Travelling the world as part of my job is nothing short of amazing, there’s no bigger work perk than one that allows you to travel. It can however be, as with all professions, a little taxing and just as there may be a ‘How to get through a working day as an accountant’ Handbook, here’s my personal guide to mastering travelling as part of your living.
For me the long haul flights, alternating time zones, always having to be camera ready and effortlessly catching the moment are just few of the less than celebratory sides to my job and I know I’m not alone in this profession when it comes to struggling to keep ‘with it’ when back to back country hopping. Whilst it’s never really been a realisation of my own, I do seem to cope pretty well with all the madness! Whether it’s a production colleague, fellow travel journalist or even just my friends, those who see through the glamorous smokescreen of the full time travel are often asking me for my ‘tips & tricks’ as to how I manage to do it all and ‘still look so fresh’ (their words not mine!) but for me the key to it all is just being grateful and present. I took a very different path to most of today’s travel bloggers, I worked within the media world for 3 years before the industry of blogging really kicked off so I put in the slog hours at the very start of my career. I would stand outside in the snow in open toe stilettos for hours waiting to catch a sentence from Ed Sheeran on the red carpet or travel to 6 or 7 auditions a day all to be told my hair was an inch too short or something ridiculously similar as to why I didn’t get a callback. Every moment I spend working abroad I am blessed and every moment my inner negative nancy starts to whisper in my ear that I’m exhausted or fed up I’ll cast my mind back.
My personal feelings aside, I have, consciously and subconsciously picked up a few rules to live by that have without a doubt made my life as a vocational nomad easier and more fulfilled. So here goes:
Always be Present, one thing that I’ve always managed to master is being ‘present’ and ‘in the moment’ when I’m travelling. Do I sneak a look at my emails during breakfast and lunch, absolutely, do I take moments throughout the day to post on social, yes but in terms of being conscious and aware of my surroundings, there’s no question where my priorities lie. When I travel with friends who aren’t in the industry (which is mostly the crowd I travel with) they, no word of a lie, spend far more time on their phones than I do! I’m that nagging travel buddy that’s constantly pointing things out the pretty scenery and vocally appreciating everything!
– Look up, look out, smell, listen, fully immerse yourself. It sounds silly but if I’m ever feeling like I’m not connected to where I am I’ll go stand still and work my way through each sense one by one, it’s a form of meditation but it’s the most amazing way to truly be where you are and appreciate it all.
Wake up with the Sun, a rule I set myself years ago when I started having the opportunity to travel more often was that no matter what time zone I’m in, I have to wake up at sunrise. This does mean that if I’m travelling east I’m a snapping zombie for the first couple of days but it allows me to soak up every possible moment in the country. The only exception is if it’s pouring down with rain, that allows for a little lie in 😉
-Set that alarm and wake up! Your body may scream at you to sleep in but in most cases you are only there once, make the most of it! You will eventually adjust to the earlier mornings, persevere!
Don’t succumb to Jet Lag, it’s a choice people! Power through and you will reap the benefits. I’ve always been someone that no matter how tired I am (even when I’m slurring my words at dinner) I will make sure I get immediately into the country’s time rhythm. Our bodies can cope missing one night’s sleep or two, it’s all in the mind and I am not going to be the one to waste any time in a new place. The trick is to keep your meal times in sync with the country you are landing in, so if it’s their breakfast time then you eat breakfast, regardless of whether or not you’ve had it an hour ago or you just finished up with your dinner. Also, you tell your body that you have a little more in you! I call it a ‘second wind’, just when you think you can’t stay up a second longer you’ll get a boost of energy that sees you through 😉
Only take photos when you know they will ‘work’ , at the start of me sharing my travels I would be far more frantic with taking pictures, I had to capture every moment, every outfit, every view…..the list goes on. Now though I’m quite the opposite! I will only spend time taking pictures if I know they are going to work out, if the lighting is horrendous or the colours aren’t floating my boat or it’s too crowded and I feel like a wholly I’ll just not bother. I used to stress me out so much if I couldn’t get the ‘postable’ snap but now I am pretty chilled if something I had hoped would work out didn’t. There’s no point in getting upset or disheartened by something that I just won’t be able to change. Instead…..I’ll just enjoy the moment and take a simple snap for my own memories.
I don’t take pictures at night. Something that gets me through the often manic day-to-day of being a travel writer/influencer/presenter (delete as appropriate on any given day!) is the fact that as soon as that sun has set, I’m off the clock. I don’t like taking pictures with flash so I don’t take pictures a night. I’ll sit with a glass of vino and my companion and totally switch off from tech. So no matter how crazy the day, there’s always that time for me to ‘take it all in’ and relax, even if it does end up to only be a few minutes.
I am a master at time management , if I do say so myself! I have been on so many press trips recently with journalists or bloggers and I am always so shocked that despite being in absolute paradise members of the group would be spending hours during the day working on emails or writing up articles in their rooms. I found and still find this pretty bonkers. If I am travelling somewhere I will, by hook or by crook complete all my work (and them some….) before reaching the other side. I will stay up all night finishing up articles in the UK if it means I am free to fully enjoy my time abroad.
-Plan your content ahead, setting up some posts for social or scheduling blogposts will relieve any ‘I’m not working’ tension that you may feel whilst you are away. If it’s not absolutely urgent leave it until you are home or at very worst until the evening so you can enjoy the day.
Travelling with the right people makes all the difference, if I’m travelling with someone who fully appreciates and ‘gets’ my job then it makes my life so much easier. I love to wake up early and shoot pictures during sunrise knowing that if I get what I need in the morning then I can go about the rest of my day in a more carefree way. It also helps when my gals (or guy!) knows my angles and the kind of framing or vibes I like to create in pictures.
-Choose the right person for each trip, it sounds obvious but I have lately become more and more strategic in who I take with me as a plus one or who I agree to travel with as their’s. I have a job to do and despite the fun as I can have, if the person I’m with is not willing to wake up early and take beach pictures or swim in the sea with me and a whale shark (holding the GoPro obvs ;)) then they are not the best person to invite to the Maldives for an example!
Pack well, sounds like a silly one but it makes all the difference! I have always been pretty good at putting a suitcase together but I really have perfected the art now. It helps me stay in the moment when I’m away for a few reasons, mainly because there’s no worry that I’ll end up needing anything other than what I’ve packed but also because it takes the stress out of having to think about the simple things when I’m away, like what to wear?! I’d love to act all cool and all nonchalant here but in reality if I’m dressing up or down the outfit choosing process for me is embarrassingly long! I’ll whip on and off at least 4 to 5 T-shirts before settling on one! To combat this, I pack in clothes as full outfits and take pictures of the ensemble so that when I’m away I know what works with what and the options that I have. I also make a point to never overpack, I may have everything I could possibly need for a trip but at the same time I’ll keep my luggage to the minimum where possible, it makes the whole process easier but it also means I won’t be distracted with choices!
-Plan ahead and only pack what you need. I like to pack as per the country I’m visiting, having a ‘theme’ helps with narrowing down outfit choices. Count the days, pack an outfit for each and then throw in two spares for good measure.
Take your Laptop on the plane – a recent personal discovery that has, no word of a lie, changed my working life! I am a procrastinator by nature, especially as I write from home so having uninterrupted spare hours on the plane to write articles is invaluable for me. I stick in my earphones, blare music through them to get me in the groove and just tippy type-y away. I get in the zone and the only thing that stops my flow is the end of the journey or my laptop running out of battery! If I’m too knackered to think straight I will at least edit my pictures on the flight, whatever way I can maximise my time abroad I’ll opt for it.
-Utilise your time, even if you are travelling with other journalists or bloggers using the hours you have on the plane to ‘get shit done’ will make sure you start the trip on a high. I will even draft replies to emails and copy and paste them when I land so all my focus is on the trip itself.
Take a polaroid camera , lastly take some photos that are just for you, when I’m travelling you’ll often hear me declare ‘Memories’ when taking photos. When I say this I’m making an announcement that these photos are just for me, to remind me of the moment. It’s more of a mental declaration for me more so than the people I’m with as I am telling myself out loud to simply realise where I am, forget focusing on what I look like and appreciate the moment I’m sharing with whomever it may be. Taking these ‘memories’ pictures on a polaroid is so important because it can only be captured once, in it’s true form. If my eyes are squinty, my outfit looks crap or my friend hates the way her hair is wafting……..it is what it is. You can’t spend hours taking the perfect polaroid because, let’s face it, polaroid films are bloody expensive!
My full look is by Melissa Odabash, I’m obsessed with it! Available here 🙂