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The luxury of peace: How to stop work ruining your trips

As anyone who has a job knows, switching off can be hard to do. Let’s say you’re settling down for the evening, glass of wine in hand, when all of a sudden your phone starts vibrating and the emails flood in. Even if the messages aren’t urgent, it can be tricky to push them from your mind, and your relaxing night is ruined by gnawing unease. But when you’re on holiday, this problem can rear its head even further.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re kicking back by the pool in a five-star hotel or enjoying some romantic fine-dining under starlight – once you’re hit with work anxiety it’s hard to shrug off. We all deserve to enjoy ourselves with worry or guilt, but how do you balance work life with your right to enjoy a bit of peace and luxury? As a travel writer who’s spent the past three years working on the road, here’s my advice on enjoying the luxury of travel, without work ruining it.

Don’t let work ruin your holiday

Work harder before you leave

The idea of getting ahead with your workload before you take off isn’t rocket science, but you’d be surprised to know how many people don’t do this. With the anticipation of a luxury break ahead of you, it’s easy to spend your working hours googling the weather at your destination, or searching out which restaurants you want to eat at. It’s even easier just to sit at your desk, staring at your screen blankly while daydreaming of sun-drenched beaches, turquoise waters and cool pina coladas. But try not to.

The best way to minimise any work-related worries while you’re on holiday is to sort them before. Try to envisage all the problems that might arise while you’re on holiday and lay contingency plans. Do as much as you possibly can before, even if that means putting extra time in. It’ll all be worth it when you’re reclining on a pristine beach without a care in the world.

Do as much work as you can before you leave

Communicate to everyone that you’re ‘on holiday’

You’re not just “out of the office”; you’re on holiday, enjoying some welcome R and R. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you won’t be available unless it’s an absolute emergency – and make sure they know you mean an actual emergency! Turn off your email and all work-related notifications while you’re away; even if you don’t read them, just seeing notifications ping up can induce unnecessary stress. When you’re spending your hard earned money on a luxury holiday, you should not have to deal with stress.

If you’re feeling anxious about the work you’ll have to do on your return, read up on how to avoid post-holiday stress and check everything off your list: work your out-of-office email to your advantage, come back to the office midweek, and make sure you return to a tidy desk. These small things can make a big difference!

Work should never ruin your trip

If you really need to, check your emails – but only once a day

There was once a time where going on holiday automatically cut you off from work contact – but in today’s super-connected, digital age, this isn’t the case. As luxurious as the idea of unplugging completely is, it isn’t always possible – and I know from experience that sometimes worrying what might have happened with work is far more stressful than knowing what did actually happen.

If you really feel you need to check your emails, do it, but – and this is the big caveat – create rules. Maybe you set aside 20 minutes in the morning to quickly check in, but never, ever reply to messages unless you truly have to; if you do you’ll just get pulled into the conversation. If you check in in the morning, don’t check again in the evening. Get in and get out as quickly as possible, and always try to do it in a setting as luxurious as possible.

Catch up with emails in a luxurious setting

Hotel balconies are ideal for this: sipping a coffee and gazing out at the ocean while skimming through emails and can actually be a great way to start the day when you’re on holiday: it sets your mind at ease and makes you even more grateful for where you are now. Once you’ve finished, leave your laptop in your hotel room, switch your phone to airplane mode, and head out to enjoy the luxury of peace, as well as of travel.