The most anticipated time of the year is vacation season. It doesn’t matter how old are you or if you work or not, a vacation is something everybody looks forward to — going skiing, camping on the lake, going on a hike, or the famous sunbed-cocktails-sea-partying-until-you-drop style of trip. We all love holidays for many reasons, and if you are able to go on vacation mode every now and then, consider yourself lucky.
Even though it brings many benefits, and it is necessary, planning a vacation can be painful and boring. Especially if your plans are not realized because of various reasons. It takes time to figure out how to choose between countless options, decide which route to take, or which place to stay, simply because the hospitality industry is booming.
Let’s try to optimize the process, bring more joy and relaxation into our lives, and avoid that so-many-options-I-don’t-know-what-to-choose nightmare.
Choosing the destination & transportation
The first step in the planning process starts with a simple question: where do you want to go? This is the question you need to ask yourself. Before answering it, you need to be realistic and to think about your budget. Although we all want to travel and explore distant and exotic destinations, it is not always possible to do so. Decide how much money you can and want to spend and the planning can begin. Have your friends’ budgets and preferences in mind; the best practice is to have a meeting where you guys discuss and make a decision on where you’ll go.
Once you know the destination, you should decide whether you are going to travel by bus, car, or plane. This selection should be based on your budget (again) and what you find most satisfying. Many people choose to travel by plane. It’s easy to understand why: the trip is comfortable and it saves time.
Luckily, these days very affordable tickets can be found online. There are apps like Justfly that can help you book flights, hotels, and car rentals. There is also another way to pay less for the plane ticket: many airline companies offer discounts for buying tickets in advance. You just need to search the web and be patient.
Traveling by car is ideal for families or a group of friends on shorter distances. The time spent on the road is perfect for bonding and creating new memories. Traveling with friends or family is a good choice for safety reasons as well. If the driver gets tired, someone else can take over. Another advantage of traveling by car is that you can make your own route and visit many places, which is impossible with commercial transportation (unless you book an excursion).
Traveling by bus can be the least comfortable option, but it also has its advantages. You don’t have to worry about driving, the road, or the fuel. You just arrive at your destination (hopefully not too tired).
Choosing the sites you’ll visit
When your destination is chosen and your hotel and transportation booked, the first batch of weight is off your back. Now comes the second part of holiday planning — you need to know what you’ll see and do on your holiday.
There are two types of people: the ones who “go with the flow” and ones who plan where to go. Even though I’m not against spontaneous life and holidays, here’s a question:
Who do you think has more problems on a holiday, a planner or someone who just goes with the flow?
Of course, the second group tends to encounter more problems because they don’t know where to go, how to prepare for certain activities, what they should bring, the prices of fares and tickets, which times they can visit certain attractions, etc. In these situations, “easy-goers” usually spend time planning and deciding what to do on the go, deducting time from their holiday.
I don’t think you want this, right?
Find a balance. You can at least get to know the destination, its biggest attractions and admission times and fares (I’ve found myself in front of closed museums and monuments way too often), how much time is necessary to get from the point A to point B, and the overall expenses for almost everything. Sites like Numbeo, Lonely Planet, and TripAdvisor can help you in preparing.
Choose your company
If you want to have a perfect holiday, choose your company wisely. Imagine this situation: chilling out in a perfect destination, completely relaxed and calm, feeling like you don’t have a single worry in the world, and suddenly you hear the voice of your workaholic friend talking about office stuff.
It kills the feeling, right?
When choosing travel companion(s), it is important to think about the personality of your friend(s). For example, your best friend is someone with whom you can talk about everything, share your deepest secrets, and laugh all night, but your bestie might like to sleep until the noon. On a vacation, this can be a problem, especially if you are planning to get up early every morning to go sightseeing, sunbathe, or just have an early breakfast. You will have an obligation to wake your best buddy every morning, and he or she will feel the same way. You will start as friends but might end up more like frenemies.
The worst part – packing
For many, packing is an annoying activity that needs to be done before the trip. It tends to be exhausting and unnecessarily dramatic.
Packing can a nerve-racking activity for many reasons. The first major problem is picking the right clothes. In most cases, there are two scenarios: either a whole wardrobe is packed or barely anything is packed. A lot of people tend to overpack, but there is no need to overpack; it can be avoided.
The best way to pack and avoid these two situations is to do your research about the destination, plan what you are going to visit and do, and then make a list of all the things you will need. When you put everything on paper, you’ll be more efficient and you’ll optimize your packing to utilize 100% of your packed stuff.
Can planning be fun?
Although you might want to get out of your work lifestyle and chill out, going on a holiday without plans can be troublesome (or simply won’t be as awesome as it could be). It is possible to plan and optimize everything without getting bored or tired.
Let your imagination run free and think about all the wild, unexplored, and exotic destinations that you can visit. Invite your friends, open a bottle of wine, and plan the route of your trip together.
If you can’t agree with the choice of the hotel, destination, or transportation, vote — make the game out of it. Life is about the little things, so get the most out of it.
I wish you many happy (and well-planned) holidays this year!
At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.
Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.
One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.
When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.
So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.
Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day
This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.
Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.
When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.
Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity
One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.
Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.
An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.
When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.
Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day
Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.
We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.
By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.
Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment
While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.
I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.
You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.
Con #1: We Move a Lot Less
When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.
Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.
Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.
Con #2: Less Human Interaction
One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.
Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.
This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.
While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.
Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment
Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.
This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.
For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.
Con #4: Unique Distractions
Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.
For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.
To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.
Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.
We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.