6 Ways to Detach From Work on Your Summer Vacation

six ways to detach from work

We’re well into the months of summer, which means that summer vacations are underway. And while many people look forward to these vacations all year— whether they hit the beach like most people, or they try to fly somewhere like Alaska for cold weather like me—, many have also found it increasingly difficult to fully enjoy their trips.

This can be a huge source of discord amongst the entire group during the trip, especially if one person is needing to rush back to the hotel to finish up an assignment or answer an email, even if they had noted that they’d be on vacation then. Whether you’re employed with an always-on team or a freelancer, it can be incredibly difficult to just step away.

As someone who has been there, I never want to do it again, and I know you don’t either. So if you have trouble detaching from work, here are a few tips to successfully take time off from work and enjoy your summer vacation.

1. Prepare Ahead of Time

The best way to be able to take those glorious few days (or, even better, weeks!) off for a vacation is to prepare in advance.

Request time off ahead of time if possible; the sooner, the better. Remind your boss, your coworkers, and clients that you work with at least two weeks before your trip that you’ll be taking time off and unavailable. As a freelancer, I provide at least one month’s advanced notice, and I remind them again a week before I leave.

calendar to do list

This allows you to finish up any work that still needs to be done and assign responsibilities to different team members for the duration of your time off. It also prevents your boss or clients from “forgetting” and having last-minute projects they ask you to handle on your scheduled time off.

Try to complete all essential tasks two days before you’re time out of the office so that if anything urgent does come up on your last day, there’s time to handle it.

2. Leave Your Work Computer Out of Sight

When you’ve set sail (figuratively or literally), keep temptation at bay by keeping your work computer and your work phone out of sight.

It’s easy to want to check in to see what’s happening at work, even if they’re not pinging you and asking for help, so it’s best to keep any work devices out of reach. The last thing you want is to see that there’s a big project you’re dreading waiting for you when you return, or feel the need to respond to non-urgent emails.

Everyone needs time away from work, which is why an increasing number of companies have PTO minimums now. It’s good for your mental health, so make sure that you’re actively taking time off when you do have the opportunity to do so.

3. Set Your Phone to Do Not Disturb

Even if the primary work communication is through email or a work phone number, you may sometimes get calls from work on your personal number. You’re also likely to get calls reminding you about your kids’ open house at school, the payment for your pest control service, and (of course) alerting you about your extended warranty.

Staying disconnected from real life— as much as possible— can also help you avoid thinking about work.


phone do not disturbRemember that you can always add contacts to your favorites list so that their calls come through, including family members, house sitters, or neighbors who are watching your home.

4. Remove Work Apps From Your Phone

If you’re using a personal phone for work purposes— which is particularly common for anyone using a virtual business line, and amongst freelancers— there’s a good chance that you have work-focused apps on said phone.

Slack, Asana, Microsoft Teams, ClickUp, and more.

You can go through and manually disable notifications from each app, but this can take some time and there’s a risk that you forget to enable them once you return. That being said, some prefer to completely remove the apps from their phones during vacation so they’re not tempted to check in while they’re away.

5. Avoid Your Normal Routine

Whether you’re traveling abroad or enjoying a relaxing staycation, try switching up your normal routine to escape a difficult work-life balance.

office work space remote work

If you normally get up and check your work emails over a cup of coffee, switch it up and intentionally leave your phone behind while you go out to a cafe with a friend or partner. Changing your routine can be a good break to put you into vacation mode quickly.

6. Remember That Work is Just Work

Work is important, no one is denying that. But a job is also just a job. If you’ve done everything you could to hand off responsibilities and close out projects before your trip, enjoy your time away. You’ll never regret taking vacation time to enjoy life, but you likely will regret squandering it on a job that might drop you like a hot potato the second the economy takes a shift.

Work-life balance is important, and taking a complete work detox during a vacation is part of that.

Final Thoughts

As someone who has spent an entire night of vacation stressing because the hotel that was supposed to have internet definitely did not, I know I speak for many when I say that I’ve learned a hard lesson about trying to keep up with work on a trip away.

Vacation shouldn’t feel like a chore, and you don’t want to be rushing back on your time off to try to answer emails or knock out a few projects. It should be what refreshes you from work instead of stressing you out more. Otherwise, you’re likely to fall into professional burnout, which is easier to avoid than to heal from.

Follow the tips above to detach during your summer vacation and enjoy it for all it’s worth.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!