The World is Her Office — How One Woman Took Her Work on the Road

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Who: Rebecca Stropoli, freelance editor and writer with a focus on finance and corporate strategy

Why: After years of working traditional office jobs in New York, I felt it was time to take advantage of the abundance of remote work opportunities my industry offers. I left a rewarding job at a company I had been with for almost eight years in order to start my own consulting business, with the idea that I would frequently take the office on the road.    

Where: My first voyage with the traveling office (aka my laptop) began in Iceland in late January and ended in Lisbon, Portugal, in early March. In between, I passed through London and Spain. I spent the most time in Spain, traveling for two weeks through Barcelona, Seville, Córdoba, and Madrid.

Looking out over Barcelona. (Photo: Rebecca Stropoli)

What I loved: I loved so much about this trip, so narrowing it down is a difficult task. This was the first long trip I had taken without a traveling partner, so I immensely enjoyed the feeling of being fully in charge of every hour of my day.

How I changed after: During and after this trip, I realized I had made the right lifestyle choice at the right time for myself. The traveling office was easy to maintain, as I effortlessly combined sightseeing with work, even managing to secure new American clients from afar. The trip helped to give me even more confidence in the decision I had made.

Related: I Beat Career Burnout by Quitting My Corporate Job to Travel

Cost: The full cost of my trip, from the taxi to New York’s JFK International Airport to the final cab home, was just under $6,000. This includes six flights, six hotels, all tours, every morsel of food ingested, and each drink imbibed.

A relatively favorable exchange rate (at the time, 1 euro was equal to about $1.12) also played a part in my decision to visit two eurozone countries. Spain, which is in the midst of a slow recovery from the recession and continues to have a grave unemployment problem, provided the best bargains during my trip.

Hotel Regencia Colon in Barcelona. (Photo: Hotel Colon Barcelona)

Where I stayed: While I considered some Airbnb options, I found it easier (and often cheaper) to book hotel rooms during this trip. I was most interested in convenience and ease of travel when it came to my lodging, and I managed to find ideal locations each time.

In Iceland, I was based in Reykjavik at Apartment K, which offered a studio-like room with a kitchen.

My home in Barcelona was at the Hotel Regencia Colon in the Gothic Quarter.

My room in Seville was the tiniest of all, but again, the location of Hotel Murillo was ideal.

In Córdoba, I stayed at the Hotel Itaca Colon, which was a short walk to the historic district.

While in Madrid, I had another studio-like room, complete with a kitchen, at Aparthotel Tribunal.

Finally, I stayed at the Sana Reno hotel, in Lisbon, which was directly across from the Metro.

Most memorable meal: I am a vegetarian, and finding meat-free, local fare throughout my trip was sometimes a little bit challenging (oh, how the Spaniards love their ham). During my final night in Lisbon, I stopped at an outdoor market to have a glass of port. While every other booth was serving carnivorous fare, one vendor was serving vegetarian lentil soup in a large pot. It was the best bowl of soup I’d had in a long time.

Sip on a beer and listen to jazzy tunes at Tiu Dropar in Iceland. (Photo: Tiu Dropar)

Favorite bar: There were many watering holes and countless glasses of wine along the way, but one venue that sticks in my mind is a sleepy little piano bar in Iceland called Tiu Dropar. One snowy evening, the featured singer treated us to a slow, honey-voiced version of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” Who would have thought that tune could be so remarkably touching?

Top shopping: While I was immersed in shopping culture throughout the trip, I did not purchase even one souvenir. When living out of a bag for a full month, you really don’t feel the need to make the luggage any heavier. The photos I took and the memories I have are enough.

Gullfoss waterfall (Photo: Thinkstock)

Best sites: The immense white landscape of Iceland was almost absurdly stunning. My Golden Circle tour stopped at the partially frozen waterfall Gullfoss, the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur, which features the bubbling geysers Geysir and Strokkur, and the Thingvellir National Park. We also took a dip in the geothermal pools at the Laugarvatn Fontana Wellness Center. This was so satisfying that I decided to skip soaking in the far more touristy and crowded Blue Lagoon.

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The Mosque of Córdoba (Photo: Thinkstock)

In Spain, the Mosque of Córdoba, and even the apartment buildings in the city centers and historic districts were, in their own way, just as beautiful as Iceland’s scenery.  Park Güell on a cool and sunny day was lovely and relaxing; I’d say you can fully enjoy the park without even buying a ticket to the Monumental Zone, which was under construction during my visit.

My day trip to Sintra, Portugal, was a mountainous and artsy escape from the more bustling center of Lisbon, where I stayed.

Quiet afternoons: I had many of these in out-of-the-way cafés, where I would spend hours catching up on work. I did my best to find places that seemed to be filled with locals rather than tourists. Finding cafes with Wi-Fi was most challenging in Lisbon and easiest in Iceland.

Parting thoughts: I’m grateful that, at this time, I have the opportunity to easily combine work and travel.

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