Summer is on the horizon – in just a few short weeks, the western world (in the Northern hemisphere, at least) will begin the exodus from offices large and small in search of sun, relaxation, and drinks in rainbow colours with little paper umbrellas perched on top. Let the summer holidays begin!

For many of us, two weeks in the sun, far away from the ping of emails, voice messages, and looming deadlines may seem like a good idea in theory, but in reality, it just isn’t possible. Sure, we can get away, just not that far away. We need to stay connected, whether we want to or not.

That said, combining business and pleasure can be a real challenge. From dropped internet connections to cranky traveling companions, the hassle of of a holiday can be more trouble than it’s worth.

What many of us need is a working holiday that works for us, not against us.

Fear not, Gentle Reader, for we have some practical solutions to this 21st century problem. With a little foresight and some planning, it is quite possible to have the best of both worlds. Here are four simple rules for creating the perfect working holiday:

Rule 1: Stay connected

The fastest way to lose your rag is to lose your internet connection. Nothing frustrates more than trying to email a document to a client and having no ability to do it, or to get continually dropped from a video call because your signal is too weak.

You have two options. First, you can choose your holiday location based on internet access. Many resorts – from Disney World to Sandals and everything in between – offer free wi-fi. These may be an excellent choice, particularly if you want to be in a place that offers on-site activities to keep your travelling companions happy while you beaver away.

Many self-catering cottages also offer internet access but proceed with caution – many have a weak or a shared connection across multiple properties. It is wise to confirm in advance both its quality and the number of users.

Your second option is to bring your internet connection with you, either through tethering to your smart phone or by purchasing a pay as you go plan. Check out your phone’s capabilities and your data plan’s usage allowance. You may need to top up your data allowance in order to ensure you don’t get slapped with expensive penalties. If you opt for a pay as you go plan (usually in the form of a USB stick or similar), make sure you have enough data to support your needs. Also confirm if it will work abroad if that is required.

Rule 2: Set boundaries

Don’t be that person who sits by the pool with their phone in one hand while they type away on their laptop with the other. All work and no play makes the rest of us want to avoid you.

Schedule your work time carefully. Set specific check-in times and make it clear that you won’t be picking up every call or email as soon as your devices start pinging and ringing. The goal is to make yourself available, not a drone.

Go. Have fun. It’s good for you.

Rule 3: Protect your gear

Sure, sitting on the beach drinking a mimosa and replying to emails sounds like a grand idea – and let’s face it, it sure beats sitting at your desk eating a sandwich that tastes like cardboard – but your enjoyment will come to a screeching halt if you have an equipment failure.

Remember, you might like the sun and surf, but your Blackberry, iPad and Chromebook do not.

Keep your equipment out of direct sunlight and keep them in a regulated temperature as much as possible (this is another reason why scheduling your time is so important).

And don’t forget to use protection. Yes, you can buy Smartskin Condoms for smartphones. These thermoplastic sheaths protect phones from the rain, wind, and grit that spell doom for your trusty sidekick. You can also get a “dry case” (like a high tech zip lock bag) for underwater adventures (think of the Instagram pics you can get!) and special backpacks for carrying laptops and other gear.

So don’t forget to slip it on before you slip out the door for that boat tour, bike ride or other outdoor adventure.

Rule 4: Love the one you’re with

One of our pet peeves is people who are out with people who do nothing but communicate with other people who are somewhere else.

If you are travelling with friends or family, do them and yourself a favour and prioritise the real people you are with. If you follow none of the other rules, follow this one. Your work will always be there and while it may be necessary to tend to things while you are away, remember that people need attention, too.

That’s it – four simple rules that will make your holiday a lot simpler, and a lot more enjoyable. The only thing left to say is bon voyage – and don’t forget to tag us in that Instagram upload!

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