Go Ahead: Take that Vacation

We’ve put together the independent contractor’s guide to securing time off 

For independent contractors, the saying goes like this: If you’re not working, you’re not making money. That might make you fear taking a vacation, where you’ll be spending cash, or even a staycation, where you simply unplug at home. Just like everyone else, though, you need downtime to recharge, breathe easier, and enjoy life. Even kids get spring break and holiday time off from school each year. Stop fearing the vacation. Here’s how to take a true trip while still hitting your income targets.

Plan, plan, plan
If you’ve worked a salaried position before, you know the importance of planning for and requesting time off. As an independent contractor, you don’t have a traditional boss, but likely you have clients who dictate when the work must take place. That can interfere with some of the flexibility of the freelance life. If you plan your vacation time several months out, however, you’ll be able to budget for it and free up your schedule. Take your vacations when you expect dips in workload or when the rest of the world typically takes time off, too—like around holidays.

Budget and save
If you plan your trip and book reservations ahead of time, you’ll know how much you’ll be spending. Squirrel away your vacation fund in advance to alleviate stress about expenses during your time off.

Work overtime beforehand
Not only do you have to save for your vacation but you’ll also need to account for lost income during your break. In the months or weeks leading up to your trip, seek out and take on extra projects to pad your bank account. You might put in some longer hours, but you’ll enjoy your time away even more.

Find someone who can help you complete smaller tasks during your pre-vacation work surge. Outsourcing will free you up to take on bigger projects. You may also be able to outsource some work while you’re away, which will keep the checks rolling in. Just be sure that you won’t have to do a lot of hand-holding on your break.

Embrace the mini break
If longer vacations typically leave you scrambling beforehand and afterward, take several shorter vacations throughout the year instead. A four-day weekend can help you decompress without much work disruption.

Multi-task on longer vacations
You work remotely, and that means you can check in on work from the beach or poolside if you need to. You can always build a few hours of laptop time into your vacation here and there if absolutely necessary.

Communicate with clients
Inform your key clients that you’ll be offline for a bit. They’ll appreciate knowing in advance when you’ll be out of reach. You’ll also appreciate not having to check your phone constantly while away.

Enjoy your downtime
Above all, remember the importance of unplugging every now and then, and relish your time off. You’ll feel refreshed when you return, which can lead to more productivity and creativity.