Workation: Part work, part vacation. What could go wrong or be bad about it? Quite a bit – as every digital nomad will be quick to remind you. This concept is not new, nor is it a novel one – you pack your bag, throw a dart on a map, and call where the dart lands your destination to work away from the office or home.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the travel industry and everything else in the world pretty hard, travel restrictions are slowly being lifted. Many companies are now adopting the remote work concept, which sees the rise of workations. While it sounds ideal to most, there are a few things you should consider before booking that flight ticket.

Remember that it is not a vacation

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Although it is in its name, being a portmanteau of the words “work” and “vacation”, you’d do well to remind yourself that it is not a vacation. Not entirely, at least. Some employers have been kind enough to extend the courtesy of work from home (WFH) to be productive anywhere. But the work time vs vacation time is ultimately at their discretion and, naturally, your habits.

Suppose you’re the type of person able to manage your WFH situation to include a quick YouTube yoga session and a grocery run within your allotted lunch hour. In that case, you can and should treat your workation the same. It’s all about time management, which brings us to our next point.

Planning is pivotal

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The best way to ensure the best usage of the hard-earned off-hours is, of course, planning, planning, planning. If you’re journeying out there solo, look into countries that currently offer remote working visas and crosscheck your choice of residence with healthy internet access. Once you’ve narrowed your location down, peg down points of interest, and call ahead to work out a rough itinerary. It’s also safe to assume that with the virus still making its rounds and the many SOPs in place, most eateries still prefer taking reservations against walk-ins.

Should you be travelling in a group, it has to be stressed that having a schedule, however loosely shaped, will help make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Whether it’s nailing down the communal meal hours at the start of the day or deciding what to do off-work hours. This will cut time wasted in half waiting or Googling and, in turn, give you extra exploration time that does not cut into work time. A true win-win!

Budget for extra travel costs

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While destinations have begun accepting local and international travellers again, they have also imposed specific restrictions. Certain international locations expect travellers to be fully vaccinated, have COVID-19 insurance above a certain threshold, and test negative upon entry. This may or may not result in quarantine upon arrival, making room for additional travel time and cost. Of course, all the testing required before, upon, and after arrival will add up too. So be sure to budget for all these things.

For local travels, restrictions can vary state by state, and you may be required to administer self-tests pre- and post-arrival. Are you travelling for a group workation? Take account for extra buffer time in case of any travel complications with your luggage, self-test, or declaration forms.

Be sensible with your exploration

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You should also keep an eye on cases at your chosen workation destination. Should you be roaming internationally (or locally), you’ll also want to keep your hand sanitisers close, face masks on, and also obey the standard operating procedures that are in place to keep everyone and yourself safe.

But beyond that, maximise your voyage by listening to locals and extending your support to the local economy in whatever ways you can. As many unlucky locales have shut due to the lack of travellers in the past two years, you’ll find that locals are brimming with new recommendations.

Take advantage of your location

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While it is decidedly not a vacation, there has to be a clear line separating work time and leisure time. Workations only work when you can reap the benefits of productivity and quality. So, make it a point to enjoy your non-working hours.

The change in the regular scenery is probably more than enough a motivator for that. Still, suppose your WFH time over the past two years has caused the boundaries between work and leisure to become increasingly blurred. In that case, you’d do well to carve out hard deadlines for yourself. Make dinner reservations so you have to finish work at a set hour, book a spa on the weekend so you’ll have to be away from your phone – in short, do what it takes to recharge your leisure battery as well.

No, seriously, take full advantage of where you are

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Being somewhere new means having the freedom to carve out your workspace. Do you work better in silence or when you’re around others? Find what works best for you and make adjustments from there. It may not fit into that idea of working from a hammock or relaxing by the beach with your laptop and a coconut drink to sip on. Still, the possibilities are endless outside of the traditional office space.

And, if you’re sent on a workation like me, establish that ‘work station’ upon arrival, and communicate it to your colleagues. In a group of 10, some colleagues found the solace of their verandah or their own darkened bedrooms. In contrast, others made it through the day huddled together in groups of two or three. I found myself halfway between, with my feet in the pool, next to those who preferred working side by side. Ultimately, flexibility is key!