So, you’re ready to take your job on the road to share some some soul-filling adventures with your partner? You’re both convinced that meaningful time together is needed to strengthen your relationship, but your partner isn’t convinced that the remote-working lifestyle is feasible.
My partner had all the objections to taking some time away from our routine...
- What if the internet sucks?
- Where will I work?
- Time zones will make it too complicated.
- What if my clients find out I’m working from a beach?
- What about renting the house?
- Who will take care of the cat?
- I don’t want to live in a surf-camp with terrible plumbing and polyester sheets!
- What if we miss Danny’s annual ugly sweater party?
Here’s how I answered this concerns and convinced him to get on board with the best decision we’ve ever made for our relationship.
1. Pitch from the heart
There are innumerable practical reasons for working remotely and travelling together, but it is important to make the case by starting with your big vision for your relationship.
Think about your partner’s frustrations about your daily lives...
Explain how working remotely will give you more time together
- Do you have too many commitments and not enough time together?
- Explain how working remotely will give you more time together, dissipate your daily stressors and help you be the people you were when you fell in-love.
- Dig deep on what this journey will mean for the long-term success of your relationship and be vulnerable in expressing it.
2. Work to understand their concerns
Some of your partner’s what-ifs might seem like excuses, but if you can figure out where their worry is coming from you can address it head-on. For example, your partner has a fixation on what to do with the cat while you’re away.
Instead of dismissing their concerns as petty in the context of your big vision for the trip, find the root of that concern and offer a solution.
Perhaps the last time your partner went away for a month Joe the cat punished her by shitting on the couch every day. Do some research on this cat behaviour and offer some solutions.
Joe the cat - gifts-o-plenty when not happy
3. Discuss how you’ll grow as a person and a couple
Think about how this experience will make you a better person and companion.
Go ahead and express your excitement about how your surfing will improve while you are away but make sure you also tell your partner your plans to work on yourself.
- Are you planning to meditate more to deal with stress?
- Get a personal coach?
- Or do a few more sessions with your counsellor?
Tell your partner how working remotely will help you catch up on your self-improvement goals.
4. Explain why now is actually the “perfect” time
Consider your dreams for the future and have a discussion with your partner about how you both will feel if you don’t make this adventure happen now. Having children, caring for aging parents, or a multitude of other real-life things may be on your relationship horizon that will make life more difficult to uproot later.
Explain to your partner why this time together might be especially precious in the context of what may be coming up.
This can be a sensitive conversation, so approach it with compassion rather than as a pressure tactic.
How will you both feel if you don't make this adventure happen?
5. Explain how this could improve your business or career
Does your partner think it will be too distracting to get work done while travelling?
This depends on how you plan to do your travelling. Rather than trying to rack up the numbers of countries we’ve visited, my partner and I stay longer in the places we visit and settle into a daily routine that enables us to get work done.
We maintain our productivity, have meaningful experiences living as part of local rhythms and fit in a few tourist experiences on the evenings and weekends.
What’s more, having genuine experiences in new places can actually improve your productivity.
Research shows that tasting new foods, hearing different languages and shaking up your daily routine can connect neurones in your brain and improve your creativity, adaptability and productivity. You’ll see the world, and your work, in a new way. This fresh perspective makes it easier to come up with solutions or ideas you hadn’t thought about before.
6. Talk about how you both could learn new skills or even start a business
Even if you or your partner have to take a full stack of work on your remote-work adventure, the other aspects of your life will be less of a burden. You’ll likely have fewer social obligations and family responsibilities and no commute to work.
Talk to your partner about what will be awesome about a typical day in the new place.
If you’re excited because you’ll have time to surf after every meal, is there something your partner will be into doing every day that they couldn’t before — like learning Spanish, Japanese calligraphy, becoming a certified diver or working on that business idea or biography they’ve been putting off?
Talk to your partner about what will be awesome about a typical day in the new place
7. Work through some of the logistics before you suggest it
Perhaps your partner is convinced that adventuring together would be excellent in all the ways but is stuck on the logistics of leaving your home, financing your travels and working remotely.
Here’s how to tackle the practical details:
Paying for it
The idea of adding the cost of travel to your high-monthly expenses, might be a no-go for your partner. Travel can be expensive, but if you’re not going to be on the go all the time, you’ll find significant savings by renting by the month, cooking for yourself and taking fewer planes, trains and automobiles.
You can check Nomadlist or Expatistan to find a destination where your monthly living costs will be less than at home.
Regardless of cost of living, we find that we spend much less per month working remotely because we aren’t commuting to work, buying work clothes (unless you count flip flops and boardshorts) or going out for as many drinks and dinners.
Rather than lose money, you may be able to make enough money to fund your trip by renting or subletting your place at home.
List on your local classifieds, on VRBO or Airbnb and earn income as you travel. If your partner is concerned about the extra work of renting your space, you could or hire a property management company to take care of all the details for you.
Care for your stuff
If your partner doesn’t like the idea of having someone else live in your space, and isn’t interested in putting their things in storage, you can leave everything as it is and find a house-minding service in your area to care for your home, garden, car and pets. These services will literally turn lights on/off, simulate garbage take out, clear snow, pay bills and do your grocery shopping for when you come home.
You can always keep an eye on things, and make it look like someone is home by using a few gadgets and apps to control security, power, heat and appliances in your house.
Pets and Parents
Joe the cat can definitely make it complicated to get away for a few months, but your pet doesn’t have to be a show-stopper. There are innumerable quality pet-sitting and boarding services that can take care of your pet, and plenty of professional house-sitters do too.
Your partner might also be concerned about leaving aging parents at home for a few months. Discuss what kind of care they might need while you’re away, provide options for having others give that support and prepare a contingency plan for getting home if an issue comes up.
A well designed cowork space makes all the difference
Seamless work transitions
Transitioning to a work environment in a new place and possibly in a new time-zone might give your partner some anxiety. You can alleviate their worry about choppy Skype calls and time-zone fiascos by picking places that you know have reliable wifi and little time-difference to home.
We have an idea of our daily bandwidth needs and tolerable time-zone differences, so we narrow our search for places based on minimum internet speeds.
You can also invest in reliable backup solutions wherever you go, such as a USB internet stick or tethering to your cell phone.
If you partner needs a specific office set-up to feel productive, figure out how that can be set-up in a new destination. Perhaps you rent a two bedroom and outfit a room as an office, or pick a destination with well-designed co-work space that they go each day.
As for missing Danny’s ugly sweater party?
There’s always going to be a few things at home you and your partner might be sorry to miss, so do a FOMO reversal and plan to visit Machu Picchu or go bungee jumping on those days... Danny who?