Trip update: I am still in Charlottesville, helping Daniel move things back into the house. I am living out of my bounce box in the guest flat (formerly my apartment), and I intend to leave it ready for the next visitor. Except for buying more groceries than normal, the situation is similar to staying with my cousins in Texas. I am taking advantage of the sudden return to Charlottesville to repack my boxes more rationally, as I described last week.
This is a good time to discuss the support that Daniel and Tracy provide me. Arguably, for me to live truly on the road, I should be able to cut the umbilical cord to home. Over the coming months, I will test different ways to replace these services:
- Snail mail. No matter where I travel, my company (Scriptor Services LLC) and I need a legal address and home of record. That said, professional mail forwarding services will sort, scan and forward your mail as you travel. They can scan the mail and email PDFs, so you can choose what to forward and what to trash/recycle/shred. Especially if you go abroad, the scanning option can save a lot in postage costs. Some services handle only mail, while others provide a full office presence (answering service, business address, etc.). Just Google “mail forwarding services” to see the wide range. I will write a special post on them after I check them out during my travels. If any of you have specific knowledge of these services, feel free to comment. (Thanks to cruising cousin Jack in Houston for reminding me of these services.)
- The boxes of my stuff. This is an experiment, so it is not realistic to burn my bridges and dispose of all my belongings in Charlottesville. As a compromise, I have put everything I could conceivably want again in boxes, numbered and ready to ship. I can send for them as I need them and send them back if necessary. However, there are two scenarios I see now for ending this kind of support:
- I find someplace that I want to live more than Charlottesville and I send for everything. Presumably, I would make a final run back to Charlottesville to arrange for shipment, but maybe not.
- I decide to stay on the road permanently and that I don’t want my stuff to clutter the house. For example, some storage and moving companies could perform the services that Daniel does now, shipping the numbered boxes to me on request and storing them when I send them back. Or maybe I will develop a “super bounce box” paradigm – a single large shipment that I send for safekeeping to a pied-à-terre in the next major region where I will travel. Stay tuned for what happens in this regard.
- Medical records. I have already confirmed that my health team can transmit my full medical records to anywhere that I need them, thanks to modern electronic recordkeeping. This includes medical and dental x-rays, medical imaging, hospital and lab records, and notes from office visits. I just have to pick a new health care provider in the location where I need the records and let them know. Similarly, if I am hospitalized on the road, this material is available electronically as well. The number on my military ID tags can lead Emergency Medical personnel (EMT) to the records and my emergency contact if I am unconscious. For civilians, the Road ID Tag service (http://www.roadid.com) provides wristbands and “dog tags” with both a toll-free number and a website, which the EMT can use to get your medical information. These arrangements should work world-wide, so I don’t expect to need anything different.
- Order fulfillment. The booklets that are available on our website (www.scriptorservices.com/buybook.htm) are physical books, which Tracy puts in an envelope and mails when we receive notification from PayPal that an order has come in. Over the coming year, I will convert those booklets to e-book formats (and update the blue one) and automate the process, so the customer gets a password-protected e-book as soon as the order is paid. I want to do this once, so that the setup I choose can expand to accommodate publish-on-demand for future books, whether printed or e-book. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers already handle my translation of Beyond the Age of Oil. Those two, and independents such as Lulu, Xlibris, CreateSpace, Diggypod and iUniverse, provide a wide range of self-publishing services.
I will be investigating these, and write a special post on how they stack up for a freewheeling freelancer.
- The PO Box. The company business address is a box at the local post office. Every week, Tracy empties the box and gives the mail to Daniel to ship to me. If this experiment is a success, I will probably discontinue the PO Box, because I really only need my mail to go to one place. This will require notifying thousands of clients, vendors, colleagues and others of a change of address, so it will take some time to do. This decision will have to be integrated with the choice of a mail-forwarding supplier.
In the end, even if I elect not to replace one or more of the support lines I have now, I want that choice to be an informed decision. I also want the information to share with you. A freelancer without a home base may need to set something up now rather than later. Death, disaster or the changing plans of the support team may force a sudden adjustment: this could happen to me as easily as anyone else.
Next week, more details about running a business on the road: insurance, security codes, file backup, client confidential material, classified work, maintenance and repairs, and getting sick or injured. Please send your questions, so I include the answers in my posts. Also, I don’t have a particular order in which to post these different topics, so if one of them is more important to you, please let me know. I’ll get to it sooner.
Smooth roads and tailwinds,