Travel + Work — A Failed Experiment (2014 edition)

Why traveling and working didn’t work out for me, the reasons behind and how to continue.

6 Months Traveling and Working

Since end of November 2013 I put myself into the position of working while traveling. It all sounds like a peanut butter or a piece of cake. At the end of April 2014 I found out for myself that it’s not even an little piece of cake. Here’s why:

You are barely or never in the moment. Nothing is worse and more frustrating, especially for fellow travelers, to have one person not paying attention. Because when you work on a project while you are geographically at the beach in the Philippines, you won’t be able to cope with both things — enjoying / relaxing and working — if you don’t keep them separated.

Don’t be rushy while you travel and work. Make sure you can stay in one place for a while, a week or so, so you can adjust and build up a little routine for your working hours.

It’s not healthy and prevents you, the by default distracted person, to stay sane when you think about projects (work) while you are at the most beautiful places in the world.


Clearly distinguish work and travel. You can work for 6 months, and travel for the other 6. You can travel for 3 months and work for 9 months. Or you can just work your way all the way through 2, 3, 4 or 5 years while you take your little breaks every three months or get 1 year off every 7 years like Stefan Sagmeister (from Sagmeisterwalsh) does.

But you don’t wanna merge both — just like a distinction of work and personal leisure time is crucial. Things will merge into each other anyway. Your effort must be put into reducing it [the merging process] to a sane level.

PS: This is old old standpoint of mine which I wrote (on May 6, 2014) because I also had a project that didn’t work out well while traveling. So I was double-frustrated about the unsuccessful project and me not being able to be mentally there with my travel partner. Right now, I found a way that works for me.

j j j

3 Tips To Write Drunk But Not Get Drunk

The popular saying of “Write drunk, edit sober” refers to literally being and getting drunk to be liberated in your thoughts. Since I don’t enjoy the idea of becoming an alcoholic because I want to write a lot, here’s how to write in states in which you seem to be drunk but are actually not — at least not through alcohol.

Tip 1: Wake up earlier than you usually do

If you normally wake up at 5am, wake up at 3am. This way you don’t fully realize that you’re awake which is reflected on your writing as well. It keeps your rational mind or inner censorship shut and lets you write freely.

In a recent conversation in Guatemala a friends told me that another friend who is a writer applies that technique very well. If waking up early is hard for you, I can imagine it is, try approaching your goal time, e.g. 3am, step by step. The morning you start you wake up at 6am, the next morning 5.30am, and so on. It’s ok if it takes a week or two to reach the goal time.

Tip 2: Laughter with friends

Honestly, it’s been quite some years that I had deep laughter with friends that made me feel drunk. I remember I must have been 16 or 17 years old (I’m 32 now) when I watched a Stargate on German television with a friend — it’s when Macgyver (Richard Dean Anderson) was in the show. We were watching, commenting, analyzing on what we saw, pretty much like nerds. Although I never felt like a Sci-Fi nerd, maybe I was. My friend was for sure.

This relaxed state of being surrounded by the “Flimmerkiste” (old-fashioned German word to say “TV set”) providing us with content while we can go ahead and find all the weird, sometimes illogical things the TV presents us with and laugh about them strongly — so strong that my lower jaw started hurting because it got stuck. Since Stargate was only the beginning of our television enjoyment we spent some good hours building a “golden” triangle of my friend, the TV set and me. The good old times, you could say. Yes. For sure.

Tip 3: Walk a very long time and distance in a row

In April 2014, when I ended my trip through South East Asia, I spent some days in Singapore to discover what I today know as a very European-ized city-state in the heart of Asia. I lived in a friend’s big shared house I met through another friend in the Philippines. The other day I walked 4.5 hours (about 17 kilometers) from this very central house to the direction of the small island of Pulau Ubin, at the border to Malaysia. I was curious about it since I love a lot little islands.

Walking means I start thinking. Walking is my vehicle to start reflecting. That’s why traveling plays such a big role in my life. Walking is so special because it includes exhaustion and revelation at the same. Walking some hours in a row in a good speed gets you into a very focused state of mind — you feel tired (exhausted) but don’t care too much about it. When your mind is like that — again relaxed like in tip 2 — it’s easier to have revelations or personal insights. These insights will help you in your writing because when you start walking with a writing block in the back of your head, the long walk will unblock you.

In my personal case, on that specific day (April 26, 2014), I wrote:

It translates to:

Sports, radio and the advertisement are the places where it’s more likely to find your place as a rebel and unconventional thinker and where you can live out that part of your personality.

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy learning how to write and help nonprofits and new startups that bootstrap. You may also join my exclusive Facebook group “Find your coast. Write in focus.” in which you learn overcoming the hurdle of starting to write and tackling the problem of everyday distraction.

j j j