We’re on sabbatical, yes. But it’s also a working holiday, if such a thing is possible. Our business (purveying ideas and words) is quite portable, so we have taken the liberty, once again, of testing the limits of its mobility. (To read about the last time we did this, in 1994, click on Past Travels in the lower left of this page.)
When we left home a month ago, we brought our Powerbook and a handful of projects: a major tradeshow that needed a theme; a website we wrote a few years back that required a complete overhaul; and a few other loose ends we didn’t get sewn up before we departed. Three adapter plugs later, we’ve almost finished them all. And already have a few more on the docket.
Of course, working around the world isn’t as blissful as the IBM commercials would have you believe. There have been the requisite technical difficulties and disasters—chronicled earlier in this travelogue. But there are also formidable psychological challenges to contend with.
There is the lure of lounging and leisure—being practiced by most everyone around you wherever you go. There are the endless temptations of whatever novel place you’re in. It can be torture to tether yourself to a laptop in a cold spare bedroom when a crashing surf or village churchbells are calling. Or to try to work on the kitchen table when a sleep- and child-deprived 3-year-old is shoving a baseball card in your face or driving a toy Jeep up your arm.
Working on 777s, in hotel rooms, on cedar decks, and terracotta terraces is both glamorous and grueling. Yes, it is better that toiling in a cubicle. But it is still work, and—just like at home—you’d often rather be doing something else.
Yet there are times when sitting down to work is a comforting return to the familiar and mundane. It’s a welcome escape from surly clerks, stale croissants, and incessant drizzle. Working gives a traveler a justifiable reason to opt out, skip a side trip, and get a little privacy and P&Q. But that’s the bright side. Mostly, working on a trip like this is a strenuous exercise in discipline and concentration.
Nonetheless, we feel privileged that our work can accompany us wherever we go. And that our clients are willing to do the same. We are humbled by their enthusiasm and trust, and grateful that they put up with the inconveniences that invariably accompany a journey of this kind. In that sense, we are not on this adventure alone. In some small measure, they, too, are travelling the world with us. As are you, dear reader. And to steal a slogan, we sincerely hope you enjoy the ride.