There are many benefits to working as a full-time freelancer. Being your own boss and setting your own schedule allows you to work during your most productive hours, choose the assignments that you enjoy, and create deadlines and structures that fit with your work style.
However, being a full-time freelancer also means that you don’t have the same set of vacation and sick days that a traditional employee has. When you need to take time off, there isn’t a team there to pick up the slack and cover your workload.
It’s up to you to control your schedule and figure out how to plan free time into your schedule in order to take vacations and enjoy your time off to the fullest.
While learning how to plan a vacation as a freelancer can be difficult, it can definitely be done.
We’ve put together a list of tips that you can use when planning a vacation so that you can make it work for your schedule and get to enjoy the benefits of time off that traditional employees get.
With the help of these tips, you’ll be able to have the vacation of your dreams without being stressed.
1. Put a Percentage of Your Monthly Income in Your Vacation Fund
One of the hardest things for freelancers to do, especially if you are just beginning a full-time freelance career, is savings for a vacation.
As you begin to build your brand and find clients, you might find yourself struggling to find the money to go on vacation.
By putting a percentage of your monthly income into a vacation fund, you can build an account that is solely for your travel and vacation needs without it being touched for other expenses.
2. Plan Ahead to Build Vacations into Your Calendar
A spontaneous, last-minute vacation is a harder thing to plan as a freelancer since your workload is more of a flow of projects rather than a firm weekday schedule.
That can make finding time for a vacation more difficult. In order to avoid complications, it’s best to plan in advance and build vacation time into your calendar.
Then you know to reschedule work or finish assignments ahead so you have a set group of dates off of work for vacation.
3. Tell Your Clients Well in Advance
As a freelancer, you have many relationships with multiple clients, not just a single manager or supervisor.
If your clients are used to sending you last-minute requests or having an immediate turnaround, you need to make sure you communicate with them in advance so they know when you are going to be “out of the office”.
By letting clients know in advance, they will be prepared on their end for your time off and won’t be expecting things while you are on vacation.
4. Front-Load Your Assignments
If you know you have a vacation coming up, you can front-load your assignments in order to free up those vacation dates.
Front loading, or putting your work at the beginning of your schedule, allows you to make sure that you’ve accomplished all the work you need to have done for a period of time without needing to do it towards the end of the deadline.
This method of scheduling and planning keeps your vacation days open and allows you to wrap work up before your vacation starts.
5. Set Clear Boundaries for Yourself
Working for yourself as a freelancer often means that boundaries are crossed. However, having time for yourself and vacation time is essential to your mental well-being.
It’s important to set clear boundaries for yourself on vacation and stick to them.
For example, if you say that you aren’t going to check your work email while on vacation, don’t do it.
Vacation time away from work is essential to avoiding burnout and keeping your mental health strong so you can do your best work for clients.
6. Consider Subcontracting Work
If you have a very heavy workload that can’t be done ahead of time by yourself before vacation, then you might want to consider subcontracting out work.
This involves finding another freelancer who can take on assignments for a period of time and work for your business while you are on vacation.
This might take some advance planning since you want to vet the subcontractor and know they deliver good work, but it can be a great way to manage work as you continue to build up your brand.
7. Work on Improving Your Mindset
It can be hard to leave your work-focused mindset behind and instead focus on relaxing, letting go, and enjoying yourself.
As a full-time freelancer, you are likely used to the daily hustle, and stopping that mentality can be a difficult task when you first take a vacation.
However, it’s essential that you change your thinking to enjoy time off so that you get the benefits of vacation.
Remember that your work and clients will still be there when you get back, so it’s alright to let go during your vacation time.
8. Start with a Small Vacation
Some of us think of vacation as a major holiday for weeks on end. However, that isn’t always the case.
You can start with a short vacation that isn’t overly expensive or extravagant in order to get the relaxation benefits of a vacation without taking too much time away from your growing freelancing business.
This will satisfy the itch you have for time off while still allowing you to remain within your budget. Think about nearby places you’d like to check out rather than an experience abroad.
9. Search for Discounts on Flights and Trips
When beginning a freelancing career, you may not have a ton of money set aside yet for vacation time.
Take the time to search out discounts for flights or all-inclusive travel packages that help you control or eliminate certain vacation costs.
By thinking frugally about your vacation, you’ll be able to find ways to save money while still enjoying yourself and avoid spending too much money as you continue to expand your brand name and find new clients.
10. Take Your Work with You
One of the best benefits of working as a freelancer is the ability to take work with you.
So long as you have an internet connection, most freelancers can do their work from anywhere across the globe.
A “workcation” is a great way to enjoy a longer vacation without stopping all of your work.
You can take another week for vacation and spend your mornings doing work and then enjoying the sights and activities in the afternoon. This allows you to still earn income while on vacation.
11. Set Up an Email Auto-Reply
Communication is key when you are a freelancer.
Even though you’ve told your clients ahead of time that you are on vacation, they still might have a request or forget that you are gone.
You might also have inquiries for business from new clients that come in while you are on vacation.
Setting up an email auto-reply allows you to send out an automated message to people trying to reach you that informs them when you will be back.
That way, no one will think you are ignoring their message or leaving them in the dark.
12. Plan for Travel Time and Adjustment Periods
It can be tempting to work until the day of vacation and tell your clients you’ll be back to work the day you return.
However, you’ll want to plan a buffer day or rest day between when you will be on vacation and when you’ll be back at work full-time.
A day before and after your actual vacation will give you time to adjust to time differences, unpack and resettle at home, and get your mindset back to work mode.
It also gives you some breathing room if travel plans are delayed and you need a little more time in order to get home.
13. Enjoy Your Time Off
Vacations are necessary to avoid burnout and give you much-needed mental rest and relaxation.
Even as a new freelancer, you can enjoy a vacation and get the benefits you need to work at an optimal level. Make sure that you take the time to unplug and enjoy your vacation days when you have time off.
Working as a freelancer on a full-time basis means that it can be difficult to know how to plan a vacation in your schedule.
With the help of these tips and an open mind, you will be able to put together a vacation plan that leaves you with plenty of free time and allows you to create a work-life balance for your career.
Learning how to plan a vacation is one struggle that freelancers face. Another is making sure you have the right tools to do your job correctly and deliver the best results to clients.