. To avoid that, set a time of day and a time limit for checking in on the business. For example, every morning give yourself a half hour to check emails and maybe another half hour before or after dinner so that your trip doesn’t turn into mostly work and little vacation.
Let’s put it this way, life is short, and travels are important especially when you own a small business. It gives you the time you need to recharge, relax, and come back to work with a clear mind. You work hard, so you deserve a little time to play hard too.