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- Increases in remote work have resulted in changing views on work-from-anywhere jobs, mixing business and leisure travel and taking "hush trips."
- Working remotely is a trend that's likely not going away, with many remote workers saying it boosts their happiness and facilitates better work-life balance.
- Using the right credit cards while traveling and working remotely can yield significant benefits and rewards.
Though the remote work trend may have picked up steam during the pandemic, it has long been popular with a subset of workers who enjoy the freedom, flexibility and work-life balance it affords. But although working remotely and living a digital nomad lifestyle can come with challenges, the right credit cards can make it easier to travel for work, engage in “bleisure” travel and enjoy hush trips.
Read on to learn more about work travel trends, remote travel jobs, the rise of “workcations,” how remote work is here to stay and ways credit cards can help you travel for business and leisure.
Key remote work and travel statistics
- 27 percent of the U.S. workforce was working remotely at least part-time as of August and September 2022. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- 26 percent of workers say their employer will follow a hybrid model post-pandemic, and 22 percent will be allowed to work remotely. (FlexJobs)
- 64 percent of U.S. adults who are working full-time or looking for full-time employment support a fully remote schedule, with 43 percent strongly supporting it. (Remote Work Survey)
- 63 percent of U.S. adults have traveled or plan to travel for leisure this year. (Travel Problems Survey)
- 23 percent of U.S. adults have taken or plan to take a business trip this year. (Travel Problems Survey)
- 23 percent of U.S. adults who are working full-time and support a fully remote work schedule would receive or use fewer vacation days if it meant they could work fully remote instead of in-person. (Remote Work Survey)
- 64 percent of workers say remote work makes them more productive. (Zapier)
- 91 percent of employees say remote work and flexible hours contribute to their job happiness. (Zapier)
The rise of bleisure, hush trips and digital nomads
The ability to work remotely or from home is changing the way people think about work, travel and leisure time.
“The rise of remote work has altered how people view working, traveling and taking vacations, ” says Baruch Silvermann, CEO/founder of The Smart Investor. “Before, vacations meant escaping work completely. But now, many take working vacations. They mix work with relaxation, enjoying new places while still doing their job. Others use flexible schedules to take shorter, more frequent breaks. This shift reflects a desire for work-life balance and the freedom remote work offers.”
These paradigm shifts have resulted in new buzzwords and terms being used, including “digital nomads,” “bleisure” and “hush trips.”
Understanding digital nomads
“Digital nomads are remote workers who travel frequently and work from different locations,” explains Andrew Lokenauth, a personal finance expert with BeFluentInFinance.com. “The digital nomad lifestyle is rising due to more companies offering long-term remote work options, increased desire for travel and experiences versus material goods and technology making it easier to work from anywhere.”
Digital nomad Rocky Trifari, a travel expert and former financial services industry professional, says working remotely, especially from exotic places, does not always equate to a vacation.
“Digital nomads get all sorts of negative labels for assumedly being lazy, abusing the system and so on. But in reality, work is work. Some people just prefer to do their work around stunning scenery or maybe from an Airbnb in the middle of nowhere,” Trifari adds. “Many fail to recognize all of the challenges that living a nomadic lifestyle poses, like the lack of familiarity, lack of consistency and need for ongoing learning.”
Understanding bleisure travel
Bleisure is simply the practice of mixing business and leisure travel. It involves combining a work trip with a vacation before or after that work trip, though it can also describe a business trip that is also a vacation.
Interestingly, 77 percent of Hopper users traveling for business plan to add personal travel onto their business trip, according to the company’s data.
In this way, bleisure is “a new way of thinking about travel and vacations, blurring the lines between work and leisure — driven by remote work’s influence on our work habits and priorities,” Silvermann continues.
Understanding hush trips
Hush trips, meanwhile, are a trip or vacation taken by a remote worker that is not reported to the company.
As for why workers would opt to go on a hush trip, the experts say the reasons are logical.
“It avoids having to ask permission or submit PTO requests. It prevents coworker envy or judgment for frequent trips. And it maintains the appearance of always being available,” says Lokenauth.
Consider that 56 percent of working adults say they’re likely or extremely likely to partake in a hush trip. Further data suggests that 8 percent of workers have been on a hush trip in the past year, and 27 percent of workers who have taken a hush trip did so to avoid using PTO/vacation days.
How credit cards can help you travel for business and leisure
Those who engage in remote work, bleisure travel, hush trips or a digital nomad lifestyle can’t always rely on cash, particularly when traveling overseas. In most cases, it’s safer, more efficient and more rewarding to use credit cards.
Credit cards help with business and leisure travel in multiple ways. For example, depending on the card’s perks, you can earn points and/or miles to offset travel costs; be protected with built-in travel purchase and travel insurance; and enjoy special upgrades, lounge access, free TSA PreCheck and more.
“Thanks to credit card points, in the past two years alone I’ve flown numerous times — to Turkey, Spain, Kosovo and The Netherlands — without paying any money, just using points,” says Trifari.
Business and travel cards can also streamline expense management, optimize cash flow and enable consolidation of spending onto one card, according to Rick Fletcher, group president of Payables for Corpay.
“Amid the shift to remote work, credit cards have simplified expense tracking through digitization and incentivized compliance with expense policies through loyalty programs,” Fletcher adds.
Remote work is here to stay
Even as companies push for employees to return to the office, workers are still very interested in remote work and willing to sacrifice for it. Case in point: 78 percent of full-time workforce members who support working remotely would sacrifice something in exchange, such as changing jobs, working off-peak hours, or taking a pay cut, according to Bankrate’s Remote Work Survey.
“Remote work isn’t going anywhere because many employees prefer it and are willing to make sacrifices for this flexibility,” Silvermann says. “Employees are often more productive when working remotely, too, as they can tailor their schedules to suit their peak productivity hours. This flexibility also attracts a diverse talent pool because it enables companies to hire skilled workers from different locations.”
’Whether currently working or aspiring to work, now that people have seen or experienced changes forced by the pandemic, there’s no putting that proverbial genie back in the bottle. At the same time, employers must adapt to these shifts while striving for success and greater productivity. Otherwise, many of their employees are going to seek work elsewhere.— Mark Hamrick | Bankrate Senior Economic Analyst
Tips for traveling while you work
Want to be more productive when traveling for business or away from the office? Try these suggestions:
- Pack properly. “Prioritize essential tech tools like your laptop, charger and any required accessories,” says Silvermann.
- Ensure you have a secure and robust Internet connection. “Research available Wi-Fi options at your destination, and check to see if you can connect to a mobile hotspot if necessary,” Silvermann continues.
- Set and maintain a consistent work schedule. “Work when you should be working as if you were in a traditional office. This is the key to productivity and maintaining your mental health,” Trifari notes. Also, sync your work schedule with your travel plans, allowing you to allocate specific times for work and leisure, and be mindful of time zone changes and how that can affect your deadlines.
- Maintain a healthy work-life division and balance. “For example, have separate profiles on your devices or browsers to keep work apart from play,” advises Trifari.
- Consider remote co-working spaces or shared offices to maintain a consistent routine. These spaces can also help minimize the isolation that can be associated with remote work.
- Rack up and cash in those card rewards. “Leverage credit card points for flights, hotels and car rentals,” recommends Lokenauth. “And stay flexible with flight dates and times to maximize value from your points.”
- Join loyalty programs offered by airlines, hotels and rental car companies. “These programs often provide perks like free upgrades, priority boarding or access to exclusive lounges,” Silvermann says. “Coordinate your bookings with your loyalty program memberships to reap the most benefits.”
The bottom line
Don’t be afraid of the remote working or digital nomad lifestyle. With a green light from your employer and proper planning, and with the best credit cards for business, travel and leisure in your pocket, you can enjoy more efficient, productive and satisfying remote work and travel arrangements.