How to Stay Productive While Traveling the World

March 2, 2015 , 34 Comments

If one of the things you're pursuing with your business is personal freedom, this post is for you.

Many of us dream of living a location independent lifestyle and having the freedom to travel the world and see exotic and exciting places. Building a business is tough enough by itself, but growing a business while traveling? That presents a whole new layer of challenges.

Watch the video below to see my exact "work and travel" setup that I use to keep my productivity high while I'm on the road. Oh, and that includes a full video marketing setup...​


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What are your experiences with combining travel & work? Do you have equipment and productivity hacks for living location independently? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

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About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Hey Shane, nice to hear you are taking more time to appreciate the joys of the nomadic lifestyle. I agree that a 2nd monitor is great to have (but surprised you took an extra full sized one!) – Not sure you need three tripods either – why not plug in an ultra lightweight lavaliere mic into the Zoom H1 & just have one main tripod for the camera? You can even get a splitter for the lav mic if you ever wanted to do interviews.

    Cheers, Neil

    • Mirko Gosch says:

      Hey Neil, I subscribe to your comment. With one little diviation: I´d take two Sennheiser lavalieres instead of a splitter. The weight of these little audio beasts can easily be ignored considering their fabulous audio quality. We use them ourselves and are always stunned again and again about their output.

      • Maybe I need to give those a try as well.

    • Hi Neil,

      I’ve never been able to get a good audio quality out of a lavalier mic. I’ve tried them with the Zoom H1 and I’ve spent a lot on different ones, but I’m always underwhelmed with the final result.

  • And put Orlando, Florida on your list – everybody’s gotta see Disney World – and we have an entire visitor suite at our house you’re welcome to stay in (in exchange for a couple hours of consulting ;)

    I’m curious about the mic for your videos. Doesn’t look like you’re wearing a lav, so I assume your tripod mic is just out of screenshot. Is that correct?

    Have fun in Thailand! I have a great friend in Singapore who’s lived there for 20 years with his wife. If you head that way and want a guide who really knows the city (and is a lot of fun), let me know.


    • Thank you very much for your invitation, Eric!

      Yes, I place the mic on a tripod, just out of frame. For wider shots, that would no longer be practical and you’d need a boom overhead. However, since I shoot indoors, wide shots aren’t really an option anyway, so this solution suits me well.

  • Hi Shane,

    great video – very interesting. I was also wondering how much worse your video quality would be if you’d be shooting with an iPhone (or one of the newer 4k Android phones) and record the sound with a lavaliere mic and the little portable recorder? That would make a pretty small and light setup! ;-)

    • You can definitely get decent video quality out of a phone. The most important part there is to record the audio separately, because that’s going to be awful on a phone mic.

  • Shane,

    I just realised that when I watch your videos I never check to see how long they are first (to see whether I’ve got time) – I just watch them!

    I’m curious to know the spec of your laptop because I’m in the market for a new computer to server the same purpose.


    PS How can you get any work done in Thailand!

    • Hello Shane:

      I’m in the same boat as Glenda, I’d also like to know your laptops specifications.


      • Hi Renee,

        See above, it’s an Asus N750J. I don’t know the specs off the top of my head, but Google will tell you, I’m sure. :)

    • My laptop is an N750J by Asus. Very happy with it so far. :)

  • This blog post caught my attention because I have been travelling for the last 3 years + with my internet business. So it’s good to see a fellow digital nomad :)

    One thing I was wondering was about the type of accommodation you organise – where have you found the best place (website) to secure short term leases as it doesn’t look like you living out of hotels. :)


    • Hi Paul,

      Most of the places I’ve been to I’ve found through AirBnB. For longer-term stays I also search for whatever the most popular apartment and real estate directory is in the region I’m going to.

  • You look very relaxed, Shane, so presumably Thailand agrees with you. :-)

    I do have a question though.
    How do you do your background? Is this a green screen or a different solution? And can you share what you use for that?


    • Hello Leelo,

      Yes, Thailand definitely agrees with me. If only they didn’t have such silly visa rules…

      The background is simply the wall behind me. Wherever I am, I always look for something that will make a nice backdrop, ideally something very simple, so it’s not distracting. In this apartment, there’s this nice wallpaper in one of the rooms, so I picked that.

  • Hi Shane,
    Just a quick recommendation for a smaller tripod — have a look at the GorillaPod! Small enough to stick in your pants pocket, lightweight but strong, and flexible like you wouldn’t believe! You can literally twist the legs into knots, so you can use the tripod anywhere — a professional photographer mate of mine uses one for wedding photography — he wraps the legs around tree branches to get close-up shots of the bride.

    And a big thumbs-up for the Zoom H1 from me too, just bought one and am loving it already. I will be using it for the same purpose, doing podcasts and interviews on the fly with a GorillaPod.

  • Hi Shane,

    Thanks for the tips.

    I am in the same situation as you, I have been on the road for 3 months now and plan to keep traveling around South East Asia and Australia for the next year or two.

    At the beginning the productivity goes down, but with time you learn to balance work and play. For me, the biggest realisation was to understand that I do not need to see and experience everything that a new place has to offer before moving to the next destination I keep reminding myself that I am not on an evergreen holiday, but rather working from a better office. There is enough things to do out there to keep yourself busy for 3 lifetimes, you have to choose wisely about what is worth doing and what is not. This week I was just in Gili islands (Indonesia) and was having a hard time concentrating when I look through the window and see a beautiful day for snorkling, I though I should be enjoying while I can. Then I reminded myself that this won’t be the last time I am by the beach, and if I want, I can just come back. Then I felt at ease and could concentrate in work again.

    I am about to launch a new business and need to record video. I have a Sony RX-100 which was the best pocket camera I could find about 1.5 years ago and it makes amazing video. I though about having a DSLR but honestly I dont think the increase of quality justifies the size and weight as compared to my Sony.

    For the second screen I use my iPad coupled with an app called Duet, which works amazingly.

    I sent you a facebook message a few weeks back on your facebook page by the way. I will be in Thailand this month, let’s catch up if you are around.


    • Yes, that’s a very good point. For me, I’m not that attracted to the usual attractions anyway. What I enjoy most is just being in a place. I’m usually happier just walking down a random street and seeing what a place is really like, than hopping from one tourist attraction to the next.

      Sorry about the FB message, I didn’t see that. Replied just now.

  • I am just following up to my March 3 comment above.

    “How do you do your background? Is this a green screen or a different solution? And can you share what you use for that?”


  • Shane, I am not nomadic all year round, just the summer months but I have to keep our posessions light all year round; we are expats in France but have to be able to move at a moments notice so each member of our family can only have 1 suitcases with the exception of me. (i get 2) because of all my equipment. 2 mics, SLR, laptop, cables, tablets etc etc.

    I just recently got a lavelier mic with a long USB plug and I am loving it. previously i was holding my H1 zoom in my hand which made me look dorky like a news reporter.

    I would keep a water bottle next to your computer instead of a glass. Just in case you knock it over onto your laptop.My son fried his laptop like that.

    • I’m looking to do something similar in the near future, actually. I’d quite like to have a home base somewhere and spend 3-6 months of the year there, then travel more lightly during the rest of the year. Thanks for the water bottle tip!

  • Hi Shane! Great Post, never thought of taking so much stuff abroad before, you got me thinking LOL!

    Shane I purchased your Screencast Blueprint ages ago, but I am only getting round to finishing off the course. I just watched your thrive themes video on its amazing, you are so talented! Are you using anything more advanced than what you teach in Screencast Blueprint on that video, if so what?

    Also regarding thrive themes you say within the salespage its mobile responsive, which is great, but if I upload a Jpeg that’s in the header of the page say 900 pix will thrive themes scale that, or does it only scale the fonts,icons etc that you provide. Also can thrive themes be used to build general client websites or is it just product driven site (by IM savvy people)?

    I would really appreciate your responses to the above?

    • Hello Andrew,

      I’m still using the same tools as ever, to create my videos. Some of the videos you’ll see on Thrive Themes are made by someone else using After Effects. However, pretty much everything you see there could also be done in PowerPoint. Of course, After Effects has far more options and possibilities, but we’re still focusing on simple visualizations of a clear message. We could add a million effects to it, but that wouldn’t support the sales message, so we don’t do it.

      In the themes, we scale the images and load smaller versions of the images wherever possible. Thrive Themes can be used to build any kind of website you want.

  • Good advices Shane. As someone were posting about living in Thailand and still beeing productive is something I can only agree with. I am running my own gym in the summer time and during winter I mainly just administrate it from Thailand. Sweden is such a cold place!

    • Sounds like a good combination! It’s definitely great when you can skip the cold winters. :)

  • Another great video Shane :) Regarding productivity how do you split your time/day to stay productive and keep away from the distraction the internet brings, especially browsing and learning new things when you have tasks to complete?

    Can I also ask how do you put all your videos together. I read your guide but unclear how you bring video. sound, graphics all together as one?

    • Hello Manjit,

      My days have a few fixed points such as a morning meeting with my team, the time when I go to the gym etc. I always get up early and do some work before the meeting. Then, depending on how the meeting goes it determines some of the work I do. But basically, I have these few fixed points in the day that are always the same and I fill in the times in between with whatever needs my attention the most.

      As for distraction, you can either use willpower (not recommended) or something like Leechblock or StayFocusd to block the distracting sites during working hours.

      How to bring video, audio etc. together: that’s done in the video editing tool you use. Can be anything from free tools (Windows Movie Maker, whatever the Mac equivalent is) or Camtasia Studio, Adobe Premiere etc. Even the most basic video editing tool will let you do the stuff I do in most of my videos.

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