10 Tips for a Productive and Exciting Workation

Have you ever considered taking your work on vacation? It's becoming a popular trend and I have all the best tips to help make it a success.

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Written by Jason Barnette
Published on July 29, 2021
Posted in

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Affiliate Disclosure here.

For the last few years, the world’s workforce has inched closer to a new environment – working remotely. The 2020 global pandemic further pushed these careers into the work-from-home territory and just may have ended the era of the office cubicle. With the ability to work from anywhere with nothing more than a laptop and a WiFi connection, people have started wondering if it was possible to take work on the road.

The idea of the workation – a combination of work and vacation – is not new. It’s been called many things over the decades. But now, renewed focus has been given to this hybrid type of travel. Of course, some will argue work should never be done on vacation, and vacation should never interfere with work. But if done properly, a workation can be productive and exciting at the same time.

Take a look through these tips for a productive and exciting workation. Are you planning a workation this year? Do you have any questions about workations? Leave me a comment below or email me with your questions!

What is a Workation?

A workation is a fine balance between working remotely and enjoying a vacation. It’s not entirely one or the other, and it can take on various forms. But essentially, it means taking your work with you on vacation and trying to do both.

This lifestyle of working remotely on vacation may not be for you. It requires a dedicated workspace, a solid work routine and limits the amount of time spent exploring the destination. But if you can make it work – and afford it – the workation just might be the best thing since sliced bread.

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My first workation I was based in a condo in Beech Mountain, NC and spent my “vacation” hours exploring the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway – a place I was already intimately familiar with.

No. 1 | New Destination or Familiar Stomping Grounds?

When planning a workation, you may be tempted to book a week in some destination you have always wanted to visit. This might be a mistake, though.

The best destination for a workation is somewhere you’ve been before. You’re already familiar with the local eateries and things to do, so you don’t have to spend time researching once you arrive.

However, a new destination for a workation might be more exciting. You have new things to see once you step away from work and exciting opportunities you have not experienced before. If you choose to visit a new destination, be sure to reach out to the local tourism folks for help planning your workation. It’s becoming a common type of travel, and lots of visitor’s centers have workation itineraries.

Condos make excellent workation lodging – you’ll have a kitchen, separate room for a workspace, and a comfortable place to sleep.

No. 2 | Pick the Right Type of Lodging

Hotel or cabin? Rental home or campground? One of the most important aspects of a successful workation is packing the right type of lodging. There are some great options – but there are also some bad options.

Bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, and hotels are typical overnight lodging for vacations. But for a workation, these options are not ideal. These types of lodging tend to get noisy at times, lack any great workspaces, and will make it difficult to concentrate on work.

Efficiency suites in hotels are a good choice. Having a kitchen will give you a chance to cook some of your own meals – helping to save time and money – and they often have either a dining room table or a desk.

The best lodging for a workation is a long-term rental like a condo, house, or cabin. You’ll have all the amenities you need for a great workation – a kitchen for preparing meals, a dining room for setting up a workspace, and separate bedrooms for your travel companions. The homey atmosphere will also help you focus more on the work, especially in a comfortable home environment.

During my workation in Orange Beach, Alabama, I turned the dining room table into a desk.

No. 3 | Establish a Workspace

Whether you have piles of paperwork to sort through, reading materials to finish, or you just need to concentrate on your work, you will probably want a dedicated workspace. Unfortunately, the biggest reason hotels and campgrounds don’t make the best workation lodging is the lack of a space you can dedicate just for work.

If you’re renting a condo, house, or cabin, you probably have a few rooms to choose from. It could be one of the bedrooms you’re not using, a secluded dining room, or a bonus room. Make that your workspace and let everyone you’re traveling with know that it is the home office away from the home office.

Establishing a workspace also has the added benefit of “out of sight, out of mind.” When the workday is done, it will be easier to forget the workspace if it is a separate room from the rest of the rental unit.

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No. 4 | Find a Balance Between Work and Vacation

The most important part of a workation is establishing a routine and balancing work and vacation. Too much of one or the other will lead to missed deadlines and boredom – neither of which are great for a workation.

What time of day are you most productive? When are your deadlines while working remotely? How long will it take to meet your daily goals? Answer these questions, and you’ll have some idea when to carve out some time for the work. Then, sprinkle in a bit of vacation around that time.

You may be tempted to build a routine around entire days. One entire day of work followed by an entire day of vacation. While this may seem like a good idea, keep in mind that rainy weather, rush hour traffic, and peak tourism times of day can affect how much you get done. Instead, plan to do vacation activities and eat out during non-peak times of day and spend the peak times working in the rental unit.

No. 5 | Define Specific Goals

Establishing a routine is the first step in maintaining a healthy remote work schedule, but when do you know the work is complete? Similar to working in an office space with daily and weekly goals, it’s important to define some specific goals for your workation.

Do you have a particular project that needs to be finished? Daily routines that need to be completed? Make a list of daily and weekly goals for your workation. At the very least, it will let you know when the work can come to an end, and endless fun can begin. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll get done with work a day or two early!

No. 6 | Stay the Right Amount of Time

It may be tempting to plan a two or three-week workation or go the opposite direction and plan a workation throughout a long weekend.

The worst workations are weekend getaways. By the time you travel the destination, unpack, and get ready to actually work, you have already lost 1/3 of the weekend. There just isn’t enough time to establish a routine, set goals, get work done, and have any time for the vacation.

The perfect workation time is one or two weeks. This is plenty of time to get serious work accomplished while also having time to explore the destination. Long-term rentals often come with discounts for renting by the week, so this time frame saves a little bit in the long run.

It’s also important not to stay too long. One month at a beautiful beach destination or mountain retreat might sound enticing, but how long would you actually remain focused on remote work? Staying in one place for too long can lead to fatigue and complacency with work.

Insider Tip: Rental units from VRBO, Airbnb, and local rental companies often revolve around one-week rental periods – or they offer discounts for booking 7 days at a time.

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No. 7 | Pack All the Essential Work Items

Do you need notepads and Post It notes? Rubberbands and paperclips? What about documents, a printer, or specialized pieces of equipment?

Before packing for your workation take a look around the office. What do you use daily? Packing these items can help ensure you have a productive workation. It also helps if you’re visiting a destination that doesn’t have an office supply store nearby – you don’t want to run out of ink pens

No. 8 | Bring a Little Bit of Home with You

Do you have a favorite coffee mug you love using each morning? Or a really comfortable fleece blanket? Maybe you have a super comfortable deck chair?

Vacations are meant to be temporary, and that sometimes means giving up the things you love the most. But a workation is a hybrid and offers the chance for you to bring a little bit of home with you. If you plan to spend one or two weeks on a workation, why not bring some of your favorite home items with you?

Bringing items from home will make your workation feel more natural. It will increase your productivity because you’re happier. And you’re almost sure to have more fun with your favorite house slippers on while you’re trudging around the rental unit!

Just because you’re on a workation doesn’t mean you have to exclusively work indoors – take the computer outside somewhere pretty!

No. 9 | Consider Remote Working on the Workation

Just because you’re on a workation doesn’t necessarily mean all the work has to be done in the rental unit. If you have the type of job that allows you to work in a coffee shop, why not work in a coffee shop?

Of course, working remotely in public places can add a layer of distraction that might be unwelcome. But if you can hone your attention in laser-sharp focus, you might find yourself working better.

Pro Tip: Coffee shops are not the only public places to work remotely. Public libraries, interstate rest areas, state and national parks, and co-working spaces are other opportunities.

Booking a workation at a vacation destination will ensure you can have some fun when the workday is complete.

No. 10 | Have a Vacation, Too

Everything up until now has been about finding the right place to stay, planning the best schedule, and packing what you need to get work done. But don’t ignore the other half of the workation!

Have a vacation, too. On your way into town, stop at the local visitor center and ask the tourism folks about things to do in the area. Specifically, tell them you’re on a workation – it’s a growing trend, and many visitor centers are beginning to develop itineraries around the idea.

Remember how you were supposed to make specific work goals? Make some vacation goals, too. Make a list of restaurants, attractions, and museums you want to visit. Sort them by priority. Check their business hours and see how you can work that into your workation schedule.

Workations can be a lot of fun. I will even submit they can increase productivity – if done properly. Find the right type of lodging, establish a workspace and routine, set out some specific goals, and have fun! Do you have any other suggestions for planning a workation? Leave me a comment below!

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