According to Urban Dictionary, a workation is defined as:
“Work remotely while doing the touristy things on weekend or after work. Not always a good idea but sometimes is more practical,” or
“Anytime you bring work materials, laptops, paperwork or worse keep meetings, in a neurotic attempt to ‘keep up’ on what should essentially be personal or vacation time. This is most acute when you realize you get more actual work done, on “vacation” than when in the office, because nobody is interrupting you.”
There are more definitions, but they do get progressively snarky.
I was not familiar with the term (although I’ve often added play days to business trips) until I heard Marie Surma Manka speak on the topic at a local business women’s lunch. Manka and her husband have taken several workations with their children, spending several months abroad. That involved setting up long-term housing, schooling for the children, and reliable internet and phone connections, even work space.
It also required making arrangements with their employers to telecommute. Granted, not everyone can be away from the office for extended periods of time. Some jobs really do require you to be on site, plus you need an employer who is able and willing to be flexible.
I have a friend who is a financial advisor. A few years ago, she spent several months helping a professor with a college class studying abroad. She needed to get approval from the investment firm and make arrangements for secure internet and phone communication. It often meant working some unusual hours so she could speak to her clients on central US time, but she was able to make it work, and see a lot of the area.
When Marie and her husband decided to try workationing, they had to figure it all out for themselves, and she wanted to make it easier for others who also want to take workations. She wrote a book that you might want to invest in if you are interested in and able to do a workation: Next-Level Digital Nomad: A guide to traveling and working from anywhere (even with kids and a day job)
To make it easier, the Mankas only go to English speaking countries, but if you’re bi-lingual (or more), you have greater options. If I was still working and had the flexibility, I’d certainly consider a workation. I would enjoy immersing myself in a culture by spending several months.
September 30 Update: The St Cloud Times published an article about Ms Manka that tells you more about this.