I’ve had a real job for about 18 months, but I’ve never taken a real vacation. Sure, I had a couple days at Christmas and a few days for some minor surgery, but nothing lasting even a week. Until June 6, when I took two weeks off.

For many people, taking two weeks away from their job is unthinkable. For someone at a small business, it’s even harder. I asked Lorraine for permission a year ago to take my dream trip to Egypt, a belated graduation gift. I wouldn’t just be out of the office–I would in all likelihood be without Internet access at all, and certainly without phone access. It was a daunting prospect for me, and probably an even bigger one for my boss. But we all survived. How can you take a vacation without causing office chaos?

Small Business Owners Can Take Vacations

  • Plan Early: As I mentioned, I gave Lorraine a year’s notice. That might be a little extreme, but the more notice you can give everyone, the better. It gave everyone time to get used to the idea that a member of the team would be out of action, and let us plan accordingly.
  • Make It Manageable: I started working on materials for my absence about two months before I actually left. How is this possible? I knew what my baseline work was, what was owed to retainer clients, and what I could plan for. So every week, I wrote an extra blog post or two to hold in reserve, saved a few more tweets to be scheduled. That way, I wasn’t scrambling in the week before I left to finish two weeks of work.
  • Get People in Place: I know that I can always count on Lorraine, Jay, Rebecca, and the rest of the Roundpeg team, but when it came to choosing my intern this summer, I knew that who I chose would be extra important, as she’d be helping with tasks that arose while I was out. So I took my time, and made sure that I found a quality candidate in Melissa. She did a great job.
  • Let Clients Know: For about a month before I left, I started planting the seeds with my clients that I would be gone. A week before, I sent them an email explaining my absence and telling them the best person to contact with their concerns while I was gone. This way, there were no nasty surprises when a client realized I was gone, and the transition was smooth for them.
  • Let Go: We all like to think that we’re irreplaceable, that our workplaces couldn’t function without us for a week or two. Guess what? They can. Sure, they’ll miss you, but with the proper planning and preparation, you can go on an incommunicado vacation knowing that things will chug along without you–and not return to a terrible pile of work on your return.

How do you plan for your vacations?