Travel and time management: My answers

The more I travel, the more I realize how much I need to find a balance between my – very – different hats. In real life, I love wearing hats and I have an impressive collection at home, but this even makes things more complicated. A hat is always requiring a certain attitude and matched outfit and as I change very often during the day the to-do-lists, my weeks can be quite exhausting and hectic.

Let’s take my general though very specific example. I love a lot to travel and see at least one new thing every day. But I also love to cook and read and write about cooking, read as many books as possible and sometimes also to review them, do my regular customer service and social media consulting stuff, do from time to time academic consulting for PhDs in human sciences, take care of the home and family, do some learning each day, meet friends and if possible, relax a little bit. As my travel blog is getting more and more present into my life, it means more travel in sight and a lot of work to be done to balance the other hats. To be honest, I love a lot how my life is right now and I can’t have enough of enjoying it at the fullest. 

But how to do almost everything on the to-do-list and still survive? There are a couple of little small things that I always have in mind and till now, worked smoothly in my advantage. 

Take, for instance, the family. Once the week we have a day for ourselves: no Internet, computers, solo travel, worries and deadlines. We spend full 25 hours together: eating, discussing, going to visit friends, sleeping till late without the need to check the computers or the phones. Sundays are always busy and crazy but I have enough positive energy to go through all the work hardships for the rest of the week.

I try to wake up as early as possible in the morning in order to finish most of the basic, routine work till the middle of the day. Then, I either go to see a museum or to fish for a new blog subject or I spend some time on Twitter or other social media tools. Regardless of the busy agenda, one hour the day at least I spend learning something new. Another hour will be almost always spend cooking a good and healthy meal. I try at least once the week to have something new on the table, but somehow I feel that I need to increase the frequency of experimentation as I see a lot of recipes waiting for me.  Another private hour is in the evening, when I talk on Skype with friends and relatives abroad.

The rest is a matter of spontaneous time management. At the beginning of each day, I have a look at my agenda, try to finish with the most boring tasks first and end up the day writing or doing something completely new and interesting. I read at least 10 pages the day and write minimum 500 words daily. 

When I am on the road, life is somehow easy – I don’t need to clean the house or cook – but before leaving the home, I should be 100% sure that I have a minimal Internet connection, preferably for free, for basic 4-5 hours of full work and for being updated regularly with what is going on back home. It may sound easier, but after walking and taking notes for 6-7 hours, another 3 hours of careful work followed with maximum 5 hours of sleep in order to have at least 2 hours of work in the morning, is not everyone’s business. 

My natural optimism tells me that as long as one enjoys what is doing there are always possibilities for achievement. Each traveller has its own personality and daily challenges and universal advices are not practical. I recognize that it is not easy to keep the pace with me and at least once in a while I feel so tired that I need 2 consecutive days of non-stop laziness. But, for the rest of the time, I spend my energy running words and trains and will not change a single iota from my past. The wonderful part of the story is that when I am happy with what I am doing, everyone around me is sharing the same feeling!

Do you want to talk about how to cope with the various challenging of time and travel and family chores? Drop me an e-mail at ilanaontheroad (at) gmail.com

Keep in touch! 

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Happy birthday, Switzerland!

Years ago, I was spending the Swiss National Day in the garden of my new friends in La Tour-de-Peilz in Vaud. It was my first celebration and I was in my first trip abroad, completely on my own, as a teenager ready to discover the world. Somehow, in my creative mind, I was expecting that the national day should be celebrated with huge parties and fireworks and who knows what other glamorous activities. Instead, we were eating some finger food, talking casual whit some ambiance music in the background. 

There were some fireworks, and maybe some dances somewhere, but nothing outstanding. Around 2 o’clock everyone was at home, resting for the next day. It was my first Swiss National Day celebration and was not sure what I should think about it. If at the time I would have had a blog, most probably it were the same question hunting me: what should I write about Switzerland? Everything was so ‘perfect’, from the fresh green colour of the grass, to the clean cities where it was that clean that I had my 5 hippie moments and walked barefoot in Zürich. The quiet streets and the even more quiet Sundays when I was the only person walking on the street, curious to see as much as possible, even it meant to walk on my own to the neighbouring castles and other small villages or to Montreux for the jazz festival. How was it possible that everyone is so calm and not nervous at all, especially the drivers? Was it because it is supposed that people living in Switzerland are outrageously rich? I am not sure it was the right reason, as most of the people I’ve met during my first trip and after were normal, hard-working people with a serious working philosophy and a limited budget, as everyone else. Maybe the nature is a reason for such serenity: the Alps and the lakes and parks and gardens were the deterrent of any dark thoughts and anger. Eventually, when you are unhappy with your life, you do some horseback riding – a passion I’ve discovered during that trip – or you walk your cute Saint Bernard and everything is gone. 

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons. Actually, a winter-hater as me, can love snow only in two places: here and in Norway. I don’t need to learn skiing – when this will happen, expect wonders in the world. It is enough to spend my whole day somewhere on the top of the mountains looking around at the majestic rocks. 

Many European countries use their national days as an occasion to tell thousand years old stories about their histories. Switzerland is relatively young – 722 years old -, but the history of the unification of the Swiss cantons is everywhere in the souvenir shops – remember the huge pens with the symbols of the cantons. Every single battle or relevant moment is reminded accordingly: I remember that once we went somewhere in Vaud, and somewhere at the corner of the street it was a small rock in the memory of the passing of Napoleon. If you go in the French area, especially, you will hear a lost of nice historical stories about the past of the Swiss lands that you will rarely find in the history books.

I am sure that many people know that Switzerland is even more than nature: excellent exhibitions are regularly opened. One of my favourites places is in Valais, in Martigny, where I’ve seen years ago an extraordinary Degas exhibition hosted by Foundation Gianadda. This year, the invitation is for Modgliani and l’Ecole de Paris, open till November so maybe I will have time to go there.

Somehow, Switzerland is associated with top notch prices – but also with cows, and chocolate and cheese (I’ve seen all of them, of course) – and you rarely plan a holiday there unless you have a lot of money. This may be true for cities as Geneva or Zürich, but remember that Lausanne is a student city and besides the young life on the streets, one may also find affordable places for accommodation and fun. As long as you plan your trip, it’s impossible not to find some good deals.

Switzerland is for everyone: teenagers, busy businessmen and women, families with children, solo travellers – it’s one of the safest countries in Europe – multi-lingual aficionados – Romansh language continues to be a challenge for the linguists, hikers, artists, researchers and simple travellers. 

Happy birthday Switzerland! See you soon!