Working on Planes, Trains, and Buses

6 minutes


Some people get really bored when they travel. A good reason for that is perhaps the internet may not be available, or being seated for a very long time is uncomfortable for them. But for me, I try to stay productive and use that time for work purposes. For today’s episode, I’d like to give you some ideas on how I’m still able to work while I’m traveling and what sort of work fits the mode of transportation that I’m currently in.

Hello and welcome to The Traveling Introvert. Today I want to talk about working on planes, trains, and buses. Wasn't gonna put automobiles. The reason I want to talk about this is because I'm planning a trip, and I realized that I will be working on certain modes of transport, and I was trying to fit in, and I was looking at what I needed to work on, and there's certain types of transport that are better for doing certain things.

For example buses, I would love to work on a bus, but the buses in the United States ... or actually I get travel sick anyway, so it doesn't really matter. Buses in general are not great for me, but then if you add on the fact that I'm trying to do work, 99.9% of the time, I can't do it, and it's normally because someone might be sitting next to me, and I don't want them to see what I'm working on, but that's not really a thing. It's more the space and the distance between seats. The seat in front of me, and my seat. There may or may not be a tray table, so I might be balancing my laptop on my knees. If there is a tray table, it's probably very short, and can't actually fit. Not that I have a huge laptop, but I can't fit my laptop on there, and so I find it really difficult to work on computer-based stuff on the bus. What I do find really easy to do on the bus is bigger picture thinking or outlining stuff on pen and paper.

Then there's trains. I love trains for various reasons, but what I found is when I'm traveling on a train in the United States, and in Canada actually, there is a lot of space, even if you're not in business class, there are some chairs that are a shared table, so four seats around a table, an actual solid table that you can work on, next to a plug point, and most of the time you have internet. It's not amazing internet, it is not lightening fast internet, but it is internet. And if you're not sitting at that table, you will be sitting at a normal seat, and there's still enough room for you to have your tray table, a plug point, and work in relative comfort.

I find working on a train very good for maybe drafting emails, or slow internet work, or listen to a podcast, and doing some work. I've also found it's very good for just creating PowerPoint presentations. Just getting it done. If you have all the pictures already and the images that you need, and you just need to get it done, I found being on a train is very very good for that. Stick your headphones on and crank it out.

The next one I wanna talk about is planes. This is interesting. If you are in economy class on a regional flight, or a local flight, yes you will have some room, you can't guarantee the person in front of you won't push their seat back and then your laptop generally gets crunched. There has been so many times where my laptop has almost gotten crushed because of the way the tray table is set-up, and if you want to get your laptop open to a comfortable viewing position, you end up being under the lip, and then as soon as someone moves back, it's terrible.

One thing I do is I use my computer in tablet mode because it has that option, but if you can't do that, economy class, you can possibly do some work. The airline I travel with the most has a section called economy plus where you get extra legroom and boy is that useful. Not to me specifically being short, but for having space to work with your laptop because the train moves.

Now if you're lucky enough to be in business class, then there tends to be room, and a little side for you to put your drink on so you're not worried about your drink possibly splashing on you, or especially in economy, I always have that worry that when people are passing drinks out, people go and grab the drink, and I'm so terrified they'll grab it wrong and it will spill on my computer.

Business class international, I have yet ... no wait, have I done it? I've done it on a four hour flight, five hour flight, that was sort of international, but not in the United States, and that was luxurious and wonderful, and I would love to do it again. I've done sort of a five or six-hour in business class, but that was on a night flight, so all I wanted to do was sleep. That was also wonderful.

What I do love about long-haul flights, even if I'm in economy, is that I get to think. I get to unplug, I get to binge on podcasts, which is work in itself because I might be doing research for a particular topic, so I'll go in beforehand, put in my keyword, pull up all the podcasts that are relevant to that, download them, and so I'm doing research while on my flight. And the other thing is again sketching Blue Sky Thinking, and putting things in my calendar I find is very useful.

That's how I work on planes, trains, and buses. Thank you for listening. This is Janice from The Career Introvert. I look forward to helping you with your business, or your career alongside your introversion.

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