Freelancing—whether writing, editing, consulting, designing, you name it—is a dream job for a lot of people because it allows for schedule flexibility, which often allows for travel. It can be hard to balance both work and leisure, especially if you’re travelling overseas where language differences and internet availability can be challenges. The other thing about the freelance lifestyle is that your travels may have to be on the shorter side, so you want to optimize both your time for both business and pleasure. It’s also a great idea to travel during the week, when flights are cheaper and tourist attractions are calmer.
Let’s take a look at an example of an ideal mini-vacation, covering two extraordinary cities in less than a week total and leaving plenty of time to work: a quick jaunt to Paris and Barcelona. Also, keep in mind that this particular trip is just a suggestion, and that this schedule provided aims to provide a loose framework for any quick, international, dual-city trip.
- Spend the day preparing for your trip and getting as many projects as possible completed. Organize and pack all of your work materials, ideally in their own briefcase or suitcase, so that you can very easily access them while you’re traveling. Inform all clients that you will be traveling and set email notifications as necessary. Remember to pack necessary power adapters so you don’t get stuck unable to work.
- Take a direct, red-eye (overnight) flight to Paris. Provided you can sleep on the plane, this is an ideal scenario, as you will wake up in a new city well-rested. A direct flight from Chicago to Paris is about 8 hours, and Paris is 7 hours ahead, so time out a flight based on when exactly you’d like to arrive in the morning. Don’t do any work on the plane; it’s important that you de-program and rest to prevent jet lag and maximize your travels!
- Arrive in Paris; check in to your accommodations. If the Lourve is on your list of must-dos, I recommend staying somewhere in that vicinity. The area is beautiful and this allows you the necessary time to adequately stroll the museum. Consider, for example, the Hotel Lumen Paris Lourve, which is a bit less pricey than some of its competitors, but just as iconic.
- Check in with clients in briefly when you are settled and perhaps do a brief hour or two of work, just to make sure you’re staying on top of things. Ideally though, if you spent the day working yesterday, you shouldn’t have to do much work today.
- Sightsee! Go the Lourve and take your time. You could easily spend all day there, depending on your interest level in art. The Jardin du Palais Royal is across the street from the Lourve and is full of shops and cafes to get lost in as well.
- Sleep in. Even if you slept well on your flight, your jet lag will begin catching up with you.
- Depending on where you intend to visit today, find an internet café at which to work. You will be productive while also immersed in the culture, as opposed to stuck in a hotel room. Check out this comprehensive list of great cafes that are work-friendly and build your day around which one looks best to you. Work for at least three solid hours.
- Spend the rest of your afternoon and evening sightseeing and dining to your personal preferences (Eiffel Tower perhaps? Arc de Triomphe? The afternoon is yours!)
- Take a fairly early flight to Barcelona, but remember to continue prioritizing your sleep, since both work and sightseeing require a good deal of energy.
- Check into your accommodations. I recommend staying in the Bari Gotic, the old city, since many of Barcelona’s most breathtaking structures are here and everything is walkable.
- Barcelona is notorious for having excellent wifi in the majority of its cafes, bars, and restaurants, so like Paris, find a place catch a great meal and do a few solid of hours of work. Remember, you will be seven hours ahead of anyone in the US, which means by Friday afternoon your time, most everyone back home will have checked out for the weekend—so now’s the time get another good chunk of work done. This list of café options is fairly extensive, and Federal in particular offers excellent vegetarian selections.
- Spend the rest of the afternoon simply walking the city, and seriously consider visiting the Picasso museum, which contains nearly the entire collection of Picasso’s life’s work. Stroll past the Barcelona Cathedral and through the legendary Boqueria, the giant, open-air market, where you can also grab a delicious dinner.
- Knock out any necessary, leftover work first thing in the morning so you can enjoy the rest of your day (and so you and clients can break for the weekend).
- Take a short train trip to check out an attraction of your choice outside of the Bari Gotic. Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and Camp Nou (if it’s football season) are all favorites that are easy to get to from The Bari Gotic.
- Return to the Bari Gotic and walk somewhere for dinner alongside the Mediterranean.
- Fly home in the late morning, and try to do some work at the airport or on the plane to get ahead for next week, since you’ll definitely be jet-lagged when you get home. Remember, you’ll gain back some time (since the USA is 7 hours behind), but you’ll want to take the rest of the weekend easy in preparation for the following work week.
- Prepare for work on Monday and look back fondly at all of your trip photos.