Summer is almost here, which means vacation season is right around the corner! Maybe you’ve planned a weeklong trip to the beach with your family, or you’re taking the kids to Disney. It can be difficult to know how to prepare for a long trip, especially as a private photo editor during the busy season. We have deadlines to make and turnaround times to adhere to, so how do we do it?
First off, let me start by saying that it’s probably best to try to vacation during your slower periods throughout the year. There’s less stress of having to complete two weekends worth of catalogs at one time and trying to keep turnaround time as fast as possible. However, if you’re like us, then that’s not always an option. My husband’s busiest time of year is usually my slowest time of year (and vice versa), making it impossible to get away during my downtime. Not to mention — it’s not quite as fun going to the beach in December as it is in May or June (just sayin’ :D).
So you’ve booked your vacation, but you’re now dreading how to tell your clients? Don’t worry – they will understand (trust me)! They love their time off as much as you do, and they know how important it is as a small business owner to take that time for yourself. As long as you prepare them for your absence, everything will be fine!
First: a little prep work.
Four times a year, I collect dates from all of my clients to get an idea of what my busiest months will be. In January, I get a list of dates of the weddings my clients have booked for the year. At the beginning of April, I get in touch with them again to update the list. This tells me when the best times of the year will be for me to get away. If you have to be gone during one of your busier weeks (like I do this year!), then this list lets me know who I need to get in touch with to let them know I’ll be gone. I highly recommend working this into your business model if you don’t already! It is a lifesaver, and it helps to not only prepare you for vacations, but it helps you map out your entire schedule for the entire year.
Let your clients know as soon as possible what dates you are going to be out of town.
Make sure you give them plenty of notice! Let them know what dates you will be out of town, and how it will affect their turnaround times. Remember that it will affect the turnaround times of the catalogs sent to you the week you’re gone, but it will probably also affect the turnaround times for the following week (and maybe even the previous week) as well. Remind your clients again two to three weeks before your trip.
Don’t leave town with unfinished catalogs in your queue.
This may require a little extra work prior to your vacation, but you won’t regret it. Trust me, you don’t want to have that hanging over your head during your whole trip! If you can’t get them finished, consider passing them onto a trusted fellow editor so your client doesn’t have to wait too long to get that catalog back. Personally, I just make sure to plan my week so that I am finished the day before I have to leave (even if it means working late every night). The exception to this would be if they send you the catalog the day before you leave town, then there should already be the expectation the turnaround will be a little delayed (if you emailed them prior).
Set an email auto responder.
The week before you leave, set an email auto responder reminding everyone the dates that you will be out of town and that catalogs will be delayed. When you leave for your vacation, update your auto responder letting people know you are out of the office, give the date you will be back in the office, and remind them that catalogs will be delayed.
Prepare yourself to work a little harder when you get back from your trip.
Unfortunately, this one is inevitable, but I promise it will be okay! Just take it one catalog at a time. Plan to spend a weekend or two after your vacation catching up on your catalogs. Your clients are understanding and want you to take time off, but you want to make sure you are still providing them with a great experience by getting those catalogs turnaround as quickly as possible.
Don’t let this scare you from taking vacations.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to not let this deter you from taking vacations with your family. Sometimes life happens, and vacations during the busy months are inevitable, but it also means you might have to work a little harder for a few days to make it happen. Don’t let this get you down! We all have to hustle in this business, and spending a couple days working extra hard is worth it to get a week away with your loved ones! Don’t let the stress of making up the work weigh down on you during your trip. You deserve a break!! Take some time, recharge, and don’t miss out on moments with your family for work. And don’t even think about working on your vacation! You need a break, and you need to let yourself recharge. You deserve this, so enjoy it!