7 Ways to Make Your Vacation Work

I am grabbing my wife, kids, and a car full of popsicles and junk food to embark on our 2nd annual “Spanish Summer Vacation” this Saturday. We live in the south of Spain, so where do we go for vacation? Thirty minutes down the road to a campsite with a pool and a beach within walking distance.

As parents, we know the simple formula: H2O=Splashy summer fun for the whole family.

So I will take only my Kindle with me. And work hard to not work.

You can also make your vacation productive, just maybe not in the same way you are productive at your job. With a little hard work, and these handy steps, you can get the most out of your vacation…

Work Hard on Vacation... right?

1. Before you leave, work hard.

I have to say that this past week I’ve hit my To-Do list hard. This is important for me, to be able to relax knowing that I’ve been productive. I also automate as much as I could: I’ve pre-written blog posts for next week and I have made sure things will run smoothly in my absence.

Check.

2. Pass on critical tasks.

I have made sure that all of the weekly tasks and responsibilities that need to be accomplished are passed off. (Thanks in advance David, Jennifer, Josh, and the rest of the crew!)

Check.

3. Leave distractions behind

Much to my wife’s dislike, I admit, I live on my laptop. My work requires me to be on the computer a lot, so it is also a huge distractor from the purpose of this week: relaxation and family time. Laptops, twitter, facebook: Just Say No. Cell phone: For emergencies only.

Working vacations are like an all-in-one printer/fax/scanner/copier. They may accomplish those tasks, but just barely, and never well. I’ve done working vacations in the past, and the work done and family time both seem to be neglected. So No Working Vacation.

Check.

4. Work hard on your family relationships

I dedicate time to the kids, and relationship-building. Both one-on-one time and group family time is important. So I expect to play a lot of Yatzee, a lot of Mastermind, and a lot of Mancala…

With work and real-world stress out of the way, I just have to keep up the pace with my kids. And at 3, 8, and 9 years old, that’s not easy, but it’s fun.

5. Work Hard at Dreaming

I also take a notepad or journal with me. I use the quiet times to dream and vision-cast for my life and ministry, so the notepad allows me to jot down things to work on after i get back home.

The key here: just take notes in the journal, don’t read it until after you get home!

6. Work Hard at Relaxing

And I leave time for myself, and for my wife, to relax by the pool or sit in the shade. This includes a good book loaded on the Kindle, a couple of magazines, and a good stock of cold drinks.

Oh man, I am getting excited now! But I can’t forget the final important piece of advice:

7. Leave Time to “Arrive”

I think we’ve all been there: we schedule our vacations to return on the evening before your first day back at work. At work the next day, we’re useless.

I need at least a day at home after I return from vacation to decompress, get back into a routine, and to arrive mentally before zooming back to the office. Add this day to still devote time to your family, and all of the rules above still apply. (Stay away from the email for at least another evening!)

If I let it, vacation can be a stressful time for me as I wonder what is going on back in the real world. I am a pretty driven guy, and I really do have to “plan” to enjoy my vacation. So I need to continually remind myself of these pointers and work hard at not working hard.

Do you have any other ideas or advice for me?

  • Jonathan

    Great post – practical & sensible suggestions. Spot on Dave

  • Thanks Jonathan… I’m actually looking forward to being “unconnected” !

  • Work hard, play hard. #3 is big for me. I’m planning my honeymoon and there’s NO WAY I’m bringing my laptop.u00a0

  • Allison

    i am impressed! I still haven’t figured out vacation sans laptop….maybe next year!

  • Cold Turkey, Allison, it’s the only way. u00a0:^) u00a0nnBaby steps: u00a0do an entire weekend without it, then a week at time… u00a0

  • Dave,nGood stuff. I find that it usually takes me a couple of days on vacation to finally relax and begin really enjoying the vacation. This is insane, but I think my body is in a different gear and it takes me a couple of days to slow down. nnAnd I especially like your last point. I always leave one day buffer before I have to return to work. This is critical. Thanks for the great ideas!

  • These are great tips, Dave! u00a0I just got back from a month away, and it has taken me a week to get back into the swing of things here. u00a0Leaving time to arrive is key. u00a0Personally, when I get a break, especially winter break which occurs right after a really busy semester, I am initially struck with severe boredom and the desire to produce something because I’m used to running non-stop. u00a0Forcing yourself to be offline is a great way to overcome the need for distraction and to help you enjoy being with your family. u00a0Have a great vacation!

  • Thanks Jon. u00a0I am determined to work on my family relationships this vacation. u00a0I’ve told myself if I’m bored, than I should either be playing with the kids or serving my wife a cup of tea!

  • You’re right. u00a0It’s hard to just “switch off” at the beginning of a vacation. u00a0Maybe I should build in a day before the vacation just to veg…

  • I always feel guilty if I don’t uphold the “work hard” half of that saying… a topic of a future post…