Remote working in Vang Vieng, Laos
Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

As remote working continues to surge in popularity, so too does the concept of the workcation. But what is it, and more importantly, should you take one? Well, a workcation is basically a productive vacation or a working holiday, and there are several ways in which you can introduce one into your life.

Some 9-to-5ers manage to persuade their boss to let them work remotely for a week or so — all without draining their vacation days. The idea is that you can enjoy a boost in productivity by simply swapping your cubicle for say, a tropical paradise like Costa Rica. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of taking a full-fledged, phone-off, feet-up kind of trip. But if your boss is on board with you having a change of scenery to inspire your work flow, why not switch it up and save your holiday time in the process?

Workcations are also popular with entrepreneurs and digital nomads. Want to write that novel, learn new skills, or brush up on your business plan? There are experiences that offer a hybrid of independent work time and inspiring talks from leading professionals. Community bonding and skill-sharing is often at the heart of all workcation trips, as I found with my workcations at Sun & Co and Las Morenas, in Spain.

Of course, once you’re there, you need to adopt a few techniques to ensure maximum productivity. Choose your spot wisely because this will undoubtedly affect how you work. Super-fast Wi-Fi and cool living quarters are a given, but remember that many companies are of no fixed abode and change their country of residence every few months. If your favorite group is heading to Medellin or Bali, but you know that late-night salsa or mosquito-laden beaches are going to result in major distractions, maybe pick another spot.

Spencer Jentzsch, the CEO of Hacker Paradise, founded in 2014, told me that people are attracted to this new and improved work-life balance. “We were the first remote work and travel program in the world, and we are seeing more people becoming disenfranchised with traditional employment incentives and acquiring material goods. We want to break conventions,” he said.

“In addition to the engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, and writers, we also have nurses, inventors, NGO founders, ethical hackers, real estate developers, lawyers, and many others come join us. With all the technology of today there is no need to be rooted down in one location. You don’t have to delay living your best life until you retire.”

Workcations are as flexible and practical as you want them to be. And with a little research, you can find one to suit you and your skillset at pretty much any time of the year. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Roam

One of the biggest names on the remote working scene, Roam was founded in 2015 and continues to offer a high-end, “international network of coliving spaces.” Booking is easy — you just head to the site, and Roam currently offers accommodation in several U.S. locations as well as London, Tokyo, and Ubud. The company prides itself on providing a modern experience with mega-fast Wi-Fi, and prices start from just $500 per week for private accomodation with an en-suite.

There are no reservation or membership fees, and Roam provides a handful of shared amenities, but there’s less of a focus on community activities compared to some other workcation companies. Best suited for the stylish digital nomad who wants to globe-trot from one boutique workspace to another, a workcation with Roam will most likely leave you longing for a permanent residence.

2. Las Morenas de España

Working holidays are as much about the vibe as the tribe, and on this incredible retreat for women of color, you can kick back and relax amongst like-minded individuals in total Mediterranean bliss. Founded by former Brooklynite Sienna Brown in 2014 after she moved to Spain, Las Morenas is for women who want to live a life with purpose, but aren’t sure where to start. The first three experiences have taken place in a sprawling villa in the idyllic town of Javea, Spain, with the fourth to be situated in the vibrant city of Grenada in 2019.

The getaway I attended was spectacularly organized, but with plenty of free time left for solo working. Sienna’s passion for helping other women is infectious, and by the end of the trip, all nine of the attendees assured me that they are dedicating themselves to designing a new life abroad. The Las Morenas experience was carefully curated, combining killer Wi-Fi with either shared or private accommodation, for varios budgets. There were tailored workshops on the practicalities of moving abroad, exquisite wine-tasting and tapas experiences in carefully selected local restaurants, plus hiking, bar, and beach excursions. An authentic Spanish cooking class with professional chefs was a real highlight, but I also emerged from my stay with a bunch of new friendships. Las Morenas is a unique and inspiring opportunity to experience Spain through a new lense, catch up on some work, and equip yourself with the tools to empower personal and professional development. Prices start at $1,200 for five nights with all activities and accommodation included.

3. Hacker Paradise

Hacker Paradise has cemented itself as a leader of the remote working industry. Their carefully curated work-travel experiences are world-class, drawing quirky, fun-loving professionals from all over the world. They’ve run trips in a range of locations including Vietnam, Colombia, Japan, Portugal, Argentina, and South Africa, and arranged talks from tech professionals like Leo Widrich (co-founder of Buffer) to inspire their attendees. Hacker Paradise takes the stress out of remote living, blending immersive travel with stunning and reliable workspaces. Although they move all over the world, Hacker Paradise maintains an impeccable standard of accommodation, choosing centrally located housing with 24/7 access to coworking spaces wherever they go. They also provide local SIM cards, access to a diverse alumni network, and an entertaining (but optional) schedule of activities, ranging from professional and cultural to active and social.

Hacker Paradise offers flexible membership without the need for a huge deposit, and accomodation (which is private unless requested) starts from two weeks, right up to 12 months which you can use in a row, or opt to spread them out over the year. Prices start at $1,500 for two weeks. All that’s left to do now is show up and be welcomed into a thriving community of people who are excited to socialize and collaborate with you.

4. Sun & Co

Set in a restored 19th-century house in the center of a historic seaside town in Spain, Sun & Co is the first real co-living and co-working community on the Mediterranean Coast. Ideal for anyone seeking a fantastic work and leisure balance, Sun & Co offers desk space with a difference, plus plenty of affordable excursions to do in and around the town of Javea. The vibe is super chill: bikes are available to borrow for free, and a spacious open-plan kitchen with a help-yourself approach to the local organic coffee means that there’s always someone to chat with during break time. John Hormaetxe, one of the co-founders with extensive experience in the co-working industry, runs the house and is always on hand to offer advice about the local area.

When I attended for a few days in December, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Sun & Co fosters a sense of community; whether through the weekly meetings where attendees collaborate and run skill-swap sessions, or the group hikes and beach excursions, it felt like a home away from home. There’s space for up to 16 people, or the possibility to rent the entire house as a company or group of 20. Then there are the silent work areas, chill-out sofas, and Skype room, which ensure the house feels intimate while still being the perfect setting to complete work, drawing freelancers, business entrepreneurs and professionals from all over the world. Recommended for anyone in need of new experiences, a collaborative community, and a relaxed but professional working environment. Prices start at $220 per week for a shared room of four.

5. WiFi Tribe

WiFi Tribe wants to show you how the world can be your home — and they’ve got plenty of options. In 2019, they’ll be traveling through five continents at a steady pace, opting to stick around in their favorite cities for up to four months at a time. The founders love South Africa, so that makes a heavy appearance on the calendar, as do Bali and Colombia. But with prices starting at just $900 a month for a shared room, and an average group size of around 15-25, WiFi Tribe creates a tight-knit community in dreamy locations at an affordable price.