Travel & work from the mountains
For the majority of us, 2020 has been the year of zero or minimal travel, topped with anxiety due to Covid and the never ending hustle of working from home has indeed made 2020 a stressful year for everybody. I was going through a rough patch myself and that’s when my husband and I decided to move our workstation temporarily to Shimla to make the most of the remote work situation & work from the hills. If you too are looking to escape the city for a while and the charm of working remotely excites you, here are my tips to help you plan your first “workation”.
Budget planning for long duration travel
A workation is not as simple as – just packing your laptop and hopping on to a bus/ train to reach your destination. In the new normal, especially if you’re planning to work from elsewhere, you need to give yourself more time and travel for a longer period (minimum 7 days) and since long term travel can be expensive, budgeting your conveyance, stay and food expenses in advance is a must. We had budgeted a total of ₹30,000 ($405) for our trip for two for 9 days.
We drove from Delhi to Chandigarh ourselves and took a cab from Chandigarh to Shimla. Travelling privately is a must to avoid exposure and hence if private travel does not seem to be a viable option for you, please do not go ahead with it. I would not recommend taking the flight/bus/train in the current scenario as even though states have opened up for tourism, medical infrastructure in these places is still in a very miserable condition, hence it is very important to travel safely & privately and avoid the crowd as much as possible. Choose the destination wisely- travel somewhere nearby where you can drive yourself or with your friends/ family, whatever fits your budget estimation.
Workation & not just vacation
Now that you’re financially ready for your trip, make sure you’re mentally prepared to differentiate between a work-vacation with an actual vacation. While a change of place is a great respite from the monotony of working from home, it is not a full vacation either. So make sure that you’re mentally prepared to devote your time for work and not get carried away by the charm of unknown.
Being disciplined is the key and here are 4 tips that’ll help you get the best of both worlds:
Go out for short excursions after work
Plan your work day in a way that you’re able to get out of the house (or hotel) in the evening or maybe early in the morning to get fresh air and actually feel the change of location.
My husband and I used to sneak out for 2 hours in the evening to walk up to the mall road in Shimla and enjoy the weather and the lit streets. The mall road wasn’t crowded at all during the weekdays and we were able to safely wander around in this otherwise touristy street.
Take a day off and explore the city (safely)
Now that you’re all settled and have not yet missed any deadline at work, it’s time to take a day off and explore the hell out of the city and the nearby places. Hire a cab or explore on foot, whatever suits you, just make sure that you do not compromise on safety wherever you go (keep them masks & sanitizers handy).
Don’t be too rigid
You need to be flexible enough to get along in a different work environment. If you’re a perfectionist who loves their coffee at 85°C or need your work desk to be at exact 75 cms above ground, then you might need to prepare everything in advance or be ready to face the challenge of working outside your comfort zone. Life is not as easy as it looks on Instagram.😉
Don’t change places too often
Do not plan to “cover” places when you’re on a workation. The more places you’ll change, the more difficult it’ll become to adapt to a new environment, which will just add to your anxiety. Stick to one destination, and become comfortable. Staying at a place for a longer time and getting used to it makes it feel like home 🙂
Carry a portable hotspot
Being online is very crucial when you’re working remotely so always make sure that you book a stay with a Wi-fi connection. To be on the safer side, carry a portable hotspot with you. If the telecom network works fine at the location, then no need for that either.
Stay at a homestay
I love homestays but this time I’m not being biased when I say that in the current scenario, homestays are a lot safer than hotels. The main reason being the number of people staying in a homestay is far lower than the number of guests in a hotel. Also, many hotels have started the buffet breakfast & dinner service which in my opinion (and experience) is not very safe compared to when home-cooked food is served directly to you by the host.
Also homestays are a great way of knowing the locals and having a more immersive experience. We had booked Hasta La Vista home stay via Airbnb and we cannot thank Rajesh uncle enough for the great hospitality and treating us like his family. It’s an amazing feeling when you travel to a place and it starts feeling like home within a few days.
This year has been full of travel substitutes and while a workation might not be the ideal vacation that you’ve been looking for but it’s a relatively safe and responsible way to get a city detox. I hope this article gave you a fair idea on what to expect and how to plan your first workation. Do let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Also read about my experience of lockdown in Amsterdam- Living like a local in Amsterdam during a pandemic
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