What is a Workcation and How to Make it Work for You
This post may contain affiliate links.
The term workcation has recently come into existence as many workers find themselves with newfound flexibility to work remotely. In an effort to travel more, many workers will take work (and even kid’s school) on the road to be able to fit in sightseeing and activities on the weekends and after work. This is where the concept of a workcation comes in – blending the the concept of work and vacation into one!
Planning a workcation takes some planning to ensure you have everything you need to remain productive while allowing for activities that can be tacked on easily. Read on for more details on what to consider in a workcation destination and some tips for making it productive with kids in tow.
Before you book just any hotel or vacation rental, have a look at the floor plan and room set-up to ensure you have a comfortable and quiet place to work. While hotels are often more difficult for this given the limited space, a suite option may be suitable if you don’t have lots of calls. We tend to stick to vacation rentals for our workcations since we have two adults working and three kids to entertain (and, historically, do remote learning). If a hotel is your only option, see if they have a business center or empty conference room you could use. Given that conferences and conventions are not happening that much right now, many hotels have these areas sitting vacant so you may be able to strike up a deal.
For a vacation rental, we seek a place with a minimum of 3 bedrooms but, ideally, four. This allows for my husband and I to have distinct spots since we are often on calls concurrently. The extra bedroom and living room space suits us well for keeping the kids corralled in another zone. If a bedroom has a desk, that is even more of a plus to be able to close the door and work.
Wi-Fi is another essential thing to check out ahead of time. While most every vacation rental these days has wi-fi for guest use, it is critical that they have a strong enough signal to handle video calls. Consider whether multiple people will be online at the same time – if you have each kid on a tablet plus two adults on video calls, it can be disastrous. Check ahead of time to see what type of connection the vacation rental has and even consider asking the owner to do a speed check for an additional data point.
Seeking Out the Perfect Destination
When we are planning a destination for a workcation, we take a few things into account:
- Time zone: to keep on the same work schedule (and avoid any issues), we try to stay within 1-2 hours of our normal timezone. I once tried to workcation from Australia as I had just started a new job and let’s just say keeping up with calls was extremely difficult.
- Activities nearby: one perk of a workcation is repurposing a morning coffee break or lunch with something unique like a lunchtime paddle on a river (as we did at Lucky Bend Lookout in Guerneville, California). We try to find destinations that have lots to do on-site or nearby (less than 30 minutes) so it is easy to incorporate some recreation into our days.
- Connectivity: as mentioned above, reliable wi-fi is essential so ensure you have done some due diligence. Also consider cell phone connectivity – if your cell phone will have spotty service, will you have access to a landline as a back-up for any critical calls?
Have Kids in Tow?
If you are bringing kids on your workcation, ensure that you have planned for childcare and entertainment. What we try to do is:
- Work in shifts with another adult so there is someone available to supervise and entertain the kids.
- Consider bringing a relative or babysitter along for an extra set of hands with the kids.
- For older kids, ensure you have a steady supply of puzzles, games, activity books and crafts to keep them busy. For younger kids, bringing some newer toys or activities can help with entertainment.
- Consider a bingo-card style activity for kids to keep them busy. We used this on a recent workcation and my two older kid loved it – we put things like play a board game, watch an educational program and make a healthy snack.
- Speaking of snacks, have water bottles filled up and snack options prepared so that kids can help themselves.
Other Tips for a Workcation
- Try to do data-centric work ahead of time if you have a multiple monitor setup at home. I try to work on projects and schedule meetings when we are away.
- If you are permitted to work remotely and you can make all scheduled meetings/deliverables, no need to advertise you are away from home. By doing workcations, we can go away discreetly more often and then when we do a proper off-line vacation, we can cash in our time-off chips and truly unplug.
- Noise-cancelling headphones can be clutch. Or, consider headphones for kids with some off-line downloaded content to save your ears and the bandwidth!
- To take full advantage of a workcation, try to book off one full day as a vacation day to do one highlight activity. We did Zion National Park last year while working from Utah, we did Joshua Tree National Park while working from Palm Springs – it is nice to give yourself one whole day off to connect with your family.
Have a question about workcation? Have another tip to share? Drop it into the comments below.