Print flight itinerary, check. Get directions to hotel, check. Prepare instructions for dog sitter, check. Pack an extra bottle of sunblock, check. Vacation here we come!
WAIT..don’t leave home just yet. Have you prepped your freelance or consulting business for your vacation?
Besides wrapping up current projects and giving your clients advance notice, there are a few more home office housekeeping items that you may want to consider before leaving town. These extra steps will help ensure the continuity of your business, as well as keep your sanity intact while you’re away.
Here is my pre-vacation checklist for trips that are one to two weeks in duration. This checklist is designed for those of us freelancers and consultants who work out of our home offices and don’t have other folks available to cover our work responsibilities during our absence. (For reference, I typically leave my laptop at home and rely on my iPad and iPhone for all business communication while on vacation.)
A pre-vacation checklist for freelancers and consultants
- Change home office outgoing voice mail message, or forward office calls to cell phone.
I live in an area with spotty cell phone coverage, so I still use a landline phone for my business. When traveling in the U.S., I set up my office line so that it forwards all calls to my cell phone. But if I’m headed out of the country, I’ll record a specific message with details about the duration of my trip along with the best way to reach me (usually via email) for urgent issues.
- Pack a cellphone headset.
I’m so dependent upon my car’s built-in Bluetooth for hands-free cell phone access that I forget I even own a headset. However, I keep one packed in my carry-on bag so that I can take hands-free calls in the airport, rental car, etc.
- Back up all critical work files to the cloud.
This item should be a no brainer since we know the importance of backing up our files remotely in addition to using a designated backup drive. I use SugarSync as my online backup solution. In addition to automatically backing up my files, it also gives me the flexibility to access and sync my files from any device, including my iPad and iPhone. I can easily access any file that I need while on the road.
- Move important home office equipment.
I often hire house sitters or recruit family members to manage our home while I’m away. With that said, I don’t like to leave my laptop and backup drives in visible sight. I always move these hardware items to a drawer or locked file cabinet. I also make sure that my work area is free of papers and other clutter before I leave. The last thing I want to do is face a messy office when I come home.
- Send webmail links to spouse or traveling companion.
There have been two occasions when I’ve had issues with phones and tablets on the road and needed to check email from another device. I’ve been very thankful that I emailed my webmail logins to my husband before we left home as I don’t have these links (and passwords) memorized.
- Confirm WiFi options available at hotel or temporary residence.
I’m a cheapskate, so I typically don’t like to pay for a data plan for my iPad. I’ll always call the hotel in advance to ensure that WiFi is available. I’ll even go as far as to read online hotel reviews since folks often complain about WiFi speeds. And yes, I’ve been known to switch hotels at the last minute if needed. If I’m staying with friends or family, I’ll use their WiFi or purchase a monthly data plan. It’s also a good idea to know where the closest Starbucks location is so that you have a secondary WiFi location just in case.
- Invoice clients and pay vendors before you leave.
It’s just good business sense to keep the A/P and A/R accounting machines running in your absence.
- Pay estimated (or year end) taxes in advance.
I hate giving Uncle Sam and the state of California their money too soon, but I also don’t want to pay interest because I’m late with my taxes. If my vacation overlaps a tax deadline, I will notify my accountant several weeks before I go and make my payments in advance.
- Hold mail at post office, and ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your packages.
My checks and invoices are mailed to my home address so I don’t want these items accumulating in my mailbox while I’m away. Likewise, I don’t want any packages left at my front door.
- Give yourself one personal day off before jet setting.
Let’s face it. The last thing you want to do is wrap up a project at 1 AM on the day that you depart. You need that extra day to wrap up the loose ends and get in the vacation state of mind. Just take the day off!