How to Take a Vacation (Without Feeling Guilty About It)

Happy African American Woman Dancing on Beach One thing I hear a lot from the hard-working women in our community is how difficult it is to take a vacation. Many of us already work long hours at work or in our business, yet for some reason have trouble taking a break! If it’s been years since you’ve given yourself the gift of a proper vacation, read on for some tips to help you step away from the laptop or plot your much-needed escape from the cubicle.

Schedule Time Off from Work Far in Advance

The best way to ensure you take your vacation time is to sit down at the beginning of the year and map out the times you already know you want off. It might be useful to think in terms of seasons. Plan to take some time off during the spring, summer, winter, etc. For instance, no matter where I worked, I always took off from my job for a few days every spring so that I could attend the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville. And for the last 3 years in my business, I’ve taken off at least one full month for vacation at some point during the year for travel!

Most people want to spend extended time with their families during various holidays, so you can plan around those as well. If you’re taking time off from your business, block off time in your calendar for the dates you want to get your R&R. If you’re taking time off from your job, make sure you submit your leave request as FAR in advance as possible so your supervisor can approve it in a timely manner. That way, you can work together to make arrangements for other staff or an assistant to cover your responsibilities and take care of clients during your time away, if necessary.

Decide Where You Want to Go or What You Want to Do

Keep in mind that leisure time is always worth it, no matter where you go or what you do. You may wish to travel out of the country or go visit your mom a few hours away. You might want to treat yourself to a relaxing “girls-only” getaway or yoga retreat. For my month-long vacations over the last 3 years, I’ve used my time off to travel to Hawaii, Greece, Italy, Spain and Thailand! (If money is an issue, now would be a good time to start a small “vacation fund.” If you have a specific trip you want to take, commit to saving a certain amount each month until you reach your goal.)

You can also take time off to have a “staycation” and explore the cool events, museums and parks in your own city that you never get to enjoy because of work. Or you can just stay home and enjoy the simple pleasure of doing absolutely nothing. It’s up to you. Whatever you want to do with your time off is valid and valuable. And you don’t have to justify it to anyone, especially your employer or clients.

Shake Off the Guilt

For some reason, there are lots of women who go years (years!) without a vacation because they feel guilty about abandoning their employer or business for an extended period of time. They end up playing the martyr role until they get burnt out, and then want to blame other people for “making” them work themselves into the ground. I really only have a few things to say about this… We have to keep reminding ourselves that no one ever laid on their deathbed and said they wished they had worked more. You only get one life and even when you love what you do, it’s unhealthy to do it 24/7 without a reprieve.

If you struggle with the concept of taking a vacation, it’s probably time to stop guilt tripping yourself. Let go of the idea that you can’t take any time off this year because there’s just SO much going on at your organization or in your business that you couldn’t POSSIBLY be away from the office. The truth is, you’re actually doing your employer or your business a disservice by NOT taking a break to renew yourself for the important projects that lie ahead.

Give yourself permission to step away from work, if only for a few days. It WILL be there when you get back. And after your vacation, you’ll be 100% ready for it.

Leave a comment: Are you overdue for a vacation? Where would you like to go or what would you like to do this year?

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Comments & Feedback:

  1. I am long overdue for a vacation. I suffer from the guilt of it too! I want to have a moment to myself but I am a SAHM so my kids and home is my job. It’s a weird feeling, but when I do take a moment and do something for me, I feel 100% better vs. not doing anything at all.

  2. I just got back from a 2 week vacation to Argentina (which is highly recommended!!). The guilt came on hard in the weeks leading up to it.

    But, I realized that not only did I deserve a break, I worked hard to earn one!! To ease my mind further, I planned for the break by tying up loose ends. I finished my big projects, set up my email autoresponder, automated two weeks of blog posts, and generally let people know I would be gone.

    While I was sipping wine, eating steak, and dancing the tango in Argentina, I felt not one inch of guilt! It was fabulous!! Going on vacation is definitely a way to refresh your mind and body! Planning for the vacation in advance helps minimize the guilt, but also gets you excited about taking the time off!

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