The Reality of Working on the Road
After I landed back in San Francisco last week, more than one old friend asked me, “so where exactly have you been since you left?”
Yeah, I’m not the best at always being clear to others about my projects and travels. Even if you closely follow my Facebook status updates, I enjoy occasionally being vague. Even Ian asks me sometimes, “um, where are you again?”
What can I say? I’m a bit of a spur-of-the-moment gal. Problem is, trying to build a steady career while spurring-off here and there.
I would imagine that most of you who read BNT and Matador at one point or another have longed to take on the open road and somehow make a career out of it. Whether that means through writing about your travels, vlogging about your spiritual experiences, or even consulting in your chosen field in different countries, the balance of exploration and work is never an easy one.
I took off last July, planning to make my way around the US with a car that already had 170,000+ miles on it, and no real plan other than to contact people on Couchsurfing.org at least two days before I landed in a place. What I quickly realized is that there is a balance of give and take that is necessary when you try and combine work and travel.
Something’s Gotta Give
Longtime Matador contributor Turner Wright just wrote a piece over at Vagabondish about this very subject entitled, Are You a Victim of Travel Writer’s Catch-22?
Did I ever cut a traveling experience short by the subconscious need to get the most recent one on paper before I began anew?
Though he specifically talks about the perils of balancing travel writing and enjoying the place in which he finds himself, the same is true for any career we decide to take on while being on the road. Sometimes it means giving up fully enjoying, or getting to know, the place you’ve landed.
Making a living this way takes discipline, my friend. And it takes being honest with yourself about what type of person you are.
What I figured out over the first couple of months of my trip is that I needed to stay in one place for at least a month at a time (that hardly precluded weekend trips to nearby destinations). One or two months at the same destination meant I could have the time to get to see a place AND work the hours needed to pay for living in that place.
Since that time, I’ve spent one month here, several months there. That works for me. Some of you might be better at handling a week or two in one place and getting your work done like a champ. But it is worth thinking about your personality type, how schedules work for you, and any underlying emotional agendas before embarking on this work lifestyle.
But when the world calls you, what else are you going to do?
What are some tips for balancing work and travel? Share them below!
Interested in learning exactly how to go about making a career out of travel writing? Then check out MatadorU, where you’ll not only get the writing skills, but you’ll become part of a community that helps with the ups and downs of working on the road.