When Work Meets Travel: Does Seeing the World Make us More Creative?
Travel no longer merely means taking a holiday. Instead, seeing the world is a chance to spark our next bright idea and broaden our networks. But is the balancing act between travel for work and travel for rest really so easy to master?
13 August, 2019
Gone are the days when travel meant taking a holiday in its most traditional form. Now more than ever, seeing the world is considered by many as a chance to spark creativity, ignite inspiration and build professional contacts and portfolios.
For LA-based street style photographer, Tim Regas, the ability to visit multiple cities each season is what drives his success. Now boasting 14.5k Instagram followers on his account @wheresmydriver, and with a portfolio that includes shots of Anna Wintour and Kendall Jenner, he's a regular at some of the fashion industry's most prestigious events… but where and when he books a trip is not up to him. "I have to go where the designers show," he says. "Generally that's New York, London, Paris and Milan, but now smaller fashion weeks, such as that in Moscow, are really gaining momentum. Going to different cities means I get to shoot a diverse range of people and my work is more varied."
His images depict a sense of place and reflect each destination's culture and personality without being overt or cliché. Regular visits mean he has come to know certain areas and their fashion locals well, and the sense of familiarity allows him to be increasingly creative. "Some people know where to get the best coffee, I try to learn when and where I can find the best light," he says.
Unlike Regas, Jordan Collyer travels with brands when and where she pleases to create content for her travel and fashion blog, The Collyer Twins, which she runs with her sister and business partner, Loanne. Visually beautiful places are forever on their radar and they leave home at least twice a month for work-related trips. Itineraries are designed to inspire, and the change in location helps to keep content and ideas fresh.
"When you immerse yourself in a new environment and spend time experiencing different cultures you gain a fresh perspective. It allows for new creative processes," she says. "But being strategic with time is key and you always have to have your phone ready."
Having spotted the appetite for working travellers like Regas and Collyer, hotels such as the Arlo and The Hoxton have incorporated work spaces into their set-ups. Martina Luger, the CMO of Ennismore (the group which owns The Hoxton) says: "Our lobbies have been used as unofficial co-working spaces since day one, so we've created a dedicated environment for those who want and need it. People are spending less time in traditional offices now."
Interiors play a huge part in making th ese areas feel welcoming and encouraging the perception of normality surrounding work and travel. Ennismore design director, Charlie North, stresses the importance of keeping things relaxed. "From the art hanging on the walls to the eclectic furnishings, there's always something interesting to look at. We want people to feel at home. Comfort encourages relaxation and we keep things open-plan nature to maintain a buzz which, for a lot of people, sparks motivation and inspiration," he says.
Yet Ennismore also stresses the importance of downtime. "Come 5pm the lights in each space go down and the atmosphere changes," says Luger. "Holborn is where we see the hardest workers, while Paris feels like our most leisurely location. Guests often use the space to eat, drink and catch up with friends. Parisians have the right idea."
Collyer, too, sees the value in taking proper breaks and, despite her fast-paced lifestyle, the need to constantly be "on" and the importance of travel to her work, she's sure to book trips dedicated to relaxation too.
"My downtime is phone-free, which doesn't come into the equation when I'm working," she says. "I recently booked a silent Vipassana retreat in Thailand. I had 10 days to myself with no distractions and I was able to fully let my mind go. I had a lightbulb moment and came up with a business idea which I'm putting into place now."
The balancing act between travel for work and travel for rest is a tricky one to master. Social media rules and the rise of content-related professions means that, like it or not, we are almost always "on". Yet while it's tempting to see trips as a chance to work - be it during the journey or throughout the stay - there's something to be said for letting travel in its purest form rejuvenate the mind and encourage true inspiration.