How to take holidays when you're self-employed

Sunset on beach in tropical country

Being your own boss comes with plenty of perks: flexible hours, the freedom to choose which clients you work with and a very casual dress code, to name just a few.

However, one area where employed people undoubtedly have it better than freelancers is the ability to take paid holidays.

Becoming your own boss means giving up this privilege. If you've become accustomed to escaping your work duties for weeks at a time each year without it affecting your monthly pay cheque, this can be a bitter pill to swallow.

But self-employment doesn't have to mean the end of annual holidays. Approach it right and you could actually end up seeing more of the world than you ever did as an employed person, while meeting likeminded people on your travels and discovering the best local spots in every country you visit.

In my three years of freelancing, I've learned how to maintain a healthy work-life balance, taking enough holidays to keep myself well-traveled, rested and recharged. As well as satisfying my wanderlust, these trips play an important role in maintaining my wellbeing as a self-employed business owner, and help me to avoid creative burnout.

Keep reading to discover my top tips for taking holidays when you're self-employed.

Communicate with your clients

Entrepreneur workspace with laptop and phone

Probably the biggest mistake freelancers and self-employed people make when booking holidays is failing to let regular clients know about their plans. As long as you keep the people who pay you informed about when you'll be away, there's no reason why they should mind you taking some time off work.

Setting clear expectations about when you will and won't be available to work is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a freelancer. While you'll naturally want to keep clients happy and provide as much work as they need, this doesn't mean they get to control your life.

If there are issues with the dates you're away, take action by suggesting solutions that will ensure your clients aren't left in the lurch. This might mean putting in a few extra hours before your holiday to meet a deadline ahead of time, or temporarily outsourcing some work to a fellow freelance friend who can act as a point of contact while you're away.

Take advantage of quiet times

Planning an adventure with camera, Field Notes notebook and backpack

After a year or so of self-employment, you'll probably notice the 'feast or famine' nature of freelancing.

Some months you've got so much work you can hardly keep up. Others feel eerily quiet, and you wonder whether those once-regular clients will ever resurface. (Don't panic too much – if you're a reliable freelancer, they usually will!)

When you begin to notice patterns in the annual ebb and flow of freelance work, you'll be able to plan your holidays during the least busy periods. Rather than feeling bad about taking time off when clients need you, you'll have something to look forward to during the hectic times when week-long breaks feel like an impossibility. Set that out of office, pack your bags and have yourself some serious chill time.

Combine work with pleasure

Mixing work with travel in a foreign country

This one might not be for everyone: after all, the idea of working on holiday isn't immediately appealing. But by reframing the way you think about taking time off work by embracing the digital nomad way of life, you could end up seeing more of the world than ever before.

For many entrepreneurs, the only things needed to get work done are a laptop computer and a phone. Portable devices like these make it easy to work from anywhere.

So, as long as you choose a location with reliable Wi-Fi and make sure you're covered to work abroad by applying for any necessary visas before you travel, you can make the world your office.

The increasing number of coworking and coliving spaces for digital nomads make this easier and more attractive than ever. Pick a country to visit, find an affordable coworking/coliving space to bunk up in with fellow remote workers, and you'll be able to travel to exotic places without worrying about leaving clients in the cold.

This isn't something I've done yet, but it's certainly up there on my freelancing bucket list. Places like Stokeworks, Outsite and Selina make it easy to combine remote working with activities like surfing, biking and social events – I can't wait to give them a try. Getting to meet fellow entrepreneurs from around the world and sharing the journey with them makes freelance travel an even more exciting prospect.

Hope you found this blog post useful! If you've tried working in a different country, or have your own tips for taking holidays when you're self-employed, I'd love to hear from you! I'm always up for a chat on Twitter, Instagram or email 😊