Work from Home (or Hostel)



If you’d happened to peek through the second floor window of a hostel in Via Cavour (Florence) one Saturday evening last February, you’d have seen a girl hunched over a laptop on her lower bunk bed, sifting through Pubmed abstracts and typing furiously, hoping her boss wouldn’t decide that, actually, come to think of it, they didn’t really need her.

That girl was me, as you might have guessed, and I was then on Day 7 of my short mid-February break from ordinary life. For that reason, I was also on Day 7 of not having done even a minute’s worth of work — no, make that Day 10 because I’d spent the few days immediately before my trip doing last minute printing, packing, repacking, the works. It would have been fine if I’d told my bosses that I was going on vacation but I hadn’t. I’d figured I could always work on the road — at the airport, on the plane, on the train, evenings — and, well, you know what they say about good intentions.

The thing that not too many people realize about having the kind of work you can take with you on vacation is that you actually do take the work with you on vacation.

Once, in Tokyo, I was chatting with a friend on Facebook and he asked, “Why are you still in your room? Why aren’t you out there enjoying the city?”

“I have work I need to finish today 🙁 ,” I said.

On the day tour I took to Bath, Stonehenge, and the Cotswolds the other year, I spent a lot of my time on the tour bus tapping away on my laptop, finishing an article, which I then emailed to my boss at the Edinburgh stop of our sleeper train from London to Inverness. I’ve been asked, “Where are we going today?” and answered, “The British Library” because I thought it was win-win: my companions could check out their collection and I could get some work in. Friends, on another day, went inside the Natural History Museum while I stayed outside on a bench with my computer because there was something I really, really needed to hand in that day.

And yes: this year, I spent Saturday evening in Florence alone in my hostel room, working.

I’m not complaining at all and it usually works out great. I love my work and I love my bosses. It’s just something to keep in mind: a reminder, for people wishing for work they can do anywhere, that it’s work they will have to do anywhere.



17 thoughts on “Work from Home (or Hostel)”

  • This kind of work makes us more flexible, but it also means we don’t abide by the regular structure of regular people.
    When I am working, people still exclaim “but it’s the weekend!” They don’t realize that maybe I had Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday off for a hike.

  • Honestly I don’t know how I’d have the discipline. Except that I’d simply have to I guess. Slower travel would work better but probably you can’t get away for long. It’s a great compromise. At least you get to travel.
    Alison

    • It’s not so much discipline as fear of unemployment. 😀 When I travel, I can maybe do 1/10 of the work I usually do at home, and I just try to make up for it (at least partially) when I get back. My bosses are actually really cool that way. But I try to get in at least a little amount of work done every week, even when I’m on the road, just to let them know I’m still alive…and I still need a job. 😀

  • first off, omg, I love the colors in that room in your photo 😀
    secondly, I fully relate… I work from home or, for that matter, from anywhere, as you say in your post 🙂 but sometimes we need to remind ourselves to just slow it down, right? ♥ no work in Tokyo or Florence next time, deal? 😛

    • Yes ma’am. 😀 Well, my next break — which is many months away — will just be a week long and it’ll be with my son and parents and sister, so I doubt I could work even if I wanted to. 😀 We do need to slow down from time to time! 🙂 And I love the colors too! It’s actually of a different hostel but the one in Florence was nearly as colorful.

  • There is always a downside to the best of jobs, but I imagine the overall freedom is more than adequate compensation!

    • Oh, I love it. I’m thankful for it everyday. Although, just to qualify, the “freedom” has a very real price in terms of compensation: if I don’t work, I get paid. And when I travel, it’s nearly impossible to put in as much time into work as I can at home — so on the road, I spend a lot more and earn a whole lot less than when I’m at home, to the point that I wouldn’t be able to sustain myself and my family if I do it all year. But from time to time, yes, it’s worth the trade-off, absolutely.

  • I totally understand about working anywhere. My husband has that flexibility too. Don’t work in the hostel. Go somewhere more interesting, maybe a Cafe? you can get work done and people watch at the same time

    • I usually try to do that, both to at least combine work with pleasure and also because if I stay in my room I tend to be tempted to just sleep. 😀 But sometimes, if I’m in a real hurry or if it’s a new city and I don’t know yet where I can get free WiFi, that’s when I play safe and work at the hostel/hotel.

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