If you’ve ever gone on a trip while self-employed, I’m sure you know the struggle of balancing work and play. There are definitely trips you take where you leave your laptop at home, of course, but that’s not all of them. No, you won’t be working your usual long hours, but you still want to fit a little work in to keep yourself on-track. Right? If that’s you, I have some trips hacks that will help you optimize your work time¬†without compromising your vacation time.

1. Work in the airport

I am notorious for working wherever, and whenever I can. This includes the airport. I’m actually writing this post while sitting in the Einstein Bros seating area, drinking a latte and waiting for my flight. There’s a lot you can squeeze in during that 30min-1hour (or more) wait at the airport for your plane to board. Instead of popping on a movie or scrolling through your phone, answer some emails, plan out some social media posts, write a blog post, tie up those pesky loose ends that you didn’t get to before your trip.

2. Set a vacation notification on your email

Whether you are working on your trip or not, you should have a vacation responder set for any emails that come in to let people know that you are on vacation with limited internet access. You can get back to them if you want, but it gives you a little wiggle room if you don’t get to every email that comes in while you are on your trip. People will understand, trust me!

3. Don’t start any new projects OR answer any emails from new or prospective clients

I ONLY work on projects that are already in motion. I never start a new project, onboard clients, answer inquiries or take discovery calls while on vacation. Remember, you’re not trying to work your whole vacation, you’re just trying to stay on top of things a little.

4. Have a trip to-do list for work

Make a list of things that you need to get done while away, and don’t do more than that. It’s easy to get sucked into work once you get started, so make sure you have set intentions before you even fire up your laptop.

5. Wake up a little earlier to get some work in BUT ONLY IF you aren’t on a relaxation/rejuvenation trip

There are trips that you take that aren’t centered around relaxation. I am currently en-route to visit my parents in California, and while it is a vay-cay for me, it’s not relaxation-focused. If you are taking a trip with the sole purpose of relaxing, try to leave your work at home and completely unplug. If you’re visiting friends or family, or taking a similar trip, wake up a little before everyone else and get an hour of work done. You will go into the day with a sense of accomplishment and you won’t have that work-obligation hanging over your head all day.

6. Do NOT work when you are with other people

I can’t stress this enough. Not only will you probably not get much done, you don’t want to spend all of your time visiting loved ones stuck on your computer. They won’t appreciate it and you will regret it. Remember, this vacation comes first, work comes second.

7. Don’t stress about work, it will still be there when you get back

If you know you won’t be able to balance work and play, don’t even try. You don’t want to waste your entire vacation working. Work will still be there when you get back. Your clients WILL understand, and if they don’t, you don’t want those clients anyway. At any other job, you would probably have paid time off, so allow yourself the same luxury if you want it! Set that vacation response and enjoy your vacation work-free.

Remember, it’s important to enjoy your life. Don’t stress about working if you know you need time away. It’s all about the balance. Some trips I leave my laptop at home, and some trips I take it with me. It’s important to know that it is OKAY to take time completely off. In fact, you should!¬†

Do you have any other tips for balancing work and play while away? Comment below!