Frugal Traveler

Winning strategies for a working couple's getaway

January 19, 2013 

With free time for North American residents at a premium, and the increasing number of people juggling side businesses and freelance gigs, working vacations are becoming a common occurrence. Before you and your significant other pack your bags and take off for parts unknown, there are a few things you may want to negotiate ahead of time.

Priorities: If your time away together is extremely limited, and your pre-vacation stress level high, take the time to sit down together and discuss what your priorities are with regards to amenities, activities, business support services and more. Is a fireplace something you can’t live without? How about a private hot tub? Do you want to shop or ski? Is there a complementary Wi-Fi where you’ll be staying?

Destination can be a driving factor as well. If the weather and atmosphere of a particular area appeal to you, try searching out accommodation options that are located precisely where you want to be. Discovervacationhomes.com for example, lists vacation rental companies throughout North America, including British Columbia, New York, Ontario and elsewhere. Looking for a rental in the mountains near Asheville? A company called Carolina Mornings will help you find a cabin that meets your needs, complete with on-call maintenance staff, stocked linens and spectacular views. Is California more your speed? Options are available for holiday rentals in Los Angeles, San Diego, Monterey and more.

Food: The proper time to discuss meal menus is before you begin to feel peckish, particularly if you opt for a remote cottage with no nearby grocery stores or restaurants. It’s a getaway after all, so chances are neither one of you will want to spend an exceptional amount of time on food preparation. Hybrid meals that combine convenience items with whole foods are usually a hit. For example, a favorite that my husband and I enjoy is fresh tortellini with green salad, oven-ready garlic bread and a bottle of red wine. It’s a menu that goes together quickly, but still feels fun. Stir-fry supplies with seasoned, microwaveable rice also makes our short list on a regular basis.

Even if you opt for a full-service hotel, the dining options may or may not suit. Do you want to get dressed up every morning for a fancy sit-down breakfast just so you can have that extra shot of espresso in your coffee? On the other hand, room service may not have what you want, and can force you to eat in your room. This can be a drag if there’s no view and you want to be looking at the waves in your robe. Sometimes a morning meal of take-out coffee and a power bar can be the most luxurious choice if it lets you stick your feet in the sand and enjoy the sound of the waves with no interruptions and zero wardrobe stress. The point is to know the type of atmosphere and food choices you both want to have available before you book your trip.

Pace: How much work is too much? If you’re expecting your spouse to enjoy spending the day at the spa while you maintain an epic work pace in the room, and your partner was under the impression your work load was going to be minimal, then you can expect tensions to arise. Similarly, if you’re both going to be trying to get a bit of work done during your vacation, it’s a good idea to make sure your schedule is clearly defined. This way, one of you doesn’t wrap up a project by lunch in order to grab some quality time, only to find the other is just sitting down to an hour-long conference call. Communication will go a long way towards avoiding chaos, hurt feelings and frustration.

Myscha Theriault/McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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