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Business graduates and professionals who backpack? It happens more than you think and it is a growing opportunity to expand both your knowledge of other cultures as well as establish a network of business professionals around the world. Telecommuting as a freelancer is a fabulous opportunity to earn while you learn, and travel through different countries gaining firsthand experience of the business methods and practices in foreign countries.
If you are planning to take a trip as a freelancer, you will want to travel light but also be prepared for opportunities as they arise. We have provided some rules to help you pack a professional wardrobe in a pinch, for international travel and guidelines to help you avoid over packing for your trip.
Rule #1: Invest in a Better Backpack
All backpacks are not created equal! In fact some of the more recent backpack designs are full of compartments, zippers and dividers that help to organize grooming supplies, apparel, shoes and electronics efficiently.
If you are going to be carrying the backpack for weeks or even months, ensure that it has sturdy and comfortable straps that can be worn to shoulder the weight. Added security features like combination locks can help deter theft while making your belongings easy to access when you need them. The best investment you can make is in a quality backpack that intuitively meets your storage needs, and choose a size that is adequate for everything you need to carry.
Rule #2: Diversify Your Wardrobe
If you are traveling for business opportunities, consider that there will be instances when you wish to have a more formal meeting. Showing up in worn jeans and your favorite t-shirt is not an option if you want to make the right impression, but packing your whole professional wardrobe is also not a practical alternative.
When packing, consider a two or three interchangeable uses for your clothing. A sports jacket can be worn for business or worn as outerwear on a cold evening. Black dress pants can be appropriate for a business meeting and turned into a sophisticated outfit for an evening at a club. A white dress shirt can be paired with a tailored suit jacket and tie for professional needs, or worn out and unbuttoned with a dark pair of jeans for a casual dinner.
Each garment that you pack must offer two to three different flexible and fashionable wear options. To keep your backpack functional and light, pack strategic outfits to give you limitless looks and possibilities.
Rule #3: Versatile Footwear
What kind of shoe is good for walking, bicycling and swimming in the ocean? An athletic sandal. When packing your footwear consider shoes that can serve a multitude of purposes and try to stick to no more than three pairs; athletic running shoe, dress shoe and sport sandal.
Rule #4: Bypassing Sundries and Grooming Supplies
The key to making backpacking as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, is to pack light. You may be particular about the kind of shampoo or razor you like to use at home, but when traveling abroad with a backpack consider that sundries are wasted space. Virtually anywhere you stay will have a shop or concierge with essential grooming supplies nearby to pick up any essentials you need.
Keep your brush and your toothbrush, deodorant and razor but be adventurous and try the local travel size variety shampoo, conditioner and body wash to lighten the load. Take a look at Get Razor Advice to see which razors they recommend for travel. Experimenting with some of the regional sundries is an adventure in itself and a fun experience. If you are staying in formal hotels for part of your journey, remember that the hotel will also provide complimentary sundries in virtually all cases.
Rule #5: Personal Devices
Wherever you travel to, you will want to bring some of your communication and personal devices. If you are travelling on a budget, consider leaving your cell phone at home and purchasing a European pay-as-you-go model. Purchasing minutes on cards and loading your phone is more affordable than trying to management your usage on a North American sim card, and far more economical. Opt to check in with family and friends using texts or via social media to save on the cost of minutes.
No matter how much you love your laptop, leave it at home in favor of a lighter alternative. A typical Android tablet or iPad with a keyboard case is a far better choice for backpack travelers. Wi-Fi enabled tablets are lightweight and easy to store, while providing you access to all the apps you need for travel. Become a master at surfing free Wi-Fi to save money, and utilize video tools to video blog your journey on the road.
Rule #6: Protect Your Identity and Documentation
A valid North American or British passport can sell for thousands of dollars, and there are plenty of experts willing to relieve you of your identification and travel documents. Consider that your backpack may not be the safest place to store articles such as your passport or wallet. Generally, that is the first place a thief would look.
Consider investing in a traveler’s belt that stores important assets underneath your clothing. Typically worn like a belt and under the shirt with a strong Velcro closure, the traveler’s belt is a more secure place to store critical identification cards, cash and even jewelry. Remember to be discreet about wearing one; choose a private place to move your belongings.
One of the most exciting and beneficial things you can do for your professional portfolio is to pursue new business relationships abroad. By speaking to other professionals, you will cultivate a deeper understanding of regional business practices and cultures. You will also be able to apply what you have learned into your own career, and enjoy the benefit of having business mentors around the world who you can stay connected to.
Take the opportunity to travel and expand your personal and professional horizons and backpack your way to big business opportunities and career growth. Enjoy the experience of a lifetime.