Freelancers know the struggle all too well. While the family tours ancient ruins or splashes around in the pool, you’re secluded in your hotel room, tending to your regular writing routine. After all, a quasi-vacation is better than no vacation at all. You may as well combine a little work with your vacation to keep projects moving and avoid bottlenecks later.
According to one study by a networking firm in Silicon Valley, around 60 percent of Americans do at least some work during vacations. Freelancers in particular find it difficult to take long stretches away from work because it puts their immediate earning potential at risk. With no paid days off, it might be tempting to never take vacation at all.
Fortunately, freelancers can strike a balance between work and play in a number of relatively painless ways. Keeping up with assignments during a vacation, especially if you’ve planned ahead and minimized your expected workload, can actually be less stressful than taking time off and trying to catch up when you return.
Try these strategies to get the most out of your working vacation and retain your sanity in the process.
Plan your trip around Wi-Fi hotspots.
It goes without saying that most of the work you do, regardless of your location, probably calls for reliable access to the Internet. That can be a dicey proposition in some areas, so plan ahead. Prior to booking you accommodations, make sure that Wi-Fi is available in your hotel room. This is going to be home base during your trip, where you’ll hammer out your must-do projects between meals and sightseeing. It will also be the place you seek sanctuary, so choose wisely. It is possible to have a productive yet refreshing vacation, when you choose a destination that pulls double duty in this manner. Back this plan up by making note of public Internet access points, such as coffee shops, near the places you’re visiting.
Leave gaps in your schedule.
For most people, vacations are rare events, so it’s tempting to try to pack every second with profound experiences and unforgettable events. Sure, these types of excursions can be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, but an over-packed schedule is likely to leave you scrambling to catch up on work in stressful 15-minute bursts. Vacation time is meant to be a refreshing experience so that you can return to work with energy and enthusiasm. But that doesn’t mean you have to live extravagantly at every possible moment.
Rather than frittering away every free moment, schedule reasonable blocks of time – maybe one or two hours each day – that you can devote to your work. This is also an important goal-setting exercise that helps to set expectations at the outset of your vacation. For example, if you intend to spend 80% of your vacation relaxing, and 20% of your vacation working, you can keep yourself on track by setting a schedule ahead of time and sticking to it.
Communicate your goals and ask for help.
If you’re traveling with family, communicate with them ahead of time on the goals of your vacation. Make it clear that work time is just as important to you as play time. And, by the same token, you must commit to completely unplugging during non-work times out of respect to your travel companions. As long as you are on the same page ahead of time, asking for help is a simple proposition. For example, ask your spouse to drop you at a coffee shop with good Wi-Fi while he or she takes the kids to the beach. Setting boundaries keeps your traveling companions from feeling neglected or abandoned because you’re buried in emails and urgent business.
Taking care of business while you’re on vacation calls for ingenuity and forethought. Plan ahead, set aside time for productivity and don’t be shy about leaning on others. When you follow these tips, you’ll be surprised at how relaxing a working vacation can be.