When Worker Bees Buzz With Travel Ideas
It’s the start of a brand-new year. As always, everyone appears to be brimming with resolutions and ideas for the new year.
The workplace is no different. As various colleagues list their resolutions or wishes for the coming year, I hear one common refrain: “I want to travel.”The words ring hollow. I am fairly certain that, for most of them, that one resolution is not going to see fruition. Not this year at least.
For a lot of women in the workplace, travel is a distant dream. While some have families – school-going children and other commitments, the single ones can’t find travel companions whose work schedules match and are hesitant about packing a bag and heading off alone.
I find this a trifle baffling. If you’ve listed “work-life balance” as a priority, then why haven’t you booked those tickets and sallied forth? My situation is a trifle different. Having averaged at least two different travel destinations every year for the last few years, I have come to realize that it is all about translating those ideas and resolutions into actual action. It’s easy to sit on your derriere and say, “I would like to visit XYZ” or draw up travel plans with a few buddies during a coffee break that everyone knows are never going to materialise in a million years.
Often time, I’ve had people tell me I am so lucky that I have the time to travel. Well, here’s the thing. Nobody HAS the time. You have to MAKE the time for yourself. If you have a travel bucket list and are actually serious about tackling it, hop to it. The best time to start is now.
Of course, it is important that you choose an employer who knows that an employee’s time off is important. No corporate should be run like a sweatshop or send its employees on a guilt trip each time they ask for a little time off. If your employer is going to begrudge you a few days off and travel is important to you, then you should probably consider a different employer whose views are more aligned with yours. It helps when you share a good rapport with a boss who has similar travel interests.
Then, of course, consider the naysayers amongst your own colleagues. Travelling, especially to overseas destinations, is considered a really big deal. A woman travelling alone, or with her friends, on her own steam is often met with skepticism. The negative attitude is palpable.
I learned this firsthand a few years ago when I did a couple of trips around South-East Asia in quick succession. When a couple of colleagues, including another woman, heard I was off on my second trip in four months, they smirked. “Not bad for a content writer,” one said, the condescension dripping from every syllable. “Must have a rich boyfriend,” they added, chuckling at their clever (and completely inaccurate) deduction. Because, apparently, to the average officer-goer, travelling is a luxury very few, let alone a single woman from a non-engineering background, can afford. The words stung. While the first trip had been my first solo journey, the second was a relaxing tightly-budgeted trip with a close woman friend, also single and in a non-IT job. And yet, it seemed to people that a woman, independent and professionally competent, couldn’t manage any of that on her own without dipping into the pockets of some significant other.
Nevertheless, the times are changing. Work-life balance appears to be emerging as a norm rather than the exception. The shift is so subtle, we could easily overlook its importance. With more companies opening up to a work-from-anywhere policy, there’s even more reason to travel. What better way than to type up that report while sipping coffee in a little café someplace? I once received an email from a colleague who’d sent it from atop an elephant. I wrote a large part of this piece surrounded by lush greenery, abandoning my usual earphones to bask in the cacophony of twittering birds, chirping insects and squeaking squirrels all around me.
So if you’ve listed taking some time off this year, go ahead. Make decisions based on what you truly want with a clear picture of what you’d like your life to look like. Then take the necessary actions to make that happen. Because that’s what makes a fully integrated professional. After all, isn’t a woman committed to making her choices work a true SHERO?
Picture Courtesy:She Knows