Location Independence, Remote Work, Travel Tips

How to Take a Proper Vacation When You’re a Digital Nomad

Despite outward appearances (aka what you see on Instagram) we digital nomads and remote workers aren’t actually on permanent vacation–we’re working our tushies off to make a living in an unconventional way, and we just so happen to travel while doing it.

When you work online, your work travels with you everywhere. And when you can work from anywhere, you often feel like you should always be working, simply because you can.

After a few months or years of this, you become convinced that if you take a day or two, or god forbid a whole week to yourself, you’re somehow slacking off.

It’s insanity!

Because the truth is, no matter what our career of choice, we need time to rejuvenate, time to reenergize, and time to come back to our work with a fresh perspective. Powering down our electronics and shutting off our brains every so often allows us to work at our absolute best and be our most productive.

We remote workers, digital nomads, and anyone else reaping the benefits of a location independent lifestyle certainly enjoy the flexibility of working whenever and wherever we want, but it’s all too easy to become dull boys and girls when it’s all work, work, work, and no play.

By dull I mean uninspired. Burnt out. Defeated. Drained. Downtrodden. Bordering on deranged like Jack Nicholson in a certain Stephen King film.

At the end of the day, it’s nothing that a proper vacation can’t fix, but then the problem becomes…

How in the hell do you take a proper vacation when you work online?!

How do we say “This time is for ME” and really mean it? How do we avoid the pull of a growing inbox, the temptation to check stats, or the lure of that one little task we meant to do before we left?

Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a few ideas. So before taking your next vacation, whether it be for two days, two weeks, or two months (please, tell me your secrets!), check off these items ahead of time in order to maximize your relaxation potential and come back ready to CRUSH.How to Take a Proper Vacation When You're a Digital Nomad and Your Work Travels With You

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How to Take a Proper Vacation When You’re a Digital Nomad

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Work ahead.

This is often easier said than done, but working ahead as much as possible is a great first step to preparing for a proper vacation when you work online. This may mean putting in a few extra hours in the week leading up to your time off, but the peace of mind will be worth it.

Before I ever take so much as one full day offline, I make sure everything blog-related will be running smoothly. If I’m publishing new content, it’s queued up ahead of time. Social media shares are scheduled for the day, as is my newsletter.

If I were planning to take a week or more off, I’d have multiple blog posts polished and ready to go (I always follow this blog post checklist).How to Take a Proper Vacation When Your Work Travels With You

Automate as much as you can.

Automation is a true lifesaver when you want to take a proper vacation and be truly offline for a few days.

If you expect to have emails coming in, set up an “Out of Office” auto-responder to let people know you’re not ignoring them and give them an idea of when you’ll get back to them.

If you’re a blogger, hopefully much of your workflow is automated already but definitely schedule social shares ahead of time with services like Buffer, Tailwind, and Later.

Outsource the rest.

You can’t automate everything, and this is where outsourcing comes in. Whatever needs doing that can’t be done by a machine can be done by a virtual assistant.

If you’ve already got someone working with you, this part will be a cinch. Let them know what additional tasks you’ll need them to do in your absence, and off you go.

If you’ve never hired someone to help run your business before, you might have to plan ahead a little bit more so you can find the right person and make sure their responsibilities are crystal clear so they won’t need to contact you with frequent questions.

Afterward, if you’re happy with their performance, you’ll have a go-to person for the next time you want to go offline (or you may just decide to hire them long-term!).

Turn off push notifications on your phone.

You don’t need to hear your phone’s jingle every time a new email arrives in your inbox. At least, not when you’re trying to enjoy a proper vacation. As soon as you see it on your screen, you’re going to want to read it, and we all know that answering one email is a slippery slope to hours lost to the Gmail gods.

The same goes for every other non-essential push notifications you may get from apps on your phone (in fact, I can’t think of any that are absolutely essential). Turn them off and say goodbye to the constant reminders of the outside world.How to Take a Proper Vacation When Your Work Travels With You

Decide ahead of time how often you’ll be allowed to check in.

Look, I get it! You’re stoked about the work you do, and you just want to make sure your business hasn’t imploded in your absence. There’s no harm in checking in a few times during a vacation, but do set yourself hard limits and stick to them.

Did you hire a VA and want to make sure all is fine and dandy? Once every few days should be fine (remember–no news is good news!). Do you want to make sure no urgent client emails have come in that need your attention? Maybe once a day is your limit.

And remember not to let your little check-in spiral out of control into a full on work sesh. That’s not what your vacation is for!

Travel with someone who doesn’t work online.

If your travel companion isn’t a digital nomad and will have no work obligations, you’ll be less tempted to shirk the pool or the beach in favor of hanging in the room on your laptop. Choose the latter, and you’ll be leaving them out to dry (pun very much intended).

Hopefully, you’ll want to enjoy the company you’re in more than the company you run (remotely). If not, they’ll probably never agree to travel with you again…and we all know how hard it is to find and keep good friends when you’re constantly on the move.

Leave your laptop at home.

Leaving the laptop at home is probably out of the question for most digital nomads because it’s more like an extension of our bodies than an electronic device, but it can be the absolute best way to truly reset during a vacation.

The temptation to log on won’t even be there, so you’ll have no choice but to enjoy the rest and relaxation, damn it.

Alternatively, you could choose a destination with little-to-no WiFi availability–somewhere off the grid, as they say. You might be surprised at how good it feels to be away from the information overload, if even just for a short time.

So take a hike and go camping for a few nights (and seriously, don’t bring your laptop) and come back refreshed and stoked to dive into your work.

Your mind, body, and soul will thank you.How to Take a Proper Vacation When Your Work Travels With You

Have fun.

What a strange piece of advice for a vacation, right? I know what you’re thinking and yes, this should go without saying–but I know how hard it can be to let loose when your mind is elsewhere, so I thought I’d reiterate.

Your vacation is a time you should enjoy, so be present and put your worries aside for a few days. And while we’re at it, order that shot of tequila for good measure.

Just remember that your empire will still be there when you get back, and the energy and clarity you gain from being fully in the moment on your vacay will be well worth the hours you missed.

How do you make every vacation doesn’t become a working vacation?


Want to become a digital nomad? My eBook can help you get there! Download Chapter 1 now to see what it’s all about.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Yaz | The Wallet Moth May 25, 2017 at 1:58 am

    Love this list, Leah! I find switching off so much harder as a digital nomad because I’m technically never on the clock – which means I’m always on the clock!

    Automation has for sure been one of my best tools for freeing up some spare time to travel and enjoy seeing the world, not sure I could manage going anywhere totally off-grid quite yet though.

  • Reply Danny May 25, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Love all of your informative posts, Leah, so glad I discovered your site! Some really valuable tips here, though I don’t think it’s possible for a DN to leave their laptop behind on a vacation, I do find it nice to unplug for a day when I’m on a hike or take a weekend off to digital detox. One digital nomad who really inspires me is Scott Brills. He works harder than anyone I know, but takes seriously long adventure trips to drive a car from London to South Africa, or take a tuk-tuk around India! It’s great to find inspiration to let us know what’s possible 🙂

    • Reply Leah Davis June 30, 2017 at 7:07 pm

      Digital detoxes are so necessary sometimes! Even if it’s just for a day or two (I guess that’s what I meant by leave the laptop behind–I probably wouldn’t do that on a long getaway either, I’d go insane).

  • Reply Amarante May 30, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Hello, This post was a really interesting topic. Being a Digital Nomad for the last 10 years I experience this NEVER out off the grid. The only solution so far is to escape few days without my mobile phone and laptop in remote place of South Asia. Anyway I won ‘ t switch my life for nothing.

  • Reply Agness of aTukTuk June 11, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Excellent tips, Leah! Your post is a great read and worth rereading!

  • Reply Claudia July 12, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Hi Leah, this post was really helpful for me as I know exactly what you are talking about. Although I have only started my website/ channel 3 month ago I already saw how much work you have to put into it in order to grow your blog and make everything running smoothly. Thanks so much and keep up the good work.

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