- Written by Dan
Never Take Another Vacation
By Ryan Murdock
“You lucky jerk—you must go swimming all the time!”
“Well, that would be nice, but…”
“What do you mean? How many times did you go this year? Be honest, I won’t get jealous.”
“I think two…”
“But the beach is 5 minutes from your place! What the hell is wrong with you?”
I made a few convenient excuses. But the truth is, I had fallen into the same trap that affects freelancers, workaholics, and people with regular jobs.
Most of my friends think that working from home must be tough because life has all these distractions, like television, coffee with friends, and loafing around in your underwear.
But I find the opposite to be true. Working from home means you just end up working all the time.
Take my rather pathetic case, for example…
I had moved to the Mediterranean to experience a different way of life, and to write an island book. But I felt guilty leaving my desk long enough for a quick swim in the afternoon.
Hell, I felt guilty about sitting for an hour in the beautiful stone-walled living room of the 400 year old house I had rented, rather than going back to my desk in the evening to check in on my online business.
Of course, a “quick check” always turned into several hours of work…
You’ve probably had similar difficulty shutting down and disconnecting. I mean, how could you possibly take a one or two week vacation off the grid when there’s just so much to do?
That’s right. Don’t ever take a vacation again. Vacations are lame, and they don’t work anyway. You just end up sneaking into the bathroom to check your email, or ruining a nice dinner by worrying about what’s happening at the office.
So forget about vacations. The concept is flawed.
I want you to embrace the Global Nomad lifestyle instead.
Rather than just disconnect for a week—or, what’s more realistic, rushing around for a frantic 4 or 5 days of exhausting sightseeing, while thinking about work the whole time you’re away—I want you to go on the road for longer stretches. Four or five or even eight weeks.
It’s halfway between long term travel and full Expat Living. And it’ll give you a chance to test the waters and decide if it’s for you.
Now before you say, “Murd, are you drinking cleaning fluid? How could I possibly make that work?”
I’m doing it now, as I write this. And if I can make it work, so can you.
You see, I’m based in Malta, but island life was driving me buggy. So I decided to do a little experiment.
I wanted to see if I could keep a regular schedule while traveling—to do exciting and stimulating things, while still nailing off a regular amount of work. Call it an experiment in lifestyle design.
I’m writing this piece from Riga, Latvia, where I’m researching an Outpost story on the Baltics.
I’ll be on the road for 6 weeks in total. But I’m not just managing to make notes for my story and post new blogs to my site every 3 days. I’m also running an internet business—and we just finished a big product launch.
I’ll tell you how I’m making it work—and how you can do it too.
So are you ready to embrace this incredibly enriching lifestyle?
Great! Here are five essential tips.
Stick to a Schedule
Keeping regular hours is the key to making this work.
I get up and make a pot of black coffee, and I work on my internet business all morning. I go out around noon or 1 p.m. to do some exploring for my article. I grab some supper and come back by 8 or 9 p.m. for a couple more hours work. And then I write up my notes around 11pm, preferably with a glass of some interesting local spirits for inspiration.
Sticking to this simple schedule allows me to work just as productively from the road as I do back home. I’m more focused too, because I have to make everything fit into that limited space each day.
In fact, this schedule was working so well that my business partner and employees didn’t even know I was gone.
You need to travel more slowly on this kind of trip than you would on your typical vacation.
If you normally try to see a city in 2 days, then book a full week. The extra time will allow for the sort of schedule I described above. And you won’t feel pressured to see and do everything at once.
Keeping a more relaxed pace will also make you feel like you’re living in this new city or region like a local. You’ll gain a totally different perspective than you would if you were just rushing around checking off tourist attractions from a list.
Rent an Apartment
You might have read point #2 above and said, “Who the heck can afford to pay for a week of hotels in all these cities?”
I agree. It’s too expensive. And hotels keep you isolated from the experience you’re trying to capture.
You’ll experience life in a local neighbourhood, rather than the hotel district with its souvenir shops and overpriced tourist restaurants. And you’ll be able to save some cash—and a couple inches on your waistline—by self-catering for breakfast and dinner too.
I’m on the road for nearly 2 months in the Baltics and Scandinavia. My luggage? One small soft-sided carry on bag, and a small backpack for my laptop.
The little backpack’s a bit of a luxury, really. But it makes a good daypack if needed, and I can use it to bring home a few “extras” at the end of my trip.
If you’re used to taking a full sized suitcase on a weekend trip, this may seem like a crazy idea. But you’ll thank me when you’re zipping past those long crocodiles of tourists in the convoluted alleys of Venice, watching them sweat as they try to lug a suitcase over bridge after bridge.
If you’re renting apartments like I recommended above, you’ll also have laundry machines at your disposal, so there’s no need to pack more than 5 days of clothes.
And anything you run out of, you can buy. It might not be your preferred brand, but hey, you’re travelling to try new things. And sometimes that includes fish flavoured toothpaste….
Finally, being able to work from anywhere means taking advantage of cloud services.
Buy an unlocked phone and pick up local SIM cards along the way so you’re not paying outrageous roaming rates.
And if you need to make overseas calls, top up your Skype account so you can dial landlines.
If you have a flexible job, then this might just be the answer to that big “around the world” travel goal.
Life is too short to put it all off until some vague day “after you retire” or “after the kids move out.”
Become a Global Nomad and learn to work from the road. You can seize those dreams right now. And you can have a hell of an exciting time doing it.
Ryan Murdock is Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Outpost, and has written several features over the past decade for Outpost—on France, Jordan and Namibia, to name just a few. He’s also author of “Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America,” and you can see more of Ryan at www.ryanmurdock.com, and twitter.com/roadwisdom. Stay tuned for more of his columns on The Expat Life!