Most of last month I was on the road in Sri Lanka. These days you can be anywhere with an internet connection and still run a business. I moved into a new hotel every other day, set up my laptop, charged my phone and kept balls in the air and all the plates spinning. I would wake up early, make calls or write emails for an hour or two and take care of the home front. After breakfast, I would change hats, embrace my side hustle: tour guide in Sri Lanka.
Apparently, it’s all in vogue to have a “side hustle”. A side hustle is something you do outside of your normal occupation. It needs to be fun and enjoyable but can also make a bit of money. Often it’s a hobby or a passion that can be turned into a part-time activity with the added advantage of invoice-ability.
My wife is a business coach and consultant. Her constant refrain is you have to know the “why”. As in why you are doing something. If you don’t have sufficient motivation or passion for an activity, it will be inauthentic and more work than fun. On the road, guiding my group of fellow travelers, I had to question my “why”. After all, what I do in Byron as a buyer’s agent in Byron Bay is adequately satisfying and rewarding.
Why? I love to travel and always have. My present work is great, but very Byron focused. My previous career as a documentary producer was ideal as I could live in this area but escape the Byron bubble regularly. Having Byron as a base and being able to get away to other interesting places is, I believe, the best of all possible worlds.
Being a tour guide in another place I love, is a lot like being a buyers agent in Byron. It seems natural and enjoyable to me to show other people new things and see if they like it. There is a vicarious pleasure in showing something to someone with the hope they will embrace it and make it their own.
We too often get settled and comfortable with the mundane. We don’t appreciate every day, wonderful things in front of us if they seem too familiar. Travel shakes us up and we see things afresh. It’s the same when international travelers stay with me. I get to fall in love with Byron again when I see it anew through someone else’s eyes. “Wow, this place is amazing” reminds me to be appreciative of what we have.
My side hustle grew out of a long-term association with the teardrop island. My first visit to Sri Lanka was in the early 80s and I have been visiting regularly for nearly 20 years. Leading tours brings me the same satisfaction I get when I show someone a great property. I like to go; I think you would you like this, look at this view, enjoy this food, have this experience. Sharing what you love allows you to enjoy it again and again.
My other big awareness shift is my attitude to packaged tours. I have always looked down on tour groups as being an isolating and sterile way to travel. However, after being on one and leading them, I have completely changed my mind. It so freeing and relaxing not to figure out where to park, where to eat, where to stay, or being lost in guidebooks and asking people in a foreign language for help. I enjoy just turning up and enjoying a well-curated experience – simply and cleanly without all the fuss.
It’s the best of both worlds. I am now back at the BPS desk full time. Refreshed, renewed and awake to life’s daily wonders at home and work. Also looking forward to next time on the road. See you there.
For more information on touring Sri Lanka visit www.bestofsrilankatour.com