There’s a whole bunch of agencies or ‘public travel figures’ selling remote-work-travel programs or courses and lectures on how to make a living whilst travelling the world.
Their ads are all over social media, full of seductive click-bait. So, what’s it all about.
Firstly, there is the ‘travel-guru’ and / or ‘travel public figure’ (wtf). They will teach you how to make money from travelling the world. How exactly are they making a living out of travelling the world? By telling YOU how to make a living out of traveling the world, that’s how. It’s like some psychedelic travel pyramid scheme in which no one actually does anything but create a self-proliferating army of travellers all doing the same none-specified ‘work’. The evolution seems to be thus: you blog, you make money out of sponsorships and ads on your blog, you raise money to promote your blog (aka spam everyone’s feed) you hopefully get yourself 50k followers, declare yourself a ‘travel public figure’ and, hey presto! You too can now make a living whilst travelling. Giving lectures on how to make a living whilst travelling.
Dagnabit, I should have thought of that years ago.
And then there are the agencies selling ‘remote-work-travel’. The name sort of implies that there is paid work for you, all lined up and ready to go. The first thing to understand is, there is NO actual paid work, of any kind – blogging or otherwise – offered in a remote-work-travel program.
To be fair, they do SPELL THAT OUT pretty quickly, but only after you’ve clicked through and are knee-deep in marketing guff and saccharin photography. Their work model is thus: you just crack-on with your existing job. Apparently, the agencies work with company bosses, persuading them that remote-work-travel is beneficial to an employee’s ‘development’. Not sure how beneficial it is to the ‘development’ of the rest of the office though. Them, left behind, eating curled-up sandwiches at their desks whilst the rain spits at the window. Their remote-work colleague, sat in some artisan coffee shop in sunny Lisbon.
As for the travel bit; yep – they can certainly take care of that because the remote-work-travel agency seems to be………well, a travel agency. Albeit a gentrified travel agency for the 21st century. Not one that provides you with a bespoke premium service though, it works like this: YOU hand-over (what I personally believe to be) a disproportionate amount of money to THEM and they will take care of your city stay. But not a bespoke city stay tailored specifically to you. What you’re paying for is a place on a program along with everyone else buying a place on the program. You’re all off together, on a metaphorical school bus to a pre-organised, pre-packaged nirvana. A kind of none-booze, booze cruise on which you have to put in a day’s work every day. It’s a group thing. A shared experience.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this and it’s kind of smart. They are making the most of the fact that many people can now work remotely and those that can, want to, and will. They also understand that many people want the guarantee of having someone to hang out with along the way and a 24-hour support network. All good. But let’s call a spade a spade. They’re a travel agency, booking trips, calling them ‘experiences’.
They’re travel agencies like the ones we used to use in the 80s until the worldwide web came along and we could take care of our own itinerary, if we wanted. And therein lies the main flaw for me. WE CAN TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN ITINERARY.
Personally, I’d prefer to do just that, rather than go along with their itinerary, outlined below.
A co-working space. Which they say is ‘near’ your accommodation but it’s not stated how near nor if its near walking or by transport. I’d rather use a coffee shop. They have wifi and are on every corner. I frequent them all the time, it’s the same folk there every day; you get to know them, they get to know you. They’re working too, just like you. They are LOCALS and hey, you’re SUPPORTING LOCAL SMALL BUSINESS – exactly the ‘immersive’ community experience I am guessing one is looking for on these programs as oppose to putting yourself in a kind of gated work-community space full of everyone else on your program.
Your transportation. But these days flights are pretty cheap, aren’t they? And easy to book? I do it on an app from my phone. No big deal.
Accommodation. A private room usually with fellow participants. Again, smacks of (not very diverse) gated-community living. What if you get ‘stuck’ with a group of people you don’t gel with? Isn’t this just the same experience as being on a cruise / package holiday? How are we mixing with locals? What’s wrong with booking yourself an Airbnb, and exactly what kind of accommodation is it being offered?
So where is the added value in these travel packages?
Well, you’re not going to be alone and you do have that 24-hour support network. Totally fair enough. I get it.
They also add value by saying you will be co-working with other like-minded professionals on your program such as: local business leaders, entrepreneurs, lawyers, engineers and designers etc. Call me a sceptic but I just don’t buy that.
They also offer you the following expectations: life-changing experiences….the opportunity to discover your greatest potential both personally and professionally….. work and exploration of the world as part of a vibrant global community…..immersion in diverse cultures, interaction with dynamic people.
Basically, pushing the myths that unless you travel you’re not really discovering your greatest potential both personally or professionally. Promoting the expectation that some kind of life-changing Valhalla awaits you at the end of a simple air-flight. The suggestion that without travel you are some kind of wall-flower, a person who lacks drive, spontaneity or a sense of adventure. That you are someone who won’t ever experience diverse cultures nor interact with dynamic people. That your life is somehow empty, unfulfilled and meaningless unless you devote a huge part of it to travelling the globe, jumping into the sea from off of a boat, wearing cookie sunglasses on some remote beach or waving your arms about on Instagram.
Come on. This is utterly false and pretty disrespectful to simple human endeavours and achievements such as being in love, having peace of mind, caring for a dog, holding down meaningful roles, having children, just being able to haul your ass out of bed every day or just the simple reassurance to be had from having a mug with your name on it, in the same place at the same time, every day.
None of these things are conducive to travelling, none of them are achieved from travelling alone and 100% of these things couldn’t give a flying f if you’ve been to Cuba or not.
I’m not trying to bring anything down, trash ideas or entrepreneurism. I’m not trying to belittle or dissuade people from taking up these services. In fact, perhaps I’m just jealous that I didn’t have these business ideas myself? Maybe I’m just mad that none of these agencies EVER contact me regarding my 7-years’ plus experience in remote-work-travel. (By the way, I didn’t even know it was called that until now).
But what I am sure is that there is a lot of hyper-marketing going on coupled with the pitching of expectations being way too high.
A good-time being had, depends on the sociability of the individual and isn’t guaranteed through the purchasing of a ticket to a shared experience.
I get that you might want to do the remote-work-travel thing but are worried about spending prolonged periods of time alone or without a support network. I get that you might be worried that you may – god forbid – get a bit bored, or lonely if you went off travelling and working alone. But surely conquering these fears is the real path to personal development, if that’s what you’re seeking?
I only have one mantra when it comes to travel. Keep your expectations realistic.
Travel doesn’t guarantee you a more fulfilled life and throwing additional money at it or putting it in the hands of others isn’t going to increase your chances either.
Anyway, grumbles and scepticism over…
Wishing you all happy – and safe – travels throughout 2018.
If you see that I’m passing through your city, be sure to say hello…