Travel and Travail: The Parallels Between Travel and Work

The great travel writer Pico Iyer once wrote, “Few of us ever forget the connection between ‘travel’ and ‘travail’”. And if I may draw your memory back to Grade 3 French class for a moment, you’ll remember that the word “travail” means “work.”

After traveling to 30 cities, nine countries and three continents in one year, let me tell you that, contrary to what many may think, there is actually a very deep connection between travel and work. Traveling, for all its splendor, also entails hardship. And these hardships bring out skills, qualities and lessons that’ll prove to be invaluable in the workforce.

I recently started writing for TalentEgg, Canada's career hub for recent graduates looking to hatch their career and in my first article, I share some of the lessons I've learned on the road and how they can all be applied to the working world. You can read it on TalentEgg's Career Incubator here. It's all about being resourceful, increasing your cultural sensitivity, being a chameleon, and keeping your composure in some of the weirdest and most stressful situations. So if you're looking for an excuse to travel...I give you a lot to work with in this article. ;-)

Having A Coke With You

"is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary"

- Frank O'Hara


If there's one thing I've learned while traveling, it's that who you travel with is just as important (if not even more so) as where you go and what you see. It makes all the difference in the world to be traveling around with someone who shares your travel style, who can withstand your "quirks", who's interested in seeing the same things you are and who revels in the same simple pleasures as you do...or even better, somebody who can teach you to open your eyes and heart to something new. Basically, go find yourself a friend like Sylwia to travel with and you'll be good to go ;)

Forever Young

Briefly back in Toronto. Can't believe that the past month has come and gone and I did all the things that I did. 3 countries, 11 cities in the past four weeks and countless of new friends made along the way. How do I even begin to put into words all that I've seen, done, and felt? I need to capture all those little moments that put me at my most vulnerable and, on the flip side, that made me feel like I was invincible. I don't want any of it to escape my memory.

It feels like a dream...just a couple of days ago I was wandering the graffiti-filled streets of Berlin, drinking bier while watching the sunrise on a rooftop...

 Without a wrinkle in today
Cuz there is no tomorrow
Just some picture perfect day
To last a whole lifetime

And it never ends
Cuz all we have to do is hit rewind
So lets just stay in the moment, smoke some weed,
Drink some wine,
Reminisce, talk some shit
Forever young is in your mind.

The Outsiders

Pisa, Florence, Lucca, San Gimignano, and Siena. All in 10 days. Each city has its own unique charm to it and the region itself is just really gorgeous with truly incredible landscapes. Lucca and Siena are my favorites thus far. Lucca is this quaint old city fortified entirely by medieval walls. It’s an incredible sight to see and such a strange concept to try to wrap your head around. A whole city enclosed by a brick wall in today’s 21st century? Seems so out of place, doesn't it? Siena, meanwhile, is another old city and it once rivaled Florence in terms of power and culture. I loved learning about the Palio di Siena -- their annual horse race. Apparently, Siena is divided into 17 contradas (or neighbourhoods) which compete with one another during this time. You can see the friendly rivalry between these neighbourhoods as you walk through the streets…each contrada showing off its colors, mascots, and flags. 

They're both smaller towns that haven't been overrun by tourists and that's one of the main reasons that I love them so much. We were really able to soak up and immerse ourselves in the local culture, something that I feel a majority of tourists miss out on. It’s one of my favorite parts of traveling, really. Not just witnessing the major historical sights, but observing the local lifestyle, meeting and having conversations (however much of a struggle) with people who actually live there. I think you get the real feel of a city that way...

Found on the streets of Siena. My thoughts exactly.But I have to say, the past few days here in Siena have been a challenge. Barely anyone here speaks English...well, at least among those I encountered. And I'm finding it so difficult to communicate even my most basic questions and thoughts. We're staying at a hostel tonight and it's owned by an old Italian woman who can not speak a word of English. How we managed to work out that arrangement, I'll never know. Consulting my phrasebook every instant makes me look like an idiot and even then, my Italian still doesn't make sense. It's incredibly frustrating.

But alas, it has been quite the experience trying to navigate my way around this beautiful old city. Trying to live like a local but not even being able to communicate. I've never felt like such an outsider before. And it's a terribly odd feeling to know that you don't belong somewhere...

Let's see what Switzerland brings!