Being able to travel while working online? Yes, please! A workation is a temporary trip that combines work and vacation. More and more employees, freelancers and business owners consider this working style as a welcoming exchange to their normal daily working life.
This workation guide tells you the most important facts about the working trend and explains who qualifies for a workation and how you can make the best of it.
Table of Contents
What is a Workation?
This working style started a few years ago and is slowly but surely getting more and more popular. The word workation is a combination of “work” and “vacation”. That means workationers do their normal job online while being on a kind of vacation. They often go to typical holiday destinations and explore the region after their work is done or during the weekends.
A workation is always temporary and the employee or freelancer will go back home and work from their office again after the workation. The duration and the work-vacation-ratio depend on the agreement with the employer or client.
The job that they normally do in an office, is now done from a laptop anywhere in the world. That also means that the job needs to be digitalized, which does not work for any type of job. While many office-jobs can often be done online, most blue-collar positions wouldn’t qualify for a workation.
Employees and freelancers today, especially millennials, ask for more flexible working hours and more vacation. For employers that’s often not feasible. A workation could be a good compromise to keep both sides happy.
Are Digital Nomads on a Workation?
Well, kind of. It is true that digital nomads travel around the world and work location-independently from their laptop. That often has a vacation vibe to it.
However, digital nomads do this as a lifestyle. It’s not a 2-weeks or 2-months special situation but a full-time life. They often (not always) don’t have a home base, where they go back to, or a working place at their employers or clients’ office.
Is a Workation the Same as Work and Travel?
No, a workation is not the same as a typical “Work and Travel” or “Work and Holiday” trip. Workationers don’t travel permanently but usually stay at a certain place either the entire period of their workation or for at least a few weeks before they move to another place and stay there again for a while.
As opposed to people who are on a Work and Travel tip, workationers don’t look for local jobs once they arrive at their destination. They work online and usually have their jobs organized before they arrive.
Advantages of Workations
There are many reasons why workations grow in popularity. Let’s have a look at some of the greatest advantages:
- The change of scenery is a great way to get new inspirations and motivation.
- Looking at your job from a different perspective can show ways to improve it.
- It can lower your stress level without going on a holiday.
- You can escape unwanted seasons, e.g. cold winter.
- You can meet other people in similar positions and learn from them.
- You get to know new cultures and countries.
- The experiences can make you grow both personally and professionally.
- Research show that remote workers are more productive.
- If several employees do a workation together it’s a great team-building method.
- For employers: It is an attractive bonus for applicants to come and employees to stay at your company.
- For those who are considering doing full-time remote work: A workation is a great entry to the remote work life that allows you to test and see if you could do this kind of working style full-time on a long-run.
Disadvantages of Workations
As with everything, there are also some negative parts of workations:
- Not every job or every task can be digitalized and therefore qualifies for workations.
- Workations are not right for everybody. Some people will struggle with focusing on work.
- Although living costs can be lower during a workations (depending on your home country and destination country), there will be additional expenses like flights, technology or visas.
- The team members, who are not going on a workation, will have to rearrange their work according to the new situation, for example online meetings instead of in person.
Who Can Do a Workation?
As said before, not everyone qualifies for a workation. Here are a few boxes you need to tick:
- You need to be open to new experiences and cultures, if your workation is based in a different country.
- You need to be flexible enough to get along in a different working environment and to integrate in a new culture quickly.
- You need to be able to live with only little luggage as you obviously can’t bring your entire household with you.
- You need to be a good communicator because all of your work conversations will have to be done online which can be harder.
Your age doesn’t matter when you want to go on a workation. You can choose a place and accommodation that fits your needs.
Clearly, it is easier for a single person to go on a workation than for couples or families. However, if you want to go on a workation for an extended period of time and don’t want to leave your family behind, it is also possible to bring them with you. This will require more planning and organizing and needs a higher budget. However, it is not entirely impossible.
Potential workationers should also keep dependencies in mind. Is there someone who can take care of your dog? Do you have to look after a family member regularly, e.g. your elderly mother? Maybe a sports club where you are needed?
Individual or Group:
Not only single persons can go on a workation but also groups of people. A company could send an entire team on a workation. This is a great team-building method.
It depends on your job if you can go on a workation. Your job or at least your core tasks need to be able to be done online. If not all of your tasks can be done online, that’s ok.
Maybe there will be a colleague who can help you out in the meantime? In return, you could do one of his or her tasks that can be done remotely. Or maybe this specific task can be placed on hold until you come back?
If you want to find a way how you can work remotely permanently, check out my online course “Zero to Remote Work Success” to get you started.
Where Can I Do a Workation?
Workations can be done literally anywhere where you can get a decent internet connection. Typical places are Bali or Thailand. But it doesn’t need to be something exotic. You could also stay in a vineyard in Tuscany or a ski resort in Bansko or a farm in Texas.
Theoretically, you could also stay at different places. However, don’t change places too often. Allow yourself at least 4 weeks to settle at a place before you move to another. Otherwise, your productivity will suffer and it’s going to be quite stressful.
How Does a Workation Work?
Simply put: You travel to your destination and move into your home for the next few weeks or months.
One scenario: You work from morning until late afternoon and relax or explore your surroundings in the evening and during the weekends.
Another option: You could also agree with your employer or client to work only 4 days a week so you have an extra day off.
The work-vacation-ratio is very flexible and is completely subject to your individual agreement.
Types of Workations
There are basically 2 types of how you can organize your workation:
- With a professional organization
- By yourself.
There are many organizations out there, that are specialized in organizing workations for individuals or teams.
Remote Year is probably the most common one. Here a group of about 50 people stays in one place for 4 weeks and lives and works together. After those 4 weeks, the entire group moves to a new country for another 4 weeks. You can stay with them for up to one year.
Another program would be Venture with Impact. Here you travel to another country, e.g. Thailand or Guatemala, and join a group of people. During the day you will have plenty of time to get your online job done. You also have the opportunity to volunteer in a local project and have a positive impact on the community. A great combination!
Here are some of the pros and cons of these organizations:
|They often help you prepare arguments for your supervisor.||It is more expensive than organizing it yourself.|
|They often organize accommodation.||You have to organize your own arrival and departure.|
|They often organize meals.|
|They often organize events and activities.|
|It is easy to connect and make new friends.|
|You get to network with like-minded people.|
|They often organize coworking.|
|You can focus on your work and enjoy the location.|
|The often organize transfer between destinations.*|
*If you book a long-term workation that takes you to different places.
If you want to get to know more companies that organize workations, check out the linked article. It tells you the dates and prices of the most popular programs.
If you don’t want to do a workation with a specialized organization, you could also organize it yourself. This will guarantee you the maximum flexibility and you will also save money.
On the downside, you have to organize everything on your own. If you have never lived in a different country, you might find this very stressful and overwhelming. You also have to be very open-minded and actively go out to meet new people, otherwise, you will end up alone.
How Much Does a Workation Cost?
How much a workation costs depends on different factors such as:
- How you organize it (by an organization or yourself)
- Where you want to go
- How long you want to stay
- Your standard of living, e.g. how much you spend on accommodation, food, and entertainment
If you go for a professional organization, you often pay somewhere between USD 1,500 and USD 2,500 per month plus food.
If you organize everything yourself, go to a fairly cheap place, for instance, Chiang Mai, and stick to a tight budget, you could get along with less than USD 800 per month.
Please also take expenses such as travel insurance, visa, vaccinations, and your flight tickets into consideration.
Tips for a Successful Workation
To make the best out of your upcoming workation, you should pay attention to the following tips:
- Plan well ahead. Organize your personal life properly before you leave, e.g. find someone to take care of your cat or to open your mail, do you want to sublet your apartment, etc.
- Clarify if your company is going to pay for the workation or parts of it.
- Define your goals. What do you want to achieve during the workation, both personally and professionally?
- Agree with your employer or client on availability, working hours and goals.
- Set times for regular meetings with your company. Pay attention to time zones.
- Organize technology. You will need at least a laptop, a VPN, smartphone, headset, and you should also bring a global hotspot in case your local internet doesn’t work.
- Check if you need a work visa in your destination country and where you have to pay taxes.
- Learn ways to stay productive while working remotely in case you are not experienced with it.
- Don’t expect the first day to be super successful. Allow yourself some time to settle into the new situation. After a while, you will find your best working routine to be productive and to make the most out of your new home.
Get Ready for Your First Workation
As you can see, there are many advantages of a workation and this is why this concept is getting more and more popular today. If you don’t feel confident enough to organize a workation yourself, go with a professional company. There are many out there that help you make the most of out your trip.
Only one last word: Don’t replace a workation for a vacation. Since you will be working most days of the week, your brain won’t be able to get a proper break from work – no matter how many palm trees are around. So make sure you still go on a vacation every once in a while.