Based in Luxembourg, Paulina of the blog, Paulina On The Road spent eight years living abroad where she discovered her love for traveling and exploring new places. Today she is based back in Luxembourg working full-time for the government, but still tries to travel as much as she possibly can. I caught up with Paulina about how she balances her career and finding time to see the world. Here’s what she had to say…
Tell me a bit about yourself.
Hola, I am Paulina. I am originally from Luxembourg, but I moved abroad for studies and work. I moved back to Luxembourg this year, in February.
I studied in Brussels and Passau, Germany. After meeting my present-day fiancé thanks to an university exchange program in Malaga, I decided to stay in Spain. As the economic situation in Spain was quite delicate at that time, I had to work in several cities until my boyfriend and I finally moved in together in Madrid.
I worked in business travel in vibrant cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Seville. Thanks to my job I got to travel a lot by organising events in Valencia, Toledo, Malaga etc. Every weekend I tried to benefit from my weekends and explore the surroundings of Madrid, my base at that time. It’s surrounded by mountains, thus it’s absolutely perfect for extensive hikes and winter sports in the winter.
After living in Spain for almost 4 years, my boyfriend and I decided to move to Luxembourg to see how’s life there.
Tell me a bit about what you do for a living.
I work with refugees within the immigration department of the Luxembourgish government. It’s a rewarding job as I get to help people who went through a lot. Travel Blogging is my so-called “night job”.
Do you have a certain amount of vacation days per year with your job?
Yes, I have a certain amount of vacation days per year. Luckily in Luxembourg this subject is very regulated.
When I was working in tourism in Spain, it was much more complicated to take your vacation days as you had to adjust your days off to the dates of the business events and in function of your colleagues’ events too.
How often do you try and travel within a year?
Hmm… I can’t tell any exact number, but definitely a lot. I try to explore a new area or town in the surroundings of Luxembourg at least every second weekend. Sometimes you really don’t need to travel for hours: you have so much beauty right at your doorstep. On top Luxembourg is surrounded by vibrant cities likes Brussels, Paris, Cologne, Maastricht etc.
Then I try to make at least 1 or 2 longer trips to a more far away country. It’s my goal to visit at least 2-3 countries per year where I haven’t been yet.
This past year I definitely achieved that objective by visiting Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Bosnia and Kosovo. But still, I have this urge to add many more stamps to my passport. It’s an never ending quest.
Do you ever feel limited to how often you can travel because of your job?
Of course I do. I’d love to travel all year round. But let me tell you something, even if traveling forever sounds like a dream, I was glad to settle down for a bit after a 6-month backpacking and boat hitchhiking trip.
After leaving Madrid, we, my fiancé and I, decided to do something crazy: travel without any concrete plan except the idea of crossing the Atlantic Ocean by boat hitchhiking.When we finally achieved our objective, I was relieved that I could come back to Luxembourg and have a place to call “home”.
Now that we’ve settled down in Luxembourg, we’ll see if we can have something like a “career” and move forwards in our personal projects.
Do you find it hard to unplug from work while traveling?
Hmm, no 🙂 As soon as I’m traveling and I am on “explore” mode, I am focusing on the new environment, its people, food and sights. The immersion is so complete that most of the time I totally forget about my work.
Luckily in my current position I don’t need to check my business emails or to take my professional phone when I’m traveling for personal reasons. This wasn’t the case when I was working in tourism in Spain. Clients or colleagues could call me anytime: weekends, vacations, in the middle of the night.
Why is it important to you to have a career but also incorporate travel into your life?
It is important for me to have a job, not necessarily a career, in which you can help to make our planet a better world. If it includes a career, great! But I am deeply convinced that we should all give something back and that we should try our best to help other people and preserve our planet for future generations. How we exactly do this, should be up to everyone.
Currently I can’t see how I can achieve this while traveling. (I am not talking of going abroad for a “social year” or to work for an NGO). While traveling, you mostly “take” from the destination that you travel to. You are more passive than you’d be in in your original context.
With my blog, I want to bridge passive traveling and “giving back” by promoting an eco-friendly and slow form of traveling which fosters intercultural exchange.
What inspired you to start a travel blog?
While living in Spain, I got frequently asked about my favorite restaurants, favorite day trips from Madrid or Barcelona, where to go during the winter months etc. Thus there was a demand from my friends and family. So why not start sharing my experience with a broader audience too?
On top I started forgetting the names of places I visited or restaurants in which I had delicious meals but I couldn’t remember neither the name of the restaurant nor of the dish. That’s when I decided that I’d really need to write all of this down.
Over time I shifted the focus of my blog. From the mere narrative form of sharing my travels, I prioritise now eco-friendly and slow traveling like hiking, cycling and sailing.
If you had a piece of advice for someone that is trying to maintain a career & also see the world what would it be?
Beauty can be found at our doorstep. Often we don’t really need to travel very far to explore. Initially I thought I would be bored in Luxembourg, but I am discovering every weekend something new like glamping sites, hikes along fairytale castles etc.
I’d recommend to travel as much as you can during your weekends and check out the calendar of the upcoming year to combine public holidays and long weekends in order to travel for a longer period.
In case you want to travel even longer, figure out if your employer supports gap years.