Working on vacation; we all do it. Technology has made it so you are now available 24/7, thanks to cell service and Wi-Fi. Prior to the invention of the BlackBerry, people successfully went on vacation without their workplace blowing up. With landlines and no email, our technologically inferior ancestors successfully went on trips and took sick days, but now in the age of the smartphone, there is a pressure to be available even when it is not expected by your employer. Where one can argue that technology has opened the opportunity for employees to travel more often or for longer periods, it is more important than ever to take some time for yourself. Inevitably, many of us are going to get stuck working on our vacation, here are some tips to avoid it, or at least make it minimal enough that your travel companions don’t hate you.


Spend the time to prepare for your vacation. Talk to your boss, employees,and clients so they know you are going to be gone and can make a plan to get as much done as possible before you leave.  Sure, stuff might come up, especially if you are out for an extended period, but that is when you delegate and trust your team to fill in for you. You work with good people, they can handle things for a week.

Communicate and Set Expectations:

This is where you draw that line in the sand so to speak. Set the expectations of what your availability is and stick to it. If you say you will not be responding to emails, then don’t. If you must be available, then set what the availability will be. For example, you will only respond to emails for one hour in the mornings, etc. Whatever you communicate, you need to stay true to that.

This is especially important if you have direct reports. It is your turn to set an example that they should be able to take their time off and enjoy it. Setting expectations and following them will help your employees do the same.  

Additionally, if you want people to respect your vacation boundaries you need to respect theirs. Make work-free vacations the culture.   

Travel Out of Service:

Places where you don’t get service still exist and I fully encourage you to take advantage of it, especially if you don’t have the willpower not to work on your own. Getting out to nature where you can’t be reached has so many advantages for your overall health and mental wellbeing. If camping isn’t your thing, leave the country and don’t get an international cellular plan. There is no point paying extra money when you are on vacation for your phone, just so you can work. That money can be used on things that are much more fun.

If you can’t be reached, then you can’t be reached. Your job will figure it out, especially if you set up that expectation.

Delete the App:

Turn off email notifications or my favorite, temporarily delete your email App from your phone. If it takes extra steps for you to check it and work, you are less likely to fall into the trap of working here or there.  

Don’t Take Your Computer

We all know there is only so much work you can successfully do from a mobile device. Not having your computer will limit what you are able to do and will, therefore, limit what others might try to ask you to do while you are on vacation. Also, by not bringing your laptop, you will travel lighter and it will make security at airports less of a pain.

If You Must Work:

Make it limited and set it to a certain time of day. By working first thing in the morning before you are up and about, or the end of the day before bed, you are less likely to interrupt something important. Also, set a time limit to how long you will work. If you need to get an hour or two of work done that’s one thing, but once you start pushing into the four or five-hour range are you even taking the day off?   

At the end of the day, work is still going to be there, but the experiences you can have with family, friends, or yourself might not be. You will never regret working less. So get your head out of your laptop and smartphone and enjoy your vacation.

About the Author

Cidne Christensen is the Director of Community Development for American Cancer Society at the Utah Branch. She has been with the American Cancer Society for 8 years and has a degree in Marketing and Economics from Southern Utah University. Originally she is from New Mexico, but she grew up in Clinton, Utah until she turned 18.  When she isn’t helping patients, caregivers, and communities in the fight against cancer, Cidne is an avid traveler and an enthusiastic Real Salt Lake Supporter. She studied abroad in Salzburg, Austria, Galway, Ireland and did an internship in Washington D.C. She also loves cheering on the Real Salt Lake and even follows the team on away games.