The “secret” of travel professionals to get into work mode after a long vacation

Remote work is making it easier than ever to take a working vacation — you can travel to a new location, log in during the day, and basically get away without having to use up your PTO days. But many people come back from these “rest periods” more exhausted than when they left.

About 61% of Americans who took a working vacation in the past year did not consider vacations to be “real,” according to Expedia’s latest vacation deprivation study of 14,500 working people in 16 countries. Furthermore, 72% of people who worked during their vacation reported feeling fatigued more than ever.

Melanie Fish, Head of Global PR for Expedia Group Brands, knows this from experience. During the pandemic, I tried to take a working vacation from a rented house in the woods, “and it was actually stressful to hear my family getting ready for a walk while I was trying to answer an email,” she says. “It taught me that not every direction is good.”

Fish realizes that it takes “age and experience” to feel comfortable taking a week off work and completely off the grid. But she also sees it as a necessary management skill and puts it into models for her employees: “As a leader, you’re not doing your job if your team can’t live without you for a few days.”

Expedia Group employees get 15 to 25 days of paid vacation and up to $1,500 in travel and health compensation per year. They can also access special discounts for hotels and travel through their platforms.

Fish admits that pulling out for an extended vacation can come back to nibble on her, as happened when she recently returned from a week-long Florida beach trip to 3,000 unread emails. Here, she shares the secret to a smooth transition from vacation mode to work mode, plus what she’s learned from her fellow Europeans and the brutal advice she’ll give her 25-year-old self about an ego check.

The secret of her transition from leave mode to work: I like to keep it a secret that I’m coming back for as long as possible. I set my out of office period a bit longer than I really am, and didn’t set Slack to active until I realized what happened last week. not always work. But just because I got back to the office at 8 am on Monday after two days off doesn’t mean people need me at 8 am on Monday.

So go ahead and block this calendar for a few hours. Keep this message out of the office turned on. Keep Slack inactive. Give yourself a chance to get in at a reasonable pace.

How do you respond to a manager who does not respect leave: I’ve had amazing heads and I’m very clear – “I’m taking this time, I’m not going to check email, here’s my call, or please text me if you really need me” – and I respect that.

I once had a boss who looked at me incredibly and said, “Well, I’ve never heard of someone at your job who wasn’t constantly on email even while on vacation.” At that moment, I had to take a deep breath, stand up straight and say, “If you need something different, please clarify, and we can talk about it. But I don’t check my email constantly when I’m on personal vacation.”

The obligation lies with company leaders to model good behavior, and not just encourage people to take their vacations, but not punish them for doing so.

How to reduce your workload to free up vacation space: When you get off work, look at the meetings scheduled for Monday and think, “Do I need to reschedule this meeting for Tuesday, or can we leave it this week?” What good is a vacation if you double the workload you have to do the next day?

What she learned from her European colleagues: It helps to have a team in Europe. They don’t mess with time, which is inspiring. My European colleagues don’t feel the need to apologize for the vacation they took – and they shouldn’t. They have a public holiday. Summer turns into a very slow time. And because it’s global in the culture, and not just within one company, it normalizes the need for time off rather than making it awkward because you’re not working.

What would the 25-year-old tell herself about taking time off: I would say to my 25-year-old self: “You’re not so important that your workplace can’t live without you for a few days.” I would say this to my 25-year-old self. I wouldn’t say that to the 25-year-olds on my team. I’m hoping to model this behavior so he doesn’t need to say that.

The ability to shut it down completely on vacation has become with age and experience. There was a time when I felt the need to constantly relate to what was going on at work. And in hindsight, I’m not so sure this was my expectation at my workplace as much as it was my ego who thought they wouldn’t be able to get over it while taking a three day vacation. This is just silly.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

paying off:

This company pays new employees to take time off before they start

Thousands of employees experience a 4-day work week

4 people on how their companies turned to work from anywhere encouraged them to move around the world

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