Road trip Portugal

Advocate designer puts magazines together while exploring European nation

By Lindsay Advocate

Christina Dedes hard at work putting together the Advocate, while also enjoying Portugal's charms. All photos: Braiden Patton.

Advocate graphic designer, Christina Dedes, put together two recent issues of the Advocate on the road, while travelling in Portugal. She reflects on what it was like for a young woman in business to meet her deadlines on the road.

By Christina Dedes

As a Christmas gift, my boyfriend Braiden generously purchased two tickets to Portugal for a three-week backpacking trip. We decided not to plan almost anything and let those three weeks be ours to fill however we pleased.

The only thing I knew for certain was the send-to-print deadline for February’s Advocate issue, which I was determined to complete while on the road. Was it possible? Will it be exhausting? Will I make my work deadline?

Yes, yes and I hoped so. You can work from anywhere these days, right? And am I not a woman in business, just like the theme of the Advocate’s March edition?

We prepared for our trip the only way one should: by watching celebrity chef and travel enthusiast Anthony Bourdain taste his way through our destination on his show No Reservations. We arrived in Lisbon hungry for new adventures and endless bifanas — a traditional Portuguese pork sandwich, slathered in mustard.

After a few hours of exploring, I was already planning to book a massage the moment we arrived home. In spite of my efforts to pack as lightly as I could, my career choices and laptop were weighing on me while on vacation. With sore shoulders and wide eyes, we made our way through the city.

Christina Dedes working on the Advocate in sunny Portugal.

The next few days took us down the west coast in a rental car, to explore the Portuguese countryside. The first hour of our drive took us through acres and acres of cork tree forests. The sunshine was breathing life into everything, and the same word kept coming up to describe it all: lush. How could anyone be sad with cloudless skies all winter long?

Every road we took was more picturesque and winding than the last, and our arrival on the coast felt like a warm hug from an old friend. Apart from a lone windsurfer, the glistening, pristine sand was entirely ours to enjoy. We sat for a long time at this first beach, counting our blessings and looking out into the expansive ocean, as if we were on the edge of the earth.

Portugal had my heart from the moment we arrived.

We had purchased eSIM cards for our phones, which made it possible for me to chip away at my work while Braiden drove. We could never keep up with the Portuguese locals, who liked to maintain a cool 150 kph, seemingly as a matter of habit.

If you’re susceptible to car sickness as I am, keep some Gravol on hand for a journey like this one. Portuguese roads and their drivers can be unforgiving, especially to passenger-seated backpackers working on their laptops.

And once you get sick of being on the road, Starbucks is your shoulder to lean on. Free wifi, outlets to charge up your devices, and overly priced but delicious bevvies. Plus, the baristas often speak English, which makes ordering much less awkward when you’re using Google Translate to learn Portuguese.

Interestingly, you’ll also find yourself surrounded by other individuals using Starbucks as their travelling office. We stopped at multiple locations during our journey, but the view never changed: almost every seat was filled with people in the all-too familiar human-typing-ardously-on-laptop stance. And I was no exception—I blended in seamlessly with the others, losing myself in my Advocate work and the sea of keyboard clicks.

My final temporary office during our trip was at yet another beach, along the Southern coast where Portugal ends and Spain begins. While my laptop and I overheated under the European sun, Braiden enjoyed a perfect barefoot walk along the shore.

I sent the publisher one last email, waited for my files to upload…and boom. The Advocate was sent off to print – from Portugal — no longer mine to worry about. I shut my laptop for the final time on our trip and joined my partner, barefoot in the sand. This woman in business was going to enjoy her last couple weeks on vacation, deadline free.

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