Work-life balance much? You can rock your biz on vacation!

Can you be productive while traveling?

Travel is rejuvenating, mind-opening, and healing. As a business owner, all of these things translate to your biz. For me, as a creative, I find that travel correlates directly to fresh new ideas in my business. Not only are the new experiences and lessons you learn while traveling helpful to operations, marketing, sales, etc., they are also helpful for mastering boundary-setting, prioritizing, and self-care rituals (thanks for the reminder to take care of myself, Universe!). Further, travel inspires creativity. Communication may not be as prompt for a week or two, but the end result is worth it. What client do I have that would be bummed to know I designed their logo while floating on a boat in the ocean surrounded by whales? Not many, I suspect.

If you're anything like me, client happiness is paramount. My business is successful because I communicate, hit deadlines, and listen closely to my clients. So it is important that I stay on top of things, even while traveling. Here are some tips for being productive as a business owner while on vacation:

  • Don't set your work schedule, then your vacation schedule. Do what you want to do and fit business in the gaps. You don't want to go home with the regret that you didn't go on that one hike or visit that one museum.
  • Only respond to emails once a day. Help your clients get used to a scaled-back amount of communication while you're on vacation right out the gates.
  • Designate a business emergency contact. If you work for yourself, ask a trusted friend or colleague if you can contract them as your back-up while you're gone and provide their contact info to your clients. Their job isn't going to be to do work for you while you're gone, but they'll take notes, put your clients at ease, and help you manage your task load when you get back.
  • Accept that something bad will happen while you're gone. You know you can fix it when you get back, so don't worry.
  • Remember that your clients go on vacation, too. We are humans, not robots, after all. We all need a break sometimes.
  • Plan 3-4 important work tasks you want to accomplish while you're away before you go. Once you're done with these, you're done working for the whole trip!

I was recently in Craig, AK, where I was still able to send out my monthly branding tips e-blast, complete 2 new logo designs, and conduct a virtual meeting with a time sensitive project. All the while, I was able to see whales, grill brats over an open campfire with a stick I whittled, pull shrimp and crab pots out of the ocean a few times, go hiking almost daily, spend time with my bestie, and sit by the ocean and read almost daily as well. Craig is pretty different than big ol' Denver. It's a tiny little town. There's one bar, one grocery store, and maybe three or four options for ordering food. People don't have humidifiers there, they have de-humidifiers, which was weird coming from the dry climate of Colorado. I was glad my hosts ran one in their home occasionally. They don't have natural gas because they can't bury cables (too many earthquakes) so people heat their homes with electric or diesel heaters. I was very obviously a tourist when I said "rope" instead of "line" and "car" instead of "rig." There's no sushi on the island, but you can have it flown in on a puddle jumper plane from a neighboring island for a delivery fee of $14. Bringing bananas on a boat is bad luck. It's generally frowned upon to pull another fisherman's pot from the ocean, but if you're in a jam, just put a couple cans of beer in the pot, re-bait it, and toss it back in (I know, I sound like a real life fisherwoman!). Finally, if you're sitting around a campfire and you want the smoke to blow in a direction other than right in your face, just chant "dim dim yan yasala!" That shit works!

Craig, AK business owner, Madelaine Voegeli, understands the importance of work-life balance. Her charming shop, Strictly Local, is filled with treasures garnished entirely from Prince of Wales island. For her, the focus is on community engagement. Madelaine regularly teaches yoga, leads hiking adventures, and performs commissioned work for her fellow Craig-ians.

In a community as small as this, owning a business is nearly synonymous with building a sense of community and culture, things I strive to cultivate in both my professional and personal life.
— Madelaine Voegeli

When Madelaine wants to travel, she'll hire someone from the community to work at the shop and checks in with them from time to time while away. It is possible as a business owner to be productive on vacation — no matter the industry, no matter the location.

Here's a peek at my trip. Click an image to expand it and view the gallery as a slideshow. I'm sorry I'm not sorry I didn't get any pics of me working while I was there ;)


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