How to Write the Perfect Out-of-Office Reply Before Vacation

Ready to actually put some of that paid time off to use?


We have some beef with you, American workforce. This year’s Project: Time Off survey has revealed that, yet again, you are refusing to use all of your vacation days. The 2014 report was bad enough with 429 million vacation days going to waste, but, of course, being the overachievers you clearly are, you had to go and set a new record at 658 million lost vacation days in 2015.

What is the deal?

Are we not giving you enough inspiring trip ideas? Is the giant world awaiting you out there not exciting enough to pry you out of your swiveling ergonomic office chair and beige surroundings?

We’ve heard all of the excuses, and frankly – none of them are good enough. Want the company to know you’re dedicated? Submit your vacation day request with statistics that correlate used paid time off to growth in concentration, productivity, and satisfaction in the workplace. No money to travel? Start with this guide, and remember that you will also be getting a paycheck for your time spent exploring the world. Take a trip worth the equivalent of only that paycheck to even it out.

While it’s just one more thing on the list that stands between you and a beach in Bora Bora, the out-of-office auto response still needs to be crossed off. Because you are all clearly obsessive workaholics, with no time to take a vacation let alone write a message that tells people you’re actually on one, we took care of this one for you.

Here, a very professional, nine-step guide to crafting the perfect out-of-office email — one that inspires everyone who gets it to take their own vacation.

Step 1: Select a highly appropriate greeting.

You could say something super boring like “Hello,” or you could really set the tone by using a traditional greeting in the language of your destination. An auto-response to someone who likely needs something from you that starts with “Aloha!” will definitely not anger them in any way.

But just in case, maybe follow it up with a quick thank-you.

Example:

Aloha!

Thanks for your message.

Step 2: Disclose your whereabouts.

In case this isn’t already clear, the goal here is to make people jealous so that they too schedule a vacation, so be sure to be extremely descriptive.

Example:

Aloha!

Thanks for your message. I may currently be riding on the back of a motorcycle, cruising the Road to Hana, or attempting some overly aggressive surfing, but I am not in the office.

Step 3: Give the people some answers.

The most important thing anyone who gets your auto response will want to know: When will you be back? But don’t tell them that date! Tell them a few days later than that date and you will seem like a human capable of major office feats such as Inbox Zero when you answer sooner than they expected.

Example:

Aloha!

Thanks for your message. I may currently be riding on the back of a motorcycle, cruising the Road to Hana, or attempting some overly aggressive surfing, but I am not in the office until my return on Monday, July 11 Wednesday, July 13.

Step 4: Volunteer your sacrificial colleagues.

Now, it’s time to decide which unwilling colleague(s) you’d like to sacrifice to the immediate assistance gods. You can do this as a general catchall referral, or by specific categories if there are different second-in-commands for the various important responsibilities of your job.

Example:

Aloha!

Thanks for your message. I may currently be riding on the back of a motorcycle, cruising the Road to Hana, or attempting some overly aggressive surfing, but I am not in the office until my return on Monday, July 11 Wednesday, July 13. If you need immediate assistance, please bother contact mycoworker@company.com.

Step 5: Leave out all personal methods of contact.

It can be tempting to include your Gmail or cell number in the event of a crisis, but you need to take a step back and ask yourself: “How important is my job, really? Will the entire business crumble into oblivion if I don’t answer one question?” Probably not, and if yes, that still doesn’t seem like it’s a “you” problem. You have earned one week of uninterrupted vacation. Take it without guilt.

Example:

Aloha!

Thanks for your message. I may currently be riding on the back of a motorcycle, cruising the Road to Hana, or attempting some overly aggressive surfing, but I am not in the office until my return on Monday, July 11 Wednesday, July 13. If you need immediate assistance, please bother contact mycoworker@company.com. I will have limited not have access to email.

Step 6: Plug your social handles.

You are, however, encouraged to include links to your Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. accounts. Everyone knows your personal brand is not by any means personal. Plus, if there is a true work emergency, an Instagram comment notification is far more likely to catch your attention than an email.

Example:

Aloha!

Thanks for your message. I may currently be riding on the back of a motorcycle, cruising the Road to Hana, or attempting some overly aggressive surfing, but I am not in the office until my return on Monday, July 11 Wednesday, July 13. If you need immediate assistance, please bother contact mycoworker@company.com. I will have limited not have access to email, but you can see what I’m up to instead @myhandle on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.

Step 7: Stop reading over the message and set it.

You’re not forgetting anything. Your body is just imagining this feeling of dread as a result of the fact that we spend almost our whole working lives at a desk and deep down, you’re afraid to leave your cubicle comfort zone. Ignore it.

Example:

Aloha!

Thanks for your message. I may currently be riding on the back of a motorcycle, cruising the Road to Hana, or attempting some overly aggressive surfing, but I am not in the office until my return on Monday, July 11 Wednesday, July 13. If you need immediate assistance, please bother contact mycoworker@company.com. I will have limited not have access to email, but you can see what I’m up to instead @myhandle on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. In case of emergency, please call my cell at  

Step 8: Sign off.

Again, just like the greeting, you can be boring and say something like “Best,” or you can overdo the foreign language play, but isn’t it better to really drive the “use your vacation days” angle home?

Example:

Aloha!

Thanks for your message. I may currently be riding on the back of a motorcycle, cruising the Road to Hana, or attempting some overly aggressive surfing, but I am not in the office until my return on Monday, July 11 Wednesday, July 13. If you need immediate assistance, please bother contact mycoworker@company.com. I will have limited not have access to email, but you can see what I’m up to instead @myhandle on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. In case of emergency, please call my cell at  

When’s your next vacation?

Me

Step 9: Set it and forget it. Get out of there.

OK, you are allowed to email yourself once just to admire your masterpiece make sure it works. But after that, nope. No more. Go forth and enjoy the vacation days that you are being paid to take.

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When you plan travel with Vacationisms, you're shopping small and supporting a privately owned business based in Goffstown, NH.

We're owned by a husband and wife power duo living locally with their two-nager. Yes, two-nager. When you plan your travel with us, you aren't only supporting our amazing team, you're supporting the community, too. We reinvest heavily in our community in social advocacy, youth development and athletic programs, and we too shop small. We believe that our community is important and we appreciate your business to allow us to continue.