The Reality of Work & Travel: Cape Town.
By Justin Hannan
It's a curious feeling standing alone in the international departures hall with your life completely packed away. The life you've spent nearly 3-decades building for yourself, now distilled down into simply a suitcase and a laptop...
Justin Hannan, the winner of Latitude's recent #TravelDoneBetter campaign is one month into his four month trip of remote working. Read on to hear his recap of Month 1. Want to follow Justin's journey? Check us out on Instagram!
"Your regular reality from this moment has fundamentally changed. Gone is your morning routine of yoga and cup of coffee. Now, you're headed into uncharted territory with no one but yourself responsible for your wellbeing.
Naturally, one begins to question.
What will happen to my business?
Will I continue to make enough money?
And more scarily...
Am I going to lose it all?
Then, in a flash, the announcement comes.
"Boarding all passengers travelling to Cape Town, South Africa."
After what feels like a century and a minute all at once, you're in a new country... And at least in my case...stranded at an airport with no idea where to go.
Pro Tip - always check with your tour provider there is indeed a transport waiting for you... Or at least get your hotel address.
(Hey, I'm here to blog about working remotely, not being a professional traveller.)
Upon arrival, there's a group of 54-strangers from around the world all with different circumstances, but one united mission.
Work, live and thrive in Cape Town.
Amongst the group are people who earn real money every time they click "publish" from their blog account. There are people who live and snowboard full-time in Whistler while working for their company in Toronto. There are people who are middle-aged men who have changed their career halfway through life to become professional photographers.
It's an eclectic mix who all simply want to work and travel.
When you enter a program like Remote Year, there's a twilight period as you get to know your fellow remote workers. Though unfortunately, this twilight zone cannot last forever as "real-work" beckons.
This is when as a remote worker, you're going to face your first major challenge. A challenge not from the outside world, but one from within... Temptation.
I mean, you're on a once and a lifetime trip right? You have only this one chance to discover the city; to meet new friends or go on that exotic tinder date...
The traveller's mindset starts to completely dissipate all the discipline you've worked so hard to build back home. You forged a routine that guarantees results and now, it's all starting to crumble apart.
As the days go on and the unread emails increase, eventually, stress; anxiety and maybe even guilt, send you crashing towards your laptop, energy drink in hand (thankfully, the co-working space in Cape Town has a fully stocked Café - * cue caffeine *).
Realising this wasn't an effective (or healthy) system, I had to create a win/win situation for myself. How could I continue to generate business results while avoiding overwhelming FOMO ("fear-of-missing-out" for those reading who aren't Gen-Y'ers).
Plan both your fun and your work in Google Calendar. When travelling, there will always be a plethora of opportunities awaiting you... And it's easy to start eating a little too heavily into that 'work time'... What helped me is this simple mantra.
"If you're not 100% in, you're out."
This way when you hear all your mates are headed out to play volleyball at the beach... You're not tempted (unless you really, really love volleyball). Since volleyball doesn't sit in the 100% in category, now you can sit free at your laptop (mostly) happy to be working.
Planning your work and fun is not only effective at ensuring you do indeed work, but it's also proven to improve your overall working productivity and likelihood of hitting your personal goals. So you're really hitting two birds with one stone. And hey, let's say you actually get ahead of that schedule? Maybe then you can sneak out for that beach session in the middle of the day - that's one of the great perks of being a remote worker after all!
Additionally, getting accustomed to using your Calendar is going to help you with your next challenge... Time zones.
Unfortunately, if you're in Europe working Australian hours, you're going to have to get accustomed to working the (very) early morning shift. This is indeed, the price you pay for a once and a lifetime adventure.
The personal positives of working remotely are obvious... and some of the perhaps less known challenges I've touched on in this post... But, the most curious of all of these elements is the business benefit of working remotely.
From my first month experience, I would say the major business benefits are motivation and perspective. While the temptation to go out and not work is high, the motivation to work hard (when you are working) is also high. Why? Because every time you reflect upon your experience, you're flooded with thoughts as to how you can continue this lifestyle forever. You are driven to continue this magical experience for as long as possible. This is a strong motivator.
With every lifestyle change, there is an adjustment period. Travelling and working remotely is no exception. My first month in Cape Town has taught me so much in this area, but I am still no expert. Thankfully, with three more months to go, there's a chance I'll have my head around it before it's time for the next adventure."
From Cape Town - with love,