If anything might seem like an oxymoron it’s the term “working vacation.” The purpose of a vacation is to unplug from routine and responsibility in order to relax and recharge, so how can bringing your work with you be any kind of vacation at all? That unspoken rule may hold true in the corporate world, but it’s different for creatives (especially writers). In the corporate world there are reports to run, conference calls, team meetings, and other demands. Having to spend most of the day in your hotel room using spotty Wi-Fi to crunch numbers and submit reports is hardly relaxing and refreshing. But if your business is writing, you’re not limited to the lack of Wi-Fi or even your hotel room. Having taken many more “working” vacations than regular ones in my life, I can honestly say there are some amazing benefits to a working vacation.
Writers seem to fall into one of two camps; they either find it difficult to plan writing time around their daily work and family responsibilities or they are driven to sit at their computers for hours at a time while the world is in chaos around them! Whichever camp you find yourself in, taking a working vacation can help improve both your creativity and productivity.
Stepping out of your routine does wonders for getting “unstuck.” Some routines are good, like having a set time to write, but If you find yourself bored and easily distracted when trying to get your manuscript written, maybe it’s because you need a change of scenery.
Relax and Refresh in New Ways
The wonderful thing about imagination is that it runs in the background 24/7. The trick is training your conscious self to tap into it on demand. A vacation is the perfect training ground! Whether you’re hiking a trail, lying on the beach, or strolling around an amusement park your imagination can be formulating ideas for your next book or article. While enjoying the scenery, focus on the “here and now”:
- Sense the smells around you (funnel cakes, sizzling steak, wildflowers)
- Notice the feel of things (sand and water between your toes, soft rose petals, an ice cream cone melting in the sun and dripping over your fingers)
- Observe people, nature, your surroundings (a couple strolling hand-in-hand, the shadows cast by an ancient building)
- Listen to your surroundings (crashing of the waves, children laughing, wind rustling through the trees)
- Pay attention to the flavors in a new entrée (sensing sweet, sour, salty, and bitter on your tongue)
Noticing and enjoying your surroundings will not only refresh you, but generate ideas for your writing project. Record your observations on your smart phone’s voice recorder or write them down on a notepad you carry with you.
Experience New Places
You can go somewhere totally new or it can be visit to an old, familiar place to get some writing done. Vacationing gives you the opportunity to discover, explore, and learn. As you decide where to go, keep in mind that a vacation isn’t restricted to going fun places. The purpose of a working vacation is also to make discoveries that will grow you as a writer and as a person. For example, visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Holocaust Museum, or going on a humanitarian trip to Haiti or another impoverished country will open your eyes, heart, and mind to the needs and suffering of others in dramatic ways. It will change you, your perspective, and your writing.
Make New Connections
A working vacation allows you to meet new people in your field of interest. Writing about starting a home business, successful weight loss, or traveling the world on a shoestring budget? Going places where you can meet experts on these subjects will give you great insights and inspiration, as well as expand your network.
Spark Your Imagination
One of the most prolific and beloved writers of the 19th century was Mark Twain. He garnered international acclaim for his writing and it was his travels at home and abroad that provided much of the material and inspiration for his nonfiction books and the characters in his novels.
Travel adds to your experience and increases your brain power:
Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit, which means they’re sensitive to change: new languages, smells, sounds, sensations, sights and tastes spark different synapses in the brain and have the potential to revitalize the mind. (Andrews, 2015) 
Things to Remember…
Bring your laptop! Keep a journal or travel log. Part of your “work” on your working vacation is to write down the details of what you saw, felt, and experienced each day. The details are important. Who did you meet? What did you learn? What new things did you experience? Your maturity as a writer will grow as you observe, record, and articulate the details of your activities and accompanying emotions.
So grab a travel guide, choose a place, and book your plane, train, or boat reservation. You owe it to yourself as a writer to put your next vacation to work for you!
Andrews, C. November 24, 2015. Want to Improve Your Health and Increase Your Creativity? Travel More.
Image courtesy Shutterstock, Rasulov