Packing for the Long Haul: Inside an Editor’s Suitcase

In December, I packed my Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) in a box that won’t be opened for at least twelve months. Sounds blasphemous, doesn’t it? Don’t worry—it’s in good company, alongside my beloved Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Unfortunately, they take up too much space in my luggage, which holds everything I need to live and work remotely for the next twelve months. If not my favourite reference books, you might ask, then what did I stuff in my suitcase?

Deciding what to pack is about deciding how you’re going to live. For 2018, I decided on something called Remote Year, a work-plus-travel program for people who do work that can be done anywhere, digital nomad–style. Some people go solo, while others (including me) choose to travel with a group on a fixed itinerary. With Remote Year, I am travelling with 52 people I had never met. Over twelve months, we will visit twelve cities in ten countries on four continents. In practical terms, this means I decided to live and work out of a suitcase and that my heavy, dog-eared resources would have to stay at home to leave room for more mundane things like walking shoes and extra pairs of underwear.

Packing lightly wasn’t that hard. As a freelancer, I was already working remotely, just on a smaller scale—moving between my upstairs office and my downstairs living room, or from my house to my favourite coffee shop. As long as I can plug in my laptop and connect to the Internet, I can do everything I need to do. The creature comforts of my home office—like my delightfully oversized monitor and comfy chair—are conveniences, just like not working full-time in an office according to someone else’s schedule.

After two years of setting my own hours, I decided to exchange some comfort for adventure. I am taking freelance freedom to the next level: working from wherever I want. I still work full-time, serving my clients from co-working spaces wherever I am for the month. Over the course of the year, my backyard will just look a little different.

January:           Buenos Aires, Argentina
February:         Cordoba, Argentina
March:              Lima, Peru
April:                 Medellin, Colombia
May:                  Bogota, Colombia
June:                 Mexico City, Mexico
July:                   Lisbon, Portugal
August:              Prague, Czech Republic
September:      Belgrade, Serbia
October:            Split, Croatia
November:        Marrakesh, Morocco
December:        Cape Town, South Africa

Before I left, I bookmarked my favourite web resources and updated my online subscriptions. I packed an iPad, noise-cancelling headphones, and a daypack with six trillion security features. I invested in an ethernet adapter in case I need an old-school Internet connection, and I splurged on an app that lets me connect my iPad to my laptop as a second screen. And I left my comfort zone at home, tucked in the pages of my CMOS. They’ll both still be there when I return, but I’m not sure I’ll need them.

Kaarina Stiff (photo by Samantha Vessios)

Kaarina is an editor and writer who is usually based in Ottawa.

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