Working: 10 Days Abroad

I’ve been working remotely for over a year now, and I’m a freelancer. Yes, you can do both, and I have been since the beginning. You can read more about my journey here.
As a first generation Latina, I was born and raised in the Atlantic City, NJ area. I was raised speaking spanish as well as eating some traditional dishes, but it doesn’t compare to being in the actual country of your parents.
As a family we decided to go to Puerto Rico to visit my grandmother on my dad’s side. It had been 14 years since my last visit. Frankly, I only speak spanish with my parents to my language is limited as well. And this is where I decided to put my remote life to the test.
Yup, I took my work with me on vacation. There have definitely been more downs than ups, and being in a foreign area–for me at least–has it’s proven challenges that I’m not sure I’m willing to go through again. However, I can say that I know how to prepare better for next time.
Many things were out of my control. But this is how I spent ten days putting my remote work life to the test.
It’s leaving day! I prepped my work week last night and made sure I got whatever I need done before today. We get to the airport with a little over an hor to spare. We head to the bar, and thank God there is wifi!
I decide to whip out my HP and answer some emails, and look over last minute documents that were sent to me.
Whoop, it’s time to hop on my flight. We get to my aunt’s house pretty late and I check to make sure my wifi device has service. It does, yay! But VERY little. It’s the best I can hope for in this terrain.
This is road trip day. We are taking a car ride in a nice rental from my aunt’s house to my grandmother’s which is over two hours away. I magically can get some stuff done on my HP since there’s some clear signals for my Netgear Air Card. However, I’m also exhausted from flying still.
Then…the shit show begins. We end up in Guanica, a southern part of the island where I find none of my family has wifi, and my Netgear Air Card barely gets a signal. This same song and dance continues for a few more days.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
The cycle of getting a tiny bit of wifi and then none at all is in full effect. I want to be dramatic, but there’s nothing I can do. My countless family members don’t understand remote work, and just use their phone data plans for everything. So I am stuck praying for my wifi device to work.
I do manage to edit a few articles, write a few pieces, and get some emails done. But definitely NOT as much as I could have had I had a reliable connection, even if just for a few hours.
We are back up North to civilization…aka wifi. My family is exhausted so I convince my parents to drop me off at the nearest Starbucks, 27 minutes away, for some sanity and distinct wifi connection.
I spend hours at the Starbucks in Rio Honda, Bayamon. HOURS. However, I got a lot of things done. More than I had gotten done all last week. I’m pretty happy considering I had my first reliable connection since the entire trip. So, wifi…you do exist?!
Considering the fact that I got some work done Monday, I would have love to had more done today. However, we want to take a trip to Old San Juan. I check my emails, take care of a few items and we head out with my HP in my backpack just in case.
I respond to some emails and messages from clients through out the day. Luckily, I got away with not doing much work besides the few messages.
I get back to my aunt’s place…and of course my Netgear Air Card doesn’t want to work ANYWHERE through out the house.
I. Am. Screwed.

My last real day in Puerto Rico. It is also my dad’s birthday. Magically, my wifi is limited but actually works. I use it to catch up on some messages and emails that needed my attention. I spend most of the day writing, as my connection is all over the place, and unpredictable.
I miss out on the shopping festivities that my parents and family went on earlier today so that I could stay back and work.
I am heading back home to reliable wifi, thank God. Something tells me that tomorrow I will be playing catch up all day and night on assignments that I should have finished earlier this week.

I did not get a chance to truly enjoy my trip. I spent so much time worrying about work and wifi that I really couldn’t go out as much as I wanted to, and do family stuff.I’m happy to have been able to come here after such a long time and get to know some of my dad’s childhood. But I totally regret taking work with me, and now doing more research on how and when I could get actual work done on my computer.
Perhaps I was just unlucky in a place like Puerto Rico. Could I have done better in somewhere like Spain or Tokyo? Maybe. Maybe not. Being a digital nomad is not impossible, but you definitely have to your research. I learned this hard way.
When you are taking your work with you, maybe reach out to your clients/manager beforehand and let them know you can’t work on your usual schedule. I didn’t do this either. I figured why mention it when I planned on doing work the entire time? Well I was stupid. Don’t do this!
I messed up. I didn’t prepare right, and I defintiely over estimated my capabilities in another area. I will never take another vacation and assume I can work at the same time. A vacation is for relaxing, not stressing over wifi.