By Matt Essam - Creative Business Consultant
Having worked with hundreds of creatives over the past few years, I have noticed they all share one common trait; they love to travel. In a recent coaching session, I asked one of my clients why travel is so important to them and their response was something I hadn’t previously contemplated. To them, travel was a way to gain a different perspective on life and draw inspiration from a variety of sources when taking on new creative projects. When I thought about it more, I realised it can be a powerful tool when trying to develop new work or overcome creative blocks. The problem is, people often think of travel to exotic destinations as a luxury that only the rich and famous can afford.
One of the sentences I often hear is; “I would love to travel more, but….”. We often create obstacles and challenges for ourselves because we have limiting beliefs. I am very passionate about helping creative professionals to fulfil their true potential and realise their goals. It’s easy to look at Instagram or Facebook and think everyone else is having an amazing time, because of their situation or circumstance, but the truth is, most people make it work because they value travel so much. In this article, I want to share some ways you can travel more and stop waiting for permission or the right time.
Firstly, I want to acknowledge that some people are in situations that make it very difficult for them to travel the world for an extended period and I’m not suggesting it should be everyone’s aim to sit on a beach writing a novel for months on end. However, there are ways that we can take extended breaks which most people don’t try because they haven’t taken the time to question assumptions and find ways to make it work for them. Some of these are probably ideas you have thought about but didn’t make it out of your head onto paper. Below are five simple ways you can travel more to nurture your creativity:
1: Freelance from anywhere in the world
In 2015, after reading a book called “The four hour work week” I set off with one of my best friends to travel the world and run my business from a laptop. From South East Asia to Canada, I was away for a total of three months working remotely with my clients. I now aim to take extended breaks once a year and work remotely from any location that has a good internet connection and some sunshine. This approach isn’t easy and does take awhile to build up a client base who are happy for you to work from anywhere, but it can be done. The freelance lifestyle has some great advantages, one of which is freedom, but it’s certainly not for everyone. For those who just can’t fit themselves around a nine to five lifestyle, it may be the answer you are looking for. Check out this article to see if it’s something you would be suited to.
2: Take a sabbatical
One of the easiest but scariest options for a lot of people is to take time out of your current job. It is scary because people believe they are risking their security and won’t be able to return. In my experience, this is usually a false fear and if you are good at your job then your boss won’t want to lose you. As the famous saying goes, “if you don’t ask you don’t get”. Asking for something that requires a lot of consideration, often works best using a technique called anchoring. This is where you ask for something that is above and beyond what you really desire, such as, a six-month sabbatical. Then if the offer gets rejected, you can negotiate down to an agreement that you actually want. The four hour work week has some great real-life examples of how you can negotiate with your boss so be sure to check it out.
3: Work remotely
This won’t work for all jobs but it does work in a surprising number of cases. Again, if you are good at your job and you can do it remotely, your boss would be stupid not to agree. Anchoring can also be a good technique to use in this situation, but I would advise starting with a trial period working from home. Suggest this to your boss and say that if at any point they feel it isn’t working, you will come back into the office immediately. You want to downsize the risk for your company as much as possible to the point where it is difficult for them to justify their objections.
4: Get a job that involves travel
This one is fairly obvious and most people love the idea, but rarely explore it. There are some occupations that are more suited to travel than others, such as photography and writing. However, you may be surprised to find a number of roles that come with travel as a benefit. Ask around, do you know anyone that travels a lot? What is their job or even role within that company? Could you find a similar role in your industry? Do be aware; business travel can seem glamours from the offset but the reality is often far from it. I regularly speak to people who have been to some exotic parts of the world but have only ever seen the inside of the board room and the hotel. Do your research and find out specifically what the travel involves before jumping into anything.
5: Save money and quit your job
This is what a lot of people do when they get to breaking point. They are so fed up with their job and the country they live in, they just quit their job and go traveling. I have been traveling quite extensively where I didn’t have a specific reason or purpose for travel. I lived off savings and the odd job here and there, sleeping on sofas and staying with family. It is very different to traveling and working on your own projects or for someone else. It is like an extended holiday and often involves a bit of soul searching and time for reflection. After doing this several times, I definitely prefer traveling with my laptop and still earning a living. I tend to find myself meeting more relevant and interesting people as well as making connections I am likely to keep for a longer period of time. That being said, both of those things are possible when you just explore for the sake of exploring. A balance of the two is important and travailing somewhere to explore without an agenda is great for the soul.
There are lots of ways to travel more and if you are creative, I believe it’s an essential tool that can help us reach our full potential. So have a think about your own situation and how you can travel more, make time for it, it’s important. If you feel stuck, uninspired or like giving up, find a way to take a holiday. I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes by Seth Godin…
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin
Matt has worked as a freelancer in the creative industries for more than half a decade and now helps ambitious, talented creative professionals to win high value clients and work on fulfilling projects. He has recently launched one of the UK’s first accelerator programmes exclusively for creative freelancers and small businesses.