#018: 7 Steps to Getting the Most from Your Vacation [Podcast]

In this episode, I talk about some nut-and-bolt strategies for getting the most from your vacation. Gail and I are about to take our annual summer sabbatical, so vacations are very much on our mind.

This Is Your Life Podcast Episode 18

Surprisingly, some people never take vacations. I don’t know if this is because they think they are indispensable or because they might discover they are not. Regardless, vacations are essential for your spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical health.

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Episode Outline

My premise for this episode is that you will be more rested, re-energized, and refreshed if you are intentional about your vacation and do a little planning. I discuss the following seven steps.

  1. Understand the various types of vacations.
  2. Choose the vacation that makes sense for you.
  3. Get caught up before you leave.
  4. Delegate authority to act in your absence.
  5. Set other people’s expectations.
  6. Focus on the purpose of your vacation.
  7. Block the first day when you get back to catch up.

Your vacations are more important than you think. If you are going to stay healthy spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and physically, you need to be intentional about them.

Listener Questions

  1. Austin Hill asked, “I only have time to write and do social media on vacation, so how do I unplug.”
  2. Jen McDonough asked, “Is it okay to be checking my e-mail during my vacation?”
  3. Michael Nichols asked a similar question but with a story from Seth Godin that gives a different twist.
  4. Michele Cushatt asked, “I always feel a pretty significant loss of momentum when I disengage. How can I prevent this?”
  5. Tony Paganelli asked, “I find unplugging from e-mail really stressful, wondering what is landing in my inbox. Is this really necessary?”
  6. Wayne Stiles asked, “What do I do with Twitter during vacation? Do I pre-schedule tweets or just let it go?”

Special Announcements

  1. The Platform book continues to do well. It remains in Amazon’s top 500 books overall, which is fantastic a month after initial publication. It’s still #1 in several categories and it is #2 in Marketing. If you haven’t bought it yet, I hope you will.
  2. I just returned from West Palm Beach, Florida, where I spoke at an event hosted by John Maxwell. We had about 800 people there, and I loved interacting with the people in the audience. I gave my “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World” speech.

    If you are interested in having me in to speak on this topic, I’d love to talk with you. Click here for more information. I can customize the content for your particular industry, whether it is mortgage bankers, real estate agents, small businesses, etc.

  3. I am going on vacation until Friday, July 20th. I will not be producing a podcast while I am away. I will post my next episode on Wednesday, July 25th. In the meantime, you might want to take this opportunity to catch up. You can find my entire archive of podcasts at here.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a transcript of this episode here.

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Question: What suggestions do you have for getting the most from your vacation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

    One of my secrets to a real vacation is that 1 week is not enough.  I find I use the Days 1-2 to wind down and days 6-7 are spent thinking about the work awaiting me.  That is only 3 days of rest.

    If I take 2 weeks of vacation, the pattern is the same.  Day 1-2 winding down.  Days 13-14 thinking about what I am going to encounter when I return.  But now I have just had 10 days of real rest and disengagement!

    I more than tripled my down time by doubling my vacation.  I like those returns.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve noticed the same, Dave. One week is just not enough. Even 10 days is better than 7, allowing a little cushion for travel time, etc.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    I’m taking two weeks vacation in July and another week in August.  I’m a college instructor and I’m actually off work all summer for the first time in six years this year, but not quite a vacation.  I am going to do a minimal amount of social media while my daughter takes some prearranged boating and swimming lessons.  However, tomorrow on my blog http://www.danerickson.net, I’m making a promise.  My new blog posts and social media will only be about our vacation experience while we’re on vacation: no how-tos, no promos, no marketing, just real life.

  • http://twitter.com/ChadEBillington Chad Billington

    Listened to this episode while driving for work today. Awesome, I’m sending the link to my wife so we can talk about it before our vacation in a couple weeks. 

    Would love to hear thoughts on having good vacations with kids. We’ve got a 4.5 year old, 3 year old and 7 month old. Any vacation thoughts for parents with young kids?

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great question, Chad. I wrote a post about this a couple weeks ago (http://michelecushatt.com/family-secrets-to-a-fabulous-vacation/). When it comes to little ones, the secret is in the NOT planning. If you over-plan your time, try to do too much, everyone ends up tired and grouchy—adults included.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I think one of the most important things you can do is set reasonable expectations. I also wouldn’t over-program the time; it will only lead to frustration. Be flexible. I would focus on trying to create experiences worth remembering.

  • Dave Brunn

    My wife and I have found that during various seasons of our lives, there have been differing sets of competing priorities when it comes to vacation time. When our children were young, we tried to plan vacations that THEY would enjoy to create memorable family times. Now that our kids are out of the house, we often spend a significant part of our vacation bonding with our grandchildren who live more than a thousand miles away from us. However, in all these seasons, we have to keep in mind the real purpose of vacations, as you mentioned, Michael, a time to renew our “…spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical health.” Honestly, sometimes when we didn’t do this, we found ourselves returning from vacation exhausted rather than refreshed.

    It was nice to meet you briefly this past weekend in West Palm Beach.

  • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

    West Palm is a few hrs from my house…I went down there a few weeks ago for a vacation. It was awesome!

  • Jeff

    Overall, I agree with your general idea that vacations are good.  But the reality for many of us, vacations, as your are describing, are nothing more than a dream.  Scotland, Brazil, Greece???  Many of us can not afford that type of vacation, though the idea sounds fantastic.

    I serve in a small media ministry.  It’s a 24-7-365 operation and I have direct responsbility to keep it on-the-air.  Taking a long vacation isn’t a reality in our current economic situation.  Our very small staff  makes taking a week off  very difficult.  Taking a 2 week vacation impossible.  But I am blessed to be able to at least one week off every 6 months or so.   For us, those “vacations” tend to be very simple.  Our vacation this past May was staying home and being able to go to a movie theatre a few times and eat out.  A 3 week trip to Scotland?  Golfing in Ireland?  Not realistic. 

    Working (or owning) a small buisness or like us, serving in a small minstry often doesn’t allow vacations as your describe.  However there are some aspects that can be applied even in a “real-ville” situation.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s why I mentioned “staycations” and regional vacations, like we are about to take (within a short drive). The important thing is not where you do it, but that you do it. Thanks.

      • Jeff

        Yes you did “mention” stay-cations, but that was strickly a side note.  I guess I wasn’t clear in my post.  For many of us (most of the people I know who serve God in small ministries) your message just bounces off us.  We can’t relate to golf trips in Ireland as helping us re-charge etc. 

        I think an article (pod-cast etc) on finding ways to do much of the same things in a 3 or 4 day get-away may resonate with more people.  Those people, like yourself, who can afford to take a 3-4 week overseas vacation are going to be able to implement your thougts.  But those of us who struggle just to find a way to be out of the ministry for 7 days need some practical advice for getting our batteries recharged.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          That’s a fair point. Thanks for sharing.



  • http://www.UnwillingToSettle.com/ Greg L. Gilbert

    Great wisdom in the podcast. In 28 years with a large company I never took more than a week at a time. Big mistake. Always took a week in the summer or spring break with the kids. As HR Director, I saw many employees with kids take every week around a hunting season. My problem wasn’t the vacations as much as the hours during the week. Luckily, a mentor shared a story with me that prompted me to make a change and inspired this poem about how we men sometimes view down time. 
    http://alarmt.com/blog/?p=1121 Enjoy your time off. I’d have to say by the success of your book, you deserve it. Hey, I think I have learned enough about you to say that just walking a daughter down the aisle warrants a break. I did it in 2010 & 2011. Thank you for what you do. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Greg. I am looking forward to it.

  • Randy

    Fiji, Greece,  Scotland…….I clicked out soon.

  • http://twitter.com/lettner Michael Lettner

    For the question about text messages and phone calls, I would suggest maybe trying out Google Voice. I use it because I didn’t want to pay for having text messaging when I have a data plan but it gives you a lot of control over what you get especially calls. I only give out this number to everyone not my cell number so my Voice calls are forwarded to my cell phone and text messages are through the Google Voice app. 

    You can set up times or days to not be disturbed and have it that everyone goes straight to voicemail except certain people or have different messages for different people (ie – if you have all calls go to voicemail, you can have a message for family on how to get a hold of you in emergency). And for text messages, you can just turn off the notifications. 

    I love that it transcribes voicemails and you can forward them to other people (or Evernote). You can also block a call for a week ago I had a teenager kept on calling thinking it was a friend’s number so I blocked her and now if she calls it sounds like my number has been disconnected.


    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I use Google Voice too. What I really want is the ability to auto-reply to text messages, so people get some response. Turning off notification is good for me, but it doesn’t really help the other person.
      The voice mail transcription is a nice feature, though it is almost always way off for me. Sometimes it is hilariously funny. I wish Google would invest some on improving the accuracy of the transcriptions. YouMail is the most accurate I have found. Thanks.

      • Talia

        I really feel for the pastor who you mentioned has difficulty disengaging because of text messages he receives whilst on vacation. There are two different options he could consider using together or separate to reclaim his down-time. He could politely inform the congregation that he is having a vacation (even if it is a stay-vacation at home) and that he will not be checking email, taking calls or responding to text messages. Plus your suggestion of alternative points of call for the people in his absence. The initial thought that came to mind when listening to your podcast is suggesting that he leave his mobile phone at home whilst on vacation. If he needs a cell phone as you call it in the States, he could consider buying a cheap phone to use whilst on vacation and giving that number to only key personnel in the office at the church to use in an emergency and his immediate family. I hope that helps him. Pastors really do have hearts of gold. We need to think before we contact them outside office hours/in their vacation time-can our problem wait until tomorrow/next week etc? They too need time for themselves to connect with God and their own family and friends. I am so thankfully for their dedication and commitment to the church. 

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          These are all great suggestions. Thanks so much.

  • Angela BillupsSmith

    I talk about you like a favorite uncle–people think that I actually know you b/c I tell them about how you mentor me all the time!  You have had a profound impact on me as a wife/Pastor’s wife, mom of 4, leader, employee, and new writer!!  So with this new podcast series ( I LOVE the title & theme song!!!), I have once again been blown away!!  This one on vacation was such a surprise for me–I am a planner by nature but I have never thought about having  a certain kind of vacation.  We tend to take 2 vacations per year–one with my parents & one with his whole family.  The goal has been to survive and everyone to like each other when it was over!! :-)   But as I look ahead to our vacation coming up in a few weeks, you have given me so much to process with my husband & even my parents so that we can all get out of it what we need!!  THANK YOU for the VERY HELPFUL podcast!! 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome, Angela. Thanks for your enthusiasm!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1228487250 Kathleen Barry

    Excellent Article/Podcast Michael! It is sad but true that too many of us Americans do not use our vacation time and this is proven to be detrimental to our health and we miss out on the other benefits of quality time, memories and fun with loved ones.

    There was a recent article in the NY Times titled ‘Vacations Are Good For You Medically Speaking’ and I give it way free through my website if anyone is interested. I’d love to assist anyone as well, in a solid solution to the high cost of taking a Vacation vs the expense of buying a timeshare or vacation home as this is typically the issue for many and why they do not take them.  I will be sharing on an upcoming webinar as well.

    Ask just about anyone if they had the means and did not have to work what would they do…the majority would say travel and see the world, and yet we do not do it. Tomorrow is not promised and life truly does go by quicker as we age. My website is http://www.TheUltimateVacationLifestyle.com and I do have a new FB Fan Page as well.

    Thanks again for the Podcast, I hope more people heed your message and take this time for themselves, their health and their relationships.

  • Bruce Stormer

    Hi Michael.  At the end of your podcast you normally have a link to download a transcript to read – I prefer this to listening to the podcast.  I cannot see a link to a transcript this time.  Have I missed it or do you not always provide this?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I will provide it. I just didn’t have it done in time to make it this morning when I released the episode. Thanks for your input. Frankly, I wasn’t too sure if anyone was reading them.

      • Bruce Stormer

        Thanks Michael.  I download the transcripts and put them into Evernote 
        so I can read them on the iPad at night. I became aware of Evernote from your blog – and I love it.  Now using a Livescribe pen and sending notes into Evernote as well.

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    Michael does this post apply if you’re going to speak internationally at a conference but you have planned extra days to visit the country after you’ve spoken? I have a few trips like that, I really look forward to the podcast and love that I can listen to it on the new podcast app from Apple :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I think that can definitely work. Only you can be the judge, based on your goal for the vacation.

  • Roxdestiny

    Hi Michael — I am a new listener and wanted to say that I love love your podcast.  Very informative and helpful.  Have a great time on your vacation and thank you for all you do for others.  Really appreciate it. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks so much. I’m glad you like it.

  • Tony Paganelli

    Thanks for taking my question. I really liked your idea of using out-of-office greetings to set expectations even though I’m checking messages. This way I can check in when I want to, but people won’t expect me to be as responsive as usual, and I’ll make a favorable impression on my clients if I respond while I’m away.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I agree. Setting out of office greetings on phone and email really set me free to enjoy my vacation. I don’t feel any pressure to check messages and return calls/email.



  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    If you are looking for something fun to do, but close to home, you might want to go on the Great Taco Adventure. This is a vacation adventure that I went on with my wife and daughter some years back. This is how it worked…

    We read an article about the best tacos in California in Sunset Magazine. We decided to take a day trips to try the best ones that were close to our home in Southern California. 

    On day one we had an amazing taco plate in a sidewalk surf shop in Point Loma, near San Diego. With surfboards on the wall, and the owner in a Hawaiian shirt, we had a blast discovering this hidden little gem.

    On day two we ventured to a little hole-in-the-wall in Riverside California, where we experienced what the local’s described as the “Best Carne Asada on the Planet.” After two amazing Taco’s each we also discovered they also had incredible Guacamole. Well worth the drive and the local adventure.

    On day three, we went to Mentone, California, where we discovered Casa Maya, a Mexican restaurant specializing in Yucatan cuisine. I tried one each of their lamb, fish, and Carne Asada tacos. All I can say is WOW. Amazing flavors and a unique atmosphere.

    At the end of three days, we had experienced some of the best Mexican food on the planet and had a great time exploring different towns. If you are looking for something fun to do this summer, that even the kids will enjoy, why not try a Taco, Burrito, Hamburger, Steak, Ice Cream or other food based adventure that is within driving distance of your home.

    Pass me the hot sauce please…

  • http://www.sandfordhighschool.com/ Online Diploma

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  • Mike Patten

     In response to the question on auto replies to text messages, there’s an Android app called Auto SMS which can do it. I don’t know about iPhone or Blackberry apps. I just searched today after I finished listening to the podcast.

  • johnfulwider

    Take a work day during longer vacations to minimize catch-up anxiety and thus maximize your vacation. I find myself getting concerned about the pile of catch-up work that awaits my return, so I follow a four-step process to whittle down the pile while I’m away—with much better working conditions, like a hammock and a local microbrew.

    The steps:
    1. Do it on a Tuesday, not a Monday. The schadenfreude of relaxing on a Monday while everyone else heads back to work is delicious.

    2. Be just as disciplined with your time as on a regular workday—you’re burning vacation. Set goals, give yourself deadlines for each, and get things done.

    3. Work on arrangements to hit the ground running when you return. You could look through recent meeting notes to determine talking points for networking coffees and lunches you’ll set up for the week of your return. (After the catch-up buffer day Michael recommends, of course.)

    4. Have lots of fun with setting up your workspace. Inspiring views, comfortable seating, local food and drink … make sure it’s entertainingly different from your workaday norm.

    More details on the steps on my blog here: http://www.johnfulwider.com/2011/07/how-to-take-a-vacation-work-day/

  • Edi Balian



    SHOW NOTES????




    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I apologize for the delay. I have just posted them. Please refresh the page. If you don’t see them, clear your browser’s cache and try again. Thanks.

  • Keith Pierpont

    As a manager and graphic designer at a small print shop in a resort town on the New Jersey shore, we offer faxing and copy services.
    It was a beautiful beach day; the sun shining and warm, the ocean waves gently washing on the shore not 4 blocks away.
    A father and his young son came into our shop. The father spent time on the cell phone, sending faxes, making copies while his son, in full bathing suit and swim ring waited, trying to be patient. Some time had passed and the son could wait no longer.
    “Dad, you promised we could go to the beach this morning!”
    “In a little bit,” he angrily snapped, “I just have to get this work done first!”
    It was just about 2 in the afternoon.
    PLEASE STOP! Our children deserve better, we deserve better. The world will wait, honest, it will… and if it won’t, what did we gain with all our hurry? While I am not particularly old, I remember a time before cell phones, email, internet, social media. We survived, our businesses survived. In many cases, our staff became better and more responsible in our absence! When we came back, yes, we had to push a little to get caught up, but we also came back with exciting stories, photographs to share (after we got them developed, of course) and a relaxed mind. Breathe… just breathe… everyone will benefit.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Great story! I was just in Ocean City, NJ last week. Although I have never done this on vacation—I am guilty of this in daily life. Thanks for your story and perspective!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      So true! I agree with you.

  • Fran LaMattina

    This is great information!  As an Executive Coach myself, I am talking to clients about how to effectively replenish on a daily basis.  These concrete guidelines will be helpful for me to share with others…and practice more intentionally myself!

  • Andrew Larrimore
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  • Kasie Hilburn

    Great article, I used it on my auto-responder while I went on vacation. Also, my pastor spoke about this subject a couple sundays ago: http://www.newhopechurch.tv/watch/remedy2-s.html Its important to restore!

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  • Jason Milam

    I don’t see the show notes pdf can someone help?

  • Britanie Madsen


    My question is, right now, my husband and I are in a phase of life where we only take 1 vacation a year. (We’re entrepreneurs and have a lot on our plates.) Do you have any suggestions or tips to renew and refresh in between your vacation times? Additionally, what do you do to refresh while you are on vacation?

    Thank you for your time & input. My husband & I both really enjoy your blog & podcast.

    Britanie Madsen