How to Disconnect From Work While Traveling

Strategies to help you recharge away from the office.

By Brooke Porter Katz

You may agree that a detox from work is a good idea, but putting your phone or computer away while on vacation is easier said than done. According to Project: Time Off—an organization that champions using all of your days off (and does the research to prove why that’s so important)—it is possible to truly get away from work so you can come back with a more positive attitude. Read on to find out how.

Plan in advance.

Picking travel dates ahead of time is key to giving you and your coworkers time to prepare and put proper coverage in place. “Everyone knows it’s coming, and there’s a lot of value in that,” says Katie Denis, chief of research and strategy at Project: Time Off. In addition, you may feel a bit more empowered to take a vacation if you’ve had it on the calendar. (Working out your travel dates can also be a big help when planning family vacations.)

Use your out-of-office message.

According to Denis, a lot of people don’t set up an automatic email that indicates they are out of town. Or they do, but the message will say that they’re gone until a certain date—and then provide a number of ways to reach them. Instead, make sure to put someone in charge in your absence and provide that person’s contact information. “If you know people will be getting a response about what to do, that can alleviate some pressure and stress,” Denis says. “They’ll wait until you get back or reach out to the contact in the email. Most [coworkers] are happy to help as long as you return the favor.”

Know how to check in.

A recent study from Project: Time Off shows that 8 out of 10 people actually want access to work email while on vacation. That may be because sometimes not knowing what’s happening back at the office can actually cause more stress than it alleviates. One approach that can help is to set up boundaries for checking email. Denis—who herself admits to not being a model unplugger—recommends doing it once in the morning and once in the afternoon. And before you go, she suggests: “Let people in the office know what you’re willing to do. They’ll respect it if you define it.”

  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: December 2017