My recent holiday in Feurteventura was meant to be just that – a holiday. A week where I could just switch off from being a travel writer, have some ‘me time’ away from my email inbox and work assignments and generally just enjoy exploring the Canary Islands. Without having to post, blog, tweet or report about it to the world.
I wrote this open letter recently for the Virgin website about why many of us need to reclaim our sense of adventure. And while I wouldn’t say I switched off 100% on my holiday (I did check my emails occasionally and I did post a few times on social media), I can definitely say that I approached this trip with a bit more mindfulness. A bit more focus. A bit more of a holiday, ‘live-in-the-moment’ frame of mind.
After saying all of this, I won’t lie, I’m not going to file my week away in that box of holiday memories and never speak or write of it again. Let’s be honest, the travel writer / journalist / blogger in me will always want to share stories from my travels. And if you work in the travel writing or blogging industry, I’m sure you will too.
But what this holiday did allow me to do, was give myself permission to slow down a bit, not stick to a crammed itinerary of ‘must-see’ sights and just go with the flow, which you rarely do if you’re on a travel writing assignment or on a pre-planned press trip. I even read a complete book in a week, which I never do! (It was Girl Gone Greek which you can hear more about in this Q&A with author Rebecca Hall).
What it also made me think about was whether the freelancers among us can ever truly switch off. If you make a living from writing about travel, can you ever travel without thinking about your next story? Can you ever put down the camera without fearing that you’ve missed out on that money shot, that might earn you your next bit of income when you get back?
And finally, when you’re self-employed, can you ever fully ignore your emails without fear you’re going to miss out on your next new client, or commission? After all, travel writing is one of the most competitive industries you can be in, right? And no-one but you can be responsible for finding your next paid gig.
The truth is that being a successful travel writer takes hard work and it takes perseverance. And being self-employed takes a lot of discipline to succeed. And a lot of discipline to look after your wellbeing and allow yourself some time off to rediscover what makes you tick. It’s one of the key things I learned from my three-month ‘sabbatical’ in Africa. Time off is important.
So what I guess I’m trying to say in this ramble – and slightly off-piste type of post for me – is taking a holiday as a freelance travel writer is essential. We should do it more. You should do it more. Yes, you’ll be forgiven for occasionally banking a few ideas for that story you’re going to sell when you get home. And you don’t have to put the camera down completely.
But do make sure you try and reclaim that sense of adventure, just a little bit, without thinking about what you’re going to share online afterwards. Keep some of your experiences to yourself and saviour them as your own private memories. Allow yourself some time to be you and most importantly, enjoy being on holiday! Remember them?!
I’m hoping to share some more posts soon on the truth behind being a travel writer and essential tips for freelancers. So if there’s anything you’re keen to read about let me know in the comments below.
Are you a travel writer, blogger or freelancer and if so, do you remember the last time you properly switched off on holiday? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments and if you’re self-employed, tell me your tips for how you find your work-life balance.