Yes, freelancers CAN go on vacation! Here’s how…

Hi, Millo readers! I’m back from a fantastic two-week cruise from Miami through the Panama Canal to San Diego. (My deepest apologies for my belated responses to your wonderful comments.)

So it IS possible, as a freelancer, to take a vacation.

Sometimes the thought of escaping reality can be scary, though. It’s easy to get so caught up in worrying that you ruin your vacation or decide never to go in the first place!

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Answering these three questions will help you take the plunge and enjoy a fabulous adventure or plain old relaxation without the uneasiness of what to expect when you return.

Can I afford a vacation?

It’s hard to justify vacation when you’re struggling to pay the bills. When that surplus does come, sometimes it’s harder to overcome that fear of another lean month on the horizon.

Take a good look at your financial forecast for the coming months, and remember, a vacation doesn’t have to be expensive (my mom and I spent a week tent camping on the Oregon coast and had a blast for less than $400). Do you have any future projects planned? Can you make a few small tweaks to your business to create some extra income? Can your passive income cover the costs of vacation? Can your savings cover your expenses if you have a dry spell when you return?

Secret to Success: Open a free bank account specifically for vacation funds and start saving! Tuck just a few dollars away each month via automatic transfers so you aren’t tempted to spend that money elsewhere. Before you know it, you’ll be packing your bags!

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What about my clients?

*Most* clients are people and, barring a time-sensitive project underway, will understand your need for a vacation. (If they don’t, maybe it’s time to fire them.)

Let your clients know well in advance about your vacation plans. This includes when you’re leaving, when you’ll be back, and how to contact you (if possible) while you’re out of town. Be open to any concerns they may have about their existing projects.

Secret to Success: I always give myself a one day buffer on either side of my vacation for preparation and re-entry into reality. So while I returned on Sunday, I told everyone except my closest friends I wouldn’t be back until Monday.

Will I have any work when I get back?

No matter whether you’re on vacation or not, this is always a concern for freelancers – where is my next paycheck coming from? On vacation, however, you’re not networking, blogging, commenting, or marketing.

Contact your repeat clients and ask to map out your projects for the coming months (if you don’t already know). It’s also a great time to check-in with some of your past clientele to see if you can book in advance another project from them, or if they can provide a referral.

Secret to Success: Prepare some of your social media ahead of time – set up tweets and pre-write blog posts prior to leaving. Set them to post while you’re out of the office so that you’re still receiving hits and reaching out while you’re gone.

Going on vacation is not only a great way to refresh our creativity and re-energize ourselves, it’s also fun, enriching, and often provides new sources of inspiration (and occasionally new clients!). So answer these three questions and start planning that getaway you deserve!

Have I missed anything? How do you plan for a vacation? Let us know in the comments on this post!

*photo credit

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  1. I take half vacations. I live in Florida, and while yea a lot of people vacation here, I vacation up north. I have a lot of family that lives up north (U.S) and so I go there, but I take half vacations. I lower my work amount before I leave, and I’ll be selective about projects. I have a friend who is also a designer, and refer the client to her, or take the client on and hire her to do the job.

    If I want a few days off, then I just let clients know, I’ll be out of town, but I will always, always be in contact, phone, email or text. That is the importance of a smart phone, lol. If by chance I will be unreachable, like on a plane ride, I notify all my clients. Usually though they know I will return all emails with in 24 hours.

    So that’s how I take vacations, I don’t get to take many though. Once a year usually.

    1. Laura,

      I usually have working vacations, which means that I plan at least some work days throughout the vacation. Generally I also update my social media and write blog posts, etc. It can be difficult to convince yourself to work when your friends/family/spouse/children want to go swimming or to the ball game, but if you set a day and tell everyone you’re busy working, it’s much easier to follow through.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. One thing I struggle with most when I go on holiday are those unpredictable, unexpected requests that come through

    For instance – I just came back from a four day weekend and had two emails sitting in my inbox: one from a current client asking for an extra deliverable on an ongoing job asap, one from the printer for a closed job asking me to resupply artwork because the client hadn’t passed on the full print specs. The last request particularly was time sensitive.

    How do others deal with the issue of addressing unexpected requests while offline?

    1. Cheli,

      I’m about to write an article addressing this – (part 2 of my vacationing as a freelancer posts) – so if you can hold out until it posts, you’ll get the information you’re needing.

      Thanks for your question, and your patience!

      1. A whole blog post? I was just hoping for a few blog comments – thanks for taking the topic that little bit further, because I’m sure this concern is what stresses a lot of us out! 😀

        1. Hi Cheli,

          Written! I truly hope it helps you and the Millo community. It should be posted in the next week or two.

  3. Bree, It is a funny problems. Most freelancers are that because of the freedom that freelancing gives them. It seems funny that we all get caught in the same trap of being irreplaceable in our business. Thanks for the great idea of having a couple day buffer in the schedule. I am committed to having a vacation and these ideas being me much closer to having it become a reality. Thanks!

    1. Sunriver,

      You put it beautifully – you set out so you have more free time and then you never allow yourself to have any!

      Start planning now and enjoy it!

  4. April, you’re right. Everyone deserves a vacation of some sort. Just like you mentioned, the key is to start planning this months before, not the vacation but what how to transition smoothly back in when you return.

  5. I just returned from a fantastic two-week vacation to the UK and it was exactly what I needed to unwind from a stressful couple of months and my clients were totally cool with it (or at least that’s what they said to my face). I created “to-do” lists for each client on the areas of the design that we would be focusing on when I returned. The items included questions that I had regarding the design or how they wanted to approach a particular aspect of the project, guidelines to follow in developing content for their site, a suggestion to review the project in it’s current phase and come up with some areas that they felt needed improvement, and finally asked them to come up with questions that they had about the design that had not yet been addressed. This allowed the client to have a more personal connection to their design and also provided me information to work with when I returned. It also allowed me to map out in my head (and on paper) where we would be going next with the design, so that I didn’t have to pour through 100s of emails trying to determine where we left off, upon my return. I was able to complete 3 logos in record time when I came back and I’m nearly completed with 2 websites, all which were in early phases when I left! I did it, you can do it too!

    1. Bree,

      Sounds wonderful! My trip was similarly fantastic and refreshing.

      I love your solution to get information from your clients as well as improve your understanding of their wants/needs AND be organized when you get back. Brilliant!

      Thanks for sharing!

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