Marc announced to me the other day that he was taking a day off in September. He said, “I’m sleeping in, and doing nothing on that one day in September, so don’t schedule anything then.”
This was in April, and we had been in Virginia to see family for a few weeks, simultaneously doing daily work tasks while sightseeing and family bonding. It also was just after I presented him with our travel schedule for the rest of April and May, which looked exhausting.
We were running-on-empty and needed a night to just chill and watch TV.
Running a business can be stressful, and for the owners of said business, it can be difficult to just “take time off,” especially when there is work to be done.
How do you take time for rest, recreation and rejuvenation when no one is there to do the work for you?
Even with employees or contract staff, there are lots of tasks we still do in our own business and can’t just pass them off so we can take a vacation.
But everyone needs a vacation from work occasionally.
About three years ago, we chose not to take extended vacations but instead went all in on combining travel and work, moving into an RV and running our business from the road.
This decision isn’t for everyone. But for us, it meant we could create a lifestyle to include small “mini-vacations” which gave us the best compromise.
We could not see a way to leave our business for two to three weeks per year, and just ‘check out.’
Every week of our life now includes an afternoon or a day of vacation. Instead of a two-week period once or twice a year, we created a lifestyle that gives us 50 days of vacation. At least. Maybe even more.
We have a travel plan for about six months at a time, and within that, we decide what are the tourist or vacation spots we want to visit.
For example, we spent almost all of April in the state of Virginia, first in the north near Washington, DC, and then in the south at Williamsburg. During that time we were able to visit family members, go to many tourist attractions, eat at some of the most amazing restaurants and attend a few special events. (Historic Williamsburg is fascinating! You can read about it here.)
And we worked 50 hours a week. Every week in April.
How did we do that? We take mini-vacations. An afternoon, or a weekend and immerse ourselves in rest and recreation to rejuvenate ourselves. We avoid work discussions if possible – let’s face it, they never really go away, but we try hard – and choose to find other brain-stimulating ways to take a break from work.
While in DC, we visited family, saw numerous famous monuments (and some not so famous ones), ate amazing and different foods, and walked more than eight miles a day. In Williamsburg, we did the same thing, just on a different weekend.
Because we stayed in the state for a full month, we were able to have our vacation time and work time compatible and with all the benefits of both worlds.
And when we go to our next destination, we will have already made a plan to recreate, as well as work. It is work/life balance for us.
But this lifestyle can take a toll on you also.
As the ‘travel planner,’ I probably spend 20 hours a month just in planning and scheduling our life. Beginning with our end destination, I route our drive and make reservations or scope out spots for parking. Then, if there are none in that area, I go back and re-route for other options.
That is our choice. But it has become part of my job – along with my other responsibilities for our business.
We probably will never take an all-out two-week vacation again. That would be too limiting.
No, our life is not one big vacation. Ok, well, maybe it really is. At least for us.
What about your vacation plans?
As a couple in business together, do you schedule an actual vacation, or are you ‘stealing’ a day or two here or there, and just can’t see yourself taking that much time off?
Entrepreneurs are notorious for not taking vacations. And how do you take a vacation when your livelihood depends on your performance every day?
Do you have employees? According to Small Business Trends, you need a ‘deputy’ to help assume duties for a specific period of time.
If you don’t’ have employees, then you should set expectations with your clients well in advance that you will be taking time off. Most people expect and respect those who set clear expectations and those who understand that self-care is also important.
Use things like auto-reply settings for email and shut off other push notifications before you leave. But have a plan of action to check-in with your staff or deputy for updates or emergencies.
Cailey Rizzo from Travel and Leisure magazine identified some of the ways couples can set up for vacation success. “Before heading out on vacation, touch base with coworkers and establish a set time when you will be available for emergencies only. It shouldn’t need to be any more than 15 minutes per day. Both members of the couple can use this time to interact with screens before coming back to each other.”
When planning your vacation, make sure you are leaving room for time to reflect on the reasons you are in business together. Not to talk shop, but just occasionally remind each other that the freedom to control your time and success is in your hands, not the decision of others for you.
I found this great article about preparing for and enjoying a vacation if you are a home-based business. It was written for solopreneurs, but the points made are salient for couples in business too.
As for us, we will continue to make our life a combination of weekly work and vacation days. It suits us well!