Nick Sellen

Being productive whilst travelling?

13 June 2017

I left this blog quite for a long time, I never really wrote much on it anyway. It was going to be for technical articles, probably to build my online presence as a computer programmer. It might still become that, but it will also be my general blog now too, where I write about my pondering, travelling, etc.

I also have my ponderings github repo, I am not sure how the content on these two sites should overlap.

Anyhow! I recently started nomadic bike touring again (nomadic meaning I don’t have a fixed base to go back to). I did this 5/6 years ago (see and stopped because:

  1. my money was decreasing, it clearly had an end, if not now then when…
  2. I had a compelling offer to go back down south and do some work

It felt like a good time to stop, the limits had been reached perhaps. I am always trying to learn from one trip to the next, and so for this trip I am intending to continuing working and earning money as I travel.

I had a solar setup and laptop before, and did some work, but not so much really. It did not really feel very relevent to work when I was in some peaceful nature, and being literally a remote worker connected to an office-based org, I think I disappear from their minds.

Perhaps more significantly though, I did not have the intention to continue working much. I had enough money in the bank to just live for a while. After living a busy life in London for 4 years, I wanted some peace.

This time I do intend to work. I want to show (or otherwise…) that technology in 2017 can allow people to live more free and self-detirmined lives without being cut off from the more regular world. Or at least that my life can be like this if nothing else.

I am still self employed, but since the previous trip switched the main organisation I work with from Everycity (managed web hosting), to Outlandish (a co-operative software agency). I have long wanted to harmonize my thoughts with my actions, and Outlandish is much closer to my thoughts.

Independently, I had written a manifesto for a hypothetical org, which my friend Mikael pointed out describes Outlandish pretty much exactly - and 3 or 4 days after that I had met them and agreed to start working together!

Many organisations might be hesitant about working with a nomadic cyclist, and I would admit whilst not hiding anything, maybe I only became totally transparent about my plans after starting a project with them. So far so good though…!

A higher priority than just cycling around though is to be thinking and working productively. I find life more satisfying if I have both immediately pleasing aspects (a river, some birdsong, a peaceful tree) and a higher/longer task (a project, an evolving philosophy, a mission). I have grown tired of the frenetic and mostly pointless (“fake busy”) activity of a city, and would love to connect inspiring, peaceful nature back into productive work.

The premise is something like:

  1. technology supports workers outside of cities now
  2. whilst traditionally innovative, city-life is increasingly consumed with furious activity just to keep afloat (high rent/prices, traffic, busyness, tiredness)
  3. the environment is stressful, physically and emotionally (pollution, noise, scheduling, density of emotional beings)

I admit I am mostly talking about big cities when I say city. Perhaps a small city is suffiently peaceful (although my hometown Bath has many of these qualities too). Cities feel urgent and resources scarce.

It’s still early days on the trip, so won’t conclude too much about that yet.

If I cannot be sufficiently productive with this lifestyle then I will look at introducing elements of regular society back in until productivity is regained.

And finally, I get concerned that people get a picture of unimaginable paradise (especially if I add pretty pictures), so to counter that I’ll let you know I have a bit of a headache, a little bit of toothache, I’m unmotivated to pack up my tent, and conflicted about whether it’s worth working only part time on my career to sit under a tree.