Rachel: It is first important to recognise that the travel internship is not about free trips, capitalising on that and taking flight when there is work to be done (no pun intended).
Even prior to submitting my application, that was something I was quite clear on, and nerdy as it sounds my main prerogative of being The Travel Intern was to learn more about travel blogging and the technical parts of travel writing, optimising articles, etc. This also means traveling is no longer just about just floating down streets of foreign cities, but a conscious, detailed breakdown of your surroundings at any given point of time, veered towards content generation.
Going in into the Travel Intern Life party with a good understanding of what to expect or simply expecting nothing at all is the way to go — it’s more fun that way.
Harish: Sure, it looks all glitzy and fun on camera but it’s important that you understand that YOU’RE working on making it glitzy too. Thankfully, I had no expectations coming into this internship. I knew that there was work involved but due to past experiences, I’ve grown accustomed to working (and living) in a pressure cooker. The workload faced on this internship was a reasonable amount, paired with a large serving of fun. So, expect to get your hands dirty, but it’ll be a breeze if you like it dirty 😏.
Harish: The meme above should never be the case on this internship. I’m joking, it’s fine if you have no idea about coordinating your daily plans and workload — as long as you ask for help, you’ll be met with sufficient assistance (no spoon-feeding here tho). We were tasked with arranging the itinerary for the day which should encompass all the necessary spots and activities that everyone has to cover, including lunch stops, modes of transport, and so forth. It was a rather daunting task at first but with Google Maps and Citymapper at your disposal, it shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. Also, it’ll help a great deal if you’re rational when it comes to planning. By rational, I mean including time for relaxation and shooting an unnecessary amount of Instagram photos. It’s called The TRAVEL Intern anyways, so if all you’re doing is running around working, you’re not really accomplishing anything.
Rachel: Being a Travel Intern also means you kind of have to live and breathe Travel Intern — I guess that’s why they called this programme The Travel Intern LIFE because for the term of the internship, The Travel Intern basically was my life. From what we eat to what we visit, every minute detail were planned to better the content for both videos and articles. This meant eating more Instagrammable foods or actively searching for places to find serendipity. But as the puppet master aptly sums it up, “traveling as a job is simply more fun work but not less fun travel“. Really about perspectives here.
Working in a team of 4 (Harish, Cherie, Hendric and myself), we need to constantly be in communication with one another to ensure flawless coordination. Hopping from country to country back-to-back also meant one must take in the big picture and prioritise what exactly we need to see firsthand to give our future articles/videos that little sparkle.
3. Have no fear
Harish: Lying: a natural human instinct that’s cultivated from when you’re able to talk, and realised when you spill your first glass of milk (don’t worry, we know it wasn’t you).
That in mind, it would be best for you to lie to the Puppetmaster and his comrades when they ask you if you have any fears. Seriously pal, trust me on this one. Once they get news of this information, you can rest assure that they will make it their life’s goal to make you face it. I’m terribly afraid of heights (spiders, butterflies, and commitment too) and they thought it’d be a great idea to involve the Macau Tower in one of my challenges. Two actually.
There was a Skywalk (which I absolutely loathed), followed by a surprise Bungy Jump off the Macau Tower (I’m now a fan). Although there was the option of backing out of these challenges, my male ego was too fragile to let this be documented on social media, so I went forth with it.
Am I happy I did it? Yes. Would I do it again? Only the Bungy Jump. They’ve managed to challenge me in such a way that didn’t feel threatening, leaving me with the need to face these fears myself. (PS: I might be writing a completely different paragraph if they introduced me to spiders or butterflies.)
Rachel: So Harish had to deal with his fear of heights and I…I had to deal with my fear of bugs. I told Hendric and Cherie I hated bugs and didn’t want anything to do with them, so…THEY MADE ME EAT THEM. Four. Different. Kinds. Yes granted, they didn’t taste all that bad because by some amazing stroke of luck none of them were squishy but it was pretty traumatising for me — I can barely go near one and now I am PUTTING THEM INSIDE ME???? halp
That being said, I am infinitely grateful for being taken out of my comfort zone, because I would do a whole bunch of things on whim but consuming bugs is definitely not one of them. Of course, I know a lot of people would simply just cop out, but since I signed up for this I’ll take everything thrown at me! Keeping an open mind and adaptability are huge parts of being a Travel Intern.
Harish: Patience has always been one of my stronger suits. If you intend on surviving the Travel Intern life, it’s best you pack an extra luggage just for your patience supply. Trust me, you’ll need it. You’ll be faced with a multitude of environments, challenges, hiccups, people and their working styles. One or more of which, may not be to your preference.
It’s always important be to professional and take these bumps in the road as they come. At the end of the day, it is an internship. You’ll also be put through a variety of takes for the perfect shot, but its important to note that we’re all working on something great here, so 5 extra takes of the same scene may seem petty to you, but in retrospect, it is what makes this internship what it is. Also, you may or may not be paired with a fellow intern who somehow manages to strike a chord every time they make a terrible pun (or just exist, for that matter lol) but once again, the zen way is the right way.
Rachel: Speaking of patience, one of my fondest memories on the trip was chilling with Cherie and Hendric in the common room of Wise Owl Hostel Tokyo with a 62-year-old Japanese acupuncturist we just met. He was in town for a night and without a word of English in his vernacular, communication was initially painful to say the least. But the wonders of Google translate voice and his enthusiasm in trying to get to know us better truly saved the day. His patience with us was admirable and a key takeaway that night.
Of course, patience with each other is something to note too. Just remember that at the end of the day, work is work and you are bound to meet a whole array of personalities that might not whet your appetite. Seeing each other day in day out from the moment you wake up can take its toll on some days i.e. be HARI(sh)fic HAHAHA GEDDIT?
5. Have a large appetite
Harish: I’ve mentioned this countless times throughout the internship, I’m a man who eats to live, not lives to eat. So, if you’re like me, prepare for a feast and there will be a fair amount of meals coming your way during your stint as The Travel Intern.
But food aside, the appetite in context here would be for experiences. It is absolutely vital that you prepare yourself for the opportunities that come knocking as soon as you go on this internship. Live your life (during this internship especially) with an open mind and a clear heart and you’ll see that these experiences will shape your entire journey for the better.
If you’ve still got a little bit of energy left in you at day’s end, go out and have a pint. Ask for food recommendations in Cantonese from a stranger. Brave the Japanese winter on a bicycle with flip flops. And most importantly, follow the gorgeous hostel owner to 7 Eleven when she asks you if you need anything. These are the little experiences that you’ll remember and make your travel internship the journey that it is.
6. Work comes first
Rachel: It is easy to get distracted when you are in a beautiful place surrounded with beautiful people, but work must always come first. This means choosing to stay in at the hostel and do work instead of going shopping or meeting up with friends, or drinking less even if the minibar has 7 different bottles of liquor and wine and everything is free. It means having a level of discipline and remembering your first commitment to Travel Intern Life, and choosing it. It’s really that simple.
7. Always have a power bank
Harish: I use the term power bank literally and figuratively in this context. This one’s a no-brainer but when you’re travelling and creating content on the go, you’re bound to run out of Apple juice (haha, see what I did there) some time throughout the day. Do yourselves a favor and invest in a decent power bank as you’ll definitely need it on your trip. Your comrades will also thank you for your kind assistance as there’s sure to be one who goes to war without their rifle.
Figuratively, you’ll need to learn how to conserve (and manage) your energy levels throughout the day. Some of the environments we were in charged us up, while others, naturally drained us. It’s of utmost importance that you understand how to deal with your energy levels, and that of those you’re travelling with. Learn how to give others’ the space they need to recharge and learn the energy swings of your travel buddies, and you’re set for an enjoyable ride.
Harish: In conclusion, this internship has taught me that travel blogging isn’t as easy as it seems. There’s more to it than meets the eye and I’ve learnt to welcome the challenges that come with the job with open arms.
I’ve also learnt a little bit more about myself, and discovered new forms of expression, which is not something you’d get out of an ordinary internship.
It’s funny how things come full circle, especially in my case with The Travel Intern. I saw the post on Facebook, decided to make a spoof entry video just for the fun of it, and I managed to travel across Asia as a part of The Travel Intern Life. I guess, sometimes it does pay off to take things lightly and just apply for something you randomly see on Facebook. 😀
Rachel: Being part of Travel Intern Life has given me new perspective on these top travel destinations — the movement of another country’s people, traffic and chatter. The internship has reinforced my love for the world and brought me closer to likeminded individuals who are mad for traveling the world as well.
Of course, there is no forgetting the immense work that goes on behind the scenes of travel blogging and vlogging. The late nights and early mornings collect as bags under my eyes but my spirit is all the lighter now doing two of my favourite things in the world — writing and traveling.
Harish and I were blessed to have been chosen and I’d like to believe we made the best out of this opportunity. I do hope you enjoy reading our articles and watching us(me) embarrass ourselves(myself) on camera as we gradually release episodes of Travel Intern Life.