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Vacation Planning Tips

Despite our paid time off, SN and I always feel guilty taking a break from work to travel. We're clearly not the only ones - a recent study by the US Travel Association found that 55% of Americans did not use all of their vacation time in 2018.

Busy professionals can find it hard to switch off. I know we struggle to reconcile leaving our responsibilities behind with the need for a bit of downtime. In competitive sectors, being out of the loop even for a few days can be tricky and even feel damaging to a career, particularly when you have an important role on your team.

Making time for yourself is vital for everyone. Not only do you need to treat yourself from time to time, but having time to relax and not think about work can make you far more productive and efficient when you are back behind your desk. Time spent walking in the Adirondacks or cruising from San Diego gives you the mental space to think, about work, yes, but also about life and yourself.

Vacation Planning Tips

vacation planning tips

Thanks to COVID-19, we now have all the time in the world for traveling but nowhere to go! Life will resume before you know it though. There are flights and luxury hotel rooms to reserve. If you've been dreaming about your next getaway, whenever it might be possible, here are a few vacation planning tips to make it a reality once work revs back up:

Book Far in Advance

Plenty of career-focused people struggle to take vacations because they don’t want to let others down. Get around these feelings by booking your time off well in advance. 

Not only does this give everyone time to prepare and to put in contingency plans for your absence, but it will also commit you to actually going. If you’ve booked all your flights and accommodation already you’ll find it that much harder to find an excuse not to go. Making commitments with friends and family is another good way to reduce the possibility of backing out at the last minute.

Travel During Holidays and Slow Work Cycles

Depending on your industry, you may find that there is a time when everyone - coworkers and customers - seems to be gone. At SN's job, work tends to slow down around school breaks because parents have to take time off to care for their children. 

Similarly, whatever sector you work in will have a rhythm of work cycles, times when work is busy, and others when it is slow. Pick a time for your vacation when a big project has just been completed, or the work cycle is slow, and you won’t have to worry about leaving anything behind.


Getting the most out of your vacation time means being able to jump straight into having fun. With only a limited number of days, you don't want to worry about logistical issues or things going wrong. 

Creating a packing list helps you stock up on essentials and avoid hassles while you are away. Making a number of arrangements beforehand, such as a petsitter and reserving vacation activities in advance, can help everything run more smoothly, allowing you to just concentrate on enjoying yourself. 

I've always enjoyed the planning almost as much as the destination. (I have the Pinterest boards to prove it!) Thoughtful planning in advance can also help boost your pre-trip excitement, as you gaze at the wonderful photos online of the places you are heading to.

Enjoy the Journey

People often consider the flight or car ride to a vacation spot as wasted, dead time, but it absolutely doesn’t have to be. Enjoy this as a time to slow down, as this can be almost as important a part of your vacation as the main event. 

Now you can listen to that audio book you've heard such good things about. Now you can catch up on your favorite decorating magazines. Talk to your driver, enjoy views from your window, and relax. Consider traveling by train, cruise ship, or going on a road trip, where the journey itself is exciting.

Switch Off

This can be the hardest thing for busy professionals who live for their job to do, but it is also one of the most important. (I'm looking at you, SN!) Try not to take your work with you on vacation, leave your office phone at home, and don’t check your emails. 

Making the most of a vacation means being fully present, and enjoying every moment of it, which is hard to do if your head is still behind a desk. If you absolutely can’t deal with being completely disconnected, allocate short, specific times each day to check-in and deal with any urgent matters, and stick to them.

Set Up an Easy Win for Your Return

Work will hit you pretty fast as soon as you step back into the office. After a couple of hours diving deep into your email backlog, it might feel as if you’ve never been away. A great tactic is to set up a quick win prior to your trip, such as a task that is simple and enjoyable to do. At my job, this could mean preparing a few social media posts to share when I return. It's a great way to help you get back into the swing of things immediately and give you a bit of a boost.

I miss flying. Our Southwest Companion Pass is going to waste! In the meantime, I have been enjoying planning our future travel. Antarctica, here we come (one day).

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