The Busy Person’s Guide to Planning a Stress-Free Holiday Vacation

Written by guest author, Sean Morris.

Most of us are busy all of the time, doing our best juggling act to balance work and family. Stress might be a part of your daily life as you worry about your children’s well-being, your aging parents’ health, the volatility of the industry you work in, conflicts with your spouse, or any number of other regular stressors. Add in the holidays and things can seem almost unbearable. A holiday vacation should be your reprieve, yet trips often become another stressful event. Here are a few tips for busy professionals to ensure a stress-free vacation.

Make Arrangements for Your Work Duties

One of the most common contributors to vacation stress is the simple fact that many professionals can’t seem to escape their professional lives. While you may not be able to cut yourself off from work, you can take steps to minimize the onslaught of emails, phone calls, and emergencies from thousands of miles away.

Schedule your vacation in advance and block off days on your calendar as unavailable so that everyone is aware that you’ll be out of town to ensure that no one schedules you for meetings. Find someone who can step in to oversee your duties while you’re away, and arm them with every ounce of information, software, systems, and knowledge they might need in your absence.

Don’t Take Work with You

Set aside short blocks of time to catch up on work-related tasks during your trip and stick to it, but don’t take any “must-do” work with you thinking that you’ll get it done on the plane or one morning while everyone else is sleeping in. Odds are you won’t actually get around to doing it, and it will set up residence in the back of your mind, preventing you from really enjoying your vacation.

Bringing work with you can also potentially lead to conflict with those you’re spending time with. Your spouse might get frustrated that you’re working on vacation, even if the project itself seems small. It could even take away valuable time with your children: instead of spending your morning on that conference call, you could be exploring the early-morning beach and collecting shells with your kids. It’s important for your family to see you commit to taking time off not only for your own wellbeing, but to build and improve your relationships with them, as well.

Instead of taking work with you, get any pressing tasks taken care of before you leave, and don’t take on any more time-sensitive projects before your return. Dedicating half an hour to check your email and answer any questions is enough time to keep you up to speed.

Secure a Trustworthy Pet Sitter

Your beloved pets often can’t accompany you on your thrilling adventures, but you can eliminate the stress of a noisy dog boarding kennel by making better arrangements for your pets.

There’s no place like home, and the same is true for your pets. You could secure the services of a pet sitter who would stay in your home to care for your pets or find someone trustworthy to dog sit your pup from the comforts of a home away from home. It will put the entire family’s mind at ease to know Fido is safe and happy, and it might even help your children acclimate to being away from him — especially if you request updates while you’re gone.

Set Expectations for All Travel Companions

If you’re traveling with other friends or family, be sure to set expectations in advance. Multi-generational vacations can be particularly stressful. If you’re setting sail with your in-laws, make sure that you discuss who will be paying for what to avoid misunderstandings.

All-inclusive vacations or cruises are a great bet for multi-family or multi-generational traveling, because all your meals, beverages, and other incidentals are covered with the upfront cost of your trip. That means you’ll avoid potential griping because someone sprung for dinner one night, but the favor was never returned.

The key to taking a holiday vacation that’s entirely void of stress is what you do before you leave. When you set expectations, make arrangements for your four-legged friends that will ease your mind, and prepare your co-workers for your absence, you stand a good chance of being able to completely unwind on your next escape.

Sean Morris is a stay-at-home dad and former social worker. He runs Learnfit along with a team of wonderful, like-minded individuals. Sean has been married for 20 years (and counting!).