With more of us working from home than ever before in the UK due to COVID, it’s easy to get bored of your own four walls. Gone are the days when co-working hubs and coffee shops buzzed with remote workers – at least for now. But just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you have to stay home. Going on workcation is the latest remote working trend, so if you’re feeling inspired to start planning your own trip for next year, we’re right there with you.
It’s important to check government guidelines before booking travel – and while it’s a great time to make plans, don’t book anything until it’s safe to travel again.
What is a workcation?
A workcation takes all the best bits of work and vacations and neatly combines them into one nomadic experience. It’s work, but not as you know it. If you’re lucky enough to work remotely – whether you’re self-employed or doing your job from home right now – you could, theoretically, work from anywhere.
So why not take off on a workcation to Europe, or further afield? Pack your laptop and phone, ensure there’s internet connectivity at your destination, and the world’s your oyster. Just don’t get on that plane right now, as government guidelines recommend avoiding all but essential travel. That doesn’t mean you can’t start dreaming and planning though…
Why are workcations so popular?
Wouldn’t you love to work from a sun-drenched beach in Barbados, or a balcony with views over the Gothic spires of Tallinn? It’s easy to see why workcations are on their way to becoming a top travel trend. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, more of us are working remotely than ever before. With this looking likely to continue in the UK well into 2021, why not work from somewhere that inspires you?
Does going on a workcation make me a digital nomad?
The digital nomad lifestyle – hopping from one location to another and taking your work with you – is definitely appealing, but there’s a distinct difference between being a digital nomad and going on a workcation. With a workcation you choose a destination and spend a fixed amount of time there – whether that be one month or six months. Think of it as a working holiday, or an inspirational change of scenery to motivate your work.
Digital nomads, on the other hand, generally don’t have an end date to their travel plans, hopping from one destination to the next as the mood takes them. It’s a way of life, rather than a workcation.
What are the top tips for planning a great workcation?
Preparation is everything when planning your workcation – and with the current travel restrictions, it’s a great time to plan and prepare for your workcation in 2021. Here are some of our top tips for planning your workcation:
Check government guidelines
Always check out visa and government guidelines as well as our coronavirus travel advice when choosing a destination – there are some destinations, like Barbados and Bermuda, that have recently launched remote visa programs to attract digital nomads and those on workcations, and others, like Portugal and Germany, that have had similar arrangements in place for years. Then there are destinations which are strictly closed to visitors, for the time being anyway, although guidelines are constantly changing.
Check passport and visa requirements
With the UK leaving the EU on 1 January 2021, you’ll need to check out visa requirements for your destination. For most destinations in Europe, you can stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, without a visa, although this may be different for those planning on working remotely. You may need to show you have enough money for your stay and a return or onward ticket on arrival. You’ll also need to have at least six months left on your passport.
Pack PPE for your workcation
Make sure you pack PPE for your trip, including a supply of face masks and hand sanitiser. We recommend packing a mix of disposable and cloth masks, as you may have limited access to laundry facilities at your destination. Disposable wipes – although not the most environmentally friendly choice – are also a handy thing to take on your trip. Although you’re on workcation and the key is to enjoy yourself, don’t forget to follow guidelines in place at your destination regarding social distancing and hand washing.
Book safe accommodation
Check out reviews of accommodation online before booking, and if there’s no mention of COVID measures, contact the accommodation directly to see what precautions they’re taking.
Ensure you have travel insurance
Make sure you have travel insurance that covers you for the duration of your trip. This is particularly important when travelling during a pandemic, as your plans may need to be cancelled or changed last minute or you may need access to medical treatment while you’re on workcation.
Check out internet access
Don’t forget to check out internet access in your destination of choice. Ensure the accommodation you choose has Wi-Fi, and that it’s reliable. In some more remote destinations, you could find Wi-Fi speeds a lot slower than you’re used to, which may be an issue depending on the type of work you do – for example, if you’re on regular video calls or need to send large files via email.
Make sure you consider costs, too. In some popular workcation destinations you may find high-speed broadband is more expensive than you’re used to.
Take plenty of money
Always save more money than you think you’ll need. When the sun is shining on a tropical beach, you might feel more like sipping a cocktail than working on a spreadsheet. The last thing you want is to be forced to put in 14-hour days just to make ends meet, rather than exploring your destination. So, save a little extra before heading off on your workcation. This is also a good idea in case the worst happens and you need instant access to funds – for example, in case of a medical emergency.
What destinations should I consider for a workcation from the UK?
With its towering spires and gothic architecture, Estonia’s cities may not be the first place you think of for your workcation – but we think they should be. The launch of a new Digital Nomad Visa allows visitors to stay and work remotely for up to a year. To apply, you’ll need to earn at least £3,504 gross per month. The application process involves filling out, printing and signing an online form, then taking it along with 100 Euros (about £90) to your nearest Estonian Embassy or Consulate, along with any supporting documentation. You should hear back within 30 days.
Estonia is surprisingly affordable, with a low cost of living even in the bigger cities like Tallinn. It’s easy to find accommodation, high-speed broadband is readily available, and the cost of living is cheap. It’s also a great place for tech industry freelancers. However, it does get cold in winter, and the cost of rent in cities – Tallinn especially – is rising. We’d recommend heading for cities like Tartu, Haapsalu or Parnu (party central in the summer) if you’re on a budget.
If palm trees and white sandy beaches are more your vibe, why not workcation in Barbados? With its idyllic climate and average temperatures of 27C, Barbados has a robust healthcare system, affordable cost of living and high-speed broadband.
The island has hit the headlines recently with the government’s launch of the Barbados Welcome Stamp scheme. Under this scheme, you can apply to work on the island for up to a year. So what’s the catch? It costs £1,390 per person – or £2,385 per family – to apply, and you’ll need to earn at least £39,760 a year to be eligible and have health insurance in place. There’s also national security vetting for all applicants. You should hear whether your application has been successful within a week.
Right now in Barbados residents are asked to observe social distancing guidelines of one metre, and to wear a mask in public places.
Bermuda recently launched the Work From Home Bermuda Certificate, a one-year visitor visa that allows you to work while enjoying all this tropical destination has to offer. You can apply by filling out a short form online. It costs $263 (£193) and you should receive a decision within five business days. You’ll need to be over 18 with no criminal convictions, and have health insurance, proof of employment (such as a self-assessment statement or certificate of company incorporation), and evidence that you have funds to support yourself during your stay.
Bermuda has excellent healthcare services and one of the most stringent COVID-19 testing regimes in the world. But the cost of living here is high, and although high-speed broadband is readily available, it can be expensive. The government has published a list of co-working hubs and office spaces to rent, suitable for those visiting the island on a Work From Home Certificate.
Georgia is one of the world’s safest countries to visit during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you will need to quarantine for 12 days – at your own expense – on arrival, and take a test on the 12th day before being allowed to move freely. The country is a popular hub for digital nomads and offers high-speed Wi-Fi in major cities, a low cost of living and plenty of co-working spaces, with English widely spoken.
Georgia recently launched its Remotely From Georgia visa scheme, which allows visitors to work remotely from the country for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of one year. This applies to entrepreneurs, freelancers, and salaried employees who are able to work remotely. To apply, you must fill out an online form and earn a minimum monthly salary of £1,534, plus hold a valid passport and health insurance.
How much does a workcation cost?
From visa costs to flights and a place to stay, there are plenty of costs to factor into your workcation budget. We take a look at the cost of flights, accommodation, and car rental in all four of our top workcation destinations, to help you get started planning.
The cost of your flight obviously depends on how far-flung your workcation destination of choice is, but here’s an idea of how much a flight to each of our recommended destinations would cost:
Return flights to Tallinn cost from £20, with January and February the cheapest months to fly.
You can pick up a return flight to Tbilisi from £153.
Return flights to Bridgetown cost from £320.
A return flight to Hamilton costs from £410, with March the cheapest month to fly.
Accommodation varies greatly depending on the cost of living in your destination of choice and whether you prefer a hostel, hotel or rental apartment. Here’s a starting point for your plans:
You can book a one-month stay in a mixed hostel dorm in Tallinn from £160, or find a hotel from £547. Or head for Tartu, where a three-month stay in a hostel costs from £14/night. Generally speaking, hostels will offer discounts on longer stays, so if you’re planning a six-month staycation, you could see rates drop even lower.
Hostel accommodation in Tbilisi is unbelievably affordable, starting at £2 a night for a one-month stay. Choose a hotel and stay for three months from £5 a night. Elsewhere, rooms in Mestia, one of Georgia’s beautiful mountain towns, start from £8/night.
Expect to pay from £179/night for a one-month stay at a hotel in Hamilton. Elsewhere on the island you’ll find rooms from £123/night. For longer stays, it may be best searching for an apartment rental.
For stays of a month or longer it’s often more cost-efficient to hire a car rather than relying on public transport – plus it gives you the freedom to come and go as you please and explore more of your destination. Here’s an idea what car rental will cost you in our top workcation destinations:
Car rental in Tallinn starts from £12 a day (£345/month) for a mini or economy vehicle.
Car rental in Tbilisi costs from £11 a day (£311/month).
You can rent a car in Bridgetown from £27 a day (£805/month).
Wherever you decide to go for your next workcation – whether it’s one of our recommended destinations or somewhere totally different – planning is the key to ensuring you have a memorable time for all the right reasons. With working from home the new normal, there’s no time like the present to start planning and dreaming of your workcation in 2021. Just make sure you stay up to date on the latest government guidelines and coronavirus travel advice for your destination of choice, and wait until it’s safe before you get back out there.
Discover where you can go
Making plans to get back out there? Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.
We’d recommend always checking the latest government guidelines and travel restrictions for your country and the destination you’re planning on travelling to. Right now, the UK government advises against all but essential travel. While you’re waiting for restrictions to be lifted, it’s the perfect time to start planning your workcation for 2021.
Booking right now could be risky, as travel restrictions and government guidelines are changing on a daily basis. It’s probably best to wait until it’s safe to travel before booking a flight or accommodation. When you do book, make sure you take out travel insurance that covers you in the event plans change.
Some countries will allow you to bring your pet, depending on the length of your stay. If you’re applying for one of the remote work visa schemes, ensure you check whether this is allowed before you apply.
DISCLAIMER: This article was last updated on 18 December 2020 and it’s possible that travel rules and regulations may have changed since. Please always refer to official government resources for the most up-to-date information before planning or booking travel.
Want to read more?
- Coronavirus Travel Advice: get the latest advice on travel during the pandemic, updated daily.
- 2021 travel trends and how traveller focus is shifting: a look at some of the top travel trends for 2021, from workcations to domestic travel.
- Travel after Brexit: What are the new Brexit passport rules? How will passport rules change after 1 January 2021, and what will that mean for travel to the EU?