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The Co-Workation: The Latest Way To Annihilate Your Work-Life Balance

The idea of mixing work and travel isn’t a bad one. But co-working with fellow "digital nomads" on a grown-up version of summer camp sounds like a nightmare.

The Co-Workation: The Latest Way To Annihilate Your Work-Life Balance

[Photo: Timothy Allen/Getty Images]

Haven’t got time to spare for a vacation? Then why not take your work with you? Or better still, how about a "co-workation," a "combination of a creative business trip and inspirational adventure holiday for location-independent professionals," as Treehugger’s Kimberly Mok describes it.

The idea of mixing work and travel isn’t a bad one. Just this year I spent a couple of weeks visiting family and friends back in Spain. In the middle, I took a week of regular, no-work vacation, but for a half a week either side of that I worked my usual schedule, spending the evenings with friends.

[Photo: Flickr user Steven Zwerink]

But even then, an organized co-workation sounds like a nightmare. It’s like a grown-up version of the summer camp, where "digital nomads" can take their computers and hop on a plane, arriving at an exotic, faraway location only to spend most of their time on the internet.

The setup is similar to the package holidays enjoyed by our parents, before low-cost airlines let us jet around the world, and Airbnb let us live like locals in private homes. Many co-workation companies provide accommodation as well as a work space. Hacker Paradise, one such organizer, arranges three-month trips to places like Costa Rica, Vietnam, Barcelona, and Bali, taking a bunch of nerds and entrepreneurs along for the ride. Digital nomads can sign up for the full season or as little as two weeks.

[Photo: Flickr user Zaskoda]

Often, the companies will vet potential clients via a Skype interview, presumably to ensure they’re sufficiently enthusiastic about the baby leopard petting zoo excursions and the daily frisbee sessions.

The more you look into co-workations, the more they seem like backpacking trips without the backpacks or exploration, but with all the "fun" of a backpacking hostel. Which is to say, not everybody will like them.

Even so, it’s pretty easy to roll your own workation (minus the "co"). As mentioned above, cheap air travel and easy Airbnb rentals mean that anyone whose job doesn’t require that they stay in a particular location can go on a traveling vacation. Just working in a new environment can be enough to refresh you, and who really wants to spend hours laying on a beach every day anyway?

But the biggest advantage of the DIY approach is that you never have to meet the kind of person who would describe themselves as a "digital nomad."

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