Six Tips for Designing a Real Vacation

I can’t count how often I’ve heard, ‘I need a vacation – a real vacation – to unplug from work completely’. Virtual and hybrid working bring more flexibility in where we work, but the boundaries for stopping work can be blurry.


Whether you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or overworked — here are a few tips for really taking a break this summer.


  1. Give yourself permission to take time off. If you’re fortunate enough to have work, yes, be thankful. But, also, be thankful for the opportunity to care for yourself. Make sure vacation doesn’t mean just working from another location or at the pool preoccupied with the email you just read. Carve out the time and break you need.
  2. Be purposeful about not just taking vacation – but filling your tank.It may not be enough to just be away to really address what is draining you. Decide how to plug into what will energize you and structure your vacation accordingly.
  3. Get creative.If you plan to take a week off, why not ten days or two weeks? It’s worth asking yourself the question. Can’t take a whole week off? Consider a workcation, where you go away and work remotely but enjoy the sites and activities after work. Or take a half-day off. Or a long weekend. Or several. Don’t want to travel? Take a staycation, where you stay home but do fun and relaxing things locally you’ve never done – instead of your normal home routine.
  4. Get outside and enjoy nature.Don’t underestimate the rejuvenating power of nature. Enjoy coffee or lunch on the front porch. Take a walk or bike ride. Exercise outside. One leader recently took his family on a cross-country trip to three national parks. The beauty of nature, the physical activity, and the opportunity to be together as a family outside replenished and invigorated them all.
  5. Gain perspective.Approach your vacation not as an escape but as a strategic time out. I was in a discussion last week with several senior business leaders, many of whom were intentionally making the most of their upcoming summer break. They were intentionally using their vacation time to rethink their business strategies and also refocus their life and energy management strategies.
  6. Be intentional about re-entry.Take some time while unplugged to decide what your daily and weekly replenishing rhythms will look like after you return from vacation. Plan a catch-up day or two when you return so your re-entry is smoother, and you don’t have the common post-vacation regret.


If you are feeling the stress of this busy year and small things have become big things – it may be time to take a real vacation. You are worth it.


Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. In his work as a leadership consultant and executive coach, he often helps leaders give and get the feedback they need for greater growth, better performance and positive impact. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.