We’re hitting the road again! In fact, August in general is a big travel month for me! First, we’ll be heading to Charleston for Chris and Lynne’s wedding this weekend, then we’re heading up to Virginia Beach for my family’s annual beach vacation. As soon as I get back to Alabama, I’ll be packing up again for one of my best friends’ bachelorette weekend down in Pensacola! It’s going to be a fun (and crazy!) month! As I pack up the last little bit before we hit the road to Charleston today, I think now is the perfect time to share how I prepare for trips as a small business owner!
On the blog today, I’ll touch on the things I do to prepare for a trip to make sure that I don’t miss a beat, my clients stay cared for, and I am able to fully enjoy my vacation. I’ll mostly be talking about how I prepare for extended trips of about 1 week or longer where I really want to be able to relax and enjoy and I don’t want to be checking email or working if I don’t absolutely have to, but the same methods can apply for shorter trips too!
First, I start several weeks in advance looking at my calendar and trying hard not to schedule any (or at least very few) major events/obligations in the 2-3 days leading up to my trip. Keeping those few days generally open before a trip ensures that I have some time to catch up on any lingering projects I didn’t get to finish the weeks prior. I like to keep the day before a trip free of any meetings/obligations so that I can pack, finalize trip plans, run any last minute errands, etc. I also try to keep 1-2 days after I get back home free of meetings/obligations to give myself time to get caught back up.
Because I like to be consistent with my blogging schedule (every Tuesday and Thursday), I like to plan out my blog posts several weeks in advance so that I’m not stuck writing blogs while I’m on vacation. This all goes back to my Blogging Tips blog post from a few weeks ago. If you haven’t checked that blog out yet, head on over there and read it real quick. I’ll wait…
Ok, now that you’re back, I’ll continue! :-D I plan out my blog posts in advance and get those written up and scheduled to post while I’m away. I took advantage of this while we were in Hawaii and it was wonderful! I didn’t have a single care in the world when it came to my blog because I had done the work ahead of time (I literally just set aside a workday before our trip to knock out a handful of blogs and I was good to go!) Take this blog, for example. We are actually hitting the road for Charleston today, but I wrote this back on Sunday night! Now we can just hit the road whenever we need to today!
If I have any brides with weddings coming up within the next month (again, if this is a week or longer trip and I want to limit my email/work time as much as possible), I make sure I reach out to those brides before my trip to inform them that I will be out of the office. I let them know that since their wedding is in less than a month, I will be checking my email periodically just for them to make sure that there aren’t any time sensitive issues that need to be addressed.
*I think it is important to let these “1 month or less” brides know in advance that I’ll be gone because that last month before their wedding can be stressful. The last thing my brides need is to email me with a time sensitive question and to receive an auto response from me saying I’m gone for the next week. Making sure these brides know that I’m paying extra attention to any emails from them goes a long way.*
For everyone else, unless it is a time sensitive issue, they will see that I will respond to their email when I return from my trip…
…Which brings me to my next step. I set up my email vacation responder to let people know that I’m out of my office, I give my “back in the office” return date, and I activate it the day before my trip. Why the day before? Because, again, that day before my trip is set aside for laundry, packing, running last minute errands, tying up loose ends with work, etc. By having the vacation responder activated on that day, it ensures that I’m able to focus on what I need to get done so that I can start my trip/vacation in a calm state of mind… and I’ve learned that that is super important for me.
OH and if I’m getting home on a Tuesday, for example, my vacation responder stays on until at least Wednesday (or even Thursday!) morning. That unpacking/settling-back-in-at-home, catching up time is important too!
And finally, I plan out and set up my social media posts. I can upload photos and write out my Facebook posts and schedule them in advance to post each day. It automatically posts on the date and time I tell it to and voila! I can stay logged out of my Facebook for the entirety of my trip if I wanted to.
I use Mosaico for my Instagram planning and it’s so wonderful! I can upload, write out, and organize all the posts I want to make while I’m away well in advance. This is just another way I can ensure that I don’t just go completely silent while I’m gone, but yet I am able to fully enjoy and engage with my family while I’m on vacation. While Mosaico doesn’t post automatically for you, if you already have your content written out, then posting will literally take you less than 1 minute. Ta-da!
Now I’m ready for a super relaxing trip free of non-stop blogging, social media, checking email, etc. It’s the only way I want to vacation now. Especially for small business owners, it can be really hard to break away from your business while you’re on vacation… and it’s even harder if you didn’t prepare for it in advance. By taking these steps before each vacation, I have been able to be fully present, fully relaxed, and I have fully enjoyed my time away from work… because it was real time away from work.
My friend, Cyrissa from Sparkle Society, wrote a similar blog with even more wonderful tips for How to Take a Vacation From Your Business. I highly recommend you check it out! She has some great new tips in there that I have now decided to implement in conjunction with the process I shared with you today!
Next time you go on a trip/vacation, I hope that you are able fully enjoy yourself and that these tips help you do so! If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to chat! Leave a comment below! :-D
If you want to follow along on our Charleston and Virginia Beach adventures this weekend and next week, be sure to follow me on Instagram (@ErinLindseyImages) :-D