5 Tips for Stress Free Vacations, Before & After

Even though the economy has left offices understaffed and employees on edge, resist the urge to opt out of vacation time. With the right preparation, you can maximize the benefits of your time off.

Samantha Lear
Photograph: iStock

1) Take it—your work will improve significantly
Work performance improves nearly 25% after a vacation, according to a study conducted by Air New Zealand in conjunction with former NASA scientists. Plan ahead to take a stress-free vacation and your boss will thank you later.

The first challenge is to find dates that work: Whenever you can, choose trip dates that correspond with down time in your organization. “It will help to demonstrate your conscientiousness,” says Paula Caligiuri, PhD, author of Get a Life, Not a Job. But don’t forget to factor in your home life: Jetting off to the Caribbean the week before your kids head back to school is probably not the best idea.

Once the dates are set, make sure you give your boss, co-workers and clients ample notice so they can prepare for your departure. Identify critical tasks and assign a colleague to cover them in your absence. And to prepare for your return, if possible, avoid scheduling meetings for your first three days back.

2) Buy a prepaid phone
Sometimes it can feel like your smart phone is a third limb—or at least the touchstone to your everyday life while you’re away. But as lost as you may feel without it, consider opting for a prepaid phone, says Cindy Goodman, author of the national column, The Work/Life Balancing Act. Keep the number private, reserving it for one person at home, such as an assistant, who can contact you in an emergency. If you can’t stand the separation, limit Blackberrying to once a day when you can check in to handle any emergencies.

3) Set up your phone for international service
If you do decide to bring your smart phone, sign up for an international service package before heading to the airport or risk catastrophic roaming fees.

To access your email and other web applications while abroad, head to your wireless provider’s site to find out rates for a global data plan. These costs will vary by company, location and memory usage. You will likely have the option of either a monthly charge or pay-per-use plan--for example, Verizon’s global data plans start at around $30 a month for 25MB total access, and the pay-per-use plan is $0.02 per KB. Once you’ve chosen your preferred option, call customer service to set it up.

4) Prepare paperwork for your child
Due to an increase in child abduction cases, immigration officers, airlines or travel companies may expect you to provide proof of custody if you’re traveling with your minor child without a co-parent. To avoid a hold-up in customs, AAA recommends getting two copies of a notarized letter from the parent not traveling—in the case that the entry authorities keep one copy. In the letter, your co-parent should grant his permission.

If the second parent of your child is deceased or if you have sole custody, be sure to have a birth certificate or death certificate naming one parent, according to Customs and Border Protection (cbp.gov). A birth certificate can also be useful if you and your child have different last names.

5) Make your vacation an “elimination diet” from work
“There’s that sweet spot when you first return to work, that small window where you are a blank slate on stress,” says Caligiuri. As the tasks pile back in, pay attention to what exactly sends your stress levels soaring. Deadlines? A coworker? Meetings? Then take steps to stop it. “This time can give you a diagnostic into what’s triggering your stress.”

 

Not going anywhere this summer? Click here for fun and affordable staycation ideas!

 

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First Published May 10, 2011

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