So, conclusion before introduction: I like my job as a consultant.

If there was any aspect of consulting I thought I was prepared for when I joined Kepler, it was the travel. While some recent college graduates start their careers after a few weeks in Europe or a month at the beach, a couple of friends and I wanted a little more adventure.  So like anyone would do in our situation, we went on eBay, bought an unsuitably tiny car, and set out to drive it from London to Mongolia.

What followed was an insane adventure, but also some unexpectedly valuable lessons for my subsequent travels with Kepler:


Lesson 1: Eat with the Locals

After two days of traversing the Mongolian Steppe without passing a single village, we pulled up to a cluster of yurts in hopes of restocking our dwindling supplies. We were delighted (and a little terrified) when a few locals ushered us into their home and offered us what we thought was tea, but turned out to be fermented horse milk. While the milk was unpalatable, we were treated to our best meal in weeks: a home cooked feast of fried noodles and buuz (a Mongolian dumpling). It certainly beat our planned dinner of salami sticks and oatmeal.

On my first Kepler trip to Europe, we spent two days subsisting on hotel breakfasts and pizza joint lunches before a client caught wind of our poor choices and insisted on taking us across town to experience “A Proper Meal.” Not only did we enjoy our favorite meal of the trip, but by letting our hosts show us around, we were to escape downtown and experience authentic local culture – and thankfully not horse milk.

Lesson 2: Pack Light

Since the car we took to Mongolia was roughly the size of two lawnmowers (with an engine to match!), space was at a premium. Packing the backseat was an everyday Tetris puzzle the likes of which I’d never seen before—that is, until I learned how to stuff two weeks’ worth of work clothes into a carry-on. While tents and cooking fuel were substituted for ties and cufflinks, the 3 Principles of Good Packing remained the same:

  1. Fold, don’t stuff
  2. There’s always room for one more thing (until your roof-box snaps open in the middle of an Uzbek highway)
  3. Soap is overrated (or you know, offered in every hotel)

Lesson 3: Work Flexibly

Sending out an urgent client deliverable from the cab to the airport is much easier after writing blog posts crunched up in the back seat with dust pummeling your face and laptop from the open window, which you can’t close because it’s 110 degrees and there’s no AC (no, this was not for a client engagement in the Sahara).

Make the most of the less-hectic travel time – whether you’re waiting for a plane or for a slow-moving Kazakh border official – by catching up on expense receipts and writing letters home. At the same time, make sure you take a second to look out the window and enjoy your life on the road.