Monday, January 27, 2014

7 Travel Resolutions for 2014

1. To do a better job of working while I travel. 

On drab grey afternoon last winter, I was sitting in my favourite Toronto coffee shop transcribing interviews when I had a sudden realization—I could be doing this anywhere.

The realization that my office could be relocated—obvious as it may have been—literally changed my life. A holdover from my former life as a nine-to-fiver, up until that point I had still viewed "travel" and "vacation" as synonymous. Within 24 hours, I booked tickets to Roatan. 

Since then, I’ve worked from Honduras (twice), Australia, New York, Montréal, Scotland, England, the Northwest Territories and Alberta. It hasn’t been without challenges—sometimes the Internet doesn’t work, sometimes it’s difficult to coordinate phone interviews across time zones, and sometimes poolside mojitos seem far more appealing than staring at my laptop. (Actually, make that always. Poolside mojitos are always more appealing than work.)

This year, I need to learn how to carve out adequate work time as well as ensure that I don't take on too much work while I'm away. (That one time that I filed six stories in four days from Honduras? Considerably less than fun you would assume.)

2. To do a better job of turning my travel into my work.

I’m a journalist. A freelance journalist who specializes in travel writing. And you want to know how many articles I published last year that were actually based on my international travels?


Ugh. That's just a bad investment. (For the record though, I published a ton of Ontario-related travel pieces last year, so I'm not a complete life failure.)

This year, I'll be better. I promise.

3. To investigate working holiday visa options.

Despite my gallivanting ways, working abroad has always been somewhat of a daunting prospect. After all,  I’ve only ever lived in three places in my life. It pains me to admit this, but I also think I’ve always had this idea in the back of my mind that I’d first move overseas with a partner.

But the clock is ticking, I’m still (happily) single and two things have recently come to my attention:

1) I turn 30 in May, which makes me officially at the age cut-off for a working holiday visa in a number of countries. This year is literally my last chance to take advantage of the program.

2) The journalism industry is shit.

This latter realization isn’t a new development. However, following the loss of one of my main contracts due to lay-offs, I’m quickly recognizing that if I want to keep writing, I’m going to have to develop new skills and refine existing ones. If I’m going to make a move, it’s going to be a strategic one—I'm past the age of moving abroad to work as a waitress.

Like all other plans that I’ve famously first declared on my blog (entering a beauty pageant and only dating men with beards for a year are two examples that jump to mind) putting this goal in writing in a very public forum is my way of committing to it. (Well, sort of. After all, I never did marry for money in 2013.)

4. To return to Finland. 

It’s been over 10 years. I want to go back.

5. To take at least one trip that physically challenges me. 

The most rewarding trip that I’ve taken in the last five years was when Chloé and I hiked the Inca Trail, undoubtably because it was both physically and mentally challenging. In 2014, I want to take at least one trip that makes me feel uncomfortable and that tests my limits.

6. To budget better.

As much as I enjoy the havoc that eating chili for every meal wracks on my digestive system (chili because it only costs about $8 to make a huge pot that lasts a week), I really need to learn how to save for trips rather than impulsively booking them.

Unfortunately, I think I've already failed miserably at this goal. It's only January and I've already booked tickets to go to BC, Australia, Mexico and the Galapagos—and that's just the next four months.

7. To stop feeling guilty. 

People are going to continue to pass judgment on my choices. They’re going to keep asking me how I afford to live the way I do. The difference is that this year, I’m going to stop listening.

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