The bad thing about freelancing (one of the bad things about freelancing, I can make you a full list, if you like) is that there’s no such thing as holiday.
Unless you live some kind of crazily organised life where you derive some kind of pleasure from filling out holiday forms, submitting them to yourself, and then approving or denying your own requests, depending on the kind of day you’re having that day, there is no such thing as ‘holiday’ time.
On the other hand, the GOOD thing about freelancing (or one of the good things, there are many, I can write you a list if you like) is that you can theoretically do it anywhere. So, theory has it: everywhere is a potential office. I could, in theory, go anywhere that had internet, discharge my work in as many hours in each day as it took, and spend the rest doing relaxing, calming, holiday things. So while theres no such thing as a holiday, theres also no reason why you cant be on holiday AND work if youre freelance enough to be mobile.
Which sounds brilliant.
In practice, however, this is made impossible by The Internet Factor: the fact that everyone SAYS they have internet available – or, even more enticingly, ’complimentary wifi!” – which makes you think you’ll be able to work, but actually turns out to mean:
1) We’ve got the internet here in the office at hotel reception, havent we Dave? Therefore we are a Hotel with internet, right? Oh, Ill just put that on the advert, its probably true.
2) Saying Wifi makes us feel exciting and modern. We arent sure what it means, but it sounds very impressive. We think it will make important people like us more, and want to stay in our hotel.
3) Someone installed the internet in a nearby house, and you can occasionally pick up a signal in the East Wing of the hotel, if theyve forgotten to put a password on it.
4) We HAVE internet at the hotel, provided by our TV/Phone provider. We only got the most basic package, though, so it is so slow youd be better off walking to see the person you wanted to email, and just telling them whatever it was you had to say. Yes, even if theyre in Canada.
5) We actually do have the internet at the hotel. However, even though it comes bundled with the TV/Phone, weve discovered that people will pay £20 for 24 hours of it, so thats what youll have to pay… before discovering that its so slow that youd be better off etc etc Canada.
So what was meant to be a part holiday, part work, turns into a constant state of sitting in a hotel room, balancing at the end of the bed, waving your laptop around because you could have SWORN you got a wifi signal there two minutes ago, finding one, and then trying to get one tiny thing sent before… losing it all completely, and having to start from scratch.
This happened to me in the East Midlands last week. In a country hotel that was very pretty, and in lovely grounds (I believe) and a very picturesque little historic village (I noted, in a couple of dashes around it between sitting, swearing at my computer and then politely asking the front desk if they could possibly kick their internet box… again). I had worked like fury beforehand so that Id only have a few hours of work to do in these two days, and was going to do a bit of holidayish relaxinging. In reality, the whole time was spent trying to do those very few hours. It wasnt very relaxing. It was mainly the opposite.
Sometimes, I miss the time when I would shut down my computer, leave a desk, and walk out of a building for some days, or weeks on end, knowing that work wasnt going to start again until the moment I stepped back through the doors.
But then I turn over and go back to sleep for half an hour, and remember not to miss it so much after all.
Everything has its plusses and minuses, doesnt it?
Well, apart from hotel internet. Thats mainly minuses. Thats just whack*.
(*nb: Im trying to bring back some favourite phrases from the 90s that sound particularly funny in a posh English accent. Do let me know if they catch on.)