I can do hard things. I told myself this as I took up my husband Jon’s offer to hold it down at home with our two-and-a-half-year-old while I jetted off to use Media Profile’s generous $3,000 Work Away Benefit solo.
I had been wracking my brain on how to use the WAB as a family. But with a (still) pending passport for my daughter June and no remote childcare, combined with substantial opportunity costs like prepaid preschool and weekly activities, it just didn’t seem feasible for us.
As soon as Jon and I had the initial discussion, however, I started thinking about, researching and planning where I might go. I jumped from Greece or the Dominican Republic to Sweden or Canada’s east coast. I finally settled on somewhere many of my friends and family could have easily predicted: Amsterdam! I booked on a Thursday and flew out on Sunday. I knew that if I put it off, there was a good chance I’d talk myself out of this trip. Timing also worked out in my favour, with few major client meetings or deliverables due during the trip.
I’d been to Amsterdam twice before: Once on a 72-hour layover returning from a lengthier trip to Tanzania and once in 2017, when my now husband proposed as soon as we arrived, exhausted at our Airbnb. Our wedding bands both include the geographical coordinates from that very spot. Both were incredible, unforgettable experiences. Amsterdam is a place I felt an immediate connection to and I am pleased to find that the “home away from home” feeling persists post-pandemic. I knew my way around, what to pack and generally what kind of weather to expect.
I booked at a known hotel with great reviews and special shoutouts for the reliable Wi-Fi and in-room workspaces. The time difference worked great for me. As a night owl by nature, I was able to sleep in—something a toddler also makes difficult at home—and still have ample time to wander before hopping online at 3 PM local time to tackle the workday. I managed any calls via Teams and had an Airalo eSim installed on my phone so I was accessible for anything urgent even when out and about (as well as twice daily video chats with the fam). At my desk, my tablet served as a handy second monitor.
Although my hotel was on the fringes, it was a lovely walk through Westerpark into the city centre, not to mention how close it was to various transit lines. I was well positioned to explore old favourites like the Van Gogh Museum and Museumplein, Rembrandt House, Vondelpark, Hortus Botanicus, new discoveries like the small but worthwhile Canal, Tulip and Cheese Museums, the Royal Palace and Dam Square, and some amazing little bakeries and cafes. Special shoutout to Saint-Jean, an all vegan spot with the best pastries I’ve had in my life!
Given the time difference and the fact that I was flying solo, it didn’t even feel necessary to take any vacation time off. I was able to adventure at my own pace, especially over the weekends. I took a day trip to Rotterdam and hit all the major spots like the Euromast Tower, Erasumsbrug, Paul McCarthy’s Santa Claus Statue (Google it, but maybe not at work), the yellow cube houses, Markthal (delicious! I highly recommend the kroket and satay stands!) and the incredible Depot Boijmans van Beuningen (pro tip: Don’t waste your money on the view from Euromast).
I popped over to Haarlem one morning, just a 25-minute commute from my hotel. Haarlem is a lovely little town with an adorable coffee shop in the railway station, the impressive St. Bavo Church featuring an organ once played by a 10-year-old Mozart and Handel and Molen de Adriaan, a reconstructed, working windmill. Since I was one of the few tourists brave enough to wander around town in a torrential downpour, I even got a personal tour of Molen de Adriaan.
So, despite the tears and overwhelm that came with leaving my family, my comfort zone and my routine for two weeks, I cannot recommend taking a solo “workation,” or as we at Media Profile call it, work away enough. I rediscovered a city I love, while reconnecting with myself after a challenging few years at home. My key takeaways: Go in with an open mind, commit to doing at least one new thing daily and enjoy every moment! I will be forever thankful to Media Profile for this unexpected, brilliant opportunity.
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.
Director, Digital Strategy