Couple in beach chairs (Photo: Shutterstock)

Do you care about your clients? Of course you do. This virtue can ruin your vacation. Advisors and agents need time away to recharge. Technology allows us to stay in touch (or be reachable) whenever and wherever. Unfortunately, the smartphone becomes a leash. Here’s some practical advice for vacationing advisors.

Long Weekends

Here’s a lesson I learned as a producer in New York City. Airfares between the Northeast and Europe can get absurdly cheap. If you check out airfarewatchdog.com, you can find tickets from New York to London on major airlines as cheap as $350 round trip. After trial and error, here’s the ideal weekend getaway we discovered. It’s guilt free.

  • Thursday. Fly out on an evening flight. Seven hours flying time combined with a five-hour time difference means a 7 p.m. flight arrives in England at 7 a.m. You’ve been in the office most of the day. You checked messages from the terminal. Ditto emails.
  • Friday. You land in London. Check into your hotel. Shower, change. Start touring. Any urge to call the office is offset by “They can get along without me for a day.” 
  • Saturday. More touring. It’s the weekend. You hit the Portobello Road antique market. You buy discounted theater tickets. The urge to call the office is countered by: It’s Saturday! No one is there.
  • Sunday. More touring. You have fun. That urge to call the office is countered by the logical: It’s Sunday. No one is there.
  • Monday. Your flight is at 1 p.m. You are at the airport at 10 a.m. for check in. The world is back to work. You really have the urge to call the office. But it’s only 5 a.m. in New York. Too early to call. As you board the plane, you think “I’ll call now. It’s 8 a.m. in NYC. Still too early. You figure 10 a.m. EST is a good time to call. The plane is in the air! No one is calling anyone! Your flight lands in New York about 4 p.m., accounting for the time difference. Now you can call, if you want. Your long weekend is over, anyway.

Longer Vacations

Many advisors take longer vacations. Some stay within the U.S. It’s difficult to disconnect from the office when you simply turn on the TV or radio and it tells you what the stock market is doing. Here are a few lessons I learned:

  1. Tell your clients. Let them know you will be on vacation. Your office can help them during your absence. Your office will know how to reach you in the case of emergency.
  2. Tell your assistant. This includes the person who will be covering for you. Provide them with a detailed itinerary of where you will be and when. Include phone numbers for hotels, complete with international dialing codes. The concept of an itinerary isn’t new. You would provide one to your child care provider or parents if you were going away. Knowing they can reach you in an emergency reduces the stress.
  3. Calling in. If you are like me, you still feel you need to call. If you are away for a week, discipline yourself to call the office on Tuesday and Thursday. That leaves the other five days somewhat worry-free. Call at a time during the day when your assistant or the person covering will be at their desk, not at lunch. They will likely say: “Everything is fine, why are you calling?” I try to use the same discipline for checking voicemail.
  4. Email. We check our phones constantly. If you are overseas, you are likely at the mercy of Wi-Fi. Your hotel should have it. McDonald’s and Starbucks usually do also. Try to discipline yourself to once a day, twice max. Once you sign onto the hotel WIFI, you will find your phone (and email) wakes up when you return from shopping and enter the hotel lobby.
  5. International calling. I don’t think I’m that important. I don’t have a phone capable of making calls from overseas. I don’t buy the add-on service from my wireless provider. If I need to call the office or check voicemail, I use Skype.

Like your smartphone, your batteries need recharging from time to time. You need to get away. This involves cutting the leash or at least getting it to work on your terms.