Working While Travelling: Does It Meet Expectations?

Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to be granted permission to work from abroad while travelling.

Why is it that I consider myself so fortunate you might ask? When surely the alternative is to have an undisturbed 2-week holiday? Normally I would agree with you, however on this auspicious occasion, I was forced to take unpaid leave.

Why forced? Well apparently, constantly going to weddings abroad (and having three destination weddings yourself over 4 months) really hammers your leave entitlement.

This is where the beauty of working while travelling really comes into its own. In this case I could fly to India, get married, see some monkeys, try all the Kolkatan delicacies (in close proximity to a trusted bathroom), all while minimising the financial burden of refusing to go to work.

The Essentials

So how can I possibly leave my dual 27-inch monitor set up in order to work, instead hunched over the micro-screen of a laptop I hear you ask? My answer to that…don’t.

If – like me – you are spoilt with your company’s current IT offering then my advice is: don’t compromise. Get your hands on a portable second monitor and a large screen laptop.

My travel kit comprised of a surface laptop sporting a 13.5 inch screen weighing in at less than 1.5kgs. This is coupled with a portable external 16-inch screen weighing just over 0.5kg.

Working in the medical imaging field, all of my screens are calibrated to DICOM requisite, as standard. This means I end up reviewing emails and conducting Microsoft Teams calls with a pixel resolution, pitch and luminance even exceeding that which is requested by the Royal College of Radiologists for finding hairline fractures in a paediatric x-ray.

It may be complete overkill for my requirements…but it is certainly good to have just in the case I accidentally become a Radiologist.


The Internet

Now, there is no point in carrying an ultralight diagnostic powerhouse around in your carry-on if you don’t have the connectivity to use it.

Clearly, experiences will vary based on location. However, in my experience with mobile streaming, both airport lounge and hotel internet have been reliable and sufficiently fast. I would advise (in order to avoid disappointment) planning out your working hours to maximise the time when you know you will be based in ‘connectivity stable’ areas. The Alps and the Gobi desert are not these, big shocker… but the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan has suprisingly good coverage, who would have thought?!


A VPN is probably advisable when handling sensitive data and goes a long way in preventing your company being hacked and held for ransom. It is best you ask your employer how they approach this – you might be surprised to find out how much software has this built-in.

Now – the majority of people that I talk to seem to regard working away from the office as impossible. Granted, we have all felt the common yet totally irrational fear… that every time one takes a laptop out of the office, there is always a stranger – that coincidentally has a personal relationship with all of your patients/clients – that is peering over your shoulder and reading everything on your screen.

I know its tempting to take your new, flashy work-on-the-fly kit to the local coffee shop to give everyone present the ‘I’m in between jobs and writing a screen-play’ vibe, but I don’t think any experienced professional is going to make a habit of viewing sensitive material in full view of the public gaze.

As such, airport lounges offer private work areas that are comfortable and convenient. You may have to book ahead of time to guarantee an appropriate spot, and this will likely cost you, but doing so should guarantee your newfound work desk from arrival to boarding in the case of flight delay.

My Experience

For this trip, I travelled from Heathrow T3 to Delhi, then on to Kolkata. More specifically, I ended up working in the No 1 Lounge at Heathrow, and The LaLiT Great Eastern Kolkata.

The Lounge was decent for working, with plenty of private space, fast internet and consistent flight updated (visual not audio). There was plenty of food, although not the warmest, and beverages of all variety was free flowing. My criticisms, however, are two-fold:

Firstly, there was a consistent queue for the male bathroom, which totally baffled me. Secondly and more seriously, there was no bottled water to take with you when you leave the lounge to enjoy on the plane. The water bottles are not only a huge disappointment, but an obvious missed advertising opportunity too.

The majority of my working time was spent in my Kolkatan hotel. I’m not going to lie, this place was great. It does have a business centre that consisted of a small room with 2 PC’s and a broken printer, luckily though my room had ample space and facilities to make working comfortable.

Full disclosure, we were fortunately upgraded to a suite. I do maintain that the original room I booked would have been adequate though, as the suite was just a larger version with excess marble.

The internet remained solid throughout the hotel as I could sit with my laptop in the dining room over lunch just as effectively as barricading myself in my room for those international Teams calls.


Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, the experience was good. Being able to keep on top of work essentials was appreciated by the team, while it reduced the anxiety of having two weeks of work piled up and waiting for me to return. The welcome change in scenery made things feel very casual and the ability to work in between wedding activities significantly reduced my unpaid leave which certainly helped the bank balance.

One sentence to describe it all…painless productivity.

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