Reprinted with gracious permission from the author and “interaktiv” the newsletter of the German Language Division
Sharing my experience of working from England for six weeks this past summer while my husband reconnected with the capital city of his homeland elicited the question: “Why don’t you share your experience with other GLD members in interaktiv?” Uh….. okay. As I thought about it, I realized this was already the second time I’ve done this, both times to England, and I’m hoping to replicate the experience in Germany this summer!
The plan was simple. I would (kinda) work normal hours while my husband, who really was on vacation, took in the surroundings on his own. We would do things together in the evenings and on weekends, exploring our new temporary “home” – and the six-week stay was sufficient to afford me some time off, too! It worked out great for the most part. I even ended up taking two of the six weeks off myself, but the earnings from those four weeks certainly made the whole effort worth it – and my bonus was a very happy husband!
So now you might be asking how exactly I went about this, right? The most important part was finding a place to stay that offered unlimited wifi access and sufficient space to set up a mini-office. After some research, I ended up using www.airbnb.com and we found a flat pretty central in London that we rented for the duration. Airbnb has a payment system that goes through them and does not pass on to the owner until 24 hours after you arrive giving you a chance to complain if it is not what was advertised. Also, we were able to use a credit card, which was a relief after the rather unpleasant experience in 2010 the first time we booked an extended stay in England. That time I used www.homeaway.co.uk, but unfortunately we got burned on that one. Our reservation was cancelled just two weeks before we were to leave and had already paid in full. I’ve heard the safety net for that site has improved immensely in the meantime, but being burned once meant I was extra careful the second time. For full disclosure, I should add that in 2010 we managed to hunt down the woman and listen to her “sob story,” and she at least paid back 80% of what we had paid, but only after that meeting. Who says travelling isn’t an adventure!
The next thing you need to think about is your workstation. The first time I took my laptop, giving up a second monitor for the duration, but by this time I had transferred to the Mac Mini, so I was able to take my “desktop” computer with portable keyboard and mouse and arranged to have a monitor made available by a brother-in-law. I’ll admit that adjusting from my now three monitors at home took some getting used to, but it’s a small price to pay to work abroad for six weeks – and I managed my workload just fine under the circumstances.
Meanwhile at the ATA 55th Annual Conference in Chicago someone introduced me to a USB monitor that’s portable, so now I won’t even need to organize that in the future! As we look on to another “work”cation this summer in Germany, my new scheme is to use websites that help people find other people to “house-sit.” It appears to be a great way to significantly lower housing expenses. My plan is to build a profile on several sites that do this and see if we can get any “gigs.” I’ve read about other people who do this, so I’m hoping we can succeed, too. To be continued…. 🙂
Ruth Gentes Krawczyk