As a remote worker, people may think you’re always on vacation. Because you don’t have to physically go in to work each day, you obviously don’t have a real job or are working at all!
Even as a digital nomad, you’re not constantly on the go. It’s unsustainable and exhausting. More likely you stay in one place for a few months or even a year or two before continuing on.
But of course its nice to venture and check out new places. And as a remote worker, you don’t always need to ‘take time off’ to go to the places you want to.
Taking a “workcation” as a remote worker: A Barcelona Case study
My general itinerary and budget on my recent visit to Barcelona:
Check in to your accommodation. I chose to stay in an airbnb. Of course, hostels are cheaper and you can meet more people, but I needed a private and quiet space to do my work as it involves video calling.
As this was a travel day, I didn’t do any work today. I explored the area, I enjoyed the food, and prepared for upcoming work (ie. Finding out the wifi passwords, checking everything is working, etc.) The first night is almost always an early and ‘boring’ night for me. I may chat with the airbnb hosts but that’s about as far as my socializing tends to get. Many people may choose to go socialize right away and head to your nearest pub, but I prefer getting settled in first. I also purchase a few snacks to have in my room with me or the shared kitchen (yoghurt, granola bars, maybe some chips or cookies, and fruit). This is so I don’t need to go out each day for breakfast or any cravings late at night.
Day 2 & 3.
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a morning person. I get up around 10:30am, eat a quick breakfast and make myself presentable. I then work from 11am until 3pm. After this I am starving and go out to find somewhere good for lunch. This is a vacation of sorts so the rest of my day is leisurely. I leave my laptop in the room and just bring a notebook and my phone with me.
The rest of the day I take in the sights. I visited Park Guell, the Picasso Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and wandered about Raval and the Gothic Quarters. I visited parks and monuments. Barcelona has a lot to see just by walking around.
Once I get hungry, around 6 or 7, I’ll find a restaurant for dinner. So many places here have had three course lunches or dinners for under 10 euros. It’s fantastic. Each of my meals are very leisurely, often taking upwards of an hour. Thankfully, many cafes and restaurants have wifi so I can socialize with friends during my meal even though I’m travelling alone. Occasionally I do some ‘work’ during my meal times: email checking, outlines for posts or other writing, budgeting, etc.
This day is the full exploring day. I woke up earlier this day (at 8am!), as I intended on taking a day trip to Andorra. Unfortunately after going all the way to the meeting point and standing around for half an hour, my rideshare car never showed. Despite it being a major bummer (and delaying me adding another country to my list!), I wasn’t going to let it ruin the rest of my day. I found myself a Starbucks to get my daily dose of caffeine, a snack, and to use their wifi to get my rideshare refund. As much as I’m for checking out local spots, I know I can always count on Starbucks for wifi.
I visited the Sagrada de Familia – a huge Basilica designed by Gaudi (the same guy that did Parc Guell among other buildings). This, being a major tourist site, took a bit longer. Afterwards, I took a stroll in their (quite large) zoo. Quite well designed, it was like a giant park that happened to have animals in it. It was also fairly quiet (being winter and all) which was nice.
Having a full exploring day allows me to do things with limited operating hours or that would simply take longer.
Back to work. Similar to days 2&3, I was up around 10:30, but only worked about 2 hours before taking a long lunch break at a café. This lunch break then extended into about 4 hours there doing other work. I planned this, as I brought my laptop with me.
It’s nice to get out of the defined workspace if you can and find different cafes or pleasant environments to work in.
Afterwards, I’d bring my laptop and things back and continue out exploring more. I decided to do a “meet up” for tasting the wines of Catalunya. Firstly, I love wine, so this was right up my alley. Secondly, it’s good to go out and interact with new people if it’s not something you’re already doing– you never know who you’ll meet.
As the final full day in Barcelona, you’ll want to make the best of it. I booked some classes to work from 10 to 12, just to ensure I’m actually up and out of bed. I otherwise would have the entire day to myself. I found a meet up for “girls who love travel” at a cafe in the Gothic Quarters. Around 20 girls attended and it was so nice to chat with fellow travel lovers. We discussed our plans, what we all do, how we make travel work in our lives and whatnot. Very few of us were just passing through, so for those who live in Barcelona I’m sure it was an even better opportunity to meet new friends. Afterwards, I wandered around a little before the parade started. Lucky for me, I came during carnival so I checked out the festivities.
Your departure and checkout time really determines what you can do on this day. As for me, I was out of here by noon to catch a ride to Valencia!
Each day I budgeted for the meals to cost 10 euros each. Some were more, some less. I also didn’t go out for breakfast but bought some things to last me the week that cost around 20 euros.
I got myself a very cheap airbnb – only 20 euro per night.
Many of the things I did for entertainment were free, with the occasional museum or event costing 10-20 euro. It averaged out about 10 euros a day.
Barcelona is a very walkable city. I walked nearly everywhere I needed to go. The metro is also quite reasonable. I got a ten ride pass for ten euro and didn’t need more than that.
- Food: 20/day = 140 +20 (snacks and breakfast) = 160 euros
- Accommodation = 140 euros
- Entertainment = 70 euros
- Transportation = 10 euros
- Total: 380 euros.
This will vary more for everyone than anything else. As for myself, all my teaching hours make ~$20USD per hour. During this week I will have only worked 12 teaching hours, making ~$240 USD. The other work during meals and my café time doesn’t have an hourly rate and is difficult to account for. During these times I’m looking at freelance writing jobs, I’m working on the blog, or any number of things. This work may or may not pay off to provide an income. And anyone who has a passive income is a whole other story.
In general, a workcation isn’t sustainable. I’ll have spent more than I made. That is the vacation part, though. I do more things than I would during a normal work week. In a regular working week, I would want to put in at least 20 hours of teaching (my guaranteed income) among other work. But when I’m on the go I want to explore!
There are other ways to make a workcation last longer and be cheaper. For example, you could try housesitting to rid yourself of accommodation costs altogether! You could buy groceries for more of the meals to save on eating out. Or, you could just work during more of it.
Taking workcations are great ways to travel more. You spend far less money (as you’re making up for it by working!) and still get to see what you want to.
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