With at-home offices and remote positions the norm, it’s no surprise that “work-life” lines are more blurred than they’ve ever been before. The fizzy newness of “work from home” (WFH) has duly worn off, and things like answering emails from the couch, folding laundry while listening to conference calls or snuggling with our fur babes while on deadline is part of our day-to-day routine. However, some people are changing “work from home” to “work from anywhere,” a practice that has been dubbed bleisure travel.
Bleisure travel is a portmanteau for the words “business” and “leisure.” In short, it’s the concept of traveling somewhere near or far — either for days, weeks, or even months at a time — while keeping your current job and working per usual. Ahead, we explore the benefits of bleisure travel, plus offer pro tips to make it work for your professional lifestyle.
The Benefits of Bleisure Travel
Not only is bleisure travel an opportunity to explore somewhere new, but it can be a boon to your mental well-being. “In general, leisure activities are associated with lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression and an increased sense of well-being. Combine that with travel and you have a wonderful opportunity to enhance your well-being even further,” explains psychotherapist Bianca Rodriguez, founder of You Are Complete.
She adds that travel can help stimulate all of our senses in new ways, which in turn can help pull us out of the ruts we tend to get in when we experience the same environment day in and day out. Ultimately, traveling somewhere new can boost your mood, enhance creativity, and reduce feelings of stress. Further, a study from Cornell University demonstrated that simply planning a trip can lead to a direct increase in happiness.
“For me, sitting on a balcony with a cup of coffee and a beautiful view is when I am not only the most productive, but also get the most joy from my work,” says Colleen Kavanagh, a digital health entrepreneur and the CEO of SoulBeing. “For those of us in colder winter climates, a getaway of warmer weather and sunshine can have a substantial impact on our vitamin D, dopamine, and serotonin levels that lasts for weeks after our return.” This, of course, is a benefit to both you and your employer.
As someone who’s worked remotely for over a decade now, I can also speak from experience here. The first few times I traveled to a new locale and opened up my computer to work, it admittedly felt a bit forbidden. On one hand it felt like I was breaking a rule by being somewhere gorgeous instead of in my home office. On the other, I felt a weird sense of guilt for continuing “the grind” while on vacation.
The key to getting over those feelings is to create an entirely new mental space — one where business and leisure are equally combined. Once you get a firm grasp on that, bleisure travel can be really exciting. For example, on my most recent trip to Croatia — a two-week solo road trip where I still took my conference calls and met all my deadlines — I actually looked forward to cracking open the computer. It made work more exciting, and to be honest, it revived my creativity and helped nix feelings of burnout.
Tips to Make Bleisure Travel Work for You
Want to give bleisure travel a spin? Keep the following in mind as you plan your new destination.
Maintain Your Current Commitments
Remember that bleisure is the combination of business and leisure; it provides an opportunity to explore a new location without taking time off work. That said, follow through with work-related commitments, including meetings, deadlines, and timely correspondence.
Meet Some Deadlines in Advance
Try to meet some deadlines in advance or give yourself a head-start on work tasks you know might be the most time-consuming. This will afford you more flexibility on your workcation.
Be Mindful of Indulgences
“One pitfall that I have struggled with is using a new location as an excuse to indulge beyond what I know is ideal for myself,” says Kavanagh. “I love great restaurants and good wine, but recognize that if I am using a trip as an excuse to eat and drink whatever I want night after night, my sleep is often impacted and I end up feeling more exhausted.” At the end of the day, don’t forget that you have to wake up and get back to work in the morning.
Maintain Work Boundaries
Work boundaries are a must whether you’re at home on your couch, lapping up sunshine a tropical island, or cozying up in a winter cabin. By creating clear lines between the workday and your free time, you’ll be able to enjoy your workcation much more. “Set specific times for work versus leisure so that there’s a delineation between both activities,” says Rodriguez. “Having a simple ritual to mark the transition from working to not such as closing your laptop and putting it away can help you make the psychological shift.” Also, avoid checking emails and turn off your Slack notifications once you’ve signed out for the day.
Make the Most of Your Time
In addition to creating a clear line between work and play, maximize your free time. Of course, this means something different for everyone. For some, it might mean exploring the destination or spending time in nature. Others might prefer a comfy night in making dinner or reading a good book while the sun sets out your window.
As a busy mom, Kavanagh says that work-related travel can often feel more like a vacation than her family trips. So, she’ll use her free time to do things she can’t always prioritize. “For me, this includes luxury yoga or workout classes versus the at-home workouts I usually do in my basement or living room, a deep tissue massage, a hike or walk around somewhere new,” she says. “And most importantly: room service!”
Pencil in Some Legit Time Off
If you have some vacation days to spare, pencil in some authentic time off while you’re away. For example, maybe you take Thursday and/or Friday off to create a longer weekend. At the very least, try to schedule your workcation around a weekend so you still get some ample time to make the most of your getaway.
Be Transparent with Your Employer
Many employers have adapted to this new world where employees “work from wherever.” However, some are still getting used to the idea and others haven’t pivoted much at all. Whatever the case may be for you, try to aim for transparency with your employer. Assure them that you’ll still meet deadlines, attend scheduled meetings, and will be available as usual. When the workcation goes off without a hitch, they’ll be able to relax more the next time you (or another employee) leans into bleisure travel, too.
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