So You Think You Can’t Afford a Vacation?

Affordable Vacation for FreelancersFreelancers need vacations, there’s no doubt about it. Someone’s got to keep the freelancing edge sharp, right? Vacations are essential if you want to avoid burnout, keep feeding your creativity, and stay connected with your loved ones.

But freelancers often hesitate to go on vacation for various reasons. Freelancers usually have tight budgets and, let’s face it, vacations cost money. There’s airfare or other transportation, hotel, food and shopping costs to think of.

Besides, freelancers don’t have paid vacation days. No work, no pay. So vacations end up costing us a lot more money than the cost of the vacation itself.

If we skip work for two weeks, that’s two weeks of income we have to forego. Or we need to make up for it somehow, by doing two weeks worth of work in one week. Either way, we pay in the form of time, energy or money.

But because taking a much-needed break is not only healthy, but vital for freelancers, I’ve compiled some types of vacations freelancers can afford.

5 Affordable Vacation Ideas for Freelancers

Here are five inexpensive vacation ideas that you can still squeeze into your summer:

  1. Staycation. This is the most affordable kind of vacation because you don’t pay for travel and lodging. You stay in your very own home, but go on “vacation mode.” Stop cooking your meals. Most of all, stop working (Note: This may also be the most challenging type of vacation for freelancers, because the temptation to check your email and respond to client phone calls may be too much to bear). Instead, explore your city or town. Go to the usual tourist spots. Pretend you are a tourist and discover what’s remarkable right outside your doorstep. Invite friends over for a dinner party or movie marathon. Splurge on house cleaning service to take care of the mess the next day. Hang a hammock in your backyard and spend entire days reading books and sipping iced tea. Or simply use your time off to immerse yourself completely in a hobby or volunteer work. The point is to not have the usual responsibilities and simply have fun for a few days… without leaving home.
  2. Friend-cation. Do you have friends and family in far-away places whom you’ve always wanted to visit? Now’s the time to do it! By staying with friends or family, you save on accommodation costs. You’ll only have to cover your transportation. Your hosts may even offer to show you around and feed you home-cooked meals. This is the perfect way to catch up with family and old friends, and create new memories. Don’t abuse their hospitality, however. Treat your hosts to a nice dinner, and/or cook and clean for them while you’re there. Be sure to return the favor and offer to host them in your own home, if you can.
  3. Group Holiday. Vacations can be cheaper if you split the cost with other people. Gather a group of friends and plan a group get-away. If you travel by car, you can chip in for gasoline and save tons on travel costs. Find a lake house to rent for a week or so. Buy groceries and spread the cooking tasks amongst yourselves. Your individual cost for this vacation is sure to be very low.
  4. DIY Cheap Vacation. If you’re patient and persistent enough to do your own research, you can put together your very own budget vacation. Use the Internet to find the best deals on airfare and hotels to the most affordable destinations (for example, depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll usually get the most bang for your buck in Asia and the Caribbean). Backpack your way through Thailand, for example. This vacation is sure to be within the most budget-strapped freelancer’s reach, and lots of fun too. It’s best for the adventurous type.
  5. Go Back to Nature. If you’re the outdoorsy type, a frugal vacation you can take is to go camping. Pack your camping gear (borrow them if you don’t want to spend the $$$ to buy your own) into your car and drive to a camp site. It usually takes just a few dollars to have access to washrooms and electricity. Or go completely back to nature and channel your inner survivor.

What’s Your Next Vacation?

Whichever type of vacation you decide to take, remember to not make it a working vacation. The more you forget about work for a while, the more refreshed and recharged you will be when you get back.

What type of vacation did this post inspire you to plan?

Whatever it is, hurry, Fall is fast a-comin! Before it gets too cold, go ahead and have at least one vacation.

Tell us about your vacation plans below.

Image by bhanu.t


  1. says

    What do you know about my business that I don’t know? What do you do about your investments? Doesn’t the stock market mean anything to you?

    BebopDesigner (if you can) comment was right on!

  2. says

    Great post Lexi! I agree, time is of the essence for freelancers. I tried stay-cation before, but since I work from home, its not like a change of environment for me which I needed. While leaving unplugged for days makes me go crazy and all paranoid. So, from then on, I plan my vacations carefully and still try to allot 1 or 2 hours checking my emails during vacation. That’s the only way I can enjoy most without worrying about anything.

  3. says

    Staycation? :) I find that almost impossible. Visiting my office at home gives me the temptation to finish the job and start checking emails.
    You can take only 3 or 4 days to go camping, that’s a good suggestion.

  4. says

    Who are you kidding, Lexi, the truth is, freelancers can never really go on vacation. Only employees who know that the work will still be waiting for them when they come back from vacation can go on a real vacation, a time when they can forget all about their work and concentrate on enjoying life for a change …. and these employees probably live in only a few countries like France now. Definitely not in the US of A. Americans work 20% more than the Japanese now and for less money than they were paid 30 years ago. Check the statistics.

    They have plenty of “stay-cations”, but not really by choice. Stay-cations happen quite often every year when the flow of work suddenly stops for no identifiable reason. Freelancers keep checking e-mail like crazy and wait for the phone to ring.
    But the damn thing is silent and although there is plenty of e-mail, it’s all spam.

    Even when they do go on vacation, they keep checking e-mail every day, usually more than once a day.

    And after the forced stay-cation has reduced our receivable to next to nothing, the floodgates of HELL open again and an obscene amount of workload which has to finished in an incredibly short period of time hits us with vengeance. And we have no choice again because we really need the money at that point.

    There is no such thing as a vacation when you are a freelance slave.

  5. says

    I recently went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and I also did a bunch of sightseeing around the city. Theaters, restaurants, museums, etc. I was in town for my annual checkup with my cardiologist, though. And I got a major discount at the hospital’s adjacent hotel on account of being a continuing patient. It’s a great way to turn an obligatory trip into a makeshift, affordable vacation every summer.

  6. says

    Best way to unplug is to go on a cruise. Cell phone usage is $4 per minute! And you have to pay extra for Web access. It’s enough to make you put down your electronic devices and pick up the mai tais!

    I’d love to try another cruise or take a trip to the Bahamas. If the end of the year turns out OK, maybe my son and I can go next winter. Let’s hope so!

  7. says

    I think that the quickest vacation for me is to go on a bath-cation, as in pampering myself in a hot tub, with all those fragrant oils, flowers, incense – as I relax to the soothing sounds of my favorite chillout music. At the end of a work day, it’s really a nice way to reward your tired mind and body.

  8. says

    DIY holidays are great, especially if you want to feel in control. You can go from the cheapest holiday to the most exquisite one, caring to all details you want to.

  9. says

    I didn’t go away at all last year – apart from a few days in the New Forest (here in the UK). But it’s important to rest and recharge so this year I went for a week to Devon. And I’m going to the south of France next month for a week. I tell all my clients I’m away; I say the same on my voicemail and the same on my email autoresponder. And I check stuff when I get back.

    The problem with holidays is getting all the work finished before you go. Stressful. I never go away in Aug because I’m always BUSY BUSY. Working weekends when the weather’s nice – because clients have September launches.

  10. says

    @Steve Vitek – Stop being a freelance slave!

    @TheAL – Well that’s one way to go on vacation. Sounds like a lot of fun :)

    @TLC – I have romantic ideas about cruises but the truth is, I get sea sick :-(

    @Issa @ Ajeva – Excellent idea! I took plenty of bathcations when I had a small baby to take care of (they grow up too fast).

    @Carole Seawert – Yeah it’s stressful to get all that work done before a vacation. But then it’s all worth it, because you can totally relax. The South of France sounds wonderful. Enjoy!

  11. says

    @Steve: Our freelancer goes on vacations several times a year. If you have clients that don’t accept that you’re human, get new clients.

    I’d also toss cruises into the ring. Now that you can bring on your own booze, even drinking can be done on the cheap.

  12. says


    So you too have a freelancer? Good for you.
    My freelancers often go on vacation when I need them, but this freelancer is unable to go on vacation this year.

    The problem with the freelance folder is that it is so disgustingly cheerful all the time.
    That’s why I am trying to introduce a healthy does of eccentric negativism.

  13. says

    The first holiday is the hardest. After that you learn when to go, where to go with
    good wifi coverage, or whether to arrange someone to cover, or whether it’s ok to
    take a complete break.
    I like to go to Asia because it’s so cheap there. It’s actually cheaper to live there in a
    hotel than it is back at home. So if I stay for long enough and rent out my apartment
    in the UK I actually save money by being on holiday!
    I’ve found the best time to go on vacation for a
    is between December and February. Things naturally slow down a bit then.


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