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Tips for working while on vacation

Vacations are supposed to be a place to escape from work. But unfortunately for those of us with strict deadlines, we have to work even while taking a summer cruise or a winter ski trip.

Woman working on computer at pool

Are you planning to work on your next vacation? If so, don’t fret. In fact, the majority of Americans do end up working (or at least checking in) while on vacation. It doesn’t mean the vacation is ruined or that you’re going to miss out on all the fun activities and be stuck solo in the hotel lobby staring at a computer screen. There are ways to make it manageable, and if you do it right, make it feel like you’re not really working at all.

Wake up early

The best way to not end up working your entire vacation away is to wake up before everyone else and do what needs to be done. Make a plan and stick to it. If you have three hours of work each day to complete, set your alarm for 5 a.m., grab some coffee and get going. The beauty of this is that you get it out of the way. Even if you’re not a morning person, if you save the work for the evening you’ll be thinking about it all day, and possibly miss out on a fun dinner or cocktail hour.

Make the most of downtime

If you’re traveling far, chances are you’re going to have plenty of downtime. Be it waiting for planes to depart or driving long distances, there’s always downtime on vacation. Use this time wisely. See it as an opportunity to get ahead on your work so you don’t have to work quite as much when you’re actually at your destination.

When not working, don’t think about work

Once you’re done for the day, actually be done for the day. Turn off the computer and don’t worry about “staying connected” throughout the day. You’re on vacation — no one expects you to check your email constantly or update your Twitter feed hourly. Turn on your “out of office” email reply, along with your backup’s contact information, so clients know you’re out of town. This eliminates the need to check any emails or voicemails for an “emergency” situation. Know that it will get handled either by your backup or upon your return.

Don’t work

And the best tip of all? Don’t work! Remember, everyone deserves a work-free vacation every now and then. Try your best to allow yourself a guilt-free, enjoyable vacation by preparing in advance for your time off. Delegate tasks to co-workers and trust they will get the work done. Tell clients weeks in advance when you’ll be out of town and who to contact in case of an emergency. And finally, spend a few weeks before you leave getting ahead. If you’re working on a project, plan on staying late the week before you leave to get further along. This will eliminate any guilt you’ll feel when vacationing.


Vacations are good for us. They help us recharge and put us in a good frame of mind. More often than not, you’ll be a better worker upon your return if you didn’t work at all while on vacation.

More on vacations

4 Tips to recover from vacation
Taking a nanny on vacation
Stress-free vacation packing

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