Pros and Cons of the Working Voiceover Vacation

Pros and Cons of the Working Voiceover VacationI began writing this post while sitting in the Cancun airport waiting to board my flight back to Chicago, en route home to Michigan. My husband and I were (sadly) coming to the end of our six day getaway, having enjoyed tons of sun, delicious cuisine, and the chance to have pretty much zero responsibilities.

While we were away, we did have our laptop so we could keep up with emails. I found it curious that there were a couple of blog posts and group comments during that time about voice talent taking working voiceover vacations, and exploring questions like:

– Do you to take your recording equipment with you on vacation?
– Do you ever take a real vacation away from your voiceover work?
– Can you really call it a vacation if you’re WORKING??

Since we’re heading into summer, and typical vacation time, it stirred my mind on what was good, and not so good about working while on vacation.

This time, like the last time we went on a vacation, I didn’t plan on doing any voiceover work while on my trip. And I must confess that I really loved the freedom to just delete all the P2P audition notices without any hint of guilt or remorse.

Pros & Cons of the Working Voiceover VacationOn previous trips, I never brought my recording equipment along but I did have a couple of regular clients for whom I could record outbound phone messaging jobs. Typically I could record the messages right from the phone in my room without much trouble.

When you’re the sole proprietor of your own voiceover business, it can feel like a double whammy in cost when vacationing, since you’re spending extra money on your trip, in addition to not making anything while you’re gone. That extra vacation work was always kind of nice since I could pocket several hundred dollars while away. It helped pay for some of the costs, and obviously also kept my clients happy.

Also, My husband used to be fairly active in stock market trading, and he liked to check in on how the market was doing every day and make trading decisions, which would pull him away from the beach/pool for an hour or more every afternoon. Not fun.

Having now vacationed both ways (with and without work involved), I have been pondering the pros and cons of doing voiceover work while on vacation:

Pros of Being a Vacationing Voiceover Talent

– Primarily that I get to make a little extra money on my trip and help offset some of the costs. It makes it feel like I’m getting a big discount on the travel bill.

– I can keep some of my regular voiceover clients, who are used to having immediate access and service, happy. The caveat being that there are limitations to what I can provide, since I don’t typically travel with sound equipment.

– It feels good to not be missing out on new work. I can check my email and still be in touch with any new job inquiries or offers, if only to tell them that I’ll be available again in a few days.

Cons of the Working Voiceover Vacation

– My mind never fully disengages from my business. Having a “working mindset” while on vacation takes up mental space, time and energy. It is counter-productive to getting away and relaxing which is the primary purpose of the vacation.

– I have to factor the work time into my daily schedule, which can limit some of my plans for fun excursions or just uninterrupted relaxation time.

– If I was bringing equipment down with me, there is the added stress of safely transporting everything, protecting it at my destination, figuring out a good recording setup that will work, and troubleshooting things, to make sure the quality is up to snuff.

Why Letting Go Completely is So Important

During the last couple of vacations (both to Cancun) we’ve gravitated away from doing any work while on vacation, with the exception of checking email at least once per day. The phone recording work client changed their system awhile back, requiring wav files instead of direct phone recording, so that no longer was something I could do remotely unless I brought equipment. And my husband also changed his investment strategy and no longer does any stock trading on a regular daily basis.

We both have noticed a huge difference in the quality of our time while on vacation since we stopped trying to be so gosh darn productive. Even though on paper, the time we used to spend handling the work chores was not more than an hour or so per day, the mental “pull” of always having to be aware of those things really detracted from our chance to fully relax and let go.

Perhaps, not coincidentally, before leaving on my trip, I was looking for a good book to take along and a close friend handed me “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. (I only got through “Eat” and “Pray” on the trip, and am finishing the “Love” part now at home.)

In the early part of the book, (“EAT”) the heroine is living in Italy, and observes how the Italian people are very good at “doing nothing” for part of the day, or even a few days at a time, or more. She contrasts that way of being with how it is in America, where “being busy” is the normal, even expected way to be.

Working Voiceover Vacations - Pros and ConsIt seems that we Americans are not very comfortable “doing nothing” or even “thinking about doing nothing.” And even when we are not working, we have invented many ways to entertain ourselves and occupy our minds with other distractions, never fully allowing ourselves to just detach and relax. Is this something you observe as well?

But, I find that if my mind is always occupied, especially with things that are comfortable and familiar to me (like work stuff), then I never get a chance to move “outside the box” of my own thinking. That is where the freedom, new ideas and inspirations come from, as well as just the chance to let my brain completely uncoil itself from all of the typical thoughts and responsibilities.

My conclusion is that I find it necessary for the health of the mind and the soul to actually mandate some sort of real break from work (both career work and family/child-related work)…even if only for a short time. And if I’m not on an actual vacation, then maybe it’s just a walk around the neighborhood, or an impromtu shopping excursion. Getting away for a few minutes/hours/days is enough to gain a new perspective on things, hit the re-set button, and start fresh. All work and no play not only makes for a very dull VO talent, but also ceases the creative energy and life flow we need, as artists, to sustain us in our work.

So, we arrived home safely late Tuesday night, and hit the ground running on Wednesday. It’s always a little jarring to go from vacation mode right into catch-up work mode. It almost seems like the vacation never even happened (sigh). However, my mind does feel more refreshed, like a comfortable spring breeze has just cleared out the mental clutter. My vacation is just a memory, but its effects will linger for many weeks to come.

What has been your experience with work and vacations? Can they be successfully mixed? Please share your thoughts!

has been a working voiceover talent for 20+ years, collaborating on thousands of projects and partnering with hundreds of production companies, marketing and advertising firms, commercial voice-over recording studios and corporate/business clients around the United States and throughout the world. Check out her Voiceover Talent Demos and request a Custom Voice Audition for your upcoming project.

8 comments on “Pros and Cons of the Working Voiceover Vacation

  1. Moe Rock on

    What great timing you have Debbie, as I am heading out on vacation in a week and a half to the Outer Banks. I am taking my travel kit with me this time, however I’ve notified all my regular clients i’ll be traveling and if they think they’ll need anything to try to get it to me beforehand. Some of my clients even commented that they hate giving people work on vacation and wouldn’t do that to me. lol I’m hoping to do little more than keep up with emails, but I’m glad I have my travel kit just in case something should come up.

    I have almost always done “some” work while on vacation, however I did take a 2 week cruise last year and didn’t even take my laptop. I had no phone service either… so I had to COMPLETELY unplug. I gotta say it was wonderful!!!

    So there you have my opinion… I will mostly work a bit on vacation, but try to inform my clients ahead of time that I will only have my travel kit.

    Oh… and one huge plus of working on vacation is that it makes the trip a tax write-off!! HUGE plus!

  2. Debbie Grattan on

    Hey Moe – thanks for chiming in! Glad my timing was right on with your travel plans. And, yes, the tax write-off is a huge plus, for sure. We’ve all become so used to being “on the grid,” that to unplug, even for a few days, feels SCARY! It’s kind of a sad commentary on our society these days. But I like hearing that your clients understand, and don’t want to burden you with work during your time away. I think that’s how it should be. Everyone deserves a little break. Have a wonderful vacation!

  3. Bobbin Beam on

    Hi Debbie,
    It’s necessary to be able to unplug sometimes, and take a real vacation, as much as it is to be ready if a “biggie” comes through. I usually travel with my remote equipment and locate ISDN studios wherever I’m going. It depends. On shorter jaunts, like a long weekend, I’m pretty much ready to work if needed, for shorter gigs that won’t take too much time. On longer stays away, I really take OFF, as I feel I need that time to recharge and experience living, so when I return, I’m refreshed. Plus, It feels really great to take a cat nap at the beach or a pool once in a blue moon! Ahhhhhhhhhh.

  4. Debbie Grattan on

    Hey Bobbin – thanks for chiming in with your take. Your point about locating ISDN studios is a good one.
    I do sometimes feel like I’m just a commodity, as a VO talent, or an actor, and that I need to prioritize my life and what’s important to me FIRST, and then worry about meeting someone else’s needs. If that means I lose a “biggie” – well then I guess that’s the breaks. But my clients are usually pretty flexible, and will work around my schedule. It’s nice to have that freedom.

  5. Robin Rowan on

    Hey, Debbie, This is something I’ve struggled with for about 16 years. The times I tried to work on a beach vacation with 20 family members in the house was a disaster, not only trying to find a quiet place to record (I made a closet do), but then getting it to the client when there was no Wi-Fi in the house and having to run to all the Starbucks, libraries, etc. in the area to use theirs. Did I feel like I was relaxing? No!!! So the next time I was out of town on urgent family business and could at least check e-mails, I explained that I would be back in the studio in a week and could they wait until then. And guess what? EVERY ONE of them said yes, absolutely, enjoy your time off, we won’t find anyone else and we can wait (even though it was pretty tight when I got home). So that’s what I suggest. We need a break. It will do us all good!!

  6. Debbie Grattan on

    Hi Robin,
    Yes, thanks for sharing the ultimate VO vacation nightmare, which can effectively ruin your relaxation. We often think things must happen urgently, when in fact, clients can often (mostly) be flexible, as you found out. Appreciate your comment!

  7. Dave Pettitt on

    Hey Debbie… you could do like Mindi and I and turn that holiday into 4 or 5 months. Last year we spent the winter down in Mexico. Mazatlan to be exact. With this global industry, it’s not hard to be anywhere you want to be. And starting the day with a coffee, walking the dogs then listening to the waves and reading a book on the balcony, puts life into perspective 🙂

  8. Debbie Grattan on

    Hey Dave,
    Happy Summer, and thanks for the comment. Maybe in a few years, we could consider the “living on vacation” idea, which is something I’ve always tried to embrace…but the big thing you probably don’t have as part of your equation that I have in mind is small children. So school, and routine, and the comforts of “home” are a bit more necessary for them. However, I’m sure there are people that make their kids international beings. I’m not a home schooler myself, so it’s probably not the best fit for me. But kudos to you for making the extended vacation work in your life! Thanks again for contributing! Love hearing from you!

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