It’s so tempting, I know. The inbox seems to be spiraling out of control, but you are ready to walk out the door on a snorkeling trip with the family (or maybe it’s whale watching).
Truth be told, it doesn’t matter. You are on vacation. You earned a break.
Travel is presumed to be this amazing, transformational—almost out of body—experience these days. I know this because I see the pictures on Instagram.
But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you turn back before walking out the door. You peek at your inbox, and there it is: The dreaded email.
As more and more people work on vacation, take extended holidays where they plan to work—so they can be on a "permanent vacation"—or for people who just can’t be disconnected, we're faced with the dilemma: How does one prevent a dark cloud from ruining some of the best parts of a trip?
It can be very difficult to overcome getting bad news from the office while you are away, then reconnecting with your family. In fact, it can cast a shadow over your day or even the rest of your time away, which is why there is a tender balance between working and bonding on holiday.
Of course, it’s good that people are getting away more. Americans leave so many vacation days unused that escape in any form is likely better than none at all. But planning ahead for the special moments and not working during times that mean a lot to you or your family are key.
Case in point: As I was recently walking out to take my kids to a special beach barbecue, I checked my email and saw something that I found quite dire. As my kids were bouncing around the room, waiting to see their new friends at dinner, I was sifting through an email chain and losing my appetite.
Suddenly, the last thing I wanted to do was engage with strangers, even if they were only 10 years old. Nor did I really want to be with my children. I wanted, quite frankly, to be alone, by myself, in a dark bar sipping wine and feeling morose.
This feeling was hard to overcome and, while I took my children to dinner, (obviously, I’m not going to let them starve), I had my mind on other things entirely. My brain was in panic mode as my body robotically went through the motions of dinner. It was hard to clear my head and go into the weekend with a positive attitude.
If a weekend or a week is all you have for your trip, you don’t want to miss out on a minute of the experience.
If you have limited time and want to enjoy it with your family, stay away from communicating with people at work. Try and have all of your loose ends tied up before you leave or someone to handle them for you while you are gone.
If you make the decision to travel long-term and work on the road as I did, make sure that when you plan special moments with the family, you act as though you are on a vacation and make sure your loose ends are truly tied up. Or at least alert people that you are taking some time away from the “office.”
It’s easy to look back with clarity at these situations, but much harder to predict its inevitable approach. Take my advice, you don’t want to ruin those special moments.
They don’t come around often.