If there’s one thing I enjoy more than freelancing it’s definitely traveling. I try to go on at least 2-4 trips a year and I haven’t missed a tropical Spring Break trip since 2006. Freelancing allows me the flexibility to travel often and during peak times because I don’t have to worry about screwing anybody over by leaving. The only problem is that there’s no “ideal time” to take vacation as a freelancer because the work never stops.
When you have a regular 9-5 job or work for a salary, your vacation is simple. You fill out a vacation request form, buy your travel tickets, you take off, and you don’t worry about anything at all.
As a freelancer this process is totally different. There are no vacation forms. There’s no seniority list. There’s no priority list for vacation times. You might not even make any money while on vacation. This makes taking a vacation a totally different ball game.
How do you take a vacation as a freelancer?
Notify your clients of potential vacation times in advance.
You’re not asking for permission nor are you stating your travel plans as fact. This is what’s tricky about taking a vacation as a freelancer.
I recommend that you email your clients well in advance to inform them of possible dates you have mapped out for a trip. Ask them about important happenings and any relevant concerns.
If there’s nothing Earth-shattering occurring during the times you plan on travelling, then there shouldn’t be any issues with taking a vacation. 99% of clients out there will understand that you deserve a vacation. The clients that don’t want you to take a little bit of time off, don’t respect you all that much if you asked me.
Bring your laptop with you (if you have to).
This might sound super strange, but I bring my laptop on every vacation. My reasoning for this is that I don’t want to get crushed with work upon my return.
I got burned pretty bad a few years ago. When I went to Cuba in 2011 for Spring Break, I didn’t bring my laptop nor did I even access the online world. My logic was simple: the Internet is years behind in Cuba and damn expensive to access ($10 for 10 minutes). So I didn’t go on all week.
When I returned home I was hounded with emails and was behind on all of my freelancing work. It wasn’t such a big deal because I just had to catch up. I just didn’t think the stress was worth it at all.
I do realize that this advice doesn’t apply for everyone because a Personal Trainer or a Guitar Instructor both don’t require a laptop to get work done (compared to a freelance writer). However, you can bring a tablet or device to stay in touch through email. Your clients trust you and rely you. It’s not the end of the world if you spend 10-minutes on email every evening before dinner.
It’s important to reschedule. I remember when my mom was working with a trainer last year she was pretty disappointed one evening when the trainer no-showed. Not being able to make an appointment isn’t the end of the world. You just have to notify your clients ahead of time the same way you would like to be notified.
Have someone cover you.
Can someone cover you when you go away? I VERY loosely want to suggest this idea because I don’t want to see you LOSE clients to someone. If you can get someone to cover you for a week or two, it would be very helpful.
Recharge your batteries.
I don’t mean to scare you, but you better be ready to work when you return. This means that you should do your best to relax or let loose, to help recharge your batteries. Different folks for different strokes. I prefer to enjoy some drinks in the evening time and then wake up to soak in the sun while on a trip. You can catch up on your favorite book or just turn your mind off for a few days. All that matters is that you come back refreshed.
Life as a freelancer can be pretty exciting. You just have to try your best to remember to enjoy yourself once in a while on an adventurous trip or a relaxing resort-based trip.