Everybody's working for the....wanderlust?

In the post-pandemic era, the workation is the new way to business travel. But is it also a way to ease into solo traveling?

Everybody's working for the....wanderlust?
Photo by Christin Hume / Unsplash

When you tell someone that you're going on a trip somewhere, they might start asking questions. When you eventually get to the part where you say “oh i’m going on my own”, and then eventually you say “no, I don’t know anyone there, just always wanted to explore that city”, the other person may look at you with various shades of bewilderment. Solo traveling often carries a certain stigma, but more people do it than they realize. While the main reason is often to visit a new place, there are plenty of other motivations for solo travel. You might be visiting friends, seeing family, or perhaps you're ready to meet a long-distance love interest as if this were a modern day remake of Sleepless in Seattle.

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Traveling solo doesn't always mean going on vacation. It can also involve traveling for work, like attending a conference or visiting multiple offices. You might be accompanied by colleagues or your manager, but there's a good chance you'll be on your own. Even if you're not driving or flying solo, you'll likely have your own hotel room. Regardless, you're in a different city for work purposes. However, once the workday is over, you'll need something to do. This is the perfect opportunity to explore the city you're in. Maybe you're a baseball enthusiast and want to catch a live game, or perhaps there's a concert you've been wanting to attend. In this ever-evolving world, I present to you the concept of a "workation."


Meet the Workation

“Workation” is exactly what it implies. There are many variations, but remoteworkjunkie.com defines it perfectly:

A workation is simply two words combined: working and vacation. And this means you are located anywhere in the world you desire with your normal office hours, but after you finish your work, you then unplug and explore the destination you are visiting.
Instead of just being in your home office, you now might be at the beach, a completely new city or country, a National Park, etc. The goal is that you are re-energized and productive in this new location, but you can also rest and enjoy sightseeing like you would on vacation.
The concept of workations is not new, but as remote work exploded in recent years, it gave more people opportunities to change where and when they work.

"Remote workers" are typically those who work full time from home, while "hybrid workers" usually work 2-3 days a week from home and spend the rest of the week in the office. In either case, it gives employees the freedom to choose where they work during their non-office hours. Whether it's a coffee shop, a brewery, or even their favorite bowling alley, as long as they have internet access and complete their work, they're good to go. Of course, finding a job that allows this flexibility and having a hands-off manager are crucial. But once you earn the trust, there's no turning back.

person holding MacBook Pro besides orange power bank
Photo by Kornél Máhl on Unsplash

But wasn’t remote work going to end business travel? Wasn’t hybrid work going to mean less time on the road? Not according to Delta CEO Ed Bastian, in an article published in Fortune:

Although business travel at the airline is “about 20% below” pre-pandemic levels, Bastian isn’t concerned because the likes of work-from-anywhere policies mean that workers are just taking workations instead.
“The thing that people miss is that while people aren't traveling for managed business, they're traveling on the road at a much higher level because mobility has been at a premium because of hybrid opportunities to travel and bring your office with you,” Bastian told CNBC.

Let’s say you’re stuck working the holidays, and those holidays could include Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, etc. Or maybe it’s the middle of the winter or summer and you just really want to get out of your house. That too can be a “workation”. That's where a "workation" comes in. You bring your work laptop and set up shop in a hotel or conference room, diligently completing your tasks, but once the workday ends, it’s off to discovering the city. You could be visiting family and friends too, but when it comes to having to work that first 3 days of a work week or a week around a holiday that just happens to be stuck in the middle of the week, this comes in handy.

Before the virus, business travelers accounted for half of U.S. airlines’ revenue, but just 30% of the trips, according to Airlines for America, an industry group that represents most U.S. carriers. However, rather than globe-trotting to see colleges, workers today are more likely to be mixing business and pleasure.
Take Thanksgiving weekend, for example. Delta Air Lines hit new travel records over the holiday period as workers could dial into their jobs remotely from home—and Bastian predicts the same happening again over Christmas.

This leads me to wonder whether the “workation” is the perfect way to ease into solo traveling? And are more people solo traveling than they realize?

Workation to Vacation

Not all workations can be vacations, just like vacations can almost feel like work sometimes. What if you can ease into it? An article in Marie Claire elaborates:

Why fly (or train or drive) home on Friday night when you could fly home on Sunday afternoon and spend 48 more hours exploring? It won’t make a difference to your boss which day you book your flight for, although you will have to pay for the extra nights in the hotel personally and forget about the company per diem. Still, it’s worth it. You’re basically getting a subsidized vacation. Flying in on a Saturday morning for Monday meetings works, too.

This is an excellent point. If you have to go to a large or even small city for work, why not make the most of it? Even if you don’t have to travel for work, maybe you travel elsewhere just to get out of the house for a few days. In any event, you can extend your trip by a few days or even a weekend. You’ll have to cover the residual cost, but it’s worth it.

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The workation can truly lead you to ease into solo traveling, and most of all, to see for yourself how wonderful and freeing it is. Outside of work hours, you have complete control over your itinerary. You become the boss of your own travel adventure. Although the workation may limit your daytime activities, you still have the evenings and the end of the workday to explore the city or wherever you are staying. If you do your business travel late in the week, you could get a nice, long extended weekend on the back end. And trust me, you'll always find yourself wanting to go back for more. It's a fantastic opportunity to "have an excuse" to discover a new place, even if it's not too far from your home.