Is it a “Workation” or “Workcation”? Honestly, spelling doesn’t matter… How you prepare for and enjoy yourself on your trip matters! New Age Travel and Services has long since believed digital nomadism and the desire for workations would become a trend. It delights us to see renewed interest in the topic. In fact, we design all our camper van rentals to support these types of holidays. The two of us have also enjoyed our fair share of workations. Just recently, Joey and I drove The Family Truck Camper over 6,000 km from Calgary to Los Angeles and back. We worked the majority of the trip. Our workspace was either on the RV’s kitchen table or in the Camper Truck’s passenger seat. This Ultimate Workation Guide is the culmination of our experiences and learnings; a set of considerations we developed over time. Do enjoy, or find inspiration for your next workation.
But First… What Is A Workation?
Workations (or workcations) are the term for working and also traveling for personal pleasure. The technical workation definition is: “A vacation that combines business and leisure”. I consider them a tool for attaining that elusive work/life balance.
I’d also define them as the exact opposite of “staycation” – where you stop working and stay home. Staycations are amazing for catching up on chores and “adulting”. But, a workation satisfies the same need for balance. Just, differently.
In my experience, people desire a change of scenery more than a break from work. I love my job but I love exploring, too. Hence, the beauty of traveling and working simultaneously.
The Best Workation Destinations
The best places for workation are the ones that fit with your company’s policies. Before deciding to go anywhere, be sure you understand what the expectations are from both sides. Workation policies prove helpful in the planning phase.
If availability during working hours or in meetings is necessary, pick a workation destination accordingly. The timing might not be ideal. For example, your meetings may end up at midnight; doable, so long as you recognize what struggles you will face.
I like to choose our workation destinations based on time zones relative to home. If you’ve ever heard of the concepts “social jet lag” or “circadian rhythms” you’ll know what I mean. They both address how our bodies favour routine. Waking up or going to bed at different times is tough on the body's natural rhythm.
Keep in mind, too, past performance is a key negotiation metric when discussing your next opportunity. The coolest vacations may be on the other side of the globe. Those are, unfortunately, the hardest to support a workation type holiday.
Resolve The “What If” Scenarios
What could go wrong while you’re traveling? Answer: a myriad of things. I mean, that’s how travel insurance is such a bustling industry. Solution: create a “what if” scenario list.
Our road trip list of potential problems included things like:
Battery reserve for our computers and electronics
Where to sleep if the campgrounds were full
Roadside assistance if a vehicle broke down
Computer problems or other technical issues
Sources of Internet access (we wanted several)
Brainstorm the proper course of action per potential problem. In a perfect world nothing on your list comes to fruition. But, humans are likely to make poor choices in the heat of the moment. It’s better to decide the correct course of action in advance. There's a higher probability of making the best choices that way.
The primary ingredient for a stress free workation, though, is quality internet and cell reception.
After all, remote work (or the possibility of workation) is thanks to the good old world wide web. Research this and what data plans you'll need to buy before leaving.
We predominantly hot spotted our cell phone's international data plans. We also carried with us a Wi-Fi Hotspot and our last-case resorts were to go to libraries or find McDonalds, Starbucks or Walmart free wi-fi.
Ask yourself: what could go wrong? What will I do in the event it does happen? And have your solutions handy while on the road.
Take Some Days Off
Why go on a vacation unless there’s a little fun involved? I hear ya! Though, I am equally familiar with the draw to hold onto as many vacation days as possible. Don’t be so silly to work the entire trip.
Plan your days off as desired (or needed).
One of our road trip objectives was driving the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Yes, it’s as splendid as everybody says. No, most of the drive does not have cell reception.
For that reason, our drive to Big Sur was (happily) a forced holiday. It shows how you need to make plans for fun and take the holidays off to enjoy your vacation.
Our Workation Experience
We live in the beautiful city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It's close to Banff National Park and a few hours south of Jasper National Park–two amazing destinations if you ever find yourselves in the area.
International borders were opening up early 2022 and we wanted to take advantage. Canada has the reputation of cold winters… and that’s not entirely false. Winter in California was far more appealing and we hadn’t traveled in ages.
We went through the steps I outlined earlier.
Workation Policy - work approved “workationing” (Is that a word? It is now!)
Schedule - California was only -1 GMT hour difference. I would easily wake up an hour early for an extra hour of evening exploration.
Our “What If” scenario list - I would bring a second laptop in case my work computer broke.
Made time fun - we excitedly researched attractions, apps and ways to save money traveling (for more on this, read our Best Traveling Apps blog)
The road trip was one month long and 6,000 km (~3,700 miles). Here is a quick summary of the epic route:
Great Falls, MT
Drive like heck to Zion National Park and hike Angel’s Landing
Party in Vegas!
Los Angeles (Visit Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica and Muscle Beach)
Scuba Dive in The Channel Islands National Park with (literally) hundreds of Sea Lions
Drive the Pacific Coast Highway and check out Big Sur
Surfing in Santa Cruz
San Francisco (for so many things including the Golden Gate Bridge & Alcatraz)
Head north to Oregon
Springfield (The Simpsons City!)
Seattle (Coffee at Pike Place – the First Starbucks!)
Cross the border and visit Vancouver
Head west to Kelowna (for a wine tasting tour)
Revelstoke and Rogers Pass (World class skiing and touring)
Back home in Calgary
The Pace of the Trip
17 destinations in under a month sounds fast. Truthfully it was the perfect blend of busy and relaxed. The two of us fell into a rhythm. You get used to a certain pace of trip and entering a new town every couple days.
While on the road, we would research our upcoming city. As we were living the van life experience, our primary concern was parking our camper. Often, we slept in industrial areas to not bother residents. But, we wouldn't want to spend all day there. Plus, each town had different restaurants to try, museums to see or venues to eat.
For that reason, and in true workation style (balancing work and travel), we always picked two spots: one to sleep and another to work. We explored during lunch and evenings.
Dealing with FOMO
Exploring along the way meant new attractions daily. You would be correct in guessing I experienced FOMO--more than once I might add. I guarantee it will happen to you. Ultimately, working while traveling means spending hours on your computer over and above what you would if solely traveling.
My response to this: exercise the attitude of gratitude. It helped to remind myself that work was the reason this trip was possible. Further, not everybody gets to take as many days as I was to roam.
Having plans to look forward to also helped. We arranged memorable events on weekends. We’d also reassess fun activities weekly and adjust based on the weather.
That covers everything you need to consider. We hope you found it useful and wish you well on your next voyage.
New Age Travel and Services offers camper van rentals equipped for the digital nomad. Not to mention, camper van rentals from Calgary are closed to top 10 workation destinations in Canada.
If you are looking to experience the #vanlife or interested in an RV rental please do not hesitate to contact us.
Work life balance is just a click away.