Meeting the mundane head on

When deciding to take an extended stay in a country, a ‘working holiday’, it can sometimes become a story of ‘different place, same boredom’. It means going from a weekday job in your home country to probably a more tedious method of employment in your adopted country (on lower pay). There are ways to cure the tedium, in that lull between experiences. Here are some tips:

Create goals

Decide on where you want to be able to visit in the vicinity of your base, and work out how much it is going to cost you. Having a target, both physical and monetary, can give you something to drive towards, and make the work seem all the more worthwhile.

For me, it was making sure I could take a seaplane to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, and affording flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Pick some larger targets, and set about reaching them.

Find time to enjoy yourself

Don’t become a slave to the travelling. Going for a few friendly drinks is just as important as scaling Table Mountain or scuba-diving the Great Barrier Reef. Lasting connections are a massive part of vagabonding, and being social with your new work colleagues can be a great way of experiencing more culture, and discovering some fantastic off-the-beaten-track hot spots.

Try and do something new every week

Working all week can make it easy to sit and relax all weekend. Try and save it for Sunday, and get out on Saturday to see that gallery you heard about, or head to the Cheese Rolling Festival. Even if it is just for a few hours, taking some photos and seeing some human beings helps to give your week some meaning. Just because you are staying in one place a little longer, at the end of the day – you are a tourist!

If you play a sport, take it up

Being an Englishman, I enjoyed plying my (admittedly meagre) rugby skills in French Canada. It found me some great friends and I experienced a different way of looking at my game. Soccer players are everywhere, and most sports have some sort of representation all over the world.

Try and be productive outside of work

I love writing these entries, keeping my own blogs, and pecking away at my novel. It gives me something to enjoy in the evening and, in this case, I’ve connected with other great writers from around the world.

Whatever your interests, don’t put them aside just because you are travelling. Even if it is playing chess, or bird-watching, you can find someone to play, or observe the local wildfowl.

Remember what you are getting out of it

You may be staring at a blank wall right now, possibly the same tomorrow. But what about that plane you jumped out of last month, or that pride of lions that crept up against the jeep as you peered over the window?

While you are taking in African sun, or Japanese technology, a lot of your friends are still treading the streets and shopping malls that they have trod for thirty years. Take the experience as a whole.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | August 30, 2008
Category: General, Notes from the collective travel mind, Vagabonding Advice

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