Traveling While Working Can Prevent Burnout. Here's How to Do It Right.
If you want to travel while working, your goal should be to maximize enjoyment while minimizing disruptions. Try these tips to plan your next workcation.
It's healthy to get out of town for more than just a few weeks of vacation each year. In this article, we'll discuss how to do that and keep your job.
The recent global health crisis and social isolation took a toll on my and my wife's mental and physical health, and we needed an escape. So, shortly after travel restrictions were lifted in our area, we took a "workcation" (work + vacation). We drove from New York to Boston and enjoyed several days of great food and activities — without any risk to our incomes.
We've had numerous workcations since then, but this one was special because it kept us from going insane when it felt like the whole world was crazy. Today, workcations continue to help us to maintain our sanity and avoid burnout in a remote-first environment.
I've been fortunate to have worked remotely for much of the last 20 years and can sense when I need time away. But many people are new to the work-from-home lifestyle and need help adapting. One huge benefit of remote work is the flexibility to travel virtually anytime and anywhere you choose, since technology makes it possible to work from a hotel, a coffee shop or even the back of a van. If you want to travel while working, your goal should be to maximize enjoyment while minimizing disruptions to your productivity. Try these tips to plan your next workcation:
Plan your destination and itinerary wisely
Van-lifers can travel whenever they want, because they take their homes with them. The rest of us have to be mindful of logistics, costs and available technology to optimize our workcations.
First, try to pick a hotel with excellent wi-fi. On a recent workcation in Austin, our hotel's wi-fi was spotty, and work became impossible. Fortunately, the hotel across the street had excellent and open wi-fi that we tapped into. Check online reviews, and call the front desk for insights into connectivity before booking your room.
My family is privileged to live in New York City, with several destinations within driving distance. Choosing road trips over flights has saved us a small fortune. But flying provides greater flexibility in destinations, and there are plenty of ways to save money on air travel. According to the travel company, Hopper, bookings are least expensive on Thursdays, followed by Tuesdays. And the cheapest days to fly domestically are Tuesday and Wednesday. Reduce costs further with a connecting flight, and get some work done during your layover. Also, travel light — bring just a carry-on and your laptop bag to save on checked-bag fees.
I like to plan workcations that start on Wednesdays and end on Tuesdays. This has the added benefit of including a full weekend of activities. Just don't forget your laptop, and bring an extra battery for the beach or other times you're away from a power outlet.
Bookend your trip with meetings
You can do your work at any time of day or night. But conference calls will restrict your mobility. Try to empty your meeting schedule as much as possible by moving meetings to right before or right after your trip. Then try to move any remaining meetings to the early morning so that you have flexibility during the rest of your day.
Be transparent with your boss or clients
Don't surprise your boss or clients with a backdrop of palm trees. They may react negatively to your trip and feel like you're taking advantage of them. Instead, let them know your plans and come to an agreement on expectations. Let them know that it's a work vacation, and you expect no disruptions in productivity other than the need for flexibility around meetings.
I'm serious about the palm trees, by the way. Stick to a plain backdrop for video conferences to minimize jealousy or distractions among your colleagues. The last thing you want is for people to speak negatively about you when you're not there to defend yourself.
Set expectations with your travel companions
You might decide to take your workcation with a spouse, romantic partner, friends, co-workers, children or any combination of those. Each of them will have varying flexibility, budgets and interests that may not match your own. So, be sure to set expectations with them before booking the trip. Make sure you're all in agreement on when, how long and how often you will enjoy the local festivities.
Take your company with you
It's good to take time away from your colleagues, but you may also want to plan trips that include them. Pitch a workcation to your team or company leadership as a team-building activity.
This can be great for companies that have gone nearly 100% remote, to build rapport in person. You'll strengthen relationships and team bonds, and people will likely appreciate the time away from home. Book a co-working space in advance for your entire team, and plan daily activities that you know most people will enjoy.
The purpose of your workcation is not just to do your work in a different physical environment, but to enjoy yourself. So, plan ahead for at least one good meal and one activity each day, with more on the weekend. Don't lose valuable travel time trying to figure out what to do.
Many people stick to the old model of a few weeks of vacation per year, when they completely unplug. Traditional vacations are great, but you have the opportunity to travel and enjoy life more often. So, take workcations whenever you can. You'll lower your risk of burnout, and you'll be happier and healthier in the long term.
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