I 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.
On 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.
It 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!
Debbie Grattan 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.