Lessons from Three Years of Travel and Work

It has been the greatest privilege to have the opportunity to travel while working with my former company. Living the dream does come with its own challenges and rewards. As I roam through different countries and cultures, these powerful lessons changed the way I live my life.

One Earth

There is only one precious earth. We must take care of it. Behind that picture perfect, Instagram photo is fifty photos overrun by garbage and trash created by us. My heart hurts to see how much we have neglected our home.

Air Quality Index 389: Beijing, China

Expectation vs. Reality, Seminyak beach: Bali, Indonesia

#Officefortheday: Bali, Indonesia

We love Budapest: Budapest, Hungary

It’s easy to ignore something that does not affect us directly. We get so caught up in our own struggles, we fail to see others. It’s no surprise that travel forces you to see outside of your own comfort zone. It takes courage and discipline to allow your experience to change the way you live.

For me, this is living a simple life without many material things. It is living a life with zero/ little waste and saying no to plastic. Lastly, giving back to every community by spending locally, eating ethically and influencing through action.

Urgency of Time

As Boston Latin Class of 2007, we choose 100 years by five for fighting as our graduation song. At the time, I felt annoyed at the intense negativity this song represented for such a joyous event. It was not until I returned home, I realize how powerful this song and the encouragement it’s meant to install in the new graduates. We only have 100 years to live, live it well, and strive to create a meaningful impact every minute, hour and days.
Your time is the most valuable thing. Become an efficient worker so you can be more productive with fewer hours. Before leaving the office, I spent 40+ hours “working”. The real breakdown is a little more alarming.

  • 30% of that time in the office is spent socializing.
  • 40% spent on meaningless redundant tasks that can be automated or improved.
  • 20% spent on distractions
  • 10% productive work

I’m not saying this is bad. We all do this. Distractions allow our brain to explore, socializing and connecting with colleagues help us reduce stress, and small accomplishments from redundant tasks keep us motivated throughout the day.
Remote work disrupted these four components of “work” and help me understand, you don’t have to work more hours to accomplish more. We can shift our time spent on socializing to automate meaningless work. We can discipline ourselves and reduce the time we spend distracted.

We can become more efficient and spend less time doing busy work in order to dedicate time to projects that we want to focus on.

Comfort in the Discomfort

When you’re constantly moving every few months, you never get a chance to get too comfortable in a country. You live every day with a hint of urgency and you get better at adapting to unexpected changes.

I came out of this journey living curiously and carelessly. We rarely experience life/death situations and there’s almost no amount of daily stress that should equate to the anxiety and stress we express. No matter how unhappy or painful I feel with the situation I’m in, I know I am extremely lucky in this life.

Time Doesn’t Stand Still for Anyone

Time is a priceless entity. In the generation littered with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), you’ll realize you can’t be in all of these countries to experience life with your newly made friends without physically being there. You’ll lose touch and friends will become acquaintances. Connections will fade.

I made many connections during my travels but I had to choose who I want to dedicate time to, which story I want to write and who to write it with. Being a nomad is like living the best part of a vacation over and over again. While you’re caught up in the excitement of the experiencing novelty, other stories are written parallel to yours. Your best friends will experience new jobs, boyfriends, start a family, time with a new member of the family. Life with your loved ones will be written without you. There lies your decision. Do I choose to sacrifice these experiences or do I choose to experience the moments with my loved ones?

I choose the latter for now.