For all of the hard work you put into planning a vacation, you deserve a quiet, distraction-free stretch of time to relax and enjoy your new surroundings. But going Out-Of-Office isn't as easy as it sounds. From constant phone notifications and pings to unavoidable glimpses of TV news broadcasts, there’s a lot out there trying to distract you from the task at hand (which is enjoying the fact that there is no real task at hand).
As an ex-travel editor, I often found myself working on vacation 100 percent of the time. And I don’t just mean answering emails and scheduling meetings. I was constantly brainstorming story ideas or filming videos and taking photos for potential Instagram takeovers instead of relaxing. It wasn’t often that you would find me without a notebook jotting down piece pitches when I was supposed to be sitting on a beach with a drink in hand. There’s a happy medium with every situation, and I worked hard to find mine and make sure that some of my vacation time was spent only doing what I wanted to do at that moment—and not just for an Instagram Story. Here are my editor-approved travel tips.
Check Your Email Once a Day—After Work Hours
The thought of returning to an inbox overflowing with hundreds of unread emails is almost enough for me to write off vacations forever. To keep that anxiety in check, I’ll take a peek at my inbox every day, but only once and only when everyone at work has gone home (and is preferably sleeping). That way, you won’t get any responses right away, and you can still feel good about dealing with any potential fires.
Recruit Someone at Work to Be Your Vacation Wing Person
You’re going to miss meetings, you’re going to miss important conversations, and you’re going to miss emails. There’s no avoiding that. But one thing you can do is recruit someone you’re close to at work—preferably someone who is at many of the same meetings you are—to keep you in the conversation back at the office. Is someone trying to make a decision that will surely affect your day-to-day? Then have your vacation wing person ask them to wait until you’re back to make a final decision. This won’t work all of the time, but it will at least keep the fact that you’re out of the office in the conversation. And the peace of mind will be worth it.
Go Old School: Buy a Disposable or Polaroid Camera
I’m a big fan of leaving my phone off and tucked somewhere safe for an entire day (or more!) when I’m taking a personal vacation. “But what about the photos?!” you say? Easy: get yourself a disposable, or Polaroid, camera. Not only will you feel much less stressed if something were to happen to it, but you’ll also find yourself focusing more on the experience than glued to your screen.
Set a Fun Out of Office Message
You should also send an email to your team before you head out on your trip, but have some fun with your out-of-office message. Not only is this a conversation starter once you’re back in the office, but it can also help diffuse any tense situations that might be lurking in your inbox. Be friendly, relatable, and helpful. Here’s my go-to template:
You caught me out of office! I am most certainly not at my desk, and I am definitely not on email. In fact, I’m probably experiencing all four seasons in the span of an hour hiking in Iceland. But I will be back on [ENTER DATE HERE], and I’ll get back to you then.
If you have something urgent, please send your request over to [ENTER AMAZING PERSON HELPING YOU OUT HERE]. And then take a breath and do something nice for yourself today.
Thanks for reaching out,
This note isn't for all work environments, but try to squeeze in some personality wherever you can.
Turn Off Cellular Data for Your Work Apps
Not only do email apps eat up your roaming data, but getting a notification every time you receive an email is just downright obnoxious. Do yourself a favor and turn off the cellular data for your work apps—Slack, Gmail, Outlook, whatever you find yourself using during the week—and only flip your email data back on when you’re checking it (one time!) at night.