Glass half empty: working remotely. Glass half full? Workcation!
Combining vacation and work isn’t a novel idea, but with ultra-portable technology and teams spread across multiple locations, it’s becoming a reality for more and more people—especially entrepreneurs. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently claimed “working vacations are the wave of the future.”
So what makes a workcation work? We caught up with some workers who clock in from the road for tips on how to get more done while still having fun:
1. Make (and keep) a schedule
Planning your time is one of the key steps toward a successful workcation. You don’t need an hourly schedule, but be sure to map out your plans in advance. Drawing a line between “work” time and time for exploration or relaxation will make you more productive. It’ll also keep work tasks without a finite deadline (like catching up on emails) from bleeding into your free time.
An easy way to do this is to set up some activities in advance. Book a morning boat trip or an afternoon walking tour. Get tickets to a concert or event. Once you have a few of these set up, schedule any meetings and calls around them. (And keep time zones in mind!)
Nellie Akalp, who owns the legal form company CorpNet.com with her husband Phil, takes quarterly workcations to focus on the company’s roadmap and goals.
“We found doing a bit of both—work and vacation—every day was the perfect mix to stay on track and also de-stress,” Akalp says.
After they write up their six-year plan, they go snorkeling. Or if they clean out old emails from their inboxes, they’ll then get massages.
“You basically get a reward for every accomplishment you make,” she notes.
2. Confirm you’ll have a reliable workspace and connection
The best planned workcation amounts to nothing, if you arrive to find out the “high speed internet” promised by your Airbnb only works 40 percent of the time.
Louise Hendon, founder of Paleo Living Magazine and frequent workcationer, will contact the places she plans on staying and ask them to send a screenshot of an internet speed test. Hendon also says you should “sign up for a VPN in case you have trouble accessing certain websites or want to ensure security when accessing sensitive data.”
When it comes to phone calls, if you’re traveling internationally, “make sure you have Skype installed and/or your SIM card works abroad,” she says. Buying a SIM card once you’re on the ground can be a good way to avoid roaming charges.
A clean, spacious workspace is also crucial.
“[You need] some type of table you can work on,” says Roger Brinkley, CEO of travel accessory brand Pac2Go. “Your laptop on your bed doesn’t count, and realistically speaking, neither does that cramped little desk in the room.”
Brinkley took a workcation in the Bahamas last year, working daily from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., then exploring the island.
Do some research beforehand on your hotel’s business center or work space, as well as local libraries, coffee shops, or coworking spaces that offer Wi-Fi and desks. If you’re a WeWork member, you can use the workspaces in 16 cities around the world—from Austin to Amsterdam to Tel Aviv.
3. Choose your travel companions wisely
If you’re traveling with someone else, or multiple people, make sure they know that you actually have to do some work.
“I am sure your college roommate is a ‘chill dude’ and only in town for this particular weekend,” says Trevor Ewen, of software development company Neosavvy. “However, inviting this distraction will make your workcation into a normal vacation, where you attempt to do minimal amount of work.”
Many regular workcationers handle this by scheduling work hours when their travel companion’s sleeping.
“I’m an early riser, so I will typically wake up at 5 a.m.,” explains Jason Parks, owner of digital marketing agency The Media Captain. “My girlfriend likes to sleep in, so it works out perfect. By 11 a.m., I will get almost six hours of work done by the time we’re ready to start the day. At that point, I turn off my phone and enjoy all of the activities that we have planned.”
4. Cut costs by piggybacking your trip
One of the easiest ways to plan a workcation is to add extra days to a business trip you’re required to take. While the main travel purpose may be to attend a conference or client meetings, think about tacking on even just a day or two for exploring.
Not only does this enhance your travel experience, it also can save you big bucks.
“I’ve undertaken a ‘workcation’ numerous times where I’ve taken leave after
traveling overseas for a conference or work in country,” says Anthony Bianco, a self-proclaimed “travel addict” who runs the site The Travel Tart. “That means an international airfare has already been paid for, and I think it’s a golden opportunity to explore new areas.”