Freelancer vacation time

Vacation Time As A Freelancer

*** Due to world events, I temporarily lost steam in writing this, so yeah…big delay in publishing. #StandWithUkraine ***

I’m starting this post on a cruise ship as it’s pulling up to a pier in Cozumel. It’s my first vacation in over 2 years, and that seems like the case for a lot of people on board. Anyway, travel has been my favorite thing to spend my hard-earned money on since my age ended in “teen”. So even though this trip is not at all exotic by my standards (not my first cruise, not my first time to Cozumel), it’s a HUGE reminder of how much I still enjoy travel. It has been my “why” since 6th grade, and I’ve got some catching up to do!

Footloose and Fancy FREElancing

While travel might not hold the same lure for you, it’s important not to lose sight of one of the top reasons you chose become a freelancer in the first place: control of your time…and time off. No matter how much you love what you do, you really are better at it after time away from the laptop. I used to know this…kinda forgot after spending 2 years with my wings clipped by the pandemic. In fact, one of the nice things to arise from the global shift to working from home is that we all need to make an effort to separate work time from downtime, but for now I’m just going to address our challenges around taking a week, a weekend or a month off from our solopreneur ventures.

We Freelancers Need To Be Intentional About Vacation Time

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this, just one really important thing to incorporate: BE INTENTIONAL. Give some thought before you book anything at all about how you want to handle your business during your time off. I did not do this before my cruise – I thought I did, but I didn’t. See, I love all the things I do, so it doesn’t feel like work — which, I’ve discovered, is not a good reason to keep doing it on vacation. Here are a few things to think about that really bubbled to the surface in the past few days for me…

  • If you are bringing more than your phone and maybe a reading device with you…why?
  • What pieces of your day-to-day work could you set up an automation for?
  • Do you need to “train” your customers regarding expectations from you and your time/schedule?
  • If you didn’t work on your vacation, would you still be able to afford it?
  • Are you using work as an excuse to avoid something? (I know, that’s kind of deep)
  • Have you developed something akin to an addiction to checking assorted sites, email, apps, social media?
  • Is there something you want to do related to your business that just doesn’t fit in your everyday work routine?

Vacations Are Extra Expensive For Freelancers

We know I’m all about the money side of things, so of course we’re going to hit the numbers. First and most obviously, there’s the cost of the actual vacation, which everyone has whether they’re employed or self-employed. That part is pretty straightforward and easy enough to plan and save for. However, we don’t get paid time off built into our annual salaries the way a W2 employee does. All the finance gurus out there will shout about the need for “passive income streams” to mitigate this, like it’s so obvious and simple [Spoiler alert: it’s not]. But for those of us who don’t want to spend years building up a portfolio of streams before taking some time off, I have good news – the math is easy! Whether you pay yourself monthly or weekly, you need your earn rate to be in 11ths (monthly) or 48ths (weekly), but your pay rate to be 12ths or 52nds respectively. When you figure out how much you need to make per year, bear in mind that you’re actively earning for 48-50 weeks and not 52. So if you pay yourself monthly, figure out how much you need to make by dividing by 11, but actually pay yourself dividing by 12. Do you pay yourself weekly? Divide that annual number by 48 earning weeks, but pay based on 52. 

Then there’s the weird one that is difficult to quantify but it’s a real thing, and this is where we freelancers really get hung up. It’s the potential for OPPORTUNITY COST. As in, if you’re not there to have that call or deliver that service, that income doesn’t happen and you might even lose an existing client. That part used to drive me nuts! And it’s probably why you want to bring your laptop and other bits and pieces, telling yourself there will be times on your vacation with ‘nothing to do’ (that’s what makes it a vacation!!) and you’ll just check in on things for a few minutes…

Vacations Aren’t Free – Don’t Waste That Money!

You might need to do like I just did and make a mistake to figure this one out. I spent $130 on wifi with the intention of working a couple of hours here and there, keeping on top of email and webinars and all that stuff. Guess what? Didn’t happen – at least, not $130 worth. And you know what? I’m okay with that. After a couple of years without a break, I had forgotten how important it was to disconnect and kick back. I have another cruise booked in June – northern Europe out of London with my mother. We have sort of decided to get the (much cheaper on Carnival) wifi package in order to keep in touch with family, and I plan to limit myself to spending time in my online comfort zone only on full days at sea. Kind of hoping to kick up my writing mojo!

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