Guest Blog: Why travelling and work go hand in hand - By Laura Summerhayes

Laura Summerhayes is my March guest blogger. A freelance writer based in Bristol, she loves travelling, writing, reading and tries to do all 3 as often as possible. As a writer she loves words that take guts to write and stop you in your tracks. Laura writes for B2B audiences, for consumers and also blogs about her travels at www.laurasummerhayes.co.uk

An un-Instagramable snapshot of why getting away is good for your career

Work time is for working, holiday time is for travelling, right? But if you’ve scrolled through Instagram it can seem like the separation between work and play isn’t quite so clear cut. Everywhere you look people are ditching the 9-5 and working from European cities, cosy cafes and exotic beaches.

So maybe work and travel are more interchangeable than most people might think. But, the real balance between life and work is definitely not how the the Instagram brigade would have you believe.

Personally, I think the connection between work and travel goes a lot deeper than being able to work from a bar in Tokyo or a mountain retreat in the Alps. The effect that travelling has had on my life and freelance career is far more profound than being able to sip a cocktail at a beach bar in front of my laptop (‘The Realities of Working on the Road’ is also a whole different blog). Travelling definitely helped me find out who I really am and how much I can withstand, both in my private and professional life.

Dealing with the unexpected

First of all, travel throws up things that you can’t plan for. Ok, you might have booked your flights, transfers and accommodation ahead of time but, when you’re travelling, the best laid plans will inevitably unravel at some point. Maybe your flight gets grounded due to bad weather, or the transfer never shows up. These things that go ‘wrong’ force you to be flexible, agile and adapt quickly. My last travels forced me to be just that, as I had to deal with a huge case of the unexpected on my trip last summer.

I took a road trip through Scandinavia in 2017 that was supposed to last three months. One month in and the van broke down; it was completely beyond repair. The ‘plan’ went out the window, and meant a complete change of transport, from driving to using public transport. What’s more, it meant a significant reduction in the amount of luggage that I could carry, something that got more minimal as the trip progressed.

Ok, so a broken-down vehicle on a road trip and a total change of transport and accommodation looks like a major catastrophe on the surface. But the unexpected helped me to realise that most things are not as catastrophic as they seem on the surface, that most things can be overcome and that hidden under all of the planning and preparation lies the resilience and resourcefulness to find an alternative route, quite literally in my case.

I’ve learned to see these things not as a hindrance but something that forces you to look at what you really need. If you can’t carry it, and it isn’t essential to keeping you fed, watered, clothed and sheltered, ditch it. This was exactly the attitude I had to take when I was tasked with reducing a whole vehicle’s worth of stuff to a single backpack. Necessity is the mother of all invention and applying a similar cut-throat principle to your work life might yield some pleasantly surprising results.

Ditching the baggage and feeling freer

In the end, travel helps you to feel freer. I’m not just talking about the physical freedom that came with streamlining my backpack and reducing its weight over several weeks. I’m talking about a feeling of mental freedom too. Having nothing but the open road ahead and not knowing where you’ll sleep tonight, the next night, or several nights from now, really does make you feel like the master of your own destiny.

The same can be said about running your own freelance business or being self-employed. As with travelling, you never know what is going to crop up tomorrow. Maybe a new client will call. Maybe a client will announce they’re selling their business, and the services you provide are now in question. Or maybe you’ll have the opportunity to do something new and exciting. 

My experiences when travelling have had a huge impact on how I look at these scenarios. I had first-hand experience of the unexpected while travelling, I developed flexible responses and a greater feeling of freedom. I now feel better equipped to embrace the ups and downs of work life and not take it too personally or detrimentally.

Discovering who you really are

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When you’re freed from all of that mental and physical weight it’s much easier to get in touch with your true self. Of course, it’s great to feel like you’re equipped to roll with the punches, and know that you’re resilient enough to deal with whatever comes along. But having the freedom that comes with travelling gives you the time and space to focus on work with far greater clarity.

Where am I going? What do I want? What is important to me and what can I do without?These are all pretty handy questions when you’re planning a getaway and packing your bag. But if you apply those questions to your life and work, you might just be amazed.

To read more about laura's travel adventures and mishaps, check out her blog! www.laurasummerhayes.co.uk