My job has always involved travel, which I’ve truly loved. In fact, working as a travel presenter for the BBC for five years was hands down the best job I’ve ever had - travel expanded my horizon and thinking in so many ways.
When my son Ben, now aged 10, was born, the travelling didn’t really stop. It was a case of ‘have baby, will travel’. But when he started school, I knew I had to change the way I thought about my career. I’m so glad I did though as it led me to start my own business, tbseen.com, which has given me a great work/life balance. I still manage to get away, but I just do it in a much shorter space of time and pack every device known to man so I can stay connected to home.
I still travel regularly for work, but my trips these days are as likely to include flying off to Tel Aviv to talk at a ‘women in tech’ conference as a trip up north to shoot for TV. And because I don’t get to travel as much as I used to, I enjoy it all the more when I do. When you’re a single, working parent even a three-hour train journey feels like a mini break – you take your downtime where you can find it!
As well as exploring new places, owning my own business has given me the opportunity to work with my close girlfriends like Denise Van Outen, Tamzin Outhwaite, Myleene Klass and Lisa Faulkner, who all regularly contribute to the site.
They’ve been more than just contributors though - I simply couldn’t have launched the site without them. From the moment, I told them about my idea, they were so enthusiastic and brimming with ideas to help bring it to life. Myleene helped me put together a business plan because I’d never done one before and didn’t have a clue how to go about it, while Lisa came up with great ideas on food content.
And it’s not just my girlfriends who have been amazing - women within the digital industry have been so willing to dish out advice. Perfect strangers who’ve become much valued friends.
The major difference with travelling now is that I need to make sure I can still work – when you run your own business, you never switch off. In fact, as I type this blog I’m on a family holiday, and I’ve become adept at turning any location into an office, which in a digital world has never been easier.
This is why I never travel without at least 5,000 chargers (OK, slight exaggeration) and I always need to check if there’s proper Wi-Fi whereever I stay because I always need to be connected.
There’s been times since tbseen started that I’ve been in some very remote locations on shoots, such as Nepal and Bangladesh, and I’ve literally been on a mountain side – just me and some goats – trying to get a bar of signal on the phone.
FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp and Google hangouts are the things you live and die by when you’re away for both work and family.
It’s never easy being away from home, but I use FaceTime to stay in touch with my son Ben. If I’m away it means he’s normally with my parents, so I invariably end up FaceTiming my mother’s cheek or my dad’s left nostril for half an hour because they haven’t quite grasped it! I also swear by a good old fashioned phone call – I often chat with the girls about tbseen stuff while on my way to a meeting or when I have a bit of downtime during a work break.
After years spent on travel shows, the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to step outside your itinerary and your hotel. I never just turn up, crash in the hotel room and turn on the TV.
Instead, I ask the hotel for the best running routes for wherever I am - there’s no better way to discover a place than by foot.
It also gives me much needed breathing space, so I can clear my head before the day starts or call home for a chat, but with the added joy of seeing much more than just the inside of my hotel room!
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