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A Week In The Life Of A Traveling Scholarpreneur

February 15, 2024

A woman who is also a traveling scholarpreneur is coworking next to a friend in a sunny space. The table they are working at is orange.

Life on the road and life on a laptop

Have you ever dreamt of combining your academic training with the freedom of travel and the thrill of entrepreneurship? That’s the reality I live as a traveling scholarpreneur, a unique blend of scholar, business owner, digital nomad, and freelancer on the go.

Although my background might seem unexpected – three degrees in Sport Administration – the advent of tech companies like Uber, Facebook, and Netflix helped spark my entrepreneurial spirit. Now, I help scholars and scholarpreneurs like myself communicate their expertise to a wider audience – all while exploring vibrant cities and immersing myself in new cultures.

This week, join me as I navigate the life of a traveling scholarpreneur in Mexico City, Mexico🇲🇽. We’ll explore the challenges and rewards of this path, from balancing work and exploration to forging connections in a remote community.


Related Post: A Scholar’s Write From Anywhere Guide to Choosing the Perfect International City


Traveling Scholarpreneur Lifestyle 

The traveling scholarpreneur lifestyle provides the freedom to explore the world, but also the freedom to live almost anywhere. I embraced the digital nomad lifestyle in September 2021 after giving up my lease and selling most of my possessions. I began in Peru, traveling to a new city every few weeks or so. I traveled South America for 4 months, returned to the US (living with my parents) for 4 months, traveled through Europe for 4 months, then returned. It was in 2023 where I decided to settle in Mexico for an extended period of time. 

You can make your travel schedule your own, based on your situation. Scholars can embrace this lifestyle over summer, during sabbatical, or full-time. It all depends on your capacity. It does not have to be a permanent state of living. 

The life of a traveling scholarpreneur looks a bit like this: 

Location Independence 

I’ve worked from bustling co-living spaces in Oaxaca, sun-drenched cafes in Medellin, or tranquil mountain retreats in Cusco. Colivings are essentially elevated hostels with your own room and space to work with a shared living space and kitchen. Depending on the location, these tend to attract full-time remote workers who work the typical 9-5 but have the freedom to be location independent.

Cultural Immersion

Immersing myself in new cultures is one of the best parts of being a traveling scholarpreneur. Learning about new and unique cultures makes each day an exciting adventure, a challenge, and a blessing. It is inspiring to see the way people live and how the world works outside my usual bubble. 

Digital Nomad & Local Network

The solo life can be isolating, but I’m never truly alone. Digital nomads, remote workers, and roaming entrepreneurs form a supportive community, offering camaraderie, collaboration, and invaluable local insights. There is a unrelenting trust when one is on the road. Your instincts lead you to make the right decision, but ultimately, we travelers are all facing similar challenges. It is nice to be able to rely on the kindness of strangers. 

Embrace the Entrepreneurial Hustle

It’s not all parties, sunsets, and siestas. Building a business and managing various freelance projects requires discipline, incredible time management skills, and dedication. Finding a productive rhythm takes time, but the freedom and flexibility make it all worthwhile. I usually land in a new city on a weekend, giving myself a day or two to set myself up for success once the work week starts. 

Adaptation is Key

Every city throws its own curveballs, from cultural nuances to language barriers. Adjusting to a new environment is one of the many challenges of being a traveling scholarpreneur. But once the adjustment period is over, the fun begins! Embracing adaptability is essential, so lean in to the uncomfortableness because there is no avoiding it. It also hones my resourcefulness and cultural sensitivity.

Yes, there are challenges – travel headaches, unreliable internet, stomach bugs (I had this at least once a month when I first got to Mexico), and the occasional bout of loneliness. But the rewards, the growth, and the joy of living on my own terms far outweigh the bumps in the road.

Typical Work Week of a Traveling Scholarpreneur

My scholarpreneur week unfolds typically and atypically. Some days I’ll be hunched over my laptop in my apartment, fueled by coffee and comfy clothes. Others find me working away sitting in a cute little cafe, often distracted by people watching. And yes, even the elusive “work-free day” makes an appearance – though those are far and few between.

Balancing work and social life requires constant juggling. I’ve dedicated myself to meeting people and making Mexico City my home, so evenings often fill with activities (because, FOMO). By the time the weekend arrives, I want nothing more than to be alone in my apartment. Protecting my “me time” becomes an essential ritual, especially after a particularly social week. It’s about finding that sweet spot where productivity thrives and personal well-being flourishes. Here is what a typical week looks like, filled with routine and open space for whatever comes my way:

Sunday

I usually spend Sundays slow and a bit luxurious. I start the day on a long run or cycle (or both). In Mexico City, Sunday’s are off days. The city closes over 30 kilometers of road for citizens to cycle and run freely without worry of cars or road traffic. It is a great way to start the day, with thousands of people enjoying the freedom of being on the open road. 

I spend the rest of my Sunday preparing for the week. Meal planning, grocery shopping, writing out my to-do list, scheduling out various tasks, and blocking out time for self-care during the week (e.g., exercise, days off, etc).

Monday

I start the week with a yoga or meditation practice. My intentions for the week are set and I spend this time reminding myself of this. I meet with my language teacher online as I am in the process of advancing my French and Spanish. 

I begin my workday usually around 11am, working until 8-9pm. And since Monday is usually a long work day, I tend to work from home. I front load much of my work to allow for flexibility and freedom later in the week. You never know when some fun will pop up! And I would hate to miss out because I dragged my feet on a project that could have been done sooner. 

Tuesday

I start the day a bit later since I run a few miles in the morning, opting to work from 10-8pm (unless there are plans in the evening). I work from home on days I run because I can move about more leisurely. 

A work-from-home set up is very important. It is challenging to work in a space that is not comfortable or ergonomic. My work-from-home set up is sponsored by the word “options.” I have a table that doubles as a dining table with two different types of chairs, a high bar table in my breakfast nook where I can stand and work, and a comfortable couch with a foldable laptop table. 

Wednesday

I often use Wednesdays as my self-care day, working in the morning and exploring in the afternoon. I prefer to visit museums during the week when the crowds are smaller.

Thursday

I join my running group bright and early at 7am every Thursday. Sometimes we will sit for post-run coffee and breakfast, a luxury since I don’t have to “clock-in” at any time.

My work day will begin around noon due to my language lesson. Depending on evening plans, I may work until 9-10 pm since I start much later than any other day. Or I may quit around 6pm to go out for the evening. 

Friday

I start the day with yoga, work most of the day, and leave the evenings open for opportunities to be social. But sometimes, there are too many social engagements during the week (again, FOMO). So I will need to take Friday night to relax. There are some weeks where there is an event every night! 😰😵‍💫😴

Saturday

Saturdays are open for opportunities. I don’t usually plan to work so that I do not feel guilty if something très cool comes up. Saturdays are my slow exploring days if there are no pre-planned activities. This week’s Saturday adventure is a hike in Los Dinamos!

Networking and Collaboration as a Traveling Scholarpreneur

As an extroverted introvert, navigating the social scene can be daunting. I can do the events, but boy, do I need A Break afterwards (or maybe an Irish goodbye in the middle of it!). But life as a solo traveling scholarpreneur can be lonely. The only way to meet people is to go out and actually meet people. I’ve learned that connection is crucial, both for personal fulfillment and business growth. Here’s how I found a balance:

Embrace the Community

  • More Than Just Tech Bros: Early on, I underestimated the value of the entrepreneur community. Despite our different pursuits, they’ve become an invaluable source of support, collaboration, and unexpected business connections.
  • Find Kindred Spirits: Join communities that align with your passions, be it running groups, language exchanges, or entrepreneur meetups. Facebook groups are a great starting point.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot Your Shot: Attend networking events, even if they’re outside your comfort zone or immediate interests. You never know who you might meet or what opportunities might arise. Don’t be afraid to ask people to coffee or to cowork to get to know them and their entrepreneurial endeavors better. You will be surprised with how willing people are to meetup and help out. 

Collaboration is A Two-Way Street

  • Embrace the Power of “No”: While collaboration is great, be selective. Saying no to irrelevant projects protects your time and energy for meaningful partnerships.
  • Give Back, Get Back: Offer your expertise within the community. This builds trust and opens doors to potential collaborations. True collaboration is about mutual benefit. Don’t just take, be ready to give and support others in return.

Finding Your Fit as a Traveling Scholarpreneur

  • Authenticity Wins: Embrace your unique identity, scholarpreneur quirks and all. Trying to fit in dilutes your value and limits connection. Believe me, I know this to be true. 
  • Quality Over Quantity: Don’t fall into the trap of collecting superficial connections. Focus on building genuine relationships with those who resonate with you. It will save you energy and heartbreak in the long run. 
  • Be Patient: Building a strong network takes time and effort. Keep showing up, engaging authentically, and the right connections will organically form.

Work-Life Balance

The idea of “work anywhere, anytime” can be dangerous for traveling scholarpreneurs. Sure, I have the freedom to set my schedule, but that also means being solely responsible for productivity and financial success. It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of work, especially when your apartment doubles as your office. Sometimes I don’t leave my apartment, and this is not a humble brag ☹️ Here are a few ways I embrace a balance:

Scheduled Breaks

On more than a few occasions, I worked myself into sickness. My body shuts down and I need to take a day in bed resting. So I have to enforce mandatory laptop-free time, whether it’s a morning yoga session, an afternoon stroll, or a museum visit. I pre-schedule time off and honor it. A refreshed and rested mind is a productive mind.

Go-To Lists

I curate pre-made lists of local activities – museums, hikes, meetups – to combat “what-to-do-now” paralysis and ensure I explore, not just work. I build this list before I land, and update it as I meet people, as strangers offer their recommendations, as the internet presents options (to be vetted at a later date). 

Start with creating one long list of things to do and see, and then select a few to cross off each week. 

Just Say No

Saying no to extra work, even when tempting, protects my sanity and fosters healthier boundaries. Same goes for saying no to events and meetups that do not feed my soul. 

Keep Up With Friends & Family Back Home

Amidst all the work, the sights, the new friends, the networking, the resting, you run out of time. And often, at least for me, it ends up being my relationships back home. A quick message, even if at an odd hour, goes a long way in maintaining meaningful connections. 

Challenges and Lessons Learned as a Traveling Scholarpreneur

Being a traveling scholarpreneur isn’t always gorgeous days and wifi cafes. While the freedom and flexibility are exhilarating, challenges lurk around every corner. Here are a few I’ve faced, and what I have learned along the way:

Relatability Roadblocks

Finding people who truly understand academia, let alone what its like to be an academic, is far and few between. There are not many traveling scholarpreneurs, to be honest. I am always yearning for high level conversations, which sometimes can be met with blank stares or very intrigued parties. It’s always a toss up. 

At first, I tempered my conversations to try to fit in better with the younger, more fluid nomads and expats. Now, I am one of them and I speak as myself. Whether or not I am well received is on the receiver, not me. It took me a while to get to this point, but I am better for it, as is my self-selecting group of friends.

Embracing Networking & Meetups

At first, I underestimated the value of the entrepreneur community. I approached networking and entrepreneur events on the surface. I did not consider the opportunity for anything deeper because I carried myself as if I could never have anything in common with anyone not working in academia. But I was way the hell wrong. And I deeply regret ever carrying this energy. 

But these folks, despite different pursuits, have become invaluable sources of support, collaboration, and unexpected business connections. Now, I actively seek these communities – they’re a lifeline in an isolating world.

Loneliness Happens

Even with constant social interaction, solo travel can bring bouts of loneliness. Flaky friendships and cultural barriers add to the mix. I’ve learned to temper expectations, prioritize genuine connections, enjoy being alone, and embrace tools like Bumble BFF to find friends.

Cultural Barriers 

Adapting to new cultures takes time and effort. From unspoken social norms to language barriers, every city is different. Nuances to everyday living requires one to be more present, aware, and perceptive of what is happening around oneself. Instead of judging, I ask questions, embrace open-mindedness, and try to understand local viewpoints. Sometimes, leaving might be the best option, but not before giving a place a genuine chance.

A Love-Hate Relationship with my Laptop

Sticking to a work-life balance while constantly surrounded by my workspace is hard. Sometimes, I overwork and crash. But acknowledging this is key. By learning from these missteps, I’m building healthier habits and creating a sustainable, fulfilling traveling scholarpreneur life. I’ve learned to enforce scheduled breaks, embrace walks, and utilize go-to lists of local activities to pull me away from the screen. Remember, a clear head leads to better work, not the other way around.

These challenges may seem daunting, but the lessons are invaluable. I’ve grown in resilience, adaptability, and cultural awareness. My connections are deeper, my business more informed, and my perspective broadened beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Most importantly, I’ve learned that embracing the challenges is what makes this unconventional path so incredibly rewarding.

Future Plans and Aspirations for this Traveling Scholarpreneur

This overview of my life as a traveling scholarpreneur in Mexico City is just a snapshot of the dynamic reality I live. Balancing work and self-care requires constant juggling. Yet, the freedom to pursue work and a life that fits me, connecting with diverse communities and entrepreneurs, and learning from every experience far outweighs the challenges.

Being a traveling scholarpreneur has pushed me beyond my limitations, allowing me to see research and knowledge creation through a wider lens. It’s fueled my vision of an accessible and engaging world where academic expertise doesn’t stay locked in ivory towers.

As for the future? While Mexico City currently offers the stability I crave, the nomadic spirit still lingers. Perhaps next, an opportunity for a collaboration will pull me to Spain, or a writing retreat will send me to a quiet Irish town. One thing’s certain: the adventure continues and my laptop will be right there with me.

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What about you? Does the traveling scholarpreneur life spark your curiosity? Do you dream of blending academic pursuits with travel and entrepreneurship? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or if you’re ready to take the leap, schedule a free strategy session with me!

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Alicia Cintron, PhD

Research Public Communications Trainer & Coach + traveling Scholarpreneur

Welcome! Here you’ll find insight, musings, and thoughts about research, public engagement, communication, travel, and higher education. Have an idea for a topic for us to cover? Shoot us a note
 

Alicia Cintron, PhD

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