Freelance Blog + success

The Myth of the "Working Vacation"

OK, I’m now convinced that I need a BlackBerry (thank you, everyone who weighed in on that debate). Here’s why…
Wednesday evening I was supposed to fly to Baltimore/Washington, DC to visit some friends and family. The plan was to scale back on marketing but still keep up with email and some ongoing projects from the place where I was staying. I didn’t even call it a vacation, because I thought I could just quietly board a plane, keep typing away on my laptop, and pop out in an hour and ten minutes to check my email and voicemail. Nobody would even know I was gone, because I’d be accessible via cell and email for almost the entire trip.
Here’s what actually happened:
I scrambled to answer emails and squeeze in one last phone interview before hopping a cab to the airport. When I arrived, my flight was delayed about an hour. But I didn’t think it would be a big deal, since flights are often delayed and sometimes you can make up time in the air. I diligently typed away on my laptop as we waited to board. Then we waited another THREE HOURS on the plane (during which we not allowed water, food or use of electronic devices) before they let us go back to the terminal. By this time, my laptop battery was out of juice and my mind was totally fried. It was my own personal purgatory where I couldn’t work and I couldn’t relax.
Waited in line at the ticket counter (meanwhile I also called customer service and waited on hold for what seemed like eons) and successfully rebooked for the following day. That flight was delayed an hour, so I arrived at my destination almost 24 hours later than anticipated.
Then my return flight was delayed several hours, so I went through that whole song and dance again in reverse, arriving home at 2am this morning. This time I reluctantly paid the $5/hour for internet so I could get a jump on projects for the week ahead. Even though I’m morally opposed to paying for wireless because so many places have it for free, I could justify the expense since I can earn several times more than that per hour. Plus, it kept me sane. By the time we boarded the plane, we were so desperate to get home that we were willing to overlook the water dripping from the ceiling (“that’s just the AC unit, it won’t impact your safety,” the flight attendant told us).
All told, I spent over twelve hours in airports this weekend and less than three actually in the air. Of course, had I been carrying a BlackBerry, I would have been able to check my flight status en route to the airport, looked up weather conditions in both cities, and checked my email and Google reader for free (sort of).
The other complication was that in the three days leading up to my trip, I had three people ask me to take on new projects. Talk about an embarrassment of riches! One of them was a rush assignment that I had to decline, but I was able to postpone the other two until I get back. Now I’m back and buried in work. But I supposed that’s better than having no projects coming in.
It seems to me that even with a BlackBerry, I can’t count on having the same level of productivity on the go as I would have at home under more controlled circumstances. But hopefully it will give me a bit more mobility. Any thoughts on staying productive during a trip? Should I just give up on work and try to relax? Or is it realistic for me to stay plugged in with the appropriate gadgets?

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The Myth of the "Working Vacation" {success}