When you take real vacations from work it is a sacred time. You’re spending time away from the office and relaxing. It’s a ritual millions of people follow every year because if you work constantly then you’d probably go totally insane. There are a lot of people who still get roped into doing stuff while on vacation so here is a small set of rules for when you’re on vacation.
1. Don’t answer any emails
There are few things on this planet that can derail a peaceful and relaxing day like getting an email from work. Usually if it comes to the point that you’re getting emails it means that there is a problem that they think only you can fix. Or (more likely) they don’t want to figure it out for themselves and would rather bother you on your time off. In either case you should not answer the email unless the words “life or death” are put in there and it’s literal. If you were supposed to be working you would be at work. You’re not because you’re on vacation. Put the laptop, phone, or tablet down and let them deal with it. Worst case scenario, you have to fix it when you come back to work next week.
2. Don’t be afraid to take your full vacation
You cannot be fired for taking vacation time. According to a global survey, more than half of people don’t take their full vacation time. Of those that do, a measly 2% reported that they don’t interact with work at all. What kind of vacations are people taking these days? If the company didn’t want you to take a vacation then they wouldn’t give you vacation hours. Use your vacation time. That’s why you have it. For vacations!
3. Don’t do any actual work
We said earlier that you shouldn’t take any emails but we’re not stupid. If it’s a dire emergency or something that can be handled in a few minutes, you’re going to answer your emails anyway. If that happens then it happens. However, if you end up spending 6 hours on your laptop in your hotel room then you’re not on vacation. You’re working. There comes a point where you need to say “I’m on vacation and I’m sorry but someone else is going to have to handle this.” Don’t be rude about it but everyone knew you were going on vacation so they plenty of time to plan for your absence.
4. Leave whatever city you live in
I know a number of people who take a vacation and then they don’t go anywhere. Sitting in the house (or apartment) for a week doing nothing is really just a really long day off. The point of a vacation is to get away from it all and enjoy yourself. It doesn’t have to be far. Take a 30 minute trip outside the city to go camping or drive a couple of hours to an amusement park. Something, anything to get you away from the stuff you see every day. Vacation isn’t just a break from work, it’s a break from life.
5. Relieve yourself of the addicting work place
You’re stressed out from work but there comes a certain warmth and joy from the job. Answering all those emails, getting work done, and those long nights at the office do have their benefits. You have a purpose and you feel important. The constant stimulus can be addicting. Being addicted to work is tough because most people who are addicted to work don’t even know it. If you would rather be at the office than drinking a beer and watching a sunset around a bonfire then there is something wrong. When you’re on vacation, try not to do things that remind you of work. If you sit in front of a computer screen, don’t go to Vegas and sit in front of a slot machine. That’s too similar to what you already do.
6. Do something you’ve never done before
It can be anything. Have you ever tie dyed a t-shirt? Why not give that a shot? When you go on vacation, you’re forging new memories. It’s hard to do that if you don’t do anything out of your normal routine. If you drink beer and watch sports at home and then drink beer and watch sports on vacation then are you really going to find that vacation memorable? We talked earlier about going somewhere different so there are plenty of places around. When I was in Army Basic Training, my dad took a week long vacation to come down and see me when I graduated. We ended up going to a lot of different places including a restaurant that sold lizard. He didn’t much like the lizard but he did have a fun story to tell when he got home.
7. Don’t spend the whole time in a phone or a laptop
Just because you’re not using those devices for work doesn’t mean you should still be on them. Of course texting family or receiving calls are things you should still do but if you spent all that money and time getting to a ski resort only to sit in the main building, sip cocoa, and play the latest fad game (Swing Copters) then you’re doing it wrong. Those devices will be in your pocket or hotel room when you need them. Take a look around and enjoy your surroundings. Technology is great but technology is also always around. You’re not doing yourself any favors letting those LCD screens take up all of your time.
8. Don’t talk yourself into hating your vacation
You’ve probably seen a movie or two where someone is on vacation and they hate every second of it. Don’t be that person. If you’ve planned the trip and you’re on the flight then the deed has been done. Even if you don’t want to be on the vacation you should try to toss your worries aside and try to enjoy yourself. There is no use being negative over something you can’t fix so you might as well try to enjoy it!
9. Don’t forge to splurge a little
When I went on vacation to Cocoa Beach, Florida, I made it my mission in life to go find a Ron Jon Surf Shop and buy something. Why? Where I live (in Ohio), we don’t have a Ron Jon Surf Shop and buying something from them online felt like a cop out. I ended up buying a t-shirt and shorts but I ended up not tying the shorts when I went swimming in the ocean and the ocean took my shorts. As embarrassing of a story as that is, it’s something I can laugh about now and I still have that $30 t-shirt to help me remember that time Cocoa Beach ate my swimming trunks. By spending a few bucks and getting something nice from the place you go to, you have a commemorative decoration that will help remind you that there are things other than work.
10. Enjoy yourself
If you’re not enjoying yourself then your vacation was not successful. Go have a few drinks, go scuba diving, go read a book on a beach somewhere. Whatever you enjoy doing you should be doing. Don’t go somewhere or do something because it’s the socially accepted practice for vacations. If you like ice and snow, vacation to Alaska. If you want to go back to your hometown and visit your family then go do that. The point is that you should be relaxing, enjoying yourself, and no worrying about life.
Featured photo credit: HQ Wallbase via hqwallbase.com