Why I'm leaving Remote Year

So. I'm leaving Remote Year, and I'm telling you why. 

 

Why I'm leaving: RY is too hard on my relationship.

This, above all, is the reason Jeff and I are leaving. Apart from this, we likely would have stayed.

Remote Year can be a tough way to exist in day-to-day life. Every single emotion you can possibly imagine is something you'll feel - sometimes daily. It's exhausting and there's a lot of negativity in a lot of genres.

That piece is hard to explain, and I've written about it before. For now, trust me that Remote Year is an emotional roller coaster for absolutely everyone on the program.

That's hard enough as a single person. Now compound those emotions as a couple.

The roller coaster is rarely in sync. When Jeff is on a travel high, I'm cranky and tired and feeling ill. My mood crushes his happy. When I'm feeling blissful, Jeff is cranky and tired and mad at the world. His negativity crushes my happy. We're never aligned, and rarely have moments of simultaneous gratitude for the other person.

I can't count how many times that has happened. Those moments build on each other in a terrible cycle that only ends in contempt. A month of hard goes by, and we realize that we both feel unloved... but simultaneously love the other person dearly. We've just had no emotional energy to show it.

That's not to mention the fact that we don't get a break from each other. We live together, walk to the coworking space together, work in the same room, eat together, travel together. We have very little time apart, even when we schedule solitude. We run the same (tiny) circles and never get a break. That's unique to Remote Year.

And so the cycle continues, quickly snowballing and never really dissipating. 

So many of our problems will be immediately alleviated upon exiting the program. It's worth mentioning that none of Remote Year 1's non-married couples stayed together. I can see why. This program erodes a relationship, and I value Jeff and my partnership way more than I value traveling with this program. That makes our decision simple.

The only responsible choice, for the good of our relationship, is to leave Remote Year. So we're making that choice.

On the plus side, getting through this with so much love still intact means we can probably get through anything. Because yes, it's been hard, but we love each other just as much as when we started. Probably more, because it's not a love based in warm fuzzy feelings. It's based in choice and action. Like damn adults.

 

THE SIMPLEr REASON: I LOVE A GUY WHO GOT A DREAM JOB IN NYC.

Career is hugely important to both me and to Jeff. I certainly know what it's like to leave a job that was a terrible fit and land somewhere that makes you starry-eyed. I'm in my dream job. Jeff wasn't. But now he is. 

That job is in Manhattan. It isn't remote. He doesn't want it to be remote - he likes working in an office. And, so, we made the choice to leave Remote Year in favor of a wholly different adventure: moving to NYC together. Neither of us have ever lived in a big city before. This is all very new and very exciting. 

One of our last days in London before Jeff left for NYC.

One of our last days in London before Jeff left for NYC.

 

As a single person, I probably wouldn't make the same choice.

That realization took me a while to come to terms with. In many ways, I still see myself as the post-divorce, free, in-control, defiant Taylor. I still am all of those things.

Single Taylor would still be on Remote Year (the next section could make you question my sincerity here, but I do actually feel this way).

But I'm not a single person, and at the end of the day, I'm giving this relationship a fair shot. It matters. I value this partnership and I choose to make it sustainable. That might be controversial, you might think me anti-feminist, but you're wrong.

This isn't Jeff forcing me to leave something I love in order for him to do something he loves. This is a joint decision, a choice made to maximize happiness for both of us. This is on my terms - on our terms.

I am not an N of 1 and I cannot act as though I am. Jeff is a priority.

 

The secondary reason: RY, as a business, frustrates me.

My biggest professional strength is marketing strategy. Which, often, is just plain business strategy. Good marketing isn't just a perfectly curated Instagram channel- it's about having good business practices to begin with.

I say that to demonstrate that my professional knowledge makes me feel well-versed enough to judge Remote Year on this point.

And they get a low grade. To their credit, that grade is improving. They're starting to actually listen to their current clients (hey, shocker, we have voices and people listen to us) and make changes based on things we're upset about. Previously, the response was essentially "tough shit, this is how it is."

Yeahhh that's not the way to operate a client services company. The companies that win aren't the companies that try to eek every penny out of every client. The companies that win make decisions that cater to existing customers - not piss them off - and recognize when to take the high road (aka a short term loss for a long term gain), and handle attrition with grace.

The companies that win play a long game, not one of short-term revenue optimization. RY plays the short-term revenue optimization game, (probably) in order to maximize cash flow and grow more quickly. Which really frustrates me. You're doing it wrong, RY.

Remote Year was founded by two people with a lot of drive. Drive is always so valued, so revered in our society, but there's a fatal flaw in ambition.

Drive can lead to wanting to grow a business too quickly. To set huge growth goals, talk about those goals openly, and pursue that growth while sacrificing a lot. It's a trap that a lot of entrepreneurs fall into. Don't be Zenefits, Remote Year. 

It's understandable to want to grow quickly, but here's the thing. A technology company desperately working to grow to 10M app users is different than Remote Year's goal of getting 10K participants. Because the responsibility to each set of users (/ clients) is wholly different. Remote Year cannot responsibly set the growth goals they're trying to achieve.

Here's why I think that. Using an app is a small part of a person's livelihood. So, that company scaling quickly to gain more app users can make a ton of mistakes without really changing the lives of their customer. Remote Year is, de facto, every single piece of my life. It's my work (because I rely on them to be able to do my job), it's my home, my leisure time, my calendar, my friends, my livelihood. 

If you screw up at a tech company and treat your clients poorly, it's a problem, yes - but it's a problem that impacts a small moment of that person's daily life. But Remote Year's decisions truly impact the livelihoods of the individuals they serve. Not just their employees - their clients, too. 

I'm not convinced that the founders understand the responsibility they have to us, as their clients. We are not a typical client. The stakes are higher. You can't act like a nimble, fast-growth startup when you have the responsibility that RY shoulders. 

I gave control over to a company whose whose decision-making processes I don't trust. The decisions are made strategically to optimize for growth, not to create an awesome program. Their financials are built to cover the high attrition they've built in to their model, rather than strategically trying to minimize that attrition by improving their product.

I'm biased, yes, but I think they make more wrong decisions than they should. As a marketer, as a businessperson, I cannot endorse Remote Year.

But that doesn't mean I'd refuse to stick it out if I were on my own.

 

Am I burning a bridge with this post?

Quite possibly. I don't generally believe in burning bridges. But in this case, I think honesty and transparency wins.

You'll read other blogs, hear other voices, talk about the downsides of Remote Year. How accommodations are inconsistent, how new policies are enacted seemingly randomly with no voice from the community, how it's expensive and not worth the money.

Yeah, those are valid concerns, but that's not necessarily the point I'm making.

I bring up a larger, more systemic issue. Remote Year's leadership cares about scaling the company and growing quickly. Period. That comes at the expense of those who are on Remote Year.

I disagree with their business philosophies. I believe in building great products first and foremost, and basing all growth upon a quality service. Remote Year isn't doing that.

I wouldn't have left for that reason alone, because goodness knows I'll miss my friends more than I care about being right, but it's something that makes me feel better about parting ways.

 

So what now?

I'm traveling on my own for a little while, through Europe, before I meet Jeff in New York. He's already there. We need a little time apart to hit the reset button.

After that, we'll have a home base on the Upper West Side. I'll travel several times per year, often for a month or so at a time. I'm not sacrificing nomadism. I'm just making my own pace.

When I was exhausted, completely at the end of my rope, after bouts of illness in La Paz, Jenn told me to slow down. Slow means something different for everyone - for Jenn, it means staying in one place for months before moving. For me, it means coming home often and traveling for shorter periods. One month instead of six.

I want to travel, I still want to work from anywhere, but I want to come home.

That's tough to do when you don't have a home.

 

My new itinerary:

  • June: London
  • July: Dubrovnic, Prague, Salzburg, Vienna, Amsterdam
  • August: NYC and North Carolina, to see my friends and family
  • September: NYC, Lisbon, Porto, Morocco, Barcelona
  • After that, for the forseeable future: NYC.

Trips that are probably next on the list:

  • A very relaxing beach with Jeff
  • San Fran, with Chloe, in early 2017
  • Japan, with Jeff
  • Scotland, with Chloe, in a few years
  • Rocky mountains, with Jeff
  • Somewhere with Amanda. Where do you want to go, Amanda?

Taylor Coil is a marketing manager who works remotely from around the world.

Answers to your burning questions

Why haven't you written anything in forever?

Because writing Colloquial.ly for me has always been a passion project. I never gave myself rules or deadlines. I write for joy.

I haven't needed to write to find joy in London. I'm too busy finding joy in London.

What are you up to? 

EVERYTHING. Just look at my Instagram

You've written a lot of RY critique lately. What are you doing now?

Well, after London (on June 30th), I'm leaving Remote Year. I'll write about why in the coming week.

I'm traveling on my own in July, then moving to NYC in August. I'll be there for a couple of months, then traveling for another month, then back in NYC. Long-term, I'll still nomad, but I'll have a SWEET home base on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. 

Where are you traveling?

In July: Dubrovnik, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, and Amsterdam. Helluva July. 

In Sept / Oct: Lisbon, Porto, Morocco (cities TBD), Barcelona.

Alone?

Sometimes, sometimes with / meeting up with friends. I have friends all over the world now. It's great.

Can you elaborate?

Later. Right now I'm enjoying my last few days with my RY family. Martin baked bread and we're watching Game of Thrones.

To be continued.

An updated, annotated packing post

A reader asked me today if I had a packing post. Technically I do, but I wrote it before I left and before I knew anything about anything.

So it's basically worthless.

Here's that list, annotated and updated.

CLOTHES

  • 5 short sleeve shirts -- I think I still have 5, but I want different ones because I'm so bored of them
  • 2 tanks -- ditched one, now just have a basic black one
  • 1 long sleeve shirt -- I spilled pasta on this in Bolivia and had to ditch it
  • 1 wool sweater -- I don't think I actually brought this. I SHOULD HAVE.
  • 1 wool cardigan -- SEE ABOVE. I AM COLD.
  • 3 jackets -- I only have two now, a thin floral one for hot weather and a black bomber for chilly
  • 1 skirt -- still have this, but very much want to replace it
  • 1 pair of denim shorts -- ditched. They've never fit right and it's cold in Peru. I'll buy another pair in Europe.
  • 1 pair of jeans -- I want to replace these so badly - they don't fit right at all
  • 1 pair of tights -- also something I didn't pack and TOTALLY SHOULD HAVE
  • 2 jumpsuits -- ditched. They fell apart.
  • 2 sundresses (one that's nice enough for going out) -- Still have, but haven't worn them since it's been cold.
  • Black combat boots -- ditched, but wore them to death first. MVP packing item. They're just falling apart.
  • Bronze oxfords -- reluctantly keeping since I ditched the above
  • Rainbow flip flops -- kept, for beaches
  • Old (but cute) sandals that I'll either ditch or replace during the year when they fall apart -- keeping until they actually break
  • Running shoes -- keeping, duh
  • 1 ultralight rain jacket -- MVP, I wear this all the time
  • 1 packable down jacket (La Paz, Bolivia is at 12,000 feet elevation - brrrrr) -- ditching after Peru
  • 1 zip-up hoodie -- reluctantly keeping because I'm cold
  • 7 pairs of socks (a few no-show, one set of Smartwools, one black pair, and some trusty Balegas) -- keeping all of these.
  • 10 (probably) pairs of underwear -- I almost wish I packed more.
  • 2 sets of PJs (two comfy tees, one pair of PJ pants and one pair of PJ shorts) -- ditched everything except one tee and one pair of PJ pants
  • 1 pair of workout capris -- I packed two, why?? Who knows.
  • 2 Nike dri-fit workout tops (the best) -- Only needed one.
  • 1 sports bra -- keeping.
  • 3 necklaces (one that I'll never take off) -- Only packed two. Keeping both: one casual, one dressy.
  • 1 set of earrings + 1 ear cuff -- keeping, and I wear them every day
  • 2 rings (that I'll never take off) -- see above.

TOILETRIES

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste -- keeping because I'm not a monster
  • Dr. Bronner's -- MVP. Keeping.
  • Travel sized skincare - cleanser, moisturizer, and maybe a travel sized mask -- I would do terrible things for a face mask right now
  • Makeup (which makeup? TBD) -- I'm almost out of everything. Restocking in London.
  • Chapstick -- SO necessary
  • Travel sized shampoo and conditioner (I'll buy more when we get there) -- Protip: shampoo in South America sucks. Bring a full-sized bottle.
  • Simple wipes -- should have brought more of these. 
  • Nail clippers -- very glad to have them.
  • Tweezers -- see above.
  • Add: tampons

ELECTRONICS

  • 15" Macbook Pro, in a hardshell case -- yep, still have this
  • iPhone 6 -- see above
  • Bose in-ear noise cancelling earbuds (totally worth the splurge - they're an introvert's dream)  -- see above
  • Nikon D3200 + 35 mm lens  -- see above
  • Zoom lens -- want to ditch, but too expensive to ditch
  • Kindle Paperwhite -- use it often!
  • Chargers -- necessary, I have my in a cable organizer pouch and it's great
  • Converters (one universal, one Apple converter set for my computer and phone) -- very useful, but I ditched the universal one and just steal Jeff's
  • Backup battery (for my phone) -- I didn't bring this and haven't needed it
  • External hard drive -- for peace of mind!
  • SIM card ejector tool -- an earring works just fine

ETC

  • A portable pharmacy (brand names only if I don't know the active ingredients off the top of my head): ibuprofen, dimenhydrinate (motion sickness), doxylamine succinate (for snoozy woozys), Pepto, Immodium, malaria pills. -- glad to have the advil, sleeping pills, stomach meds, and cold meds. The rest is superfluous.
  • Tortuga packing cubes -- so helpful for organization
  • Pen + travel journal -- it's my thing and I kind of regret that it's my thing
  • My ankle brace (you suck, broken tibia) -- super valuable.
  • Travel towel -- oddly useful - I use this a lot more than I thought I would
  • Neck pillow -- duh, for overnight flights
  • Curling iron (a luxury to make me feel more normal) -- yep, glad I brought this
  • Collapsible tupperware (maybe) -- didn't pack them and I'm glad I didn't
  • My travel spork (hey - it's useful) -- ditched, why the hell did I bring this?

There ya have it. For the stuff I'm going to buy to add to this packing list, see here.

Header image via Unsplash.


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.

Creature comforts

Talking to my friends and family occasionally makes me homesick. Pictures of Cape Lookout from the hull of my aunt's boat are pretty effective.

But the one act that has made me the most homesick on Remote Year?

Buying shoes from Nordstrom and shipping them to Amanda. She's going to bring them to me while we're in Ireland.

That little act made me crave creature comforts, crave a life in the United States where those comforts are all around me. Crave the ability to shop at my favorite stores, crave familiar surroundings and comfortable extras that make a huge difference.

Like scented candles, bubble baths, fuzzy blankets. Fashion, of course, which I've already written about. At-home spa days and online shopping. Snuggling up on a comfy sofa to watch a movie, my favorite candy in-hand. Giving myself a pedicure while I watch an indulgent Netflix series. Taking an extra-long hot shower (with a favorite scent of body wash) after a session at the gym. Pulling down the coconut oil from the pantry and giving myself a little foot rub.

I read Emily's post on Cupcakes and Cashmere about how to make your week feel a little bit like a weekend, and found myself getting frustrated. I can do a couple of those things, but not the ones that make me feel recharged. 

Right now, I miss how easy things are in America. I miss feeling like I can fix it when I feel stressed or sick. I miss easily accessible self-care and I miss indulgences.

I hope that doesn't make me shallow.

I don't feel shallow.

I just feel worn out.


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.

Iterating on life

Something isn't right. Something isn't working.

I don't need a vacation from work. I don't feel burned out and I'm genuinely happy to log on every weekday. That isn't it (though I am taking a few days off soon to hang out in Ireland with Amanda).

I don't need to be single. My relationship is great, definitely not the problem.

I don't need different (long-term) friends. I have found great people with whom to share my life.

But something isn't right. Something is really, really wrong.

Here's the truth: I'm happy in moments, but not in the aggregate.

The even worse truth is that I felt happier in Durham, in my life right before RY. I loved living with Jeff in a little apartment, going to the gym regularly, cooking all the time and watching food documentaries while we ate. 

That life wasn't quite right, either, because I desperately wanted change. I was antsy and itchy to try another way to live, to be somewhere else, to live somewhere other than Durham.

But needing to be somewhere else and joining a program like Remote Year aren't necessarily congruous. 

Something isn't right. I iterated, and perhaps I made the wrong choice.

It might be South America. Maybe I just need to get the hell out of this continent and get to Europe. I think that's part of it. I have a suspicion that it's not all of it.

It might be traveling with Remote Year. That's likely. I'm not exactly silent on my critique of the program, at least in regards to fit for a person like me.

It might be full-time travel. Maybe nomadism isn't the life I want. Maybe I don't like to work while I travel, at least internationally. Maybe I want to separate the two - work at home, and travel often. I do miss having a home. 

Maybe I needed to live in a different city.

Maybe I just needed a different job (which I now have). That's entirely possible. The happiest I've been, in recent memory, is working for Tortuga from Durham. 

Agile marketing, full of testing and iterating and learning, is what I do. We do something, we watch what happens, and we tweak the strategy (or change it altogether) based on results. Of course I've applied the same concepts to life.

I iterated in a major way, when I felt itchy.

I learned a lot - a hell of a lot.

I learned that remote work is exactly how I want to spend my career. I learned that I felt trapped for reasons that didn't hold weight. I learned what I value in a travel destination. I learned that yes, Jeff and I can actually get through anything (travel, especially like this, really challenges a relationship). I learned that I really love Durham, but I don't want to live there right now. I learned that a city like NYC might be a place that I could find happiness, much to my surprise (I wouldn't have said the same before coming on RY).

But something is not right, not yet, and it's time to iterate again. This test gave me lots of information, but I wouldn't call the results exactly optimal.

Learning from something and getting great results from something are not the same thing. 

So what now?

Iteration number next: change continents. Get to Europe, and see what I learn. And go from there.

Header image: Ales Krivec via Unsplash


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.

Snapshots of life through music

When Jeff and I started dating, we talked a lot about music, as many do in a budding relationship. We'd share artists with each other and talk about what we listen to in different contexts. He sent me Zero7, I introduced him to The Staves. We bonded over a shared respect for each other's taste.

Yeah, I kept screenshots of our swoony conversations. What of it?

Yeah, I kept screenshots of our swoony conversations. What of it?

I didn't mention that my best friend and I were both obsessed with Nicki Minaj. I also didn't tell him about that one month where I couldn't stop listening to Hilary Duff's new album. Seriously - during one week, my ONLY "recently listened to" artist on Spotify was Hilary Duff. 

It was a rough time in my life, okay? 

Right after divorce, I found that every song sounded like a love song. A simple lyric would send me into uncontrollable sobs. It was a problem. I turned to what my friend called 'anthems' - decidedly safe songs that weren't about love or breakups or pain. Or if they were about pain, the lyrics weren't too raw. They were sophomoric glee in music form.

Stuff like Hilary Duff's album, Taylor Swift's 1989, Nicki Minaj's Pinkprint. Mixed with nostalgic tracks from way-pre-married life, songs that are so bad they're enjoyable like Mandy Moore's Candy and Jessica Simpson's With You (I loved that song in middle school). I compiled them all (except the T Swizzle ones, because she's not on Spotify) into a playlist I called "I'm appropriately ashamed of this playlist."

I think we all take a bit of pride in our tastes. Any clout that I could earn with a careful curation of music will be destroyed if you look at that playlist. Just know: it's not what I usually listen to.

That's what I listen to when everything hurts.

 

Tracking my healing through music

I've always found immense power in music. I use it to change my mood, to focus, to celebrate, to destress. It sets the tone of a dinner, it helps me power through a lethargic workday, it makes a commute way more fun.

After my ex left, I drowned my thoughts with Spotify. I listened to music all day, every day. I couldn't stand silence.

At that time, I had a habit of creating monthly or quarterly playlists. I'd sometimes carry over songs, usually all-time favorites like Cosmo Sheldrake's Solar (the lyrics are a William Blake poem) and Evergreen by Broods. Most of the songs and artists, however, would be unique.

Looking back on those playlists is a fascinating replica of my healing process.


December 2014: Broken

This is one of my all-time favorite playlists - it truly feels like a snapshot in time.

I listened to Wolf Gang with sadness - my ex and I discovered them a few years prior and loved their music. We'd sing their songs on road trips. I couldn't let go of those moments. 

The same was true of Ben Howard. I can't listen to Old Pine without crying, even now.

I binge-listened to AM, the 2013 release by the Arctic Monkeys. Snap Out Of It was a song that I'd angrily blare in my little convertible, pissed at my ex and that one Tinder guy. R U Mine? was the same.

Speaking of that one Tinder guy - his influence is all over my December 2014 playlist. He introduced me to Purity Ring, Beats Antique, and Crystal Castles. His taste is impeccable. 


Q1 2015: avoidance

This is quite a small playlist. I curated a few songs that didn't couldn't me of my ex. I knew he'd never heard of these artists and would probably not seek them out on his own.

Some of these turned into all-time favorites. I still love Not Going Home (really anything by Great Good Fine OK) and Uma by Panama Wedding. They'd definitely make the ranks in a "Taylor Loves These" playlist.

Also noticeably absent: any influence of the Tinder guy, peppered in my December tunes. I was pissed at everything. Though a third party could never guess my anger from this little collection of tunes, it's painfully obvious to me.


Q2 2015: Confusion

I'm calling this "confusion" because, today, I legitimately don't like some of the music on this playlist. I think SOHN is meh and I find myself skipping over Banks songs whenever they come on shuffle.

Wolf Gang re-appears here, this time not out of teary nostalgia but because I legitimately love their music. Same with Cosmo Sheldrake, Broods, Arctic Monkeys. I started to re-claim my own tastes and separate them from my ex.

I started adding in new influences in Q2 - Brendan introduced me to ODESZA. Another friend pointed me in the direction of Glass Animals. Those were steps forward... but then I looked at my ex's recent listens and grabbed Best Coast and Electric Guest. That's also where I found SOHN. Two steps forward, one step backward.


Summer 2015: Friends

Let's be honest: most of this playlist was influenced by people I love (though, at the time, Jeff was a crush and not yet a love).

Chloe and I listened to Ryn Weaver on the daily. I kept trying to get her into Tame Impala, but was met with ambivalence.

Jeff pointed me to DJ Shadow and Jamiroquai. Ratatat was suddenly not an association with my ex, but the songs Jeff and I would listen to in his GTI, driving to dinner.

Megan makes an appearance, too - she sent me Dillon Francis' Get Low as a joke. Doubt she thought I'd actually like it. I do. I really do.


August 2015: Bye Felicia

There is no trace of my old life in this playlist. I love Wolf Gang, but it reminds me of old Taylor. The Taylor who had a townhouse and a husband and a puppy and a convertible.

HOLYCHILD, Conner Youngblood, Phantogram and AURORA feel like the more current version of myself. Do yourself a favor and listen to all four immediately.

This playlist feels like independence, defiance, and moving on.

I guess I should admit that Chloe found HOLYCHILD first.


Fall 2015: Modern Taylor

This one feels the most "me." 

I found The 1975 (Love Me is a fave) and DWNTWN. I continued my love for Conner Youngblood. Man, I love that music. This playlist is full of the stuff I listen to today.

Of course, my friends' influences are all over it. Brendan and I listened to Big Grams obsessively for a while. Amanda and I went to a Lord Huron concert together. Chloe wouldn't stop talking about CHVRCHES' new songs.

This one, along with the very first "era" playlist I created, is my favorite. Fitting to begin and end on high notes.


I no longer create playlists based on eras, in part because my emotions don't change as completely as time goes on. I'm no longer in a turbulent process of getting through trauma. In 2014 and early 2015, my entire being was turbulent. The music I listened to reflected that.

Today, music is more circumstantial. I listen to one set of tunes while I work and a completely different playlist when I'm walking home or hanging out in my apartment. If I drove, ever, that'd be when I'd turn to these former eras. I love a bit of nostalgia when I drive.

It feels great to listen to these songs and feel no pain. I remember the pain I felt in December 2014, but it's only a memory.

That's progress.

Header image: Corey Blaz via Unsplash


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email, or read more from the blog.

Illness is defeating right now

I've always been the person who refuses to let illness get in the way, for better or for worse. I won't lose a workday, but I will stay sick for longer. It is not a good thing and not something that should garner accolades. It stemmed from feeling unable to take care of myself if it came at the expense of productivity.

A few years ago, I had an awful bout of laryngitis. I still worked - every day - until my doctor told me point-blank to go home and sleep. That's in part because my sick time and vacation time were one in the same, and I didn't want to let laryngitis in January keep me from taking time off at Christmas to spend time with my family. But that's another story.

The plus side of that: illness has always been something annoying that I had to deal with, but not something that impacted my mental state.

Today, that's not the case.

I get sick a lot on Remote Year. That's mostly because we're in South America, where bouts of food poisoning are frustratingly difficult to avoid. I've gotten a cold or two, but that's bound to happen regardless.

I've now had 4 awful encounters with food poisoning in 3.5 months. That's not counting the many, many days of an upset stomach (but a manageable one). In Argentina, I was throwing up so hard that vomit came out of my nose. The other night, I spiked a high fever in the middle of my nausea-filled misery and had to deal with sweats and intense body aches. It was so bad that I wondered if my typhoid vaccine was a dud.

 
Feeling like death on a bus while Martin and Jeff were exploring Pisac, Peru.

Feeling like death on a bus while Martin and Jeff were exploring Pisac, Peru.

 

In the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad. 

But it feels so incredibly defeating, every time.

Every time my stomach turns, I feel as though illness is inevitable. Getting healthy is a shallow joy because I'm just waiting for the next time it'll strike, the next moment that I'll be incapacitated by some environmental factor. The frequency and severity are so, so frustrating. Feeling shitty is my reality, and feeling healthy is a nice (occasional) break. 

I can't remember the last time I got food poisoning in the USA.

In that sense, Europe feels like my saving grace. I know I'll probably get sick in Europe, too, but probably not as often. Hopefully not as severely. 

In just over two weeks I leave for London, where vegetables aren't suspect and water isn't poisonous. Where I can easily find healthy food to boost my immune system.

Two weeks until I feel like I can breathe, literally and figuratively.

I love you, Peru, but I have really hit my South America threshold. My body is done.

Header image: negative space.


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.

My capsule wardrobe needs work

I have a goal.

By the time the V3 of the Tortuga comes out (we don't have firm release dates yet, but I have a general time frame), I will be down to a carry-on backpack and a personal item.

Y'all - it's harder than it sounds. Especially for long-term travel.

I've always been a carry-on-only traveler, but I've also never traveled indefinitely. I packed a lot of just-in-case items that have come in handy in South America. Like a wine opener. It was weirdly difficult to find wine openers in Uruguay.

I'll ditch those superfluous things in Europe, where it'll be easier to find ad hoc gear that I need. That part is easy.

My biggest challenge lies in my wardrobe. 

I'm sick of my clothes and I miss the ability to dress fashionably. My go-to aesthetic isn't exactly minimalist and I don't love the look of performance gear. I'll never be the girl who wears head-to-toe Arc'teryx and Merrell and Patagonia. I'd far rather wear Free People and Asos and Halogen - but I have to find packable and layerable options from my favorite brands. I want this in my capsule wardrobe, but try stuffing those sleeves under a jacket.

Dammit.

I'm finding the line between fashion and practicality to be particularly challenging.

 

What I'm missing altogether:

  • Tights (regular and fleece-lined)
  • A maxi skirt - Lauren Hom has a gorgeous one in an elephant print that I covet on the regular
  • Black cigarette pants, or maybe something more stylish like joggers (but ughh they aren't as practical or versatile)
  • Dressy shoes (that are packable and comfy) like these in black or these, if my size comes back in stock
  • Bodysuit (great for layering under the maxi skirt I don't own)
  • Wool cardigan (planning to purchase this one in Dublin)
  • A flannel shirt (I had one, but I lost it in Montreal)
  • Laptop bag (as a personal item, for more space)

What I have, but want to replace:

  • Mini skirt - mine is a print, which isn't as easy to mix and match. I'd love a black or grey one with interesting textures. 
  • Jeans. I want to switch to high-waisted. You were right about that one, Emily. 
  • A dress or two. I want one that makes me feel like a badass and is nice enough for dressy occasions. My current options fulfill neither requirement.
  • Tops. I need some better layers. But stylish ones, not plain merino v-necks.
  • A warm jacket. Mine is not very warm.

My MVP items:

  • Jeans (even though they don't fit very well)
  • Ankle boots, comfy enough for walking through a city
  • Black bomber jacket
  • Blanket scarf
  • My Marmot Precip rain jacket. I respectfully disagree with my Tortuga colleages who think rain jackets are specialized gear that don't belong in carry-ons. I wear this thing all the time.

Things I need to ditch:

  • Half of my workout gear (I don't need as much as I have)
  • First aid kit 
  • A pair of shoes (or two) and replace them with the ones linked above
  • Tees - why did I bring so many tees?
  • My UNC hoodie (sorry, hoodie)
  • Clothes that make me feel bleh
  • Superfluous toiletries
  • Things that won't fly (get it) through TSA

Oy, this is going to be difficult.

Header image: Hannah Morgan via Unsplash.


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.