The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live, work and travel.
With various restrictions in place across the globe since March 2020, remote working has become standard practice for many – and for most, this has been a welcome change. In fact, up to 58% of employees surveyed have reported that they would like a fully remote role in the future, with 39% preferring a hybrid working model.
There are many benefits to this trend of remote working such as more free time, avoiding busy commutes, and having a flexible schedule. All these factors are allowing more people to work remotely and travel abroad at the same time.
The pandemic has also changed the way we look after ourselves, highlighting the importance of personal wellbeing and acts of self-care.
Combining work and travel is a fantastic way to make the most of remote working and prioritize your mental and physical health at the same time.
That’s why we’ve created an index of the best destinations for those looking to travel and focus on their wellness alongside a remote working schedule. We’ve even got advice for travelers on how you can switch off, relax and make the most of your trip.
The world’s best destinations for a wellness workcation
From the scenic streets of Copenhagen to the laid-back beaches of San Diego, these cities are the top 25 locations from across the world for a remote working vacation.
Whether it’s the low noise and light pollution or the high temperatures, these destinations are the perfect place to work hard and then unwind with the locals.
You don’t have to go far to get a good break from it all. From the saunas of Helsinki, to the canals of Amsterdam, there are lots of great destinations in Europe for a restorative remote working vacation.
How to look after your wellness on a remote working vacation
To make the most of your workcation, it’s important to take care of yourself and prioritize your personal wellness.
Moving to a new city can be challenging, even if it’s for a short period of time. Combine this with a regular work schedule and you’d be forgiven for getting a little overwhelmed now and then.
We’ve put together some tips on maintaining personal wellness while you’re away to help you enjoy your workcation to the fullest. We’ve collected advice from wellbeing experts on staying happy and healthy as you work and travel and have even asked some residents for their favorite ways to unwind in their city so you can learn how to relax like a local.
Top tips for taking care of yourself when working and traveling
From taking regular breaks to incorporating some movement into your daily routine, our experts have the best tips for looking after your mind and body as you work remotely and adjust to your new environment.
How to relax like a local
There’s nothing like getting to know a place the way the locals do – the best spots to eat, the best places to grab a drink with friends, all the other hidden gems. Whether your workcation is one month or six, you can make the most of your trip by learning how to relax and recuperate in your city like any other resident.
We’ve gathered some local advice for three of our top destinations for ways to enjoy what the city has to offer while taking care of your physical and mental health.
You may have heard of the Blue Lagoon, but did you know Reykjavik has 17 geothermal public pools?
Icelanders love to spend time at their local outdoor swimming pool and use it as an opportunity to get some exercise in, socialize and relax. The warm water and flowing conversation will nourish your mind and your body and can be the perfect pick-me-up after a long day at your desk.
You can spend even more time outside by taking advantage of the nature that surrounds the city. Heiðmörk Nature Reserve and Elliðaárdalur Valley are two popular destinations for restorative nature walks in and around Reykjavik.
A defining aspect of Danish culture and everyday life, the concept of hygge is something people live by in Copenhagen. Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a feeling of coziness and comfortable conviviality, hygge is a key part of personal wellbeing for Danes and helps many locals stay relaxed and happy during their day-to-day lives.
You can achieve hygge by creating a homely environment for your at-home office, going to picnics in the park, or getting together with friends for a warming meal. You can even take a stroll through the Landbohøjskolens Have garden and spend some time people-watching and enjoying the lush surroundings.
It may surprise you to learn that among the skyscrapers and the Space Needle, Seattle is home to some beautiful walking and hiking trails. It is nicknamed the Emerald City after all.
As well as three national parks a short drive away, there are lots of urban walking routes within the city limits, providing natural escapes right on your doorstep. Routes like the SoDo and Georgetown trails are ideal for an afternoon walk or cycle and are a great chance to get some fresh air, sunlight and exercise in before or after work.
If you don’t mind a short journey, Alki Beach is also a great location for outdoor lovers. Here you can relax as you watch the waves roll in or recharge with some water sports.
A traveler’s guide to jet lag
When traveling for a remote working vacation, your dream destination may be on the other side of the world. In case your journey takes you across several time zones, we’ve put together a helpful guide to jet lag so you can recognize its symptoms and learn how to manage them.
What is jet lag and what are the symptoms?
Jet lag is what happens when your normal sleeping pattern and daily rhythms get disrupted after a long flight. This usually happens when you’re traveling to a new time zone, several hours ahead or behind your own. Jet lag can affect your physical and mental health, with changes to your mood, appetite and ability to concentrate being common symptoms. These can be worse if you’re traveling between destinations with a large time-zone difference like New York and Copenhagen.
Poor sleep quality
Tiredness and exhaustion
Difficulty staying awake during the day
Concentration and memory problems
Difficulty sleeping at bedtime and waking up in the morning
Fortunately, these symptoms are temporary and should improve as you adjust to your new time zone. Rarer symptoms include dizziness, indigestion, nausea, changes in appetite, and mild anxiety. These will usually go away over time as well, but if you are concerned, talk to a doctor.
How direction of travel affects jet lag
Depending on which direction you’re traveling in, the way you experience jet lag, especially changes in sleeping patterns, will be different. This is because you are either moving to a time zone that is several hours behind, or one that is ahead.
Westward travel (time zone behind)
Eastward travel (time zone ahead)
Same time zone
Generally experience: - early awakening (pre-dawn) - uncharacteristic sleepiness in the evening
- difficulty sleeping in the new destination at bedtime - difficulty waking up in the morning
Generally experience: - very few to no problems
Travelers generally find eastward travel harder than westward as it’s easier to delay your internal clock than advance it.
Dealing with the symptoms of jet lag
While there’s no real cure for jet lag, there are things that you can do to reduce its symptoms. From wearing an eye mask to beat the midnight sun during Iceland’s summers to taking the occasional siesta in Spain, there are several factors to be aware of to minimize the effects of jet lag on your body and mind.
Be smart about your light exposure
Light is the most powerful factor influencing your body’s circadian rhythm and so being strategic about your exposure to light (or lack of) can help adjust your internal clock when traveling between time zones. Stay in a dark room to reduce exposure or head outside if you need more light.
Monitor your sleep schedule
Monitoring how much you’re sleeping can also help you adjust your body clock and reduce the impact of jet lag during your trip. Napping for up to 30 minutes can be great to overcome sudden tiredness, but, be wary of napping for too long or too close to your planned bedtime. If you are struggling to sleep, taking melatonin supplements can help.
Reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake
If you’re experiencing symptoms of jet lag, it’s best to limit your consumption of both alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol can reduce the quality of your sleep, or even make it harder for you to fall asleep, increasing the impact of jet lag. Additionally, while caffeine can give you an energy boost in small doses, it can make it take longer to adjust to your new time zone.
Be mindful of your diet
If you’re suffering from digestive difficulty as part of jet leg, you may want to consider making changes to your diet. Heavy, calorie-rich and fatty foods can be difficult to digest, so avoid these if possible. Instead, opt for light meals and eat little and often during the first few days of your trip.
If you’re traveling across the Atlantic, you can also lessen the symptoms of jet lag by breaking up the long journey with a stopover in Iceland.
Our final tips
With remote working becoming the norm for many as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, more and more people are enjoying the freedom to travel. Many have also gained a better awareness of their personal wellbeing, prioritizing their mental and physical health even more over the past two years.
Remote working vacations are a great opportunity to travel while you work, making the most of these newfound freedoms and also giving you some time to focus on yourself.
While there are some destinations that are ideal for a workcation, like the relaxed city of Oslo or the cultural hub of Sydney, you can have a fulfilling and restorative working vacation anywhere in the world.
Our personal favorite location for a remote working vacation is our homeland, Iceland. Here, you will experience a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, with lots to do to nourish your mind and body. After a walking tour around Reykjavik, we recommend a trip to the Blue Lagoon to enjoy the physical benefits of geothermal bathing. Follow up with a tour of the Golden Circle to get some fresh air and admire some of Iceland’s most beautiful natural sites.
Ultimately, there is no ‘right’ way to workcation – as long as you are taking the time to rest and relax between working and exploring your new city, you’ll be sure to have a great time, wherever you go.
To create the ranking we analysed over 150 cities around the world for a variety of factors related to a wellness workcation. These cities were chosen based on their size and significance. The 11 factors and sources used are listed below.
To reveal the top 25 cities globally, top US and top European cities, we created a scored ranking from the best-to-worst for each ranking factor and then calculated an overall ranking for each city.
For the full research on all the cities, please get in touch.