Escaping to the Philippines with other high flyers was the work/life reset I needed

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Since leaving my job in the City in my 20’s I’ve been a freelance consultant, operating from locations all over the world and becoming more and more fully remote. As the founder of a PR company, my attitude is very much “work hard, play hard” – and do it in a nice environment that offers personal balance, whatever that might look like. 

However, the run-up to my Philippines group trip in December 2019 represented the end of a long stint of working from the UK. I felt like I was being pulled back into the rat race, working all day in a concrete jungle. While travelling into London, I noticed so many other commuters looked mildly depressed.

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I needed a break without thinking about the logistics

In all honesty, I’d never done a group trip before. I’m normally a bit against the idea of organised fun. As someone who’s very independent, I was also resistant to having an itinerary planned for me. But, I was knackered and long overdue a holiday, so it seemed like the perfect solution: a break without having to really think about the logistics. 

I booked the trip. And, I’m so glad I did. It allowed me rare time out amid the grind of daily life. I found the freedom to focus on myself again, along with the headspace to reflect and make some big decisions. I was able to recognise that travelling, for me, is not about a one-off holiday: it’s a way of life.

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Everyone was successful and driven in their careers

The reset also came about because of the people I was travelling with. Our group hit it off straight away and we all shared a similar sense of humour. 

There was a recurring theme: everyone was quite successful and driven in their careers. We had managing directors and those running their own business in the mix. We were united by the fact that we were quite rebellious and strong-minded but, equally, we all craved a break. We were very content in each other’s company.

In our daily roles, we’re normally the fixers; the people responsible for sorting things out. But the fact that most of us were in leadership positions meant that it was actually freeing to hand over control to our Pack Leader, Rupert.

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Our only “job” was to turn up on time

Rupert was amazing, but we did give him a run for his money – and he must have felt like he was herding cattle at times. In the same breath, I hadn’t realised how liberating it would to not have to lift a finger or worry about a single detail. 

The Philippines is hard to get to in places, so having a local fixer was crucial to shortcutting the system and stitching the trip together. It meant we could travel by private boat to islands that would normally be impossible to access. Even better, we could stay there overnight. With all the legwork taken care of we managed to relax and make the most of our time. Our only “job” was to turn up at the right time and be ferried around beautiful islands.

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The trip meant we could travel to private islands – even stay on them

Rupert even took on the role of roving photographer, too. This – along with the fact that Flash Pack did all the research – meant I had far less reason to look at my phone. I barely looked at it for three weeks, checking it just once a day for any urgent messages. I wasn’t lost in scrolling; none of us were. I travelled without my laptop, too, which is normally the kind of scenario that would have me breaking out into a hot sweat. 

I went from having everything planned and numerous deadlines to letting Rupert take charge. By switching off and letting someone else take charge, I was able to get my energy back and just enjoy the moment. It was liberating.

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My Philippines adventure marked a new chapter for me

My Philippines adventure was the start of a new chapter for me. It reaffirmed how I want to live my life. Soon after the trip ended, I travelled to the Thai island of Phuket. I ended up staying there over the first Covid lockdown, before moving on to the island of Koh Tao. I only recently returned to the UK after two years and that was just to catch up with loved ones. Right now, I’m away working in Ibiza. 

I am absolutely not a digital nomad; I hate that label as it conjures up images of 20-somethings swirling about with a laptop on a beach. For me, being a fully remote consultant takes a lot of hard work and self-discipline. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m proud of creating a lifestyle that allows me to combine travel with my work.

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I need more than TV to shake off the day

Success doesn’t mean throwing yourself into the rat race any more than travelling negates hard work and ambition. It shouldn’t be an either or situation. A satisfying work life means finding balance. There’s no right or wrong: it’s whatever works for you. 

Personally, I need something more than the sofa and TV to shake off the demands of the day. I love to put in eight or 10 hours on my laptop and then still have time after for an evening of sunshine and an amazing sunset.

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Stepping off the treadmill, I was able to reclaim a lifestyle I love

What happened to jobs in the pandemic was really stressful for a lot of people. Having already had some time out in the Philippines, I was in a calmer headspace. I was confident I could handle whatever came my way. By stepping off the treadmill, I was able to realign with my core business values and reclaim a lifestyle I love. 

Lucy Northmore is the founder of corporate communications platform Brand Equity Group and digital fundraising movement The Together Revolution. She travelled to the Philippines with Flash Pack. 

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveller like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

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