Working Online or Offline

Working Online or Offline
I now work about 20 percent of my travel time with an internet connection in my room, and 80 percent of the time with no connection.

The quality of my life seems better with no connection.

Acapulco - 8 Miles North of the City
Pie de la Cuesta - Playa Luces
Laguna de Coyuca - Barra de Coyuca
Monday, March 24, 2008
Andy of ---

More or less, I can turn on the TV, oops, I mean the Internet and watch it all do, or I can read a book.

There are five major competitions for my mind when I travel.

1. Television in the room, in the past I used to watch BBC or CNN, I have almost completely stop this, as is totally non-productive time, I can watch five minute and know the whole day, or better yet read the newspaper. When I have TV in my room, I suspect I watch about two movies per day.

2. Books, I find Television movies trumps the books, I will probably not read a book when the television is around. When no television I can read about two books per week.

3. Walking around looking at the world, this continues to happen for about two weeks in one location, and then I slowly become bored with walking around. However when I am not bored with a location I will normally walk about two hours per day. If public transportation is too good and too cheap it can often stop me from walking, I see that people here in Mexico that have a car do not even know the street they are living on, cars trump walking and really cause isolation.

4. Socializing with people in the past was better, I would say ten years ago I socialized more with people as they were more accessible. A beach is a better place to find people to talk than in a tourist area or tourist zone, unless you want to hang around in bars. However, with the use of internet, chatting, cell phones the talking only 10 percent of what it was ten years ago. I am finding it increasingly difficult to find anyone to talk with other than the locals. The tourist and travelers are becoming increasingly difficult an inaccessible as they just talk with their friends at home, or are with their girlfriend, or boyfriend, wife, husband or other ambiguous sexual associations. They now just pick up the cell phone and call home to fulfill their inherent need for conversation.

5. Working on computer, this is more or less working; however, there is tons of time used on the computer for writing emails. I presently do not have a SMTP connection at the internet café, therefore I must reply to everyone online, this makes writing emails onerous.

I do not try to control temptations; I allow my day to be controlled by temptations. I accept that I have almost no ability to resist temptation; therefore, I need to choose conditions that optimize some temptations and minimize others.

I am presently on the beach near Acapulco, reading books are optimized, and surfing on the internet is minimized to about one hour per day. Watching television is at a zero, there are no televisions in this area, socializing is also at a minimized setting as there is almost nobody on the beach, nobody that speaks English, the people who speak Spanish that I encounter are normally only vendors and I do not have much in common with them for a conversation.

Walking around has been a big source of entertainment, however, at my two week juncture here, I have walked North, South, West and East, I will need to take a bus to find better walking locations.

When a person is trying to relocate their office to the tropics, and live by cyber office, or have a mobile office, the primary problem seems to be time zones. I work primarily with a person in India, therefore I can chat with him at 9:30 am Acapulco time and I it is about 9:30 at night for him, and this is good and bad according to how people work.

For the USA people, I am at around the noontime for Boston, New York and about 10 am in the morning for the Western part of the USA.

I suspect there are large groups of executives thinking about trying to re-locate to some Tropical place for the winter months. To have a location that is directly below their home, in the same time zone could be of great importance, whereby they can work and communicate with the USA on the same schedule.

In Bill Gates, book the Road Ahead, he discuses the asynchronous lifestyle, whereby a person can communicate with email or the internet and not need to be synchronized by time. I find synchronized conversations whether by chat or telephone call to be 10 times more productive than emails to somehow get others to follow along and work on the same project the same. When I am in the same area, proximity I find that production is almost triple of chatting or telephone, and 30 times more productive than emails.

Asynchronous working requires every person working to need less than 10 minutes of guidance per day to remain productive. The value of synchronized conversations is that they allow for the random answering of questions that is slowing the work. One un-answered question can slow a project to a dead stop for days or weeks‘; therefore being available to answer a question is what is needed, not continuous conversations.

Call Centers in the Philippines work all night, not during the day so they can service the USA.

It appears for the person who wishes to relocate; they must truly understand what motivate their workers, if they have workers. There is also the problem of talking with vendors and clients. Clients tend to think of you as lazy if you are not in an office.

I am not lazy; however, I know I am completely engulfed in the stereotype of a Hobo or Backpacker cheap traveler. There is the idea that people who travel cheap are somehow stupid, and I think the people traveling cheap in turn think people working in offices reading these types of comments are incredibly stupid. Neither is stupid, just a different path, stereotypes are helpful, but go pass judgment using a stereotype and refusing to adapt is normal…

There is nothing great about a solitary lifestyle; this is the challenge of traveling to not be alone talking to the wall, or this computer.

Working Online or Offline


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Sorry you're getting lonely hobo. I'ld suggest you find a good cafe you could spend time in and get to be a regular. Probably other tourists there that you could talk with. Or move out of the hotel into a campground. Campers are usually talkative.

There is another huge benefit of relocating, provided you do this for most of the year (not only the winter months): If your employer agree, you can officially quit your job, then register an offshore company in some zero-tax country, and then selling your services to your previous employer at the same rate as before, while paying zero tax!
Works like a dream for me, I travel freely around in low cost SE Asia, and at the same time doubled my previously high taxed European income! hehe. I only need an internet connection.


You make a couple of good distinctions here with regard to mobile working.

Online or offline is an important consideration for many reasons. If one can pick up packets of work online and go through a task or a project offline without guidance then they can be online for very short periods just to upload/submit the work data.

Short of ubiquitous internet, if work and tasks are purely online then it could serve as a ball and chain and not much different than having a static desk job. Even periodic online needs wouldn't alter the experience much.

The amount of time required to do whatever it is one does to sustain themselves, is really the factor that determines how big the ball and chain is with online work. Even with offline work this applies but with the potential for more flexibility. Probably why you said your quality of life seems better with no connection.

Reality is that almost all of us have to do "something" to keep us going forward whether stationary or on the road. The odd jobs approach without a computer/internet is for those dedicated few who are addicted enough, and disciplined enough to refuse to go home, and more importantly will reduce their expenses to absolute bare minimums if necessary. I think these couple of points alone is why so very few (if any) come anywhere close to a lifestyle such as you Andy the Hobotraveler has.

For those inclined to work the web in one form or another must be connected at certain points along the path. You can't get around it. The skill sets required are less common, yet the addiction, and discipline are no different. The hope lies in developing income streams that are more efficient than getting your hands dirty doing odd jobs (not that I'm opposed to doing so).

Frank's point is well taken; earn higher, live lower. Certain offshore benefits are hard to ignore.

Some I suppose have enough bank and/or residual revenue to not bother working at all, and other combinations of a variety of income streams are possible to be sure. Being diversified isn't a bad idea either, but thats another subject altogether.

Your other point about time zones is another serous consideration. If a mobile worker needs communication in real time in any of it's forms, this is a hurdle one must face. I think the variables to deal with here are many.

Being able to be asynchronous really has much to do with the levels of competence, knowledge, experience, trust earned, and level of professionalism among the players, generally speaking. As you said, less than 10 minutes of instruction/guidance necessary per day is spot on.

If necessary to be synchronous and the two or more parties are on a similar diurnal schedule, somebody has to adjust. The worker(s), the source, or both. If the worker is truly intent on being mobile, they'd be smart to be ultra flexible with the "when of work". Even if the two entities are independent companies it wouldn't change this much.

I doubt most technomads are mobile in a hobo traveler sense, nor wish to have a chaotic sleep schedule. At the other extreme I suppose there are those who are content with a stationary nocturnal existence in a broadband tech cave of sorts with food being slid under the door every so often.

"Drive thy business, let not that drive thee."
- Benjamin Franklin


I think one year nest egg is needed to work out the problem, and ability to live cheap.

I really do not live much lower than any other tourist now.

If you really want to live the best, then rent rooms by the month.

This was very interesting, especially about your experiences working with different time zones. I'm currently living/working in the Pacific US time zone which I'm finding to be about the least productive time zone I've ever lived in. Most of the world is not on their business hours during about half of mine and when I'm making business calls I always have to double check the zone I'm calling so I don't propose a partnership with someone who is eating breakfast with their family.

Thanks though for the listing of how you're avoiding the temptations to waste time. Also, it was interesting to me how you're finding people to be less open than they were even 10 years ago.

Thanks as always for the interesting insights.

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