The Ultimate Survival Guide to Working on Vacation

by Samantha Marin

This is a survival guide that I could use myself right now since I’m road tripping with my family in the western United States while still working for The Write Lens, clickity-clacking away on my second novel, starting up my own writing blog, and continuing training for my collegiate track team. I will certainly have to lower my expectations for all four of those endeavors if I want to enjoy this trip, but I also can’t go MIA for two weeks. This survival guide includes some key tips that I’ll be using throughout my weeks on the road.

1. Schedule out posts/calls/video chats before leaving

Having a plan made before you leave can help reduce stress and make scheduling excursions easier during your vacation. Getting a list of posts you want to make or emails you want to send can help alleviate the stress of I need to be creative today! Set reminders on your phone so you don’t miss an important phone call because you were lounging on the beach.

2. Finish more difficult and tedious tasks

No one wants to do their least favorite work assignments while they’re supposed to be relaxing. Get the difficult tasks done before leaving home so they don’t nag you during your trip or end up at the bottom of your to-do list and left undone.

3. Set small goals

Make a list of goals you need to complete by the time you get back from your trip. Then, create a tentative plan of what you would need to complete by each day to reach your goal. This way you won’t wait until your final day away to get everything done because your tasks will feel more manageable. Make sure you keep your goals small, however, or else your vacation will turn into a work-cation.

4. Let frequent clients know that you will only be partially in contact

Nothing’s worse than ghosting your clients. Sending a short and professional email letting your clients know when you will be away and what hours will be the best to reach you during that time is the most courteous thing to do.


5. Optimize travel time

Don’t waste hours on the plane or train scrolling through Instagram. Travel time is a great time to work without feeling guilty of missing out on fun activities. And, if you get a lot done before you get there, you’ll feel all the more restful on your trip. If you won’t have wi-fi, download any online articles you need to read or keep to working on those word docs.

6. Take an extra half hour in the morning and at night to do work

The inevitable truth is that you will need to make extra time for yourself to work if you really need to get things done. Giving yourself some leeway in the morning or evening when you aren’t spending time with family or out exploring is a good way to get basic tasks completed and help you feel accomplished when starting or completing your day. Set your alarm between 30-60 minutes before breakfast so you can work out of the way before the day even starts. If you’re a night owl, just get in a quick log-on before going to bed.

7. Make use of fringe hours

Often there are periods of time where you can squeeze in a bit of work when you’d least expect it. Before dinner, after breakfast, during the afternoon siesta hours, and whenever you’re waiting on family members are times when you could pop open your laptop to edit a post, respond to a few emails, or make a quick phone call. Being alert to these golden bits of time takes some mental training, but eventually will become a secret tool.

8. Key into your new surroundings for fresh ideas

Sometimes being in a new location can trigger ideas that you wouldn’t have had in your normal workspace. Lean into these ideas and write them down as they come. Find a shady hammock or sunny beach chair and see if the change of perspective gets any new inspiration flowing.

9. Take some time to cleanse your mind and get re-inspired

A mental rest can often be the best thing to get re-inspired for your work and be even more productive once you return. Don’t be afraid to cut yourself some slack and enjoy your time away.

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