Confessions of a workaholic solo traveler

I’m don’t hustle like the many who wear in on their sleeves. I don’t even have entrepreneurial dreams*. One of my lifetime ambitions is to travel to each and every country in the world. And the worst part is that I don’t have a strong ‘why’ behind it. It’s just something I want to do. And let me confess, I’m far off of my goal. It’ll probably take me 20 to 30 years to achieve it. No clue what the heck am I going to do after that, so, I’m just taking it slowly. 

That said, my holidays are never holidays. In fact, for most of my travels I don’t even take leaves. It’s just like a regular working day in a different time zone. I attend calls, fix virtual meetings with teams and prospects, and swim in an ocean of emails, escalations, and everything in between. Thankfully, I don’t regret it a bit. It’s how I’m wired. It’s how I believe most workaholics are. 

One major strategy during my travels is to fly out to the destination country on a Friday night and have a part of the weekend for myself. To decompress or just chill out and explore. I enjoy this bit a lot more. It’s so much freeing and a lot less stressful than sneaking out in the middle of the work day to check out the national museum. I know I don’t have to feel guilty about it because I’m technically on a holiday but working out of my own volition, but that’s just me. Also, I’ve never enjoyed stepping out to explore and discover something new on a work day anyway. 

My work week is usually quite streamlined – I follow my usual training plan or sometimes just a simple maintenance plan in the mornings to get me going for the day. There are times when I seek out opportunities to build connects locally either before arriving or during my stay. If they’re relevant to my business, I try and set up a meeting with them. Otherwise, I just stay in my room and get through the grind. If there’s too much on my head or I’m feeling irritated or stressed, I visit the nearest Starbucks (if I can find one) or a popular local coffee chain and work from there. 

After the grind, at around 7 or 7:30 pm, I step out to explore restaurants, bars, and other places where I can try out local food or a new cuisine, something I won’t have access to at home. Perhaps try out a much-talked about bar and definitely the local brewery for fresh craft beer (that’s a must for me)! I must say this bit of my travel is the next best thing after that freeing weekend I mentioned above. And it frustrates me to the core when Indians visit another country and have a meal from McDonald’s or Burger King or worse, an Indian restaurant! For what? Save money? I believe it isn’t just penny wise and pound foolish but also missing out on a great experience.

I believe most people don’t have their priorities set when they’re traveling — particularly if they’re doing it solo or with a group. Traveling couples get this right (for the most part) though they do skimp on experiences that could’ve been valuable. But to each, his or her own. My philosophy is pretty simple – would this enhance my experience as a person? If the answer is yes, I’d go for it. It’s not a foolproof strategy, of course! But it’ll invite you to be a little more bolder and adventurous. Great traits for a traveler!

And that’s about it! I know it’s boring but for folks whose work is worship this is the best thing that could happen to them. Yes, there are times when it isn’t as refreshing from a full-blown off-the-grid vacation but it’s a change of environment that your heart, mind, and soul deeply appreciates. The best part is the worldly perspective you gain, which makes you a better human. That’s priceless! 

P.S. *Though I am a freelance leadership development consultant and an executive coach.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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