The problem with holidays when you’re a freelancer

,British female Voiceover Artist running down the beach

As I write, my travel insurance is sorted, my bags are half packed, the passport has been dusted off and the cats are booked into ‘kitten camp’.

I am going on holiday for the first time in about 4 years. While I’ve been overseas a few times during this time, it has mostly been for work, not play, and certainly not for this length of time. All exciting stuff yes?

To book or not to book that is the problem

Here is the problem faced by every freelancer when the chance of a holiday arises. You don’t want to book too far in advance because well “I could be anywhere this time next year…”. When you are in this business, life changing opportunities come your way a few times a year and although the odds are low, it does mean you are constantly in a state of being prepared to embrace a different life overnight. This considered, agreeing to a holiday a year from now can be enough to cause sleepless nights.

Booking last minute is also not the best option because most of the work in this business comes in last minute too. Only an hour ago I turned down the opportunity to present a cooking show because I will be away when they are filming. OK, I may not have got the job, but there is always that “what if?”.

I often envy friends in actual employment who know in advance where they will be, how much holiday they can take and will… shock horror… STILL GET PAID WHILE THEY LIE ON THE BEACH!!! I have always been freelance so the concept of getting paid while I am not actually working is frankly alien to me. But then I get it, I can do my supermarket shop on a quiet Tuesday morning if I like while they have to endure harassed families and screaming kids on a Saturday. Swings and roundabouts.

Is it OK to work on holiday?

I had a conversation with my partner about this a few nights ago. Do I take my laptop with us? I obviously can’t take my home recording studio with me. What if I slipped in a USB mic that would do if someone needed an audition sample off me for a decent job recording the week I return? He is taking his laptop which is smaller than mine. That would mean I am not panicking about keeping an eye on my lifeline while trying to enjoy a break. Do I ask him to put my recording software onto it just in case?boat by the sea. home voiceover studio voice talent pondering holiday

Recording a sample or audition from a hotel room might be a last resort, but I had to do it last year while I was filming a TV commercial in Paris. It won me the job. But hey, I was working while I was already working so it didn’t really matter.

Is it rude to be working when on holiday with my significant other? Maybe it’s different because I’m freelance and have no holiday pay, sick pay or regular income to speak of?

We also aren’t ‘lying on the beach’ type people. We’ll be spending the week windsurfing (well, I’ll be LEARNING to windsurf). This in a way makes me thinking about work even more inappropriate doesn’t it? I mean, we already have an action-packed schedule planned and here’s me thinking about work.

A fellow voice talent suggested to me recently that I should ‘forget it all’, go on a well-deserved holiday. The work will be there when I get back he said. A part of me is with him on that, but I don’t like to take work for granted. Then there’s that devil on my shoulder that says ‘Ah but remember that time you had a ski holiday booked? You had to cancel because a huge opportunity came in. That opportunity actually contributed to you landing your London acting agent remember…’

What I’m going to do

So here is my conclusion. I’ve decided to accept I’m going on holiday, and that there WILL be work when I get back even if the majority of it hasn’t materialised yet.

I may just slip in that USB mic. I’ll be checking my emails because well, it’s 2018. I’m also anticipating moments when my beginner non-windsurfing body can’t take much more and I simply need a break.

Before I go, I’m making sure all invoicing is done, emails are up to date and my automatic email reply scheduled. My iPod will be loaded with podcasts and audio books. Everyone who has recently requested a sample or a quote from will have it, and this blog will be published. Basically, anything I can do to get ahead of the game has to be seen to.

That way, I can sip a gin and tonic (or three) on the plane, and look forward to the week ahead without feeling guilt ridden.

I can’t really do much more than this. Perhaps, one day, I’ll even learn to not have this perennial pre-holiday panic. I don’t hold out much hope though!

Bon voyage!



  1. Luis Eduardo Zambrano R. /Reply

    Greetings from Panama. I use the google translator to write to you. I do the voiceover for the promotions of a television channel in my country and it becomes difficult to take vacations without getting a job. I felt identified. In the year how many vacations do you take and for how long? Thanks for your attention.

  2. Tim Bick /Reply

    I feel you, the work never stops and there will always be the odd thing you miss out on, especially “this has to be done today” ones, but I have gone from moving heaven and earth to get a job done while on holiday to asking clients if they can wait until I return, and most of the time they are very understanding. I don’t even take my travel rig with me any more.

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