As a freelancer, I have to work even while on a dream vacation. And that’s not a bad thing.
I’m writing this from a remote island in the South Pacific. I’m not telling you this to boast, but rather to commiserate.
Being a freelancer means never fully powering down or going completely off the grid. Sure, create an automatic out-of-office reply on your email account and change your voicemail message. But don’t think your clients won’t need you while you’re on holiday.
I have had various commitments that require connectivity. My vacation location has minimal Wi-Fi and you have to pay for it, which means I’ve been hoarding my GBs and logging on strategically in various hot spots. My partner runs a business that also requires daily care and feeding. We planned this trip as a “workcation,” knowing we’d be managing projects for a couple of hours each day. And you know what? I dig it.
I have friends who scold me for checking email or surfing the net when I’m traveling, saying that I’m not giving myself over to the experience or being fully present. But I like to be plugged in. It gives me pleasure to stay abreast of the news and to respond to emails in a timely fashion, no matter where I am.
When did logging on become a bad thing? I’m still beachcombing, snorkeling, kayaking, reading tons of books, singing karaoke badly with the locals, stargazing and driving around the island on my scooter. Enjoying my holiday and maintaining my business are not mutually exclusive.
So here’s my advice to have a full and productive summer vacation.
Discuss your goals and needs. Come to an agreement with your traveling companion about your time online so you’re both on the same page.
Scout Wi-Fi. Determine Wi-Fi availability and get granular about it. We are staying in one of three bungalows, and the router is located on the porch of the middle bungalow, making it the best accommodation for us. If you need to make calls, make sure you are snuggled up to the router for optimal reception.
Be smart about your connectivity. Turn your devices to airplane mode, turn off your cellular service and only use Wi-Fi. If you have to buy time or bandwidth, keep an eye on it. Skype seeks the best connection and can gobble up all your gigs; use WhatsApp or Viber instead.
Work during the hottest hours of the day. As a Seattleite, I have to mete out my sun exposure or pass out from heatstroke. I almost fainted while buying starfruit at a local garden in the midday sun.
Be flexible. If a fun activity presents itself, do it. If it’s raining, ditch the water sports and power through some work instead.
And above all, don’t kick yourself for checking your email or the web. Taking care of business while luxuriating in a vacation locale is a recipe for true peace of mind.