How Travel Gives You Insight You Can Actually Use

In order to find your next global adventure and create a global life on your terms, you need to know what makes you tick. A great place to look for this vital information?

Travel!

My relaunch plan for this year includes staying put in North Carolina for the first several months. Since I was coming and going from my home base so much these past few years I never got into any sort of routine for working from home. I know how I like to travel, workation, and work in an office or a classroom. But this working from home thing? Still figuring it out.

So, I’ve been taking a cold hard look at how I manage my time, work, and life in general when I’m at home. I want to feel as happy, productive, and alive at home as I do abroad.

I’ve also set some really big goals for myself (and SPS) for this year, so I’ve been asking myself questions like, how do I want to feel each day? At the end of each month? At the end of the year? What stands in the way of reaching my goals? How can I do everything I want to do while staying sane and enjoying life?

Looking at what I’ve learned about myself though travel gave me some useful insights.

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Insight #1

One of the things I love about traveling is that I never worry about what I’m going to wear. I always pack what I think people these days call a capsule wardrobe, and because everything goes with everything else – and I feel great in every piece – I spend 0% of my time and energy thinking about my clothing. This makes me happy and able to focus on other things that are important to me.

Standing in front of my overflowing and unorganized closet this morning I longed for the simplicity of my travel wardrobe. Then I thought, well, if my travel wardrobe makes me happy when I’m traveling, maybe my travel wardrobe would make me happy at home?

Immediately I felt calm and happy. Problem solved.

Then, I started thinking about other areas of my work and life where I feel like things aren’t going as smoothly as I’d like. I turned again to travel for problem-solving insight.

Here are five more things travel has taught me about myself:

  1. I want to fit work into my life, not the other way around. When I’m traveling I’m much better able to balance work and life because I make living life a priority. I’m more realistic about what I can accomplish, and because I’d rather be out exploring Paris than staring at my laptop, I’m better at prioritizing and focusing on what needs to be done. At home, work tends to overtake everything else in my life.
  2. I prefer simple and quiet workspaces. When I travel, my office consists of my laptop, a notebook, a handful of pens, sticky notes, and a thin folder of documents I needed in hard copy. I work from the couch in my Paris AirBnB apartment, my London hotel room bed, in the corner of a cozy German cafe, and from my train/plane/bus seat. I’m rarely distracted from my environment and am able to stay organized, focused, and productive.
  3. I like rough itineraries that provide a roadmap while leaving a lot of room for spontaneity. Too much structure and I’m bored. Not enough and I spin my wheels.
  4. I like traveling alone and with my husband and/or a couple people I really know and like. I don’t gravitate towards traveling in large groups.
  5. I like dessert. I’ve always preferred baking to cooking, and I adore seeking out bakeries, creperies, and ice cream shops when I travel. I don’t always remember meals I’ve eaten abroad but I do remember the desserts. Dessert makes me happy.

Paris

How these insights are helping me achieve my goals:

  1. I’m making life a priority. Instead of planning my life around work I’m planning work around life. My work allows me this luxury so why am I not taking advantage of it when I’m at my home base? I’ll still be working a lot but I’ve cut way back on evening and weekend meetings, I’m closing the laptop by 8:30pm, and I’m making certain life things non-negotiable.
  2. I’m simplifying my home office. I’m donating old books, shredding papers I no longer need (hello, years of German teaching materials and dissertation data), keeping my desk free of clutter, and simplifying office systems. Basically, if it’s not beautiful or useful it won’t be in my home office.
  3. I’ve created a roadmap for my business and life this year. I know where I’m heading but have left lots of room for ideas, random turns, and spontaneous moments.
  4. I’m keeping big group events to a minimum this year. A big reason why I’m not traveling during the first several months of the year is because my big goals need sustained focus, and while do-able on the road, it’s more difficult to give my work that kind of attention when I’m traveling or around a lot of people at conferences and events. I love both things, though, so I do have a few conferences on my calendar and nomading plans later in the year.
  5. I’m going to enjoy dessert. Life is short. I’m eating dessert.

Your Turn!

What has travel taught you about yourself — what you like/don’t like? What’s important to you? How you want to live?

How have you used your travel-sparked insights to achieve your big goals?

P.S. If you want to talk more about how to create a global life on your terms, join me at the upcoming (free) Living Your Ideal Global Life Summit!

About the Author: Cate Brubaker

Dr. Cate Brubaker is a re-entry/repatriation coach, consultant, and author of the Re-Entry Roadmap creative workbook and the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit. Cate has lived in Germany, worked and traveled in 36 countries on four continents, and has helped all kinds of globetrotters successfully navigate global transitions for over 20 years.

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