This spring our family did something unique. We took advantage of the fact that our kids are home schooled & I work remotely (from home) by taking a three week trip to Cape Cod. I thought I'd write a series of my experiences in really working remotely. There will be good parts as well as not so good parts but in all I'm hoping it's an overall positive experience that we'll look back on with fond memories.
When we first decided to home school our children we thought it'd be exciting to be able to take advantage of their flexible schedule to travel more. It certainly wasn't the reason we chose to home school but it was a bonus we were looking forward to. I wasn't working remotely when we first started home schooling, but the flexibility was still attractive as it could work with scheduled vacations from work. This post isn't about home schooling, it's about travel freedom.
Sadly, as with most things in life, that flexibility didn't really translate into more travel or even looser schedules with school. My wife & children were just as involved as ever with school co-operative programs as well as extra-curricular activities. We found ourselves no more adventurous than we were before.
Fast-forward a couple years & I finally started a new job that is entirely remote; I work from home exclusively. This was quite a change in & of itself that I've written on elsewhere on this blog. Again, the anticipated goal was more freedom in travel & adventure. Not surprisingly, though, this didn't come easily even still with the exception of working from cafés & even from my boat on occasion.
This year we determined we were going to do something about our lack of travels. We booked three weeks in a cozy cottage at the base of Cape Cod. My wife loves the quaintness of the Cape & she looked forward to spending time traveling the local area with the kids showing them some of the historical landmarks. During two of the three weeks I would work remotely from the cottage & take one of the weeks as vacation time.
Right off the bat we hit an interesting snag that I hadn't thought about - Internet access. Not that we didn't have it, we did & we made sure we'd have it when booking the place. The problem is that it was both entirely unsecured as well as not particularly reliable (thank you Comcast!). I didn't feel comfortable working on a completely open & unsecured access point with absolutely no wireless encryption enabled.
I spent a good portion of our first day just setting up OpenVPN on my home network (my actual home) so I could have an encrypted tunnel to access the Internet that would keep me & my family secure from nosey neighbors during our stay. This wasn't wasted time by any means as it's something I had intended to do for quite some time - I just used this as the impetus to finally get it done! This would be useful for any remote work I do in the future.
I explored some of the paid, hosted VPN solutions but being cheap as I am & technical by profession I decided that the only acceptable solution was to build my own VPN. This is also a solution I'll use in the future for remote access to the rest of my home network as needed.
Today was the first work day from Cape Cod. It was also the first day of my on-call weekly rotation. In the end neither proved to be particularly interesting. The fact that simply working from the Cape was entirely uninteresting is actually something I wasn't entirely expecting.
I had expected that I would find a lot of interesting Internet cafés near the coast that I'd frequent while my wife & kids explored the local area. That didn't turn out to be the case though. There are a number of your typical options like Starbucks and the like but none of them are in particularly interesting places. All of the local coastal areas are nearly completely populated by private residences so there really wasn't many places for me to go & work.
The other problem we faced was weather. I got my cell phone plan with a decent chunk of data and tethering capability with the express goal of working from remote locations. I had intentions of even just going to the beach and working from there occasionally. The weather, for our first week anyhow, doesn't look to be cooperating, however. We're expecting mid 50's and rain the whole week - not exactly beach-going weather! The beach plan will have to be put on hold for now. We'll see how it pans out.
So the day was spent in the house exactly as I would have spent it at home. My wife & kids explored Newport, Rhode Island during the day while I stayed home. By the time they got home I was itching to get out of the house, but guess what? They were exhausted from exploring all day & were quite ready to be home! So that's what we did. dinner & a move at the cottage just like we were back home. Sigh.
Tomorrow is another day! The current plan at this point is to visit a café in Woods Hole named Pie in the Sky that looks pretty cool. The weather shows rain, cloudy & cold again, but so be it.
See how things turn out in the next post in the series. I'll try to spend some time on future posts discussing the actual work/leisure balance & how well I'm able to focus on things while I'm here.