After three years of working for myself, and four of having no holidays at all, this year I decided it was time to set off some fireworks. Being self-employed means lots of things to lots of different people. It could be about flexible hours, the freedom to work for whomever you choose and charge whatever you think is reasonable. For others it’s the control of not being someone else’s employee, and of having something of your own to grow and develop. Since 2013 I’ve been invariably smudging my way through the world of self-employment. I’ve managed a few victories along the way, but more often than not struggled with balance and guilty feelings when actually, I just want to spend the night in my pyjamas playing candy crush instead of working all hours building a business empire. I’ve not had a holiday in four years because I’ve been petrified of the world collapsing if I left my business for more than a few days. The closest I usually get is a long weekend visiting family in Somerset where I literally CANNOT get and phone or internet signal despite trying my hardest.
Travel is Lyf
Four years ago, on my last big trip abroad I was working as a Regional Director for an international travel/ecotourism company who hired 50 new staff to work together. The reason I got the job was because I wanted travel to be my whole life, but balance was a huge issue then too. The scheme lasted for only around three months before it became unwieldy. Sales projections were too high, training hadn’t been extensive enough and we experienced both the collapse of the UK office and being put onto commission-only contracts before eventually being made redundant.
One of many gorgeous things came out of this situation however, was the bond that all fifty of us experienced. We had been on a crazy training fortnight together, bonded over shared travel experiences and become as close knit as any group would when faced with the eccentricities of a madcap company such as ours. We laughed and cried over how bright-eyed and naïve we’d all been over our ‘dream jobs’ with the promise of travel, decent salary and saving the planet all wrapped up in a neat bow.
Due to this bond, when one of us posts in our shared Facebook group dedicated to this reminiscing, we all tend to sit up and listen. Kayli (now) of The Freelance Hustle had discovered a travel scheme called ‘Hacker Paradise’ not unlike the one we initially were all selling. Designed for digital workers instead of students, and dedicated to development, software, design or marketing instead of eco-tourism, this was right up my street.
I Want To Get Away
Back in March I almost booked a trip with Hackers to Bali but work got in the way and time eeked by until it was too late. It turned out I really needed a push to book on (and to actually physically leave Cardiff and my face-to-face clients for a month). So my partner Dale booked on and out of sheer panic of being left in Cardiff for another summer (he travelled to San Francisco last year) I went ahead and booked four weeks in Porto, Portugal. Since then I have literally not thought about it until I actually arrived at my Portuguese office last week. I didn’t mention it to many people, just clients who needed to know and contacts who would miss me! I even called my Dad from Bristol airport with a ‘by the way, I’m flying today’ conversation. I guess I thought just in case everything goes kaput maybe I should keep it quiet: If I don’t mention it, it means it’s not really happening.
No Power Dressing In Porto
Now for the fun bit. I’ve been here for a grand total of a week and this is my first blog of many from Portugal. The title ‘No Power Dressing In Porto’? I may or may not be known in Cardiff for some major heels, pencil dresses and having a strong handshake ‘for a woman’ – a real quote I’ve heard several times… So with this new blog series I’m going to be sharing my travel journey of working remotely with the Hackers Group outside of my normal comfort zone. I’m writing this from my AirBnb apartment in downtown Porto. It’s currently 34 degrees and we’re having a ‘hack-day’ where we all work on set projects and keep each other accountable with a ‘stand-up’ every two hours. Keep your eyes peeled for more!
Want to get in touch whilst I’m here? My Cardiff office is still available by phone on 02922 331122 – any messages left there get sent straight on to me instantly. I’m also available my email as normal, or if you fancy a Skype date, you can find me there at ‘mirbish’. Meet for coffee when I’m back? Put it in the diary from 15th August!
Here’s the hack-day crew: