"You're not seriously bringing your computer on vacation, are you?"

How many times have you heard this line when preparing for a trip that, ostensibly, is supposed to be about you relaxing. If you're like many dedicated workaholics, that number is likely to be high, and while it's true that you should use your off time to take it easy, that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to lock away all of your devices for the duration of your journey.

Some of us feel more comfortable having a small "connectivity lifeline." Others simply don't have the luxury of cutting themselves off 100%. Regardless of what category you fall into, there are some simple strategies you can employ before and during your vacation to make sure that you're unplugging the right way. The goal will be to reduce and manage the amount of time you spend on your devices, as opposed to trying to cut them out completely and failing miserably.

Before Your Vacation

Careful planning is the cornerstone of success here. You'll have to ask yourself a few critical questions to put things in motion. First off, "How much is too much?" You need to assess the minimum and maximum level of connectivity you must maintain during your downtime. This will depend largely upon your job and office culture. If you work solo, then you're in a good position to set your own level. If you're in a workplace where failing to respond to critical requests comes at the cost of your livelihood, you'll have to take that into consideration when figuring out how connected you need to stay.


An employee is stealing from you.

Download our free ebook to eliminate your risk.

On the flip side, you'll have to consider your fellow travelers. It's entirely possible that they have expectations that you'll be doing zero work while you're on vacation. You'll have to set the rules in advance. If you have to stay plugged-in to a certain degree, explain that to them well in advance. You might also consider creating a schedule of when you can use your devices to handle work activities, and when your focus should be squarely on enjoying your travel destination.

Don't worry; this will have the added benefit of keeping you from driving yourself crazy. How so? Well, imagine you're checking your phone every 5 seconds when a new email pops up as you would normally do. Do you expect to have fun in paradise (and avoid the ire of your friends and family) if you're doing that? Precisely. Creating a schedule allows you to stay connected in a way that balances work and play.


Once you're set on how much you can unplug, you'll have to decide what you need to unplug from. You might still need to access that work email, for instance. You might not, however, need to stay up to date and all 12 of your social media accounts. Pick one, and limit your time. This will help you stay focused and avoid getting sucked into any online time-sinks while you're away.

The next step is to lay the groundwork for a good time away. For freelancers, you'll need to get ahead on as much work as you feel necessary, then alert your regular clients that you'll be incommunicado for a few days. For you office workers, you'll also have to get caught up on tasks and alert your co-workers to your impending absence, but you have one additional step to take. You'll need to hand off upcoming work to one (or several) of your colleagues, so you don't come back to an avalanche of assignments.

Set up an out-of-office reply so that those who might have missed the memo know that you're away. For those that you absolutely must stay in contact with, supply them with an alternate means of contact so that they can move to the "front-of-the-line," so to speak, when you are checking messages during your absence.

To avoid the temptation of constantly checking email, make sure that you don't have to access it to review your travel information. Print it out, or go with an Itinerary Manager App to keep all of your details in one (non-email) location.

For those of you with multiple devices, picking and choosing is the key. Instead of lugging all of your work and home gear, designate one personal mobile device, and your tablet or computer for getting a little extra work done. This provides the dual benefit of helping you pack light, a definite boon, especially if you plan on flying.

Your final pre-vacation task, whether you're a solo or team worker, is to start readying yourself for some modicum of relaxation. This means working less and less on the days leading up to your trip, so you're not cutting yourself off cold-turkey. You'll ease into your downtime, as opposed to being dragged in kicking and screaming by your travel group.

During Your Vacation

While you're away, you'll need to stay vigilant and stick to your plan. Some travel guides advise you to refrain from any work at all, but this, as we know, will cause undue stress as you worry about what catastrophes are arising while you're away. Turn off your notifications, so you're not jumping at every email, but set intervals to check your accounts and give yourself the peace of mind that comes with affirming that everything is staying on track back at work. If something comes up that needs your attention, plan a block of time that won't interfere with your vacation, get it done, then move on.


For the duration of your trip, allow yourself some freedom to get lost in your activities. Enjoy your destination, and free your mind from the shackles of work as best you can. It can be difficult, especially if you're used to putting in long hours, but if you've done the prep work correctly, you should be able to transition effectively.

After Your Vacation

It's time to get back into the swing of things. There will probably be a temptation to hit the ground running at 110% on your return. Resist this, and instead return to work life smart. Leave your out-of-office response on for a while. Set aside a chunk of time to sift through that mountain of emails. Prioritize what is most important, and tackle things one at a time. Don't go overboard, and don't stay up 24/7 trying to catch up on everything at once. An online timeclock is a great way to keep yourself from getting overburdened.


If you've managed to balance everything right, you'll find that vacation doesn't have to be a hassle, and you can unplug from work without killing your productivity and giving yourself a worry-induced heart attack. You might even find yourself integrating some of these connectivity tricks into your normal routine upon your return. Happy travels!