The Business

3 client meetings in 2 cities = 1 epic trip in Spain

It started with a wild idea.

A group photo with the ToolTester team, who is one of my freelance clients.

Hola from Heathrow! I’m writing this during the layover before my flight home because the person who planned my trip decided to pick return flights with a 6 h 40 min layover in between. 🙃

(In my defence, this flight arrangement had the best balance between price and agony, okay?)

By the time you read this, I will have returned from my epic trip to Spain!* It was about two weeks long, where I went sightseeing and also met with three clients in Barcelona and Valencia.

ToolTester meeting

Feature Upvote meeting

Semrush meeting

Hands were shaken, deals were closed, and money was made. Okay, only the first of these three happened (and I was told it’s a very un-Spanish thing to do lol). But we did talk about our ongoing collabs, and it was great meeting them in person instead of just talking via email/Slack.

Here’s how this trip became a reality:

It started with a wild idea

Towards the end of last year, I started having a random thought:

“I have one client in Barcelona, Spain. And I have another in Valencia, Spain. So, what if……?”

(I had two clients in Spain at that time)

It didn’t take me long to decide to do the trip in 2024. But could the meetups happen?

“I’m planning a trip to [your city] and would love to meet”

I wanted to confirm my clients were based in the cities I thought they were based in (according to their registered address/LinkedIn) before I booked anything.

I also wanted to know if they were interested in meeting. (While keeping in mind that my trip would be months away and they might not still be my clients then.)

So, I dropped them a message along the lines of:

“Are you based in [city]? If so, I’m looking at travelling to Spain for a holiday next year and would love to meet!”

(According to my records, I sent one such message last September LOL)

My clients said yes to their location, and to meeting 🙂

When to visit?

Since I’m freelancing, I can take time off quite flexibly. i.e. anytime I want, though I usually schedule trips months in advance to avoid clashes with projects.

And I have a travel rule that if I want to visit a certain country, I want to as far as possible visit when the temperature is in the low 20s. This way, it’ll be cooler than the crazy warm weather in Singapore, but not so cold that I need winter wear.

After I mentioned to one client my target temperature, she recommended coming in early May or June. So, early May it was!

Nailing down my travel dates

I started looking at flights in January. My Google searches at that time included:

  • How long to spend in Barcelona
  • How to travel from Barcelona to Valencia
  • Leave Heathrow airport during a 6 hour layover (in the end, I decided to skip the potential stress and stay put)

I explored many date combinations.

Various possible date ranges for my trip to Spain

In the end, I decided to fly in and out during the weekends. This way, I’d keep my weekdays free for scheduling client meetings.

Confirming the meetup dates

After booking my flights, I let my clients know the dates I’d be in town and asked when they’d be free to meet.

I also aimed to not schedule meetings during the first few days of my trip. I wanted to have some time to get over jet lag (from the six-hour time difference) first.

Gifts!

I love surprising the people I meet overseas with gifts from home. (Unless the client has a company policy preventing them from accepting gifts)

I’m a big foodie, so I like to bring food they probably can’t get in their country, while keeping in mind:

  • Customs import rules
  • Possible dietary restrictions

So, the standard Singapore food stuff I like to get include:

  • Prima taste packs (but not the Hainanese chicken rice pack, unless I’m reasonably confident they have a rice cooker for cooking rice)
  • Kaya
  • Salted egg yolk chips or fish skin

I also prepare paper bags for putting the gifts in.

Finally: OOO

One day before I leave, I’ll set up out-of-office messages for other clients/people who might try to contact me while I’m away. And that’s it!

Overall, my trip was tiring but fun. I’m glad I got to experience Spain’s beautiful architecture and nature, friendly people and delicious food (mmm, paella…)

Sunset from Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) in Barcelona

GR-92 hike starting from L'Ametlla de Mar

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

Chicken and rabbit paella

The next epic trip is also already in the works. I’m looking forward to it 👀

* I was fortunately not on Tuesday’s SQ flight from Heathrow that encountered severe turbulence, causing passenger injury and fatality. My heart goes out to everyone onboard.

More freelancer news

Get rewarded for completing gigs

(apart from getting paid, of course)

There’s a new gig work platform called Jobs on Demand (Jod for short) for Singapore users to sign up for gigs.

I took a quick look at Jod’s mobile app. Currently, most of the jobs are for F&B wait staff and supermarket retail assistant roles, with a rate of S$10.50 to S$21 per hour. Jod processes payment one business day after users complete a job.

Uniquely, Jod offers a JodRewards scheme where users can earn points from completing jobs. You can use these points to redeem benefits like paid annual leave (i.e. S$80 for one rest day) and personal accident coverage.

Learn more about JodRewards here, and about Jod itself here. If you’ve used the app to get jobs, let me know what the experience was like!

This post was first published in my email newsletter on 23 May 2024. If you liked it, sign up for my newsletter here:

Tan Siew Ann
I’m a freelance writer for some of the most amazing software businesses in the world. On this blog, I share tips on how you, too, can run a sustainable and meaningful freelance business. Let’s forge your freedom. 💪

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