The sheer difference in size between the first and this 4th edition of A Career in Your Suitcase is enough to qualify the title of this post. But, there are so many other features and factors about this new edition which give meaning to the delight I experienced when I first got my hands on a copy of it. Not the least of which was seeing that the joining of the knowledge, experience and insight of two friends and colleagues could lead to such wonderful results. They truly live one of the essential messages of the book: there is no need to do it alone!

Still have first edition on my bookshelf

I first ‘met’ Jo Parfitt on the pages of the very first edition of A Career in Your Suitcase way back in 2000 while living in Bogota, Colombia. At the time I, like Jo in Dubai, was ‘not allowed’ to work – so I volunteered, a lot. It was fulfilling, satisfying and led to the development of countless skills I am using practising today. While there I noticed, all around me, the entrepreneurial spirit and efforts of many Colombian women. I remember thinking, how cool – to do something you love, all day, and earn an income. Little did I think back then that (a) I would be doing something similar, but more importantly that (b) as a nomad, this too was to become increasingly possible. (Colleen I met here in The Hague, and as often happens when Canadians meet overseas, we bonded, quickly!)

As chance would have it, it was around this time I came across the book … (I believe it came as a ‘gift’ with my subscription to Woman Abroad). I was enthralled, but at the time, could not think of what it would be that I could do …to take travelling with me. Then came a second child, a new volunteering challenge, yet another ‘relocation’ and the challenges of ‘repatriation’ in a country not quite mine. The book remained on my shelf though, having been spared the ‘spring cleaning’ of possessions which precede each move.

It was unexpectedly resurrected, when on an evening in December 2004 or 2005 I found myself stirring and serving the mulled wine provided by a certain Jo Parfitt at the Connecting Women’s Christmas network evening here in The Hague. “Jo Parfitt ….???? …that sounds familiar”….and, in a flash it all came back! I knew who she was! Since then Jo and I have exchanged many a thought, and wonderful moments ….as I too explored this ‘career in your suitcase’ adventure. This was one of my ‘double delight’ moments.

Redefining ‘travel’

There are not too many suitcases in my foreseeable future, but as I read the 4th edition, it became increasingly clear: the value of this book is NOT only for the travelling expat partner. The differing subtitles of the book kind of give this away, yet it still took me by surprise. While the first edition was ‘finding the portable career that works for you’, this time a ‘practical guide to creating meaningful work…anywhere’ means our suitcase need not be that big, nor regularly traveled. (Which, given luggage restrictions on air travel these days, may be a good thing). The added insights of Colleen Reichrath-Smith, a career consultant, combined all the lessons from the first edition to the new ‘trends and tendencies’ of career development to give added body and greater application. That Colleen had also been a nationally travelling nomad (within Canada) and had recently ‘expatriated’ to the Netherlands has meant that these insights are not only academic; they have been tried and tested by her personally, as well as professionally.

I believe the first edition of A Career in Your Suitcase was ‘ahead of its time’, giving hope, inspiration and concrete tips to spouses looking for professional fulfilment. When we look around us today and see how people (expat or otherwise) are experiencing professional development, struggling with ‘careers’ as defined in the past and employment in general, how economies are requiring (and relying on) more self- starters and freelancers, then I think it is safe to say that this, 4th edition of A Career in Your Suitcase is also ahead of its time. It offers a tool to anyone, anywhere wishing to pursue, well, anything – that drives, motivates and sustains them.

This was another delightful discovery – that self-satisfying moment when you realise that you are ahead of the game.

In fact, judging from the graphics alone, it is clear the population for which this was originally written and intended, and that for whom it is applicable today, has changed. Gone are the pearls and stylish floppy hats – previously packed for exotic (and sometimes not so exotic destinations) – here are the things we have packed away and need to (re)discover: resources; dreams; talents; skills and much more.

Could it be a triple play?

There are many other double delight moments for me with regards to A Career in Your Suitcase: being delighted by the designs of another friend and colleague, Lisa Hall of Lemonberry; feeling chuffed that I personally know all three ‘expat partners’ who have been involved in this edition; or proudly stating that we are all members of a tremendously supportive network here in The Hague, the Women’s Business Initiative International. And, now, as I head into what can only be described as a ‘triple play’, I wonder when and what ‘the home run’ will be?

I was honoured, and completely surprised by the request to be the MC for the official launch of A Career in Your Suitcase on May 17th here in The Hague – and am so looking forward (with a healthy bit of nervousness) to the event. Reflecting on when I was first introduced to the concept of a ‘career in my own suitcase (on my own terms)’ and all that has happened in between I can only conclude that it was meant to be.

The wealth and value of the tips shared by Jo, Colleen and the many, many people within their collective networks make this new edition of A Career in Your Suitcase applicable wherever you may be, or plan to stay – for the shorter or longer term.

Curious: you can buy the book here: