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15 Tips for Truly Unplugging (and Rebooting) While You’re on Vacation

So you’ve decided to take a vacation. Wonderful! Just make sure that the break you take is a clean one. To get the full benefits of time away from work, it’s not just a matter of hitting the reset button—it’s about unplugging the cord, unscrewing the socket from the wall and yanking the fuse. Here are some essential strategies for keeping work off your mind and your thumbs off your phone while you’re trying to unwind.

1. Plan the necessities beforehand.
It’s best to plan the most important details for your trip well before you arrive. You don’t want to have to burn precious time researching day trips, restaurants, and jet ski rentals while you’re away, so write them down in a physical notebook before you go. As AFAR Co-founder Joe Diaz suggests, just make sure to leave some room in your schedule for the unexpected.

2. Pick a remote location.
For those who want nothing to do with ‘the grid,’ there are plenty of places that specialize in helping you unplug. If a remote hotel in a faraway land is out of reach, try camping—those phone companies certainly don’t provide blanket coverage in Yellowstone.

3. Prepare for the ebb.
Get your office duties on lock before you take off. Finish what you can in advance, so your TPS reports aren’t blocking your view of the ocean. Oh, and delegate time-sensitive tasks to whoever is taking over for you. Like a boss, or a "bawse."

4. Assign a gatekeeper.
Find a co-worker to notify you in case there’s an actual emergency at work. Give this person your hotel phone number only. And, heck, let it ring if you want.

5. Notify others in advance.
Vacations are a sacred time—everyone knows that. People just need to know when to respect it. Send out word that you’ll be unavailable to your whole office as far in advance as possible, and remind them again when you’re getting close to taking off.

6. Turn on auto-reply.
Anybody who missed the memo in Step 5 will surely get it here. People sure seem to respect that out-of-office notice, don’t they?

7. Do not answer a single email (unless it’s an emergency).
Just don’t. The moment you do, your colleagues imagine you not on a beach somewhere, but just around the corner and ready to serve. Thus, the sacred pact of vacationing is broken and your “just-one-email” opens the floodgates to a deluge of requests. You said you were going to be unavailable, so stick to it.

8. Go charger-less.
Ah, now that the office mumbo-jumbo is taken care of, be bold. Take that step. Leave your charger behind. That way, you know you can only engage in short bursts. Note: not for the faint of battery.

9. Be automatic, systematic.
If throwing the phone out the plane window isn’t possible, then make sure you set up real, honest-to-goodness rules and boundaries. Say, checking in for only a half hour each night at 8:30. Make a plan and stick to it.

10. Delete your email app.
Don’t worry. You can re-download it when you get home.

11. Use airplane mode.
Keep that airplane silhouette locked on the top of your screen. Think of it as your vacation logo. Get it tattooed to your ankle. Also, look into Digital Detox and Anti-Social in case you’re itching to toggle it off.

12. Go analog across the board.
Bring out your granddad’s old-fashioned SLR to avoid snapping with your phone. The film quality is going to trump whatever filter you can digitally slap on. Also, grab a wristwatch, and some paper maps. Vacations are about living simply.

13. Enforce a social media lock-down.
Resist—nay, smother—the urge to Facebook, tweet or Instagram. No, you won’t be able to hear about how jealous your friends are in real-time, but that’s what living room slideshows are about.

14. Distract yourself.
Build activities into your vacation—hit the beach, try horseback riding, skiing, whatever. Otherwise, sitting around the hotel room will just make you want to plug in. You could have had that vacation at your local Motel 6.

15. Prepare for re-entry.
Alas, all good things must end. Soften the blow of going back to work by taking some time to look through your emails while unpacking. As cringe-worthy as that sounds, it’ll help you re-acclimate a little. When you come back the following day, focus on things that are real priorities—not just “catching up.” Bragging about your stress-free vacay to all of your colleagues should be number one on that list, of course.

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