Planning a “Workation” on a Budget

I curled up in an overstuffed armchair with a mug of my mostly-milk Mexican chocolate brew, editing an Appalachian-themed historical novel in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Fifty pages later, I set aside my work for a jaunt to the stunningly gorgeous Lily Lake outside of Estes, Colorado, to stretch my legs, enjoy the views, and gain new inspiration.

Lily Lake sceneryI and my best friend and business partner, Amy Williams, faced an overwhelming pile of edits and manuscript reviews.

The travel bug was also biting hard, so we decided it was time for a “workation.” 

Few of us creative business folks can afford the time or money to actually take a week-long vacation to the Rockies. There’s simply too much to do! But with a little creative finagling you can balance your projects and budget with your need for some R&R and make your “workation” a reality.

Share costsAmy and I split almost everything during our week-long vacation. Splitting gas, meals, and other costs dramatically reduced the individual cost and allowed us to eat out at some really delicious restaurants without breaking the bank.

Phone a friend: A mutual friend owns and rents out a vacation cottage right smack dab in the middle of Estes Park, Colorado. They graciously let us come stay in their cottage and only charged us the cleaning fee. Ask around! A friend or family member might give you a discount on their cabin or lake home.

Amy and Katie in front of Clark cabin

Cook your own meals: To avoid eating out every meal at pricey restaurants, we brought dry goods with us and purchased refrigerated food at a local grocery store. Instead of paying for a hotel room, rent a small place with a kitchenette (Air BnB is a great place to look!) and cook for yourself.

Alpine RockiesPlan ahead: Often restaurants or attractions have lower-cost lunch menus or discounts for off-peak hours. Going on the edge of the peak season (we went to Estes right after most folks were back in school) means smaller crowds and reduced costs with all the benefits of great weather. Bear in mind that in some climates (such as the Rockies) it rains nearly every afternoon. We went for a hike almost every morning, returning refreshed for a few hours of work in the rainier afternoons.

Balance your time: If you’re a workaholic perfectionist like me, it can be hard to set aside a project and make time to go outside and play. Conversely, if you’re in “vacation mode” you may not feel like doing anything! Strike a healthy balance by making realistic work goals and setting a time limit. For example, I needed to edit 50 pages (or work 3-4 hours) a day to meet my edit deadline goals, but then I made myself stop and go play. Ironically, these “play times” were so refreshing and inspiring that I was dramatically more productive during my work hours. Quality – not quantity – of time is money!

I highly recommend quarterly “workations” for every creative businessperson. Maybe you have a massive writing or editing project to finish. Maybe you’re just burnt out and overwhelmed and need a change of scenery. A workation could be just what you need to finish that project and still come away refreshed, inspired, and once again loving your craft!

Have you ever gone on a “workation” before? Where would you go? 

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