The One Email You Must Send Before You Go on Vacation

It’s common practice to prepare an email autoresponder for when you are going to be away from work for a lengthy period of time. But in many cases that isn’t enough to give you – and those who may be wanting to reach you – peace of mind while you are gone.

An example of this is if you’re in charge of a number of clients who held up by that favourite of all contexts…the infamous “Waiting on” context.

When you’re trying to contact someone on a matter of importance (or even urgency) on one side of the equation and you find out via an autoresponder that they are away for vacation, it can be incredibly frustrating unless they’ve done the front-end work beforehand. (I’m speaking from personal – and recent – experience here. And worse, there was no auto-responder set up. I had to use the – gasp! – telephone to find out what was going on.)

As a matter of courtesy – and to give you the peace of mind needed to be present wherever you are going (either away from the office or on vacation) – you should send each of your clients a simple email to let them know you’ll be away. Below I’ve offered some sample text for to you use as a template. Feel free to make it a TextExpander snippet, Gmail canned response, or whatever. Just use it (or something like it). Please.


I will be out of the office from DATE LEAVING to DATE RETURNING but wanted to assure you that I have handed off all important information off to DELEGATE’S NAME while I am away. Should you have any questions or need anything during this time, please feel free to contact DELEGATE’S NAME and they will do their best to assist you.

Any correspondence (email or phone calls) sent my way will be responded to within 2–3 days of my return.


You may also want to include bullet points of what is in progress so that your client knows you’re on top of things – and it will also likely reduce the amount of emails sitting in your inbox when you return. Unlike a more generalized email (like the one I’ve provided) that you can send en masse, you’ll want to set aside some time to send more personalized emails out. (Chris Guillebeau is incredibly respectful and courteous with email.)

There’s nothing worse than dreading a return from being away from the desk. Sending out this one email before you go anywhere for an extended period of time will help lessen that feeling.

Photo credit: Roger Price (CC BY 2.0)

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