That All-Important Introduction

This is a blog about travelling and productivity. It’s about how to get work done whilst on the road, from the perspective of a writer. This latter part is not a random choice: it’s because I am indeed a writer.

neil bennion in malaysia

Being photographed in an exotic location whilst pretending to work is a vitally important part of travel productivity. (Photo by my good friend, the talented {link url= target=_blank rel=nofollow}Mr Bertrand Linet{/link})

Me, me, me

I come from England, but I prefer to go to other places to write. This is for various reasons: I have a love of exploring; I like to minimise my outgoings by living cheaply; I have an inherent need to start all my sentences with ‘When I was in…’ followed by a country.

I’m a writer, and currently engaged in a number of separate book projects. I write about travel and have a habit of writing about countries other than the one I’m in. Perhaps I’m just awkward.

But I’m not here to talk about me. Well, I am, but I doubt I can get away with it all the time. So I should probably introduce the point of this blog.


Being productive is difficult.

You’ve got this finite resource known as coffee, I mean time, and you have to manage this appropriately, despite the sirens of Facebook, Twitter and the like drawing you towards the rocks with their promise of cheap kittens.

Even when you avoid them, your brain will still contrive to mess things up by assigning importance to tasks on the basis of ‘I just really fancy doing it’, rather than the more prudent ‘this would be the best use of my time’.

Travel and Productivity

Then you throw travel into the mix. At its best, travel invigorates and motivates. It re-energises you and gives you a new outlook on the world. It can give you the chance to meet amazing people, see amazing sites and maybe even do amazing work.

But travel can be one of the worst enemies of productivity. It can do for your routines what a tumble dryer would do for your carefully-constructed matchstick model of a cathedral.

How can you realistically expect to do be productive when you’re in an airport waiting hall, on a cramped long-distance coach journey, or, if you’re really unlucky, a cafe.

What’s Next

This blog will be looking at all these things. Or so I say.

In fact, this is the bit where I’m meant to excitedly predict ‘and there’ll be dancing ocelots, and bears dressed as vacuum cleaners, and I’ll have an interview with Socrates!’

You can never live up to this kind of hype. So I’m going to put down an early marker of low expectations: There will be three posts a year, and they’ll all be about teaspoons. Which is still probably harder than I make it sound.

Right, well I’ve promised a lot, so I’d better get off and start delivering. Well, in a minute. I’m just doing this really important… other thing.

Are you a location-independent worker? How does travel affect your productivity? Are you a country? What do you think of people swanning about you, trying to get work done? Are you a thing that needs to get done? Have you any idea how much trouble you cause?


  1. Debbie Cook

    Hiya!! I am a very location dependent writer/worker/planner!!(Being a teacher requires many hours of lesson planning!!) I work on super high efficiency when I’m in a quiet and comfortable environment where I know unwanted distractions can be avoided. I often place my mobile phone away from me and plough through work before ‘rewarding’ myself with a coffee and well earned chocolate bar!!Small rewards get me through!!
    Where have you enjoyed writing most whilst travelling Neil?

    • Neil

      Sounds like you’ve got some good habits in place, and I think once you’ve got that, it all pretty much looks after itself. The difficulty in keeping such habits is one of the things that makes being productive on the road so problematic. The places I’ve enjoyed writing the most have probably been the places where I had the best life outside of writing, so probably Seville – living the dream!

  2. Danielle

    Hi. I loved reading this and I am looking forward to exploring the rest of your website once I have typed this comment! I know what you mean about the constant distractions! Thinking about where I would like to travel to is one of them, however that is an example of a nice distraction. Which has been your favourite country to visit/work in/ live in?

    • Neil

      Thanks Danielle! I don’t think I can narrow it down to any one country – there are so many places I’ve been to and loved, and even if I tried to pick a select group of places, it would be different every time. Travelling round Colombia learning to dance was pretty special, Seville was enriching in a ‘this is the life’ kind of way (hard to beat taking breakfast on the cobbled streets of a morning), and SE Asia was great too, especially for the food.

  3. Rebecca

    I look forward to reading the rest of your posts, great so far! Im currently in my third year of university, I can’t wait to travel when I finish. Is there anywhere you haven’t been and are particularly interested in going?

    • Neil

      Thanks Rebecca. There are more places than I could list, and it changes on a daily basis. More than anything, I’d like to experience the feeling of awe, which is one of the things that I find most addictive about travel, and something I’ve not felt for quite a while. So, wherever I can find that.

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