This summer we went on the adventure of a lifetime – a 5 week road trip out west with our two daughters, ages 7 and 9. I took some time off from this blog, but we had to keep everything running at 100 Days of Real Food (since that is our source of income and all). Luckily we were able to balance the two and had a killer time in the process!
Having a web-based business with a virtual team gives you incredible freedom, and I believe once you have your essential financial obligations covered, this freedom is worth more than any amount of money. Today I’m going to share a little bit about our trip followed by tips for blogging on the road.
The Trip Itinerary
At around 5,000 miles and 5 weeks total, this was quite the ambitious journey! We picked up our 28 ft rental RV outside of San Francisco and returned it 4 weeks later in Seattle. We must have taken a thousand pictures and 400+ videos, but I’ll show some mercy and share but a few of the many highlights in a slideshow here. You can see more photos on my wife’s 100 Days of Real Food Instagram feed.
Some of our favorite times were chilling in Big Sur, backpacking in Banff, and mountain biking in Utah. As a matter of fact, riding in Utah has been a dream of mine for, oh, about a decade!
I participated in a 3 day skills camp earlier this spring in preparation for this trip, and am riding faster/better than I ever have before in my 15 years of riding. If you ride, check out BetterRide.net for a camp session near you. Gene’s program is top notch!
Here’s a video of me trying out some downhill riding in Park City, Utah (I’m in the blue shirt) at Canyons Resort. My take away is that DH riding is a lot of fun but high consequence. I’ll be sticking to all mountain riding. 🙂
Tips for Blogging on the Road
Blogging on the road can be challenging, but it is certainly doable. We were forced to figure things out during our month long trip to Europe last summer, and we obviously put those tips to the test again this summer. I’ve broken them down by section here for you.
- Write and schedule as much in advance as possible. This goes for your blog, email newsletter, and major social media platforms. Even if you intend to post as you go on the trip, it’s a relief to know at least a minimal amount of content will flow automatically.
- Solicit guest posts to help lighten the load. Set them up as contributors in WordPress and give them a realistic deadline to set up the draft (so you have plenty of time to make any necessary edits before your trip). Since they will be set as the author on the post, they will get comment notifications, and you should ask them up front to respond to these comments as part of the guest posting gig.
- Plan some work time early in the morning or after dinner at your home base so you can focus on sightseeing the rest of the time.
- Plan ahead and make sure your lodging accommodations offer Wi-Fi when possible. Ask specific questions as to the reliability and quality of the connection. In Yosemite we expected to have Wi-Fi as advertised, but in reality there was one satellite connection being shared by the entire campground, and even a quick Facebook update would take up to 30 minutes or be impossible.
- Avoid using free public Wi-Fi when possible due to security risks.
- To work on the road, we tether our iPhones to our laptops so we can access the internet wherever we have a cell signal. Keep in mind this will increase your bandwidth usage, so you may need to up your data plan and should obviously avoid transferring large files, running automatic backups from your laptop, watching videos, etc.
- Note tethering won’t work well away from cities and main highways, so in rural areas you’ll need to greatly lower your expectations in terms of a strong cell signal that will support data transmission. Something that would take 30 seconds in the office could take you 20 minutes or be impossible. We’ve found Verizon to have much better rural coverage than AT&T.
- Write offline when your signal is spotty or non-existent and then publish when you have a good connection.
- Get caught up on bills and accounting before you leave.
- Set up ebills so you don’t miss paper bills while away for a long period of time.
- Utilize online banking so you can pay bills (I use online bill pay to pay our contractors), transfer money, etc. while away from home.
- I have an assistant bookkeeper that receives all of our business checks and deposits them for me using the Bank of America mobile app. As a result, cash flow is not interrupted.
- I use Xero.com so I can do my accounting work on the road as necessary. It’s actually pretty quick and easy.
I’ll share what we do, but keep in mind since I am not an accountant you should seek professional advice as necessary. If your trip is work related, you’ll want to track your business expenses as usual (we have separate checking, credit, and Paypal accounts that automatically feed into Xero, our online accounting system). Keep in mind meals and entertainment are only a 50% deduction.
If your trip is part work and part pleasure (like this one for us), things become a little more complicated. In this case we write off 50% of the major expenses (transportation, lodging, and meals). You cannot write off expenses related to your recreation or your children (unless it’s an expense you’d have regardless, such as a rental car or hotel room). For meals, rather than tracking every single receipt I look up the per diem allowances on IRS.gov for the locations we travel to. It’s kind of a pain, but I track it all in a spreadsheet and turn it into my CPA for inclusion in our annual tax return. I pay with my personal funds and take the credit at the end of the year rather than accounting for it in Xero.com. I keep all receipts in a large ziploc bag that goes in storage should we ever get audited.
- Don’t forget to set up your email out of office auto-responder and consider changing your outgoing voicemail message.
- Definitely let your team know the dates you will be out and request that they handle things on your behalf. If you don’t yet have a team, you should at least start a relationship with a web developer or trusted techie friend/family member that has access to your blog backend and any other critical accounts, such as your host.
- Consider letting your readers know you’ll be less accessible during your travels.
- Most people greatly over estimate the amount of free/work time they will have on a vacation. This can be from over planning, being in the moment and working less than anticipated, or from unforeseen circumstances. As a result, it’s best to space things out and leave some empty chunks of time in your schedule.
- On this trip we found it was much easier to work when we were in the same place for more than one night! Consider this when planning your itinerary.
- To quote my wife, “On the road you have to lower your expectations.” Expect that you will be able to do less, focus on getting only the essential things covered, and enjoy your journey.
Self-employment is facilitating more travel and adventure in my life, and for this I am incredibly grateful. I hope some of these common sense tips help you keep on top of your game while on the road! Please share any tips of your own in the comments below.