Travel is a fundamentally destabilizing activity, which takes you out of your day-to-day routines. It is precisely because of this that it has the potential to fundamentally change your life, which is great. But when you travel a lot for work, it can also be extremely difficult to maintain a sense of real balance in your life. This is why I have chosen to travel like a star. Let me explain:
I love to travel and I have developed my own principles that help me stay grounded and ensure that I continue to enjoy it. However, in conversations with peers I’ve realized that this is in fact not how most of the people I know travel. Most of the people I know travel in big loops. If they are going from NYC to Europe or Asia they will often hop around on the trip. Maybe they will go to Paris first, then London, then stop over Copenhagen and/or Berlin before heading back three weeks later.
For me that should be three different trips: a trip to Paris and back. A trip to London and back. A trip to Copenhagen and back. Most people I meet find this to be crazy. Why would I cross the Atlantic six times when I could do just two?
Why? Because traveling for a long time completely ruins my day-to-day rhythm, which is something I value a lot. By making short single-purpose trips and coming back in between I make sure to reconnect with my home and feel grounded before a new adventure. Mentally I can recharge and reflect on the experience. Practically I can also pack less stuff for each trip.
Some people would argue that it is a lot more expensive to travel that way, and in crude ticket costs that may be true. Perhaps I just end up traveling a bit less. After all, that third trip to Copenhagen isn’t actually that important anyway, so I might save both money and time by realizing that I don’t even want to go this time (instead of just doing it because you feel a sense of “should” now that you’re so close). Also, in my business I do regular ongoing coaching/consulting sessions with clients. If I’m away for three weeks straight it means a lot of lost business. But if I leave on a Thursday night and come back Monday morning my clients don’t even need to know that I’m away since it doesn’t affect our work. But most of all, for me it is really just the mental exhaustion I have felt if I had to travel with multiple stops in one trip. It takes the fun and joy out of it for me, and since travel is one of the things that rejuvenates me the most, I simply refuse to sacrifice it based on someone else’s ideas about what makes sense and doesn’t.
I’m not saying that everyone should travel like me, or that my system is the best. What matters is just that you reflect on what travel is to you and how you consciously adjust accordingly. What are the frustrating things? What are the things you love?
Mathias Vestergaard helps leaders, creatives and entrepreneurs think clearly and tackle tough challenges. He loves bread and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and baby son.
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