I hear it all the time: “It’s just too much work to take a vacation!”
Now, I can completely sympathize. Getting ready for vacation can be a chore! If you’re traveling with your family, you have to make sure they have everything they need, do laundry to make sure your kids and spouse have the clothes they need.
Not to mention, you have to plan out the trip—transportation, accommodations, dates. You might have to reschedule appointments, figure out who’s going to take care of your pets and water the plants. And, at work, there are projects to complete, an inbox to clear, colleagues and clients to connect with before you can leave.
Wondering if Vacation is Worth the Time and Energy?
I don’t say that to scare you away from vacations. Quite the opposite! I want you to know that I understand how overwhelming it can be to get ready for vacation. But I also know that vacation is absolutely ESSENTIAL to your mental, physical, and spiritual health. It can boost your energy, productivity, and happiness like nothing else.
For me, it’s simply not an option to skip vacation. I need it. You do, too.
And there’s a better way to prepare for vacation—a way that won’t stress you out!
My Top Tips for Stress-Free Vacation Preparation
Here’s what I did before our last vacation.
What to Do at Work Before Going on Vacation
First, I carved out about 3 weeks to prepare and plan for the trip. That gave me plenty of time to remember everything I needed to do to get myself, my family, and my work life organized before we left town.
I reviewed all the projects and tasks that I needed to do before I departed. Instead of writing down all the “want-to-do” stuff, I focused on the things that absolutely needed to get done. I also wrote down the action step I needed to take as soon as I got back home. This made it much less stressful to leave my work behind!
One of the most important things you can do in the weeks before leaving is to communicate with your colleagues. Let them know the status of any projects that impact them, and make sure they know what to do while you’re gone. Let them know if you will be checking in, or if you will have any office hours during vacations. If you’ll be totally off-grid, good for you! Just be sure to let people know that they won’t be able to get ahold of you.
While taking to my colleagues in the weeks before leaving, I determined my contingency plans. In other words, I figured out who would be handling the things I normally handle at work on a day to day basis. Some things could wait until I got back, but other tasks needed to be handled, so I made sure there was someone available who could take over in my absence.
I wrote an out-of-office email response that included the dates of my absence as well as a list of colleagues to contact for various different questions and issues.
Another great tip is to put your dates of absence into your email signature a week or more ahead of time. After your name, simply say something like “Note: I will be out of the office June 14-20.”
Right before you leave, you should communicate with any clients, vendors, or other key stakeholders to remind them you’ll be gone and to make sure they know who to contact if they need something during your vacation.
During this time, I also booked a meeting with myself for the first morning that I got back in the office. I wanted to make sure that when I got back to work, I had a chunk of time freed up to do email and phone calls and connect with my colleagues and clients.
All these things really helped me relax and have a stress-free vacation, knowing that I did everything I could to get my work life organized and under control before I left.
How to Organize Your Personal and Family Life Before a Vacation
In the three-week period that you’ve carved out for vacation prep, there’s lots to do at home, too! If you do everything in an organized way and don’t wait until 10:00 the night before you leave, you’ll have a much better chance at success.
First, inventory your vacation supplies ahead of time. Do you or any family members need new clothes or swimsuits? Do you have sunscreen? Do you need to get reading material for the trip? Snacks for the car or airplane? Make sure to figure all these things out before you hit the road! You want your vacation to be special and memorable, not fraught with stress from items that you forgot to bring.
Prepare your home for departure. A few weeks ahead of time, make plans for your pets. Figure out if you need anyone to water the plants or get the mail and newspaper.
And, of course, make sure all your plans are in place for travel, accommodations, and any excursions you might be going on. Keep all your plans organized in a notebook, folder, or even on your phone to make sure you have all your reservations and other information handy.
Go Forth and Relax!
Don’t let anything stand between you and your next vacation! As you can see, it just takes a bit of time, dedication, and organization—but going on vacation doesn’t have to be too hard! And, I promise, it will be totally worth it to get out of town and unwind for a few days with your family. Have fun!