7 Ideas to Ensure Work Doesn't Ruin Your Summer Vacation

a woman sitting on her phone on the beach.


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Megan Leasher917
talent strategist + bourbon lover
May 25, 2024 at 1:59PM UTC

Travel is back and for some of us, it feels like it returned with a vengeance. When we take time off, many of us face the challenge of truly disconnecting from work. It feels so unfair. Why isn’t this easier? Does anyone have the magic remedy? 

I rallied my work peers and asked for tips on what they do when they take a vacation, then wove those in with my own personal reflection. Seven ideas, you say? That sounds like a lot. Well, it is, because this is one of those things that most of us suck at. In the spirit of getting better, consider the list below a toolbox of ideas from an executive team who has had many years of trial and error. As you read the seven tools, remember we all have varied life situations. Based on your life situation, you will know which tools might be viable options for your toolbox and which ones simply aren’t feasible.

1. Proactively delegate. 

Before your trip, reach out to coworkers who can help with requests you might receive while you are away. Gain commitment for their help in advance of your departure. Use your email out-of-office message to redirect requests you receive while you are out. Be specific by listing the topic, the name of the coworker who can assist in your absence, and their contact information. Ultimately, build your support army of people who want you to truly enjoy your time away.

2. Immerse your focus. 

Make the most of your vacation by investing in an experience that requires you to be focused. Maybe you are horseback riding, learning how to woodwork, or orienteering. Why go on a vacation just to be distracted by work and not really be present? This also allows us to be more empathetic while our coworkers are on vacation, and we remain working. 

3. Book activities. 

Plan ahead and book activities and events on your vacation. Whether it’s ziplining across a cavern or a staycation brunch with friends, there’s minimal chance for work to creep in if you’re already booked. Schedule your fun to truly enjoy it. 

4. Go out of access range. 

Have you ever taken a trip where you can’t be reached? I went to Greenland and enjoyed full days of no access and, thus, no human contact. There’s something about hiking up the moraine of a giant, calving glacier near the Polar Circle that makes you want to avoid all humanity. Hoda Kotb of the Today Show recently described her experience at a 10-day retreat where she had to surrender her cell phone upon arrival. Scary, right? Scary awesome. She discovered the same thing I did; she was happier without her phone.

5. Selectively abandon your phone. 

Do you really need your phone every minute of your vacation? Likely not, but your codependent relationship with your phone might convince you otherwise. Each morning, select a part of the day in which you can detach and leave your phone behind. Maybe it’s lunch, maybe it’s a quick swim. The world will not fall apart if you go for a few cannonballs in the hotel pool and leave your phone in your room. (All you would do is worry that someone would steal it and thus your cannonball quality would be subpar, anyways.) Use smaller trial runs to build up blissful time away from your phone. 

6. Check your email in quick checkpoints.

Wait, what?! While it might seem counterintuitive, consider taking one or two quick daily breaks to check email and deal with work matters, even if it’s to relay something to someone else or to make a quick phone call. Knowing you have taken a moment or two to stay on top of work can provide peace of mind, the relaxed knowledge that you won’t return to work with an overbearing inbox, and helps you be present and in the moment during your trip. Tiny work checkpoints can help make the return from your vacation much more bearable. 

7. Grade your efforts.

After your vacation is over and you are back to the grind, reflect back on the work that snuck into your vacation time. What did you do well? What could you do better next time? What tools were helpful? Which were useless? Striving toward tiny improvements will help you select the right tools for your next trip.

Use one or more of these tools on your next vacation and see if you get more out of your time away. Trial and error for the win!


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Megan Leasher is the Chief Solutions Strategist for Talent Plus, a global HR solutions firm whose mission is to leverage science to help people and organizations discover and develop talent, creating a world where people do what they are good at and enjoy.  A member of the Forbes HR Council, Megan has been named as one of HR’s Rising Stars by Human Resource Executive Magazine and The 10 Most Influential Leaders in HR by Insights Success Magazine.  Megan lives in northern Kentucky, where she loves coffee, bourbon, and Converse Chuck Taylors. Click here to follow Megan on LinkedIn.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for guarding your vacation time? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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