Workation sounds like Vacation – there’s just a little BUT. You are in a vacation destination of your choice, BUT you are not on vacation and have to work instead. Maybe this is not appealing to everyone, but it is to me. I worked for 3 weeks from Europe with Dubai working hours. Means: I started working every day at 7am (9am Dubai time) and finished at around 4-5pm. In European summer, this means from 4-5pm it’s still nice warm and light outside until at least 10pm, which for me as a wannabe triathlete, sounded like a dream. 

Since I got asked a lot of questions, see below all the questions you would need to ask yourself to plan a Workation as well:

  1. Do I want to travel alone or with a travel buddy? Both have its pro and con – purely depends on what you want. I wanted to be flexible and have a bit time to myself. Obviously, accommodations get a little more expensive that way.
  2. Where do I want to go? I ultimately wanted to train, have good surroundings to work, warm pleasant weather and go to a country where I speak the language, which for me resulted in Span/ Andorra. If you’re doing triathlon, I would choose logistically easy places with pools in walking distances and nice running/cycling options. For working I would recommend choosing a destination, where you can work from your accommodations AND have nice coffee shops (with AC and WIFI). Spain does not have a superior coffee culture like Italy, so if you do enjoy good coffee, look for towns by googling “specialty coffee”. Might just be my personal taste, but all towns with specialty coffee places are at least a bit hip.
  3. How long do I want to go? I’ve been in Spain for 4weeks. 1 week of holidays and 3 weeks working. As per my company policy, 3 weeks is the max I can take in a year. So check your internal policies.
  4. How to get around? I travelled with a big suitcase and the Bike Box Allan, which was quite a lot of luggage. I spent my time in 3 different destinations, so I travelled around. It was easier than I thought, the only thing I would watch out for would be: accommodations with stairs and no elevator or accommodations in old towns full of old stone streets. I was able to take my luggage into different buses and nobody ever complained, only once I had to pay a little extra for my bike box. Car would for sure be nice as well, but alone a bit too costly. Airplane too complex and time consuming for my taste.
  5. Does it work with work? Absolutely YES! Covid has been a great enabler for all systems to work remotely, so it was very easy. I aligned my manager around 6 months in advance, so this was set, although I’ve changed departments in between. My tip: make it official, get it in writing, so you’re all set to plan your workation!
  6. One location vs. various locations? I’ve spent 3 weeks in 3 different locations: cycling hub Girona, the little Costa Brava town l’Estartit and Andorra de la Vella in the mountains. It’s a bit more logistical work to travel around, but I wanted to explore different destinations. Would I do all 3 again? Yes apart from l’Estartit, which did have very nice beaches and nice cycling and running options, but no good pools or good coffee shops to work from. Yes – there was the ocean, but it was too rough to swim in, when I planned to (ok in the mornings). I would suggest the neighbor town l’Escala instead, which has an amazing pool and cute coffee shops.
  7. Plan ahead or travel spontaneously? I liked the freedom of deciding only a week before where to head next. BUT it comes with limited options in terms of accommodation, which was only a problem at Costa Brava actually, since it’s busy summertime. 
  8. What to pack? Well – everything you need for a month away. A few things I would point out: 

a) a good power bank to charge phone/laptop on the go 

b) Enough sports nutrition. I did not take all my nutrition with me and ended up taking all kinds of brands, which wasn’t always a nice experience. Also note, that small towns around Costa Brava don’t necessarily have gels and powder. So better pack your Stealth gels & big energy for 3 weeks.

c) Noise cancelling headphones in case you work from a noisy coffee shop 

d) A convenient bike box, like the bike box Alan. Moving from town to town, I had to build my bike quite a few times. With the bike box Alan, it only took me max 10 minutes in the end, because I did not have to take anything off my bike except for my derailleur, wheels & pedals. 

e) One set of nice business clothes in case you have a not planned important meeting like me (upper part is enough though :P)

f) Your bike computer with a strava premium subscription! This is an important point for all cyclists, who only have cycled ever in Dubai like me and never had to plan routes. I didn’t know the area and I am not very gifted with navigation skills, so I needed a good navigation system. Extra tip: Always build your route on your laptop with the strava web version, because it has better features to build routes. You don’t want to end up on gravel roads with your nice road bike tires.

9. Do I need a local SIM? Definitely YES – I bought a Spanish Sim with a ridiculous amount of data(100GB), so I was always able to connect even if wifi failed. I really wanted to make it work, so nobody can tell me Workation isn’t a great concept afterwards.

10. When to go? Living in Dubai, this is obvious – during the hottest months in summer. I chose a time with no important work conferences or in-person meetings. In my company post Eid is the time, when a lot of people take leave, which was just perfect for me.

Would I go again? You might guess my answer – FOR SURE! It was a great experience and I absolutely loved it. Although I went alone, I never felt lonely, because there were so many new exciting things to explore. In my head, I’m already planning my next Workation in 2024. I will probably plan a bit more in advance, since I want to go to Mallorca. Seaside location do get booked out quite early. For next year I’m planning to book a bigger house for an entire month for family, friends and training buddies to be able to join for some time. Let me know in case interested 😉

By Lea Mex

Posted on 17th Aug 2023