The Billmarks Resized

Meet Nichole, another workationer! I was super excited to learn about Nichole’s story (Traveling with an infant! Listing their house on AirBnb!) and exchange workation ideas and tips with her. She and her husband, Daine, have agreed to let me share their family’s story here – many thanks to you both!

How did you first get the idea for a workation?
My husband and I traveled a lot before we had kids – at one point we spent 3 months in South Africa. After our daughter was born, I became a stay-at-home mom while he worked as a software engineer. We were up one night talking about ways to keep traveling…and maybe the wine provided some inspiration… but I said, “What if you worked while we traveled?”

Daine, what did your boss think of that request?
Recently my boss had moved to Texas, and thus took part in regular meetings over Skype. His ability to communicate with our staff on a regular basis, if anything, improved. It was a pretty easy ask to request working remotely for myself for only a month.

You took your first workation 3 years ago and that was for a month – that was the same year and time frame that my family did our first one! Where did you go and why did you choose to go for a month?
A month seemed to be a good amount of time to test this idea. And we chose Paris because we were already familiar with the city (this was a huge factor); we felt safe during our first visit; and it was clean, beautiful, and well, we just loved it like everyone else!

We found a wonderful apartment on AirBnb and Daine worked at a coworking space in the city. Because of the time difference, he was able to spend most of the day with us while his colleagues in the U.S. were sleeping. Then he would often work in the afternoons and into the evenings.

Daine, how was your coworking space? Did you work out of the same one during both workations?
For our last trip, I wanted somewhere within a close walk from our apartment. Nuage Cafe seemed like a good option and it was. It’s fun to work in a coworking space in a big foreign city, because everyone there seems to be from somewhere else. During our previous trip, I utilized the free squatting area at NUMA which was a popular spot at the time, but it was quite a long commute via subway with limited seating availability.

Your daughter was just a baby during your first workation. A lot of people – me included – would be intimidated by the thought of traveling in a foreign country with an infant.
We didn’t put much thought into whether or not to travel with our infant/children.  We wanted to travel and we didn’t want to be away from them. To have the ability and means to travel (especially for longer durations) as a family is a privilege, one we hope to always integrate into our family’s life. Plus traveling with an infant is much easier than traveling with a toddler.

And I have to say that Parisians are incredibly generous and thoughtful when it comes to small children: I had a stroller, and someone always held the door open for me. Or as soon as I stepped on a subway train, several people would jump up and offer me their seat.

You don’t speak French – was the language barrier an issue?
We learned as much as we could from Duolingo, and supplemented with courtesy and politeness, which go a long way there. Even when we had to go to the pharmacist for a minor issue for our baby, she spoke English and it was no problem.

When you returned to Paris for your second workation, you now had two small children! How did that go?
It was great, and we stayed for 6 weeks this time. Our daughter was 2½ years old and our son was 1. I’d take her to the playground and she’d bring her Elsa doll (from the movie Frozen) and the other kids on the playground would run up to see it. Even though they spoke different languages, our daughter figured out how to use her doll to make friends and it was so neat to see the children play together!

Planning a workation takes a lot of logistics and people often ask me how much it costs and how we afford it. Besides being fortunate that we have decent jobs, we don’t spend money on much else except travel. Avoiding a few hundred dollars here and there adds up fast. How does your family approach it?
We do a lot of the same things, and we’re really diligent about our savings too. For our airline tickets, we used a Delta SkyMiles card and we charged all of our purchases on that card to accumulate miles. Then we cashed those in for our flight to Paris the first time. The second time, we used a Capital One Venture card and we’ve really liked that one because you can use the miles on any airline.

We also use Google Flights to track ticket prices and figure out when it makes sense to book. We prefer traveling in the fall because the weather is great and it’s not the high tourist season.

Any tips on finding a place to stay?
The first time we just found an apartment on AirBnb and it worked out great. When we went back to Paris, we wanted to stay in the same place so we contacted the owner directly and she gave us a bit of a discount because she knew us from before.

Do you want to take another workation in the future?
Definitely. We’ve actually listed our own house on AirBnb and hope to be able to travel if and when someone stays at our place for an extended period of time. There’s not a ton of interest in an extended stay in Foley, where we live, but believe it or not we’ve had some promising inquires that just didn’t work out because of timing.

Any other recommendations or ideas for a family thinking about taking a workation?
You won’t regret it.

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