I recently returned from an extended trip to Asia. I don’t remember the last time I was on an actual vacation overseas, but it was a much-needed change of pace. After graduation, I went straight into my first job, and traveling quickly took a back seat to my career. 5 years later, I was bitten by the travel bug. And, since joining Park & Battery, with its fully remote working setup and unlimited PTO, I finally had the opportunity to travel.
My boyfriend was already in the Philippines, so I decided to take advantage of being remote and visit him for a month. But one month was not enough, so my visit turned into a two and a half-month trip across two countries and two time zones. Being the first person in our agency to do this, I encountered some unique obstacles, but the freedom to work from anywhere was worth it.
Exploring by Day, Designing by Night
I spent most of my time in Manila, Philippines, which is 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. I decided to work EST hours so I could stay in touch with the rest of the team, which was 10 PM to 6 AM local time. We just so happen to be in the midst of an extremely demanding project with a looming deadline.
Although working odd hours was challenging, it allowed me to explore the Philippines during the day. Despite the weird time zone considerations and crazy working hours, working the graveyard shift allowed me to take full advantage of the daytime to go out and explore. Most days I lived like a local, but I also made time here and there to go on bigger trips. One core memory of my time in the Philippines was when I went island hopping in Cebu during an impending storm. It was the first time I ever went into the ocean and was surrounded by fish. I got to touch a jellyfish and a starfish and it was the coolest experience!
Our trip was cut short though when we actually got caught in the storm and we were stuck at sea because it was too dangerous to move. Besides that, the Philippines had the nicest islands and I wish I could have explored even more.
Staying Connected on the Go
Working remotely while traveling meant that I needed to have a steady internet connection at all times. This was more challenging in super remote areas, but I prepared by inquiring ahead or renting pocket wifi. I stayed at a hotel that catered to students and remote workers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which made working remotely much easier. The 24-hour cafe downstairs had wifi as strong as their coffee and it was my go-to spot for work and sight-seeing. I felt a strong connection to Vietnam, as my family is originally from there. In fact, I loved it so much I went back a second time in mid-December.
Balancing Work and Life
I love that I was able to work and live while feeling like I was on vacation. The nightlife culture in Asia was far superior to places I’ve worked in the US, with restaurants and cafes open 24 hours a day. I enjoyed my nightly food adventures and was inspired by the relaxed atmosphere. As a creative, I believe that exposing ourselves to different experiences helps exercise our creative muscle, and this trip allowed me to do just that.
Ted Kohnen, one of our agency founders, once told us that instead of a work/life balance, we should strive for a work/life integration, and that has stuck with me. This trip was a perfect example of that, as I was able to integrate my personal life with my job and feel like I was on an extended vacation. The pandemic has reminded me of my priorities, and I feel grateful for the opportunity to have this trip of a lifetime.