Nicola: What’s our Client Challenge of the week this week then, Judith?
Judith: Well, I think we should go with something that you’ve inspired me to think about actually, which is—you and I both work online because somewhere in our heart of hearts, we want to be able to live the Laptop Lifestyle. But you’ve had a go with it in the last week, and it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So I thought I might talk about the pros and cons of the Laptop Lifestyle; the truth versus the dream, and how we could make it work for ourselves and other people.
Nicola: Yeah, I mean, interesting timing, this, because I’ve got two friends—Michael and his wife, well we met on the cruise, and they are now—they have literally just sold everything and they are embarking on a year of travelling around the world. Now, they do have a good income from their business and they are, you know, very successful, so money isn’t an issue. And now they’ve lowered their overheads dramatically because they sold 2 cars, they got rid of a house, and all that stuff. But they are—so they’re going to be traveling the world using Airbnb, and things like that. And that’s one of the things that we didn’t do. I left the booking of my accommodation to my friend —everyone needs to do everything on the cheap all the time. Whereas, the contrast was that his—Paul’s—daughter is someone very well-known, who operates in the fashion space in London. And whenever she comes to visit him, she stays at the top luxury hotel on the island. But it never occurred to Michael that we might want to stay in something, you know, a bit more at market; he puts in what the cheapest, nicest accommodation he could find.
So that was interesting, and the other thing is, whenever I go to places like America, I never have any problem with the internet at all. You know, the hotels there expect the clients to want high-speed internet, and you can connect all over the hotel. I mean I worked in my bedroom, when I went on a cruise, I worked in the lounge, I worked in the restaurant, at the bar—you know, we were all working from our laptops. And then you get on the ship of course, and there’s no—well, the internet is not only expensive but it’s very, very slow and it works in the early morning. But that’s all part of the fun of the internet marketers cruise—you’re supposed to get away from your work for a week and actually meet people and network. But then when I went to Greece, it took three weeks to get the internet installed in the house I was living in, and I had to walk down the road to my friend, Eliese’s office where there was internet in order to work there. So, I think it’s very hit-and-miss, and you’ve really got to have a back-up plan. What I found was not getting online when I needed to or when I expected to, or when my team needed to so I can answer questions because—I will talk about my team a bit more in Who or What’s Impressed but—I’ve got a new team and because I wasn’t there to answer questions, they were muddling along without me. So I think, there is a list, there is a website actually—I’ll find it and put it on the Show Notes—of the best places to work in the world from the point of view of cheapest living and best internet; because the internet is actually the crucial thing, really. Yeah, there’s lots of lovely places to go, there’s lots of hotels in the world and lots of Airbnb, that specify whether they’ve got internet. But the question is, is it good enough, is it fast enough and does it reach the people where you’d like to work?
Judith: Yes. And is it wireless so you can get your gadget hooked up to it, because I remember the first time we went to a Caribbean Island it wasn’t. So I actually had to buy a month’s usage which was sort of island-wide from the local computer shop, which worked but, you know, the landlord’s interpretation of what was the internet and mine…
Judith: It always worked. It always worked subsequently, but I think that, what we take for granted in the UK and the USA and certain places like that is not the norm in the world, where it’s a happy accident and privilege to be able to dial-up. And I remember as well the first time I was in my Caribbean Island where I realized that these are risks—the same risks that you had when you went to Greece— you know, I remember that there was no internet one day, and somebody said: “Somebody’s put a shovel through the cable from Puerto Rico –it’ll be fixed in the next three days.” That’s not what we expect, you know? In London, if I turn the switch off at the wall, it notifies the local thing then it’s all sorted again within 60 seconds. And so it’s about expectation a bit, isn’t it? And hotter places in the world—it’s all a bit “mañana” which is part of the appeal of this, if we can relax into it.
How do you think people manage who are constantly on the move, like this couple that you’ve just described? It’s part of the fun, but the fun’s gonna be quite challenging, isn’t it? If the first thing that you need to do everywhere you go is set up home, get comfy, have a nice bed. I think that’s it when you were talking about, “I’m home and I’m grateful,” I think we can make a home. Well, that’s –there would be my first criteria: can I make a home anywhere else, and what constitutes a home? And it’s a degree of comfort and utility and ease and facility and lots of…
Nicola: And lack of insects. That was…
Judith: Well, I think anywhere you want to travel to comes with insects, but as long as you’ve got the precautions…
Nicola: The appropriate things, yes like the plug-in, anti-mozzie thing. Because we were, you know—two nights, our sleep was totally disturbed by this one mosquito who was feasting on me and lastly ignoring Sarah but he did used to buzzer in the air occasionally, just to (notice how I said it’s a he), buzzer in the air occasionally, just to make a wake up in a start. The other thing is, you know…the ironic thing was I went to Greece back in 2003 when I had the hotel for a month, and I used to sit on my balcony typing up my newsletter, and then I would connect to my phone to the internet and would send my newsletter out. And it costs about £500 a month, but it was worth it just to have that connection. So in a way, going somewhere where the landlord says it’s connected, is you know, you’ve got to have a back-up. And in England, I’ve got a—what do you call this—a three… dongle, and it actually connects up to 5 people to high-speed internet, and you buy it “pay as you go”. So if I have been in the UK, there must be solutions like that in each country you go to, mustn’t there?
Judith: There’s a thing you can buy in England. I helped a friend buy it once; we went on a drive-by, all of the, you know, Vodafone shops in South London. Because she was trying to get her hands on something called a “MyFi” which I think is a sort of mobile… She goes to Spain to visit her mother a lot and can’t get online at her mother’s house, for obvious reasons, so she has to go to the Golf Club and the coffee shop, and that’s not always convenient, especially since she doesn’t drive. But there is—there are various solutions to this. I still think they’re a bit hit-and-miss, but it’s an odd first world problem isn’t it? That the expectation that we want to be online wherever we are in the world, but we also want to operate from places that have other appeals.
Nicola: Yeah, and Chris Paris seems to be able to get connected wherever he is, wherever he’s traveling all over the country, but he’s honestly got everything set up to work together and he’s used to improvising. He does sometimes moan about the Virgin Wi-Fi on the trains, but that’s the worst it gets; but then when he gets to Africa, he just, he actually just unplugs for a week or two doesn’t he? When you go to a holiday, you just…
Judith: Yeah, yeah, yes.
Judith: But you know, we do follow people online, don’t we? You were living the Laptop Lifestyle, and we want it—at least in part, if not 100%. And you know, I see them travelling and fighting through these battles, and I know I’ve got a bit of it ahead in my life. But I think you are right; something often happens that makes you realise how grateful you are for the creature comforts we take for granted at home.
Nicola: Yeah, you know, we’re a only a few hundred years away from living in caves, so it must be that—it’s something to do with the familiarity of our own cave you know, because someone else might look at my cave and think it’s completely unlivable in. You know?
Judith: Yeah, yeah.
Nicola: Like this chap’s daughter who only stays in 5-star hotel, she’ll probably take one look at my house and go, “I can’t stay here. It’s just completely not good enough.”
Judith: [Laughter] I think the point you made about your friend’s assumption about you wanting the cheapest, reminded me when I was a travel agent. That was a lesson we learned when we were travel agents, because we were much younger and all we’d ever really known at that stage in my life was affordable travel. And we made this erroneous assumption that every client of the travel agency would want the cheapest. Not at all! Some people want to pay through the nose for a top-notch luxury experience and even they’re the one per hour—speaking as their travel agent per hour.
Nicola: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. I mean, well on the way back, we discovered—excuse me—on the way back, we discovered that you could actually get in a taxi on Gozo, and they would drop you at the airport, and they would actually take you through the ferry in their car with all your suitcases in the boot. Whereas on the way out there, it took three times as long; we were struggling on and off things with our suitcases. And it was all, you know, really hard work, whereas on the way back, it wasn’t at all—excuse me.
Judith: Money talks, doesn’t it? You can get anything if you’re prepared to shell out for it, and I think that’s something—well there are two lessons I am learning from your stories are: what can I get if I’m prepared to pay for it, and never assume. Your friend assumed that you were looking at the world through the same lens as he is, and you’re not.
Nicola: Oh yes, before—so I think the lessons that we learned from this are: before you go, make sure that you’re going to be staying at an accommodation that you’ve arranged, and so take responsibility for your own thing. You know, I can’t forget how blessedly flaky my friend was. And he’s very reassuring about things, but he also have never seen the apartment that we’ve been staying in before in his life. Because he was walking around as if he’d never been there, so he obviously hadn’t. And you know, so obviously his idea was just taking someone else’s word for it that it was going to be good enough. So that’s the lesson: it’s always taking responsibility for your travel arrangements, have some sort of back-up Wi-Fi—you know, mobile connection—sorted. So for example, I could’ve sorted something, at the airport in Gozo, in motor I could’ve gone onboard to a card for my phone that gave me internet connection.
Nicola: That thinking ahead I think, to the minimum requirement to making sure they’re in place or a back-up plan is too.
Judith: Well, I think it’d be interesting for us to look at this website that you’re talking about that talks about the best places in the world and the Wi-Fi and so forth, because if it’s not on there, it should be some sort of check-list that you’d get rather good at, I think if you’re a regular traveler about your minimum requirements. And I imagine that if travel was important to you, you know, you might let some of those other things slip down your list of importance. We’ll see, I don’t know, let’s keep an eye on this and let’s look out for people who do it well, because I think we all work online, and we want some of this some of the time, don’t we?
Nicola: Yeah, there’s nothing as seasoned as the suitcase Entrepreneur, which brings to us. But there are some very notable travel bloggers as well, people who travel.
Nicola: I have actually heard about people—Sarah’s raking on this sort of thing, she passes some stuff over. There are people who travel the world in their camper van, and they’ve got actual satellite dishes on the roof or something, so to enable a Wi-Fi connection. I don’t know if I can live in a camper van, but the camper van Wi-Fi would definitely get a better vote more than that.
Judith: Well, do you remember that our mutual hero, Thomas Leonard lived in a massive RV—as they call them in America, recreational vehicle. I mean, it was bigger than your house and mine stuck together and very luxurious, so I think it could be possible.
Nicola: It was a tall bus kind of thing, wasn’t it? Like the bands…
Judith: Yes, it was. Yes.
Nicola: But then he did move in an apartment in the end, didn’t he? So it must have got a bit wearing.
Judith: Yes, I think so. I think you’re quite right, travel can be wearing, yeah. Unless you’re quite hardy, and I don’t think either of us are particularly hardy; we’re luxury types aren’t we? We like comfort.
Nicola: Orchids Judith, we’re orchids.
Judith: Yes. [Laugher]
Nicola: Well, I certainly am.
Judith: Well, I was gonna say, we can’t quite get that far, but then you said you certainly are, so I’ve got to agree with you.