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There’s something to say about embracing your independence and taking an introspective look at life. For me, individual growth happens when you get to know the real you – and what better way to go inward than by travelling solo.

Though I’ve always been a free-spirited traveller, the pandemic pushed pause on that wanderlust. So when Media Profile introduced the new Work Away Program, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to take flight once again!

To escape the cold Canadian winter, I chose sunny San Diego, California. I figured California would be a great place to work remotely while living out my active lifestyle, doing as much running, cycling, hiking (and even surfing!) as I could.

We all know travelling can be overwhelming. Travelling alone to a city where you don’t know anyone (after three years of staying home-bound!) can be downright daunting. But life is all about risks and there’s no better risk than one that you take on yourself. If you plan on taking a solo workcation like I did, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind.

Find ways to adjust

As part of the MP Work Away Benefit, we have to stick to the eastern time zone, which meant I was up at 5:00 a.m. and finished my day around 2:30 p.m. PST. I found this was the perfect arrangement given I’d always been an early riser, plus I got the better half of the afternoon to explore and take in that California sunset. Staying in one of the best spots on Mission Beach, I was steps away from the boardwalk and within minutes from logging off, my toes were buried in sun and sand. 

Some tricks that helped me stay in the same time zone as my colleagues in Toronto included keeping my laptop in EST, and  setting an evening alarm at 8:00 p.m. PST daily, as a reminder it was bedtime (albeit sticking to that proved difficult most days). Not only did this keep me on track with my activities, but it gave me something to talk about, with colleagues, clients and reporters. Despite the early start, working with a change of scenery left me refreshed and ready to tackle each day

Fill your days with adventures

The two weeks I spent in San Diego were some of the most jam packed I’ve ever had in my life. 

When I arrived, I dropped my bags, went for a run and rented a bike to get around the city. By day three, I had gone kayaking, had brunch with my paddle partner and seen most of the downtown core. And by the first weekend, I had run a 10KM race on Saturday morning, went on an impromptu hike through Torrey Pines after the race with a friend I had met a few days prior, drove down to see the seals tanning on La Jolla Shores, and then hit the vibrant scene of Little Italy (a San Diego must!) for dinner. I even managed to squeeze in a spontaneous day trip to LA, making it home just in time to squeeze in a few hours of shut eye before my morning trek through San Diego’s slot canyons.

Needless to say, I was exhausted. But being sleepy was a small price to pay for all the memories I made.

A little planning can save a lot of money

Being outside of your typical environment doesn’t mean it all has to change. In fact, I found that balancing my travel habits with my habits back home were important to budgeting my work away. 

For example, very rarely is buying every single one of your meals sustainable. So, while I treated myself to the local Mission and Pacific Beach staples, I squeezed in a grocery haul and prepped meals during work days and I rented a bike to get around town instead of constantly relying on Ubers. I borrowed a second monitor from my Airbnb superhost and did an immense amount of research into finding a free vaccine clinic to get back into Canada. It’s important to be resourceful on solo trips so as to not burn your budget right out of the gate.

Be open to meeting new people

There’s something different about the people you meet abroad – travelling has a funny way of removing the gaps in your relationship timeline. Part of what makes travelling solo intimidating for most folks is the idea that you’ll always be alone. But if you put yourself out there and stay open to the potential of meeting new people, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how little time you actually spend by yourself.

My trip was filled with all sorts of new friends (Americans and Canadians!) who I met based on a simple hello and who I’m still connecting with now that I’m back.  I went kayaking, hiking, sunset chasing and even braved surfing with these pals – each of whom gave me a little glimpse of their own story and what brought them to the golden state. But it was the check-ins, the impromptu hangouts and the “Hey Jorielle, want to go for a drive?” plans that really made me feel like I had a mini home away from home. I’d be remiss not to admit that these unexpected friendships made tackling my `Things to try in Cali’ to-do list (can someone say In-N-Out Burger?) so much more meaningful as I got to share the moment with someone else. 

Solo travel is all about embracing the random: meeting strangers, seeing sights, changing plans, and eating tacos on the beach at sunset. Solo travel while working was the refreshing reset I needed to connect with others in this new world of remote work. It lets you be who you are and who you want to be, all at the same time. I’ll never forget my workcation in San Diego and I’m grateful that I work at an agency that not only gave me this opportunity, but empowered me to do it.

Curious to learn more about MP’s adventures abroad? Stay tuned for future Our Take #PassportToMP blog posts where employees will share their work away experiences.

Jorielle Nunag
Senior Consultant

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