Workcation: all play and no work?

In May I flew out to visit my dear friend Emily at BASEDtraveler in Malta for three weeks. My plan was simple: spend the first half of my trip relaxing and catching up with my long-lost friend (OK, we hadn’t seen each other for three months… that’s a long time for us!) and work in the second half. As a freelancer, I have the luxury of being able to work from anywhere, as long as I have my laptop and a good Internet connection. And although I stuck to my plan, it didn’t all work out quite as I had expected.

work-1015501_640You see, my laptop decided to die a couple of days after I started my mini digital nomad adventure. That part of the trip was certainly not the chilled break I had imagined (in fact, it involved a lot of screaming, crying and foot stomping… and telephone calls and messages to anybody could help). But after an overpriced glass of wine at my friend’s place of work and a recommendation of a laptop repair man, things soon got back to normal… kind of. I ended up losing about a month’s worth of files (my fault for not backing up my documents on a regular basis – I now do it weekly) and my laptop hasn’t quite felt the same since, especially as it had to go in for repair a second time once I landed in the UK.

But when I started this particular translation project I had had the common sense to back up the files I was currently working on, so I didn’t have to restart from scratch. And my client was so cool that she hadn’t even set a deadline in the first place – something that has rarely happened in my four-year stint as a freelance translator. Plus it was a translation in a field I love: tourism. So even if I had needed to start again, it wouldn’t have been a disaster.

office-1548302_640The question people ask me is: “Would you do it again?” And my instant response is: “Yes, without a shadow of a doubt.” It felt absolutely fabulous working from hotels, cafés and my friend’s cute little apartment. The change of scenery did me good, as did the vitamin D from the constant sunshine. In fact, my plan for the beginning of next year – if everything works out – is to work “remotely” from various locations across Europe for a couple of months. After all, with the UK voting to leave the EU, travel to Europe may get that little bit more complicated/expensive for Brits.

My tips for a hassle-free workcation are as follows:

  • Make a plan and stick to it. Try not to get distracted by parties or other events going on, especially if you have a high workload the next day.
  • Research coworking (or even coliving) spaces in advance – they’re a great opportunity to network and it isn’t always massively expensive if you pick the “hot desking” option.
  • Investigate AirBnB options and see whether a host would be willing to have you stay for an extended period and use their place as a temporary office. If not, research local libraries and whether they have free Internet.
  • If you decide you want to work from a hotel, make sure they have free Wi-Fi in the room. There’s nothing worse than sitting in the lobby and feeling like you can’t help but listen in on a group’s annoying conversation. Also, read the TripAdvisor reviews carefully and try to find a hotel that won’t be full of late-night revellers (easier said than done, trust me!)
  • Print out a few useful phrases in the local language (the most important ones for me are: Where is the nearest toilet? How much does this cost? How do I get to…? Yes, no, please, thank you.)
  • Use websites like Couchsurfing or Meetup to meet friendly locals/expats. They’ll have tips on things to do and places to eat that aren’t listed in the guide books.
  • If something goes wrong, don’t panic! There’s a solution to every problem 🙂
  • Don’t forget to relax. You are on holiday, after all!
  • Research and convert your money before you go. For UK residents, this is a great website. If you want to withdraw cash when you’re there, get a Revolut card and set it up properly before you leave. It’s amazing.


Do you have tonnes of experience as a digital nomad and have advice to add? Feel free to leave a comment!

2 thoughts on “Workcation: all play and no work?

  1. Kudos to you! I love the idea of a workation, and I’m a bit jealous of all the translator’s who do this so well. I recently decided to try a little one (though, it was actually just a family vacation, and I brought work along), and it didn’t go as well as I’d have hoped. While in theory I love the idea of working from anywhere, I’m spoiled by my home office and having all of my things in one place. I’m trying out another workation in Panama soon, so I’ll take your advice! Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh Panama, how exciting! Having everything in one place in a home office is certainly a benefit. How did your workation not go as well as you had hoped? Do you have any tips to share? 🙂


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