While traveling on the Metroliner from a wonderful and relaxing trip seeing friends in Washington, DC, I realized how difficult it is for some many business owners and executives to take a vacation. Is the thought of a relaxing vacation an impossible dream?As a sole practitioner, I have learned that if I do not stop and smell the roses, enjoy my family and have some fun, I will be sabotaging not only my career but also my life.Vacations and days off are an important part of any career plan. They allow you to think a bit differently and find that balance you need. Colleagues and clients also perceive you as a person who not only recognizes a need for balance but also is not a control freak.I believe it’s really possible to leave the office both mentally and physically. It just takes a bit of planning and some very deep breathing.Be PreparedLook at your schedule for upcoming projects and deadlines. Try to take care of as much as you can before your trip and allow for emergencies when you get back. Schedule upcoming meetings and projects on your calendar early, so that you are not rushed when you return. I often create a To Do List and use different folders so that when I return from a trip, things are as organized as they can be. By being prepared, you will be able to put your project’s aside and enjoy your trip.DelegateDetermine well in advance who will be taking care of your responsibilities while you are away. Ensure he or she has the information needed to answer questions and that if decisions must be made, what the appropriate comfort level is. For me, I have an administrative office that handles any emergencies for me. It’s a lifesaver. I know that my clients are speaking to real people who can help move the issue toward a successful resolution. If you don’t have an administrative office, speak to a few call centers in your area. If nothing else, your clients will hear a real voice and know that the message will be taken.Notify Your ClientsTell your clients in advance that you will be traveling. If you normally respond to email and phone messages within an hour, your clients need to know that you will not be readily available. If they know when you will be back and who to contact, emergencies are not as drastic and they will be able to gauge the level of importance. Be sure to give the same information on vacation emails and voicemails (office and cell.)Extra ProtectionIf you are able to schedule a quiet day in the office for yourself, before your official return, do so. By telling clients that you will be back on Tuesday, when you will really be in the office Monday, allows you to answer those emails and return some of your calls without the stress of being rushed.Being ConnectedIf you must be connected and check in with your office, either by phone or email, I suggest taking care of things every few days and in the morning or very late afternoon. Remember, you are on vacation and balance is important.Relax & Day DreamBring books and magazines that are not related to your business. Vacations allow us to think about things we never would have dream of. Last December, while on vacation sitting in the sun in Bonaire, I thought of a fabulous idea for my business. After a few short minutes of thought, I decided to give it a try. I credit the success of that idea and successes in my business to the fact I was on vacation.I wish you all a wonderful and relaxing summer vacation!