How to prepare your business to travel & take a vacation
A friend of mine often jokes that I don’t work and am just on permanent vacation. While I wish this was true, I do indeed work most of the year, but I also do love to travel and take vacations.
So I’ve gotten pretty decent at preparing for time away from my business to make sure it’s still running and my audience and students are served even while I’m away.
So if you’d love to turn your brain off your business and get away for a week … or 4, it’s up to you 😉, then this post will help!
I often also travel with my business. And sometimes I do both, head away to a new location, work for a little while from there and then also vacation there. So I’m going to cover both of those in this post.
Right now I’m preparing for my longest vacation of the year, 3 weeks in the summer spent back home in Canada, so I’m doing a lot of this prep work which I’ll share in this post right now.
So, here’s what you’ve gotta do!
Prep work to take a vacation
1. Decide what work you’ll still do
This may sound counter-intuitive… you’re going on vacation right? Right.
But as a small business owner, you’re probably aware that there’s really no such thing as completely unplugging. So let’s set some boundaries around what you will do.
If you run your business solo and are still responsible to clients and customers, let’s make sure they’re taken care of in that time and know what you will and will not do while on vacation.
The one thing we have to deal with in my business no matter if I’m on vacation or not is refund requests that come into the inbox. We promise to process eligible refund requests within a certain time-frame, regardless if I’m vacationing or not.
If that’s also the case for your business, you have a timeframe within which you must process any refund requests, that’d definitely go on the list of work you’ll still do.
The list of stuff you’ll still do should be very small, so don’t let this get out of hand, only the absolute necessities of promises which you’ve made to your customers and clients. (Like those refund requests.)
Then you want to communicate with your clients and customers that you’re on vacation and when they can expect a response.
That means turning on your vacation autoresponder and stating that all emails will be responded to upon your return on X date, but that any refund requests will still be process in the normal X days time period.
Now, one thing to mention, if you’re like me with a LOT of customers and you also take a LOT of holiday weeks, a VA might be a good idea so they can hold things down while you’re gone.
(Now sure if you can afford a VA? Take a read through this post!)
I really want you to make a firm decision on what you’ll do and what you’re going to just let be. I publish blog posts twice a week and podcasts once a week, consistently, all year long. I do try to get ahead on that content (more on that in a moment) but I’ve decided that if I miss a posting date while I’m on vacation, that’s okay and I’ll just let it be.
Deciding and then being okay with maybe not living up to your otherwise high standards that you have the rest of the year is key to being able to really enjoy your vacation and take time away from your business.
2. prepare your team
If you’ve got a VA already, make sure they have everything they need to run your business while you’re away. That means all the logins, processes, video tutorials, etc.
Also, give them a way to contact you. My list of stuff I do while on vacation (from step 1) is actually nothing, except to be available to answer questions for my VA.
The most work I do while on vacation now is to send voice messages to my assistant to help her through any unusual issues she’s dealing with. But honestly, for the most part, she’s self-sufficient because we have every single process and issue documented with what to do.
So again, if you have a team, think through what they’ll need to do while you’re away and set them up for success by giving them everything they need. And then give them a way to contact you in case they need you.
If you’re going off the grid and won’t have cell service (wahoo!), let them know which dates you’ll be unavailable and give them decision making power. Just a quick “I trust you, do whatever you think is right,” will do to let them know they have your permission to make any decisions you haven’t had to deal with before.
3. prepare content
If you’re posting consistently anywhere online (blog, social media, podcast, YouTube, etc.), it is best to try to work ahead and get that content scheduled.
I can’t tell you the number of times a vacation snuck up on me and I only realized the day before that I needed to write 3 blogs in a day in order to stay consistent with my content online while I was away.
This means when you plan the work you need to do on the days before your vacation, try to make them pretty light with your usual work, because you’ll need time to prepare and schedule extra content.
Again, the alternative to this is to decide that if the content doesn’t go out like usual, no one will die and it’s just fine.
Prep work to travel with your business
1. Buy electric adapters
The one thing you’ll definitely need abroad? Something to charge up your phone or laptop with. This website is the best to find out what you need in your destination.
2. Change time zones in your calendar and appointment scheduler
I wish there was a way to automate this to change on the day you travel to the new location, but I’m yet to find that option.
Generally the day of or day before I switch time zones I change my Google Calendar and Acuity Scheduler (that’s an affiliate link!) to change to the new time zone I’m in.
You also need to think ahead with this one and change available appointment times in Acuity so that any dates and times you’re telling people you can do calls on aren’t completely crazy when you get to the new time zone. So a few weeks before your trip abroad, go into Acuity, look at the appointment times you’ve listed while you’ll be abroad and change them so they make sense in the new time zone.
3. Pack the necessities, buy the rest while you’re there
If you’re one of those people who alwaysss has an overweight bag at the airport, let’s cut that out. There’s nothing fun about dragging a suitcase the weight of an elephant up a teeny tiny European stairwell at your hotel, or down some streets in Asia that are more pothole than road.
Think about the absolute necessities, and set yourself a budget to buy the rest while you’re there.
I know, you’re wondering, “what if it rains one day, guess I need an umbrella” or “what if Prince Charming sweeps me off my feet, takes me to a nice restaurant for dinner and I want accessories for my outfit?” or “what if I go to a costume party and need an outfit?”
Those are all things I’d call not-essentials. The essentials are your passport, laptop, phone, chargers, adapters, credit cards, and regular clothing.
There’s one thing we all apparently conveniently forget when we take a trip. They also have stores to buy stuff in other countries! (I know, sometimes it still surprises me too 😉.)
You don’t need to pack for every possible, maybe-kinda-sorta potential event you might have while on your trip. Just be okay with buying those things when you need them, and remember that there are indeed stores you can get those items at abroad.
(And then you wont be the American guy that the German border police chuckled to his colleague about. “Two umbrellas” he said in German with a laugh to the other border guard as the American struggled under all his bags, stuff, and two umbrellas as he walked up to the immigration counter. The border guards clearly didn’t think that I – with a Canadian passport – would understand what they said 😂.)