What Freelancers Really Do About Vacation

Laura Spencer

Well-known member
Whether you’re new to freelancing or have been freelancing for a while, you may struggle with what to do about vacation.

In a traditional job, an employee typically receives paid vacation. For a freelancer, however, vacation is different.

Vacation is an unpaid time and a freelancer must plan ahead and save before they are able to take one. Many freelancers are afraid to take a vacation because they fear that they will lose clients. Other freelancers don’t take a vacation because they can’t afford to lose income.

Did you ever wonder what most freelancers really do about vacation? With planning, it is possible for a freelancer to enjoy a vacation.

In this post, I’ll share how some actual freelancers handle vacation. I’ll also describe three types of vacations that freelancers can plan for and how to handle each of them.

How Actual Freelancers Handle Vacation​

Have you ever wondered how your fellow freelancers handle their vacations?

Well, I turned to the Twitter freelancing community to find out. Here is what some of my Twitter followers shared about their own vacation plans when I asked whether they took vacations:
  • @NataliaSylv What would be the fun in working for yourself if you can’t take some time off every once in a while?
  • @deirdrereid I did last week. I had an at-home retreat, wrote about it here.
  • @iampsjones In the past, I spent my vacation days writing bc I didn’t have the opportunity during the day. Now, it is a mystery. “I’m so happy with my everyday activities I can’t figure out what to do on vacation.”
  • @helenbnichols Absolutely! Actually, more often now than before I was freelance.
  • @UrbanMuseWriter Yes, I take vacations, though not as often (or for as long) as I’d like. I think it’s necessary to avoid burnout.
  • @ldtranslations Yes, I do! More than once a year, but sometimes I do take my laptop with me and work a bit. ;-)
  • @tiffsilverberg Yes. When family vacations, I vacation… But I take “fun” work with me. Books I’m reading, stories I’m writing. Not my 9-5 tho.
Based on the replies that I received as well as my own experience, the three types of vacations that freelancers seem to take are: the staycation, the working vacation, and the complete break.

I’ll discuss each of these options in more detail, starting with the staycation.

The Staycation​

“Staycations” recently became popular because of the poor economy. The increased cost of living combined with high unemployment and underemployment means that many people can no longer afford to go on a trip for their vacation.

The “staycation” alternative allows you to avoid the high hotel costs of a typical vacation trip because a staycationer participates in vacation-like activities within driving distance of their own home.

A staycationeer might act as a tourist in their own town by visiting local tourist attractions such as museums and zoos, or they might plan a relaxing retreat (such as a movie marathon) without leaving the comfort of their own house. One of our earlier posts on Freelance Folder has even more staycation ideas.

A staycation can be a great vacation alternative for a budget-strapped freelancer.

Now that we’ve discussed staycations, let’s take a look at the working vacation.

The Working Vacation​

Another popular vacation choice, especially among freelancers, is the working vacation.

For a working vacation a freelancer scales back his or her work projects, but brings the most important work along with them on the vacation. Thanks to technology and increased connectivity, it is possible for a freelancer to work from many different locations.

A working vacation might seem like the ideal vacation solution for many freelancers–you can go on vacation and continue to earn money.

A working vacation comes with its own perils, however. Key among those perils is the hard feelings or misunderstandings that may occur when other family members on the vacation don’t understand that you need to spend time doing work instead of relaxing with the family.

The final type of vacation that we are going to look at is the complete break from work of any type.

The Complete Break​

For many freelancers, a complete break from work seems almost unthinkable. Yet, a complete break is likely to leave you the most refreshed.

For a freelancer, taking a complete break from freelancing requires a great deal of coordination and advance planning.

Ideally, you would save money for both the trip and to replace the income you won’t be earning while you are on vacation. In addition, you need to make plans for how your client’s needs will be met while you are gone. This may involve farming work out to another freelancer, or just notifying your clients that you will be unavailable during a certain timeframe.

With careful planning and coordination, most freelancers will find that it is entirely possible to take a complete break from work at least once a year. For more detailed tips on how to break away from your freelancing business, check this post.

Your Turn​

Are you planning a vacation this year? If so, what type of vacation will you take?

Share your answers and vacation tips in the comments.