4 reasons why location-independent freelancers cancel their travel plans

As I am writing this, I am supposed to be in Turin, Italy, staring at the majestic Alps from my beautiful balcony. Instead, I am sweating in San Francisco, taking a break from drafting Terms of Services for a client of my freelance legal practice.

I was wavering on going on this trip for a few weeks, but didn’t pull the trigger and cancel it until around 36 hours before my flight.

Many friends I consulted with about it thought I was crazy. Questions friends asked included: How could you possibly cancel a trip to Italy? How could you cancel so last-minute? Won’t you lose a lot of money?

Turin.jpg
A view of beautiful Turin, where I “should” be right now.

As a location-independent freelancer, though, my reasons for travel and flexibility with traveling differ from those with more “traditional” employment. For freelancers like myself, canceling trips is often a necessary part of our businesses. I wanted to help shed light on this, with 4 of the main reasons location-independent freelancers might cancel their travel plans.

1. It makes economic sense

Wouldn’t it be great if you could predict your revenue every month and match your expenses to it, so that all of your financial forecasts are accurate? Definitely. But are most freelancers afford that opportunity? Probably not.

Booking travel in advance can be optimistic for a freelancer. I have a policy that I will rarely book travel more than 3 months in advance. Why? Because it’s hard for me to predict what my revenue and schedule will look like beyond that point.

Additionally, certain projects may come up that make staying home more attractive. Although I have an official No Pants Policy at my firm, which makes it so I don’t have to interact with clients as much, many freelancers get projects that require face-to-face interaction or include other roles which require an in-person presence.

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Change fees, while not ideal, can be bearable for some. For instance, of the $488 I paid for my ticket to Rome (pretty good, right?), American Airlines will charge me a $200 change fee in using that ticket, including if I want to transfer the $488 credit to a flight to the U.S. or Mexico. I also booked Airbnb’s with flexible cancellation policies, meaning that I was out a total of $200 for cancellation the trip. While not ideal, I am confident I can make that back with work I will complete that I may not have if I were in Italy.

2. There’s a better trip opportunity

Sure, Italy would be great; but you know what I’m really in the mood for – lying on a tropical beach and seeing some beautiful nature (side note: that sentence may be the douchiest thing I ever wrote).

kauai1
Soon, my precious.

Nevertheless, earlier in September, I was talking to a friend who mentioned he wanted to visit Kauai and that he had 4 free nights to use at the Sheraton Kauai Resort. Because I’m such a fun travel buddy (read: because my friend didn’t want to drink alone), he invited me along. I was also able to get 2 decent, low-mileage award tickets through American and United.

Italy is amazing, but Kauai is on my list of travel destinations I want to visit in 2017, and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity.

3. Work schedule has changed

It happens in any job, and it’s no different for freelancers – work schedule and client projects can get in the way of an awesome trip.

As a freelancer, sometimes you’ll have a relationship with a client where they will understand if you have odd working hours or if your responses will be delayed. But it also happens that you will get projects that will prohibit you from traveling, causing you to cancel a trip.

Freelancers have ways to minimize this happening, though, such as by maintaining honest and direct contact with the client, and alerting them at the beginning of your engagement that you sometimes work odd hours (my experience is that most won’t mind, and they’ll often like to talk about the trips you are taking, which helps develop a more meaningful client relationship).

4. We just don’t feel like it

Believe it or not, even those of us who can travel the globe with our business sometimes just don’t want to. Travel is a vastly rewarding experience, but it also has some non-monetary costs, including trouble dating, exhaustion, and harming fitness/exercise habits (see my post on how to maintain these while traveling!).

With my latest trip to Italy, I would have had to fly 15+ hours in economy during the daytime, only to land and take a 4-hour train ride, all for the pleasure of working West Coast hours from Europe (think 6pm to 2am) for 10 days.

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Where I would sometimes rather be.

Sometimes I am totally up for the adventure, and sometimes I am not. Because freelancing offers a flexible schedule for most, it not only allows us to book last-minute travel, but to cancel last-minute if we are just not feeling up for it.

What is the reason you canceled your last trip? Let me know in the comments!

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