How Freelancers Can Avoid Post-Travel Stress
“I enjoyed my trip. But I’m not looking forward to what’s waiting for me when I get back to work.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that statement.
One occasion that’s fresh in mind is my trip back from Bermuda. When I heard it, I was feeling great—refreshed and ready to get back on the grind.
But, then, I started thinking about how many freelancers are freelancers primarily so they have the freedom to travel. Do they enjoy that freedom only to return to home to stress? I’ll bet many do because it has happened to me.
Nowadays, though, I do everything I can to avoid post-vacation stress. And I’m going to share how.
Resist the urge to pre-vacay
Pre-vacationing is when your focus embarks on the trip before your body.
A couple days ahead, instead of working, you’re shopping for bathing suits and travel gear, reading about your destination, researching attractions, making your itinerary, etc. Meanwhile, you’re pushing off your work until you get back.
I fully understand the mentality of delaying what can be delayed. I’m the do-it-at-the-last-minute queen. But I’m slowly removing my crown because life has taught me some hard-knock lessons. And one that has stuck with me is, don’t return from vacation to a pile of neglected work.
You may have to get boss-mode with yourself, and tell yourself, Look, you’re not on vacation until the first day of vacation.
Make a plan before you go
Have you ever returned from a trip, sat down at your desk and wasted a bunch of time figuring out where to begin? I have. Many, many times.
Make a plan for your first day back before you leave, and this won’t happen. Even if you don’t normally schedule your days, when you’re planning to travel, I highly recommend that you pre-game. It’ll save you time and make it easier to get the ball back in motion.
Notify your regular clients that you’ll be away. Just send a quick email stating your dates of travel. It doesn’t have to specify whether your trip is business or pleasure, but it should clearly state whether or not you will be accessing your emails during.Use the auto-responder feature in your email to notify anyone else who tries to reach you.
These simple steps can keep your inbox from getting bogged down by people who would otherwise email you repeatedly. You’ll also avoid returning to a situation where you have to put out fires and repair relationships because people feel jilted by your silence.
Avoid quick-action promises involving new territory
Don’t accept work that requires you to learn new things on-the-fly. If the project involves new systems, processes, software, markets, etc, and it needs to be done a day or two after your return, renegotiate the deadline or turn down the job.
A lot of freelancers have difficulty saying “No” or saying “I can do it this way, but not that way.” It’s time to learn.
Returning from a vacation to jump into time-sensitive work that you’re unfamiliar with means you wasted your money. The rest and relaxation you got will immediately give way to stress. And if you don’t catch on as quickly as you expect, it can damage or destroy your relationship with the client.
Avoid pressing deadlines
Even if the work is not new to you, do not put yourself in situations where you have deadlines on the day of your return or the following day. It’s very risky and I’ve seen it turn out bad many times.
On my return trip from Bermuda, I had a delayed flight that caused me to miss another flight. Once my schedule starting crumbling, it went down fast. I basically returned home a day later than expected. Fortunately, I learned a long time ago not to screw myself or my clients by having same-day or next-day deadlines.
Plus, as I said, it’s often stressful to come back to pressing deadlines, and that’s wasteful.
Don’t go feast to famine
Travel in a way that makes sense, financially speaking. Don’t fund your trips with your rent money. And don’t splurge your way into debt while you’re. You may be all about living for the moment, and think, whatever, I’ll just hustle hard when I get back.
That’s not a smart strategy. For starters, throughout your trip, money matters are likely to keep popping up. So, you’re not fully enjoying your experience.
Then, there’s the risk that a source of income or work you expect to get won’t be available. More freelancers than you can probably imagine have gotten end-of-the-day Friday notices saying, effective Monday, their services were no longer needed. Imagine if you don’t get that message for a week or two when you’re returning from a vacation broke.
Furthermore, even if the work is available, it’s senseless to go from rest and relaxation to working like a dog. Just save, set a budget and spend accordingly.
Did You Know: Invoices Are Not Money
Be careful about accepting on-the-go
A lot of us don’t really unplug when we claim we’re unplugged. We still check our messages on vacation. And when we do, and there’s an opportunity to make money, it’s often irresistible.
If you accept work while you’re traveling, be sure to add it to your schedule, send yourself an email or generate some kind of reminder right then. While your living it up on an island or in-transit definitely isn’t the time to rely on memory, especially if your travel involves alcohol.
It is so easy to forget. And if you do, you’ll miss the money anyway. But worse, you’ll either need to explain yourself to the client, or you could lose them forever.
Following these tips will help you reduce stress and retain the refreshed energy from your travels. If there are other tips you’d like to add, feel free to comment below.