First step for planning a vacation? I took stock of my schedule. It started with sending out emails to my regular clients, letting them know when I’d be away and how they could reach me. Next, I took a look at all the jobs I had on the horizon. For a week before we left, I put my head down and got through everything I possibly could so that not only the actual 12 days of vacation were covered, but also several days after my expected return in case something unexpected (like a car breakdown or illness) kept me from getting back to work when I intended. I also sent in all invoices and payment requests, both so that I had a little more cash and so there was one less thing to do when I got back.
The other half of the equation was mental preparation. Writing is my day job, so I’m used to a schedule that involves a pot of coffee, my computer, and a (relatively) quiet house. And while I was looking forward to my time away, I had to periodically review all the steps I’d taken and make sure there wasn’t anything I was missing. My goal was to become so confident in my prep that I wouldn’t worry about work over vacation. I also tossed a laptop into my suitcase so I could deal with any revisions or last-minute problems.
Did it work? Mostly.
Everything went more or less as planned. Partway through the first week, however, some articles I’d pitched for a client the month before got approved, and guess what? I needed to work on them right away. I set up a new schedule: During the day I spent time with my family, and at night I spent an hour or two working. I was able to finish everything, and I didn’t feel like work overshadowed vacation. I also checked my work email regularly. This was worthwhile—I got messages from another client asking if I was interested in work due just after I returned, along with inquiries from a new client, all of which I was able to handle on the spot.
If you’re planning a vacation, be prepared for the fact that it won’t ever feel quite the same as taking a paid break from a full-time job. The nature and scope of our work means some part of you will always be worrying about the article you just submitted or the piece you have coming up. To make your life easier:
Planning a vacation as a freelancer? It’s possible, and it’s even possible to enjoy yourself while you’re away. If you forget everything else I’ve said, remember this: As freelancers, we are the work, so it comes with us wherever we go. Preparation eases the burden and ups the enjoyment.
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