Looking to change your location, if only for a short time? Anyone can take a working vacation and here’s how…
This past week I have been writing about my recent working vacation to London. I’ve already covered the most important and realistic advantages and disadvantages to a working vacation. But don’t let the disadvantages discourage you. There are ways to work around them. It all starts with the planning. If you are prepared for a real working vacation you may never go home again.
The possibilities for a working vacation are only limited by your imagination. The first step is to make some decisions and narrow your scope. You need a location. It could be a beach get-a-way or a city adventure; it could be half away around the world or the next town over.
It is probably not a good idea to choose your dream location for a working vacation since you will actually be working a good amount of the time you are there. I prefer to take my working vacations in a place that I have been before, that way I’ve got the main tourists sights already out of the way and I can start delving deeper.
One way to ease your decision-making is to consider your lodging options. Instead of a hotel you’ll probably want to rent an apartment or a room, especially if this is going to be an extended stay (or longer than just a few days). In order to cut costs you may want to look into possibilities for house trades. Then there are your friends and family you may want to visit, which you can easily turn into a working vacation. Keep your ears perked and your mind open to unexpected opportunities. When my friend in London announced she was looking for a dog-sitter, I jumped at the opportunity. I spent 2.5 weeks in one of my favorite cities translating, all at the cost of a couple of outings to the park with my canine companion.
The seasons and weather certainly need to be taken into consideration in planning when to take your working vacation. Perhaps more important though is your work load. If you have a busy season you may want to be in your familiar surroundings for that. A slow time in your work schedule could be the perfect time for a working vacation and a chance to shop around for new clients. My experience tells me that I travel best when I have a long-term project on my plate. London was my chance to work on a large book translation, which will be occupying most of my time for the next few months.
Part of the planning phase needs to be who is taking this working vacation. Again the possibilities are endless. Don’t feel that partners and/or kids have to stay at home. They can come too, of course, as long as everyone understands from the beginning that you will be working full-time (or part-time if you choose). With kids it might be best to combine it with a visit to family or friends where other people can help with child care while you work.
Or leave the family at home. You could think of this as a business trip. Especially if you are planning on working on a long-term project, a break away from the distractions of family may be just what you need to boost your productivity or make some progress. I spent 2.5 weeks in London on my own. My husband had enough to do back in Berlin and it was a nice break from my routine in all respects.
Another option is to take a trip with fellow freelancers or friends. That way you can work and play together in your new location.
A freelance lifestyle requires quite a bit of self-discipline. Well, a working vacation may require more discipline than even a freelancer is used to. In order to maintain productivity and to resist all those temptations lurking right outside your door, make a work schedule and stick to it. But be sure to add some fun things to that schedule. You can set daily goals and only when those goals are met do you head out for some sightseeing or lounging.
To avoid hassles later, look for a copy shop and post office and other facilities you may need upon your arrival. Then when you do need those things you will know right where to find them. It will save you time in the long run when you find yourself in a pinch desperately in need of a print-out, a copy, fax or whatever else. I spent one full day in London trying to print out a contract for a client and get it mailed! I had been ill-prepared but learned an important lesson in the process.
Research your new location before you arrive. You can find out if there are any special exhibits, shops, businesses, clients and more that you would want to visit during your stay. Knowing a little bit about your location before your arrival will save you time and energy later.
As you can see planning ahead is a large part of a working vacation and being prepared could make all the difference. But don’t forget to leave room for the unexpected. As with any form of travel, a working vacation is often most enjoyable when you open your mind to new possibilities. So why not change locations, if only for a short time.
My next working vacation may just be over the Christmas holidays – I’ll let you know…