How to Take a Vacation Without the Internet

Even though we can work from anywhere and can dictate our own schedules, it’s not often that we allow ourselves to take non-working holidays, especially ones where we’ll be completely off the grid with no phone or internet access at all.

I never thought about this issue until about eight months ago when I got engaged. In another month, we’re going on a Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon, and I have no idea if I’ll even have a phone, much less internet access. But then again, do I really want to?

I don’t know about you guys, but it’s insanely difficult for me to stay away from the computer and work. Even when I’m not working on client work, I’m always checking emails, Twitter, Facebook, writing blogs or shopping online. This makes me wonder how I’m going to survive almost two weeks without the internet.

Is it possible? What will happen to my clients? What if I come home and there’s no business left? These are just some of the scary thoughts one might have after running a very successful and busy business for a few years.

I’ve done a lot of research and planning to make sure nothing goes wrong while I’m going and to make sure I still have a business left when I come back. Here’s how to take your vacation without any electronic devices tying you to the grid.

The Need for Technology

The hardest thing for any techy freelancer going on vacation, is going to be staying away from the internet. Even if they do provide free wifi where you’re going, you should really avoid using it. Personally I do plan on using it (if they have it on our boat) to post pictures of our trip to Facebook and Twitter, but I refuse to check my emails or anything else business related.

It’s tough, I know, but we have to resist the urge. I know people who go on “vacations”–only to be stuck in their rooms working the same as if they were at home! People with full-time jobs don’t work while on vacation, and neither should you.

Treat Your Vacation Like a Client

Block out your schedule for your vacation as if you were planning a big client schedule during that day. This makes sure you don’t forget the date and accidentally schedule anything during it.

It’s also a good idea not to schedule any work the week before you leave, in order to give you plenty of time to finish projects that are already in progress.

Save the Money

Don’t forget that you don’t get vacation pay. Make sure you’ll have enough money for not only the vacation, but the time you’ll take off from working as well.

You’ll also want to make sure any bills won’t come due while you’re gone, as you may really not have any internet or phone service. Pay them ahead of time so you can enjoy your vacation worry-free.

Warn Your Clients

About two or three months ahead of time, give your clients a heads up that you’re going to be unavailable during your vacation days. This allows both you and the client to plan around those days and it gives the client plenty of time, so you don’t surprise them at the last minute if they need you, and also so you don’t lose work.

It’s also a good idea to remind them a couple of weeks ahead of time, and to also set an auto-responder so they don’t forget. The last thing you want is a client emailing you about an emergency and then wondering where you are your whole vacation. The worst thing about a vacation could be coming home to an angry client.

Let the client know that they will have absolutely no way of getting a-hold of you during that time. It may be tough cutting ties with your clients, but remember, it’s only temporary and they will wait.

Coming Home

The week that you return from your vacation is going to be a tough one. You have to get back in the work mode, unpack, and  catch up on your daily routines before you even think about returning to the office.

After you do return, you’ll be faced with hundreds (or even thousands if you’re me–hah!) of emails, voice mails, tweets and everything else. This means it might be best if you don’t schedule much or any work the week after your vacation as well, so you have time to catch up on what happened in the world while you were gone.

Will My Business Disappear?

It’s important to remember that just because you’re going to be off the grid for a couple of weeks, doesn’t mean you’ll disappear online. The online world moves at such a fast pace, it’s frightening to disconnect for awhile for fear of being forgotten or replaced.

While your business may certainly disappear if you’re gone for too long, you’ll most likely be okay. Just remember, the most famous of us take vacations as well, and they have a harder time staying in the spotlight than we do.

Your Thoughts

How do you prepare for a vacation?

Image by Martin Fisch

Comments

  1. says

    Unplugging for your vacation may be tough for some people, but I think it’s vitally important. I very consciously put boundaries between my work life and my personal life because I don’t want to be one of those people who is always working. I know too many freelancers (and employees) who are always partially “at the office” mentally, even when they aren’t there physically.

  2. says

    Clients and other variables change, but up until now I’ve had very accommodating clients. I had to take a week off earlier this year because of medical appointments and a lost hard drive (a largely unfortunately series of concatenated events), and they were all very understanding about it. I didn’t have anywhere near a hundred, let alone a thousand emails waiting for me, though. That’s both very good and oddly not so good. *lol*

  3. SamS says

    Here’s the scenario… Let’s use the name: Peter.

    Peter read this post and took to heart the advice “…refuse to check my emails or anything else business related…”, “…without any electronic devices tying you to the grid…” and liked reading that “…you’ll most likely be okay…” He thought those were good suggestions.

    What if…?

    While he was away, one client was served a DMCA and needed static page code to be edited A.S.A.P. and several others were effected when a hosting server went down for the period of his vacation. He also lost the opportunity to retain a $30,000 website and web app development contract, because he failed to respond, saying he was on vacation and would participate as soon as he got back (the other party never heard from him so assumed he was not interested).

    When he got back, he was served with a civil suit (resulting from the above – exacerbated by the fact that he did not read and therefore failed responding to emailed requests for help), there were ton’s of email and voicemail messages asking for help (as a result of the above, causing his mail account to bounce messages with the “full box” error). And so on…

    The moral of the story? While I like this post, it’s not as simple or clear cut as suggested. For many of us, the facts of business life are more realistic. So much so, that not connecting during vacation can not only dangerous to our business interests, but also can present a somewhat puerile outlook.

    Many of us Freelancers do not necessarily have the luxury of employing other people to take care of such things while we are away.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the post, it’s just that it seems just a little bit parochial.

    Does the alternative scenario seem far fetched? It could, yes. In reality could this happen? Of course!

    Again, it’s a great post, I’d simply suggest that those of use who leave for vacations would do themselves a service by making sure they monitor email, etc. And only engage when absolutely necessary.

  4. says

    @SamS I see what you’re saying, but the fact of the matter is, if you’re in the middle of the Caribbean or otherwise the middle of nowhere, if you have no internet, there’s nothing you can do. That’s why I suggested informing your clients months ahead of time so if something happens, they can find a backup freelancer. Also, this is a great reason why I never take care of servers for clients.

    Also, a client CAN NOT sue you for your scenario, especially if you informed him you wouldn’t be around.

  5. says

    My son & I took a cruise last year. Internet access on a cruise is EXTREMELY expensive, as is cell phone service — ours was $4 per minute! So no checking in for me. I also knew that it wouldn’t be a “vacation” if I had to stay connected. I just let everyone know in advance when I’d be gone and that I wouldn’t be available.

    It’s your honeymoon, for Pete’s sake. Your clients should understand that and be able to survive without you for two weeks. Especially since you’ve given them so much notice! You’ll never have another trip like this again. Enjoy this experience — life’s too short to take your work along on this one!

  6. says

    Just two days ago went on a picnic in the mountains and there wasn’t even FM radio signal, not to mention the lack of cellular signal and data transfer. It was just for one day but the feeling is great.

  7. says

    I feel its difficult for me to go for a holiday. Whenever i have to go out of town just for one or two days i think about my work all the time so i don’t think i can take a break from my work.

  8. says

    Life without internet? These days I turn into a blubbering mess and wonder how I survived the “before times”.

    Recently I went on a trip to Australia thinking I would do business as usual, just from a different remote place. Wrong! It basically turned into a net-free trip because I had wrongly assumed it would be like the US with fast free access all over the place. Not so! I did have a great time and survived but found myself getting pretty itchy between the lack of computer time and not having a smartphone. I didn’t have many work obligations to fill luckily but was constantly blindsided by my natural reflex to “look that up on my blackberry… oh wait!”

  9. says

    Perfect timing…I’ve just been struggling with this issue. I’m going to be away from my office for a couple of days in May and for a week in September. (In September, I could probably get Internet access if I had to, but in May, not so much.)

    I finally decided to just give my clients as much preparation as I could and then go on my vacation and have a wonderful time. Writers need breaks, too.

  10. says

    Traveling without my phone and laptop? feels like I’m going for a vacation literally naked! But I ought to try it sometime, I really think I deserve it. Thank you for sharing this with us, its a tap on the back.

  11. says

    Interesting post. I must admit I used to be scared of going on vacations. I just go offline for a maximum of 3 days… and I am usually scared of seeing my inbox when I go back. Experience taught me that it is important to really create a strategy while I am away. I of course, wouldn’t want to hurt my business. I hire team mates or other virtual assistants too who has the same service level like mine and I delegate and let them carry on my business in my behalf. There is a risk of loosing clients most of the time but if you have carefully plan out everything before you leave then you can truly enjoy and have some fun even when your offline. (Of course I still text my VA every day when I am away just to make sure everything is smooth sailing) :)

  12. says

    I think it just depends in the kind of freelancing stuff you are in….and cannot be made general…for me its very imp to stay connected for some they can disappear for 2-3 days without coming online and nothing suffers….

  13. says

    Internet has become part and parcel of today’s lifestyle. You simply can’t imagine a lifestyle disconnected from Facebook and Twitter. You start feeling jittery, if you miss out reading your mails early in the morning. But in my opinion, the sky won’t fall if you’re disconnected from the world. In fact your life would be much more peaceful. In this regard I’m reminded of an essay by William Plomer “On not answering the Telephone. For all those who have not read this humorous piece here’s the link for you to read:

    http://poemsummary.blogspot.com/2008/04/on-not-answering-telephone.html

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