How to Create an Epic Vacation Protocol

Why do we need a vacation protocol?

I am a prime example.

A few summers ago, I took a “2-week vacation” to go home and spend time with family and friends from childhood.

I will admit that I failed. Hard.

What does a vacation failure look like?  

Yep – I failed at a vacation. It is possible!

Of course, I actually got on the plane, checked into my accommodation, and met up with my friends and family. I was doing great at the logistical side of things.

Yet, I failed to be truly present with the people I was with.

The reason for this was that I had only partially disconnected from work. This resulted in me being a terrible person to vacation with, while also showing people I was an unreliable person to work with.  

Not my finest moment…

To give this dire vacation the post-mortem it deserved, I took the time to sit down and think long and hard about what constitutes a GREAT vacation.  

What is the goal of a great vacation?

At that moment, I realized I had to go back to my Wheel of Life and define what my own personal goals were in life. Only then could I establish a solid definition of a great vacation.   

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention”

Thích Nhất Hạnh

You could argue that being truly present with the people around you and giving them your full attention is the greatest gift you can ever give someone.  

We’ve all seen movies with the stereotypical stressed-out business person neglecting their family while they type away madly on their cellphone, or pace back and forth while waiting for an important phonecall.

Unfortunately, that was me on this vacation. 

How can I be a great person to vacation with?

For starters, you have to define exactly what you want your work life to be like. 

Maybe you are the person that has 2 weeks of vacation a year, and you want to go FULL unplug.  

Doesn’t matter if there’s a missile crisis – you’re in your pool floaty, drinking a Mai Thai, listening to Margaritaville. Life is good.

On my Wheel of Life – 10/10 Worksheet, I wrote that I wanted to take 2 months of vacation a year.  Now, vacation for me CAN involve work, because I love my work so much that most of it never feels like work anyway. I’m creating the impact in the world that I want to, and that’s great.

But I am NOT willing to sacrifice the attention I give others on vacation.

Therefore, I decided to design my days so that by 9:30am I had done all my work for that day and my friends, family, or whoever I was with was given my full attention.

WRITE.IT.DOWN. If you don’t write it down, you’ll fall into old habits too easily.

Next, I realized that setting clear expectations with everyone around me was essential.  

“People need to know what they can expect from you.”

– Gray Twombly

Set Client Expectations

Your clients and team need to understand where you are and when you will be available (if at all). The following steps will help you outline these items:


Around 1 to 2 weeks before taking your vacation, send an email to all clients setting expectations for your time off. Here’s a template:

Hey _____, from date X to date Y I will be out of the office doing X Y Z. In preparation for this time off, please review any upcoming needs that you may have. If you would like to find a time to review your work load or project deliverables, please find a time here (link to meeting)!


Around 1 to 2 weeks before taking vacation, have a team meeting to discuss responsibility hand-offs.

  1. “Hey team, from date X to date Y I will be out of office doing ________.  Here’s what you can expect from me during this time:”
  1. “Here’s what I need from you:”


Make sure to create some email autoresponders:

Hey, thanks for reaching out. I am currently out of the office from X to Y. If this is an urgent matter please message X person (optional). I will be checking my phone for EMERGENCIES ONLY on ____ date at ____ time. I hope all is well and will touch base soon!


Similarly, create autoresponders for WhatsApp Business and Text Messages:

Thanks for your message. I’m out of office right now doing X Y Z. If this is an urgent matter, please message X person (optional). I will be checking my phone for EMERGENCIES ONLY on ____ date at ____ time. I hope all is well and will touch base soon!

Check out how to set up autoresponders in Gmail.

Check out how to set up autoresponders in Outlook.

Here’s your step-by-step vacation protocol:

#1 – Define your ideal vacation. If it includes cocktails, then all the better!

#2 – Set a clearly outlined definition of how much time (if any) you will block out for work and when, down to the hour that will be allotted.

#3 – Around 2 weeks before the actual vacation, send an email to all clients setting expectations and allowing time for them to voice their concerns.

#4 – At the same time, meet with your team to ensure they know what to expect from you and what you expect from them.

#5 – Set up your autoresponders.


Automate and save all correspondence as templates so it’s EASY for you to do this in the future. 

Trust me on this one. If you’re going to take the time to do this, do it once and then refine it over time. You’ll set yourself up for success.

If you have any questions about the vacation protocol or any hacks that you’d like to share, then PLEASE share them down below. We want everyone to crush their vacations.

After all, this is why we work, right!?

Questions? Comments? We’re here for you at!

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