What once was an oxymoron (work + vacation), has now become a real thing. Workcations allow you to visit somewhere exotic without having to use up any precious PTO. To make your workcation everything it should be, make sure to check off these essentials before leaving.
Essentials for Workcations
Get reliable internet connection
Let’s be honest, the only reason workcations can exist is because of the internet. If you can’t get an internet connection, well, you already know some of the problems you’ll run into. To avoid this dreadful fate, make sure to book a place to stay that offers a decent internet connection.
If you’re going the Airbnb route, hosts should post internet speeds. Airbnb just gave hosts an internet speed test tool), but in hours of scanning listings, I only saw one listing with internet details. If you see this image on an Airbnb listing, that’s as close as you’ll get to a guarantee for fast internet speeds.
Assuming you can’t find an internet speed test on your Airbnb of choice, you can always rely on the reviews for the good dirt. Perform a search (Ctrl + F on Windows, or Cmd + F on Mac) with the keyword “Wi-Fi” or “internet” to filter down reviews that specifically mention the internet connection quality. If you see tons of comments about poor internet speeds, definitely look elsewhere for your workcation.
You can also use our internet tool to get an idea of data speeds in the area. Just enter the ZIP code for the place you’re staying below, and you’ll get a list of internet service providers in the area. If you see ISPs that offer fiber internet speeds, like Google Fiber and Xfinity, then you’ll probably get a reliable connection. On the other hand, if you see nothing but satellite internet options, that means there’s no fiber or DSL internet in the area, so chances are you’ll have slow internet speeds.
Set up mobile hotspot data
If there’s nothing you can do to speed up the internet connection at your hotel/Airbnb , your backup plan is likely sitting in your back pocket. Essentially every unlimited cell phone plan gives you mobile hotspot data, meaning you can create your own portable Wi-Fi spot wherever you get a cellular connection.
The only problem with mobile hotspots is that they usually aren’t unlimited like your normal data. In some cases, you can get unlimited hotspot data but with a hard data speed cap. For example, a prepaid carrier like Visible offers unlimited hotspot data, but your data speeds cap at 5 Mbps. That’s enough Wi-Fi data speed to browse the internet and send emails, but you’ll likely struggle streaming a Zoom meeting.
Link to article about improving internet speeds at Airbnb
Alternatively, you can get a premium cell phone plan, like Verizon’s 5G Get More plan and get a guaranteed 50 GB of high-speed hotspot data every month. With 50 GB of mobile hotspot data, you can probably do just about everything you need to do on the internet for work, but don’t overdo it.
Save your hotspot data for work essentials like Zoom and Slack, and don’t burn your data streaming YouTube videos or streaming music (although resisting that temptation isn’t easy).
Speaking of which, Verizon gives you free subscriptions to Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Apple Music, along with 600 GB of cloud storage with the 5G Get More plan. And Verizon also offers the most reliable cell coverage in the country, making it a pretty great choice for any digital nomad.
If you know the Wi-Fi stinks at your Airbnb or hotel, just go to a local coffee shop or library and use the Wi-Fi available there. A friend of mine just finished a study abroad in London and didn’t use any hotspot data at all, rather he just relied on public Wi-Fi to do homework and browse the internet on his laptop.
Let your coworkers know about your workcation
Notify your coworkers (and especially your boss) that you’ll be working somewhere different. Depending upon where you end up workcationing, your working hours could be completely different. If you use Slack as a communication platform for work, you can easily set your status to something like “working from the West coast,” or “working from England.” You can also set a date and time for the status so that it remains for the duration of your trip.
To set a status in Slack, you just need to click on your picture in the top-right corner and click the “Update your status” option. Now your coworkers will see the status icon next to your name in Slack. My coworker just got back from a workcation in Spain, and seeing that status next to her name reminded me that she wouldn’t get back to me until later in the day.
Stick to a consistent routine
Try to set a working schedule for your staycation and stick to it. First of all, this will help sell your boss on the idea of going on a workcation, and secondly it can help you keep a balance between getting work done and enjoying the vacation part.
You can set your work hours between 9–5 local time, and after that, you’re free as a bird to enjoy the area. Keeping the schedule will keep your boss and coworkers happy as they’ll know when they can expect responses from you.
Don’t forget any chargers
This one is painfully obvious, but for the love of all that is holy, do not forget your laptop and phone chargers. If you plan on workcationing in a foreign country, it could prove difficult to find the right charger for your device. You can always order a replacement online, but that will likely take at least a few days where you won’t be able to get much work done.
Get a discounted rate for a longer stay
If your workcation will go longer than a month, you can get a discount from services like Airbnb. For example, I found this awesome Airbnb in Spain that knocked almost $270 off my final bill because I booked my stay for over a month.
Besides, you should plan on taking a month-long workcation anyways. The longer you stay, the less pressure you’ll feel to go and do everything as quickly as possible. If you plan on a longer workcation, you can strike a nice balance between work and play. Saving a few hundred dollars with a discount certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Find a comfortable workstation
When looking for a place to stay, keep an eye out for the table and chair situation. You want a comfortable work environment that you can realistically work from for several hours a day. The last thing you want on a vacation is a sore neck or back from stooping over a laptop for several hours.
Remember, the work part is half the equation in a workcation, so making that part as comfortable as possible will definitely enhance the overall experience.
Essentials workcations recap
Your workcation will only be as successful as the preparation you put into it. If you checked off all the essentials, you should enjoy both the work side of the workcation, and more importantly, the vacation side. Here’s a recap of essential things to do for your upcoming workcation.
- Have reliable Wi-Fi internet connection
- Set up a mobile hotspot data
- Keep coworkers in the loop
- Stick to a routine
- Don’t forget devices or chargers
- Get a discounted price for lodging if you stay over a month
- Make sure to have a comfortable workstation