Freelance Travel and the Perils of Being a Road Warrior

IndieWax Youngstown Ohio record storesI’m sitting in a hotel room in Pennsylvania watching a news report about a situation I just missed–the bomb squad was called out in Pittsburgh after a suspicious package was discovered somewhere in the city. I shudder to think of what might have happened to my deadlines if I had gotten caught in a horrific traffic snarl that probably followed. But that’s not among the perils of being a freelance road warrior I’m thinking of…

I knew this week that the second I pulled out of the driveway to go on my Chicago to New York City road trip, I’d get hit six ways from Sunday with things I had hoped to avoid dealing with until I got back. got several requests from potential sponsors for rate cards and other information, an interview I’d been waiting on finally came in from the cold, and I even got an offer for some additional freelance work writing copy for one of my previous clients.

Naturally all this stuff came in when I was in no-signal areas, doing my travel reviews of record stores and restaurants, or trying to write up material to make deadline for the clients that I did NOT put on hold during all of this travel and discovery.

23 record stores later, I am still trying to catch up with all the e-mails and requests for my time. And I’m STILL on the road!

The perils of freelancing from the road range from the mundane–trying to get a seat in a coffee shop next to an outlet so you can deal with a dying laptop battery and make deadline…to the serious–trying to avoid having my travel budget dinged by gotcha charges, excessive fees and highway tolls and other expenses.

Lessons learned?

Essential road warrior gear for freelancers should include a wireless headset for your cell phone, a spare battery for your laptop, and a cell phone capable of using Google Maps with the Location Services feature. I can’t tell you how many times I would have gotten hopelessly lost without the Location Services function of the iPhone displaying the little blue dot telling me exactly where I was on both my route AND in terms of the directions I had gotten from Google Maps. On or off track, the little blue dot tells all and it shows you in SECONDS whether you’ve zigged when you should have zagged.

I’ll do a complete post on essential freelance travel gear later, but for now, suffice it to say that you should always expect your battery to die when you need it most, you should always count on getting lost just when you NEED to be in a certain town on time, and never make plans to stay longer than absolutely necessary—you’ll find a way to need to be someplace else on that day you were planning to sleep in.