How to survive vacation as a computer nerd.

I know I’m addicted. Having a cold turkey when I don’t touch a keyboard for 24 hours. Love thinking on solutions, love writing code. This must sounds familiar to you, it is summertime, maybe you are on vacation and you are still reading this post.

How do you survive on vacation, without getting that ‘you are working’ argument with family members. They don’t understand it is a primary live essential for us. Some tips.

Start early in the morning.

Something I always do, the moment I’m writing this is six in the morning. Everybody is a sleep, the temperature is still bearable, you grab your first coffee and happy working on some cool bits. No one is edgy because you are behind your screen, in the zone. The earlier you get out of bed the more keyboard time you have, all in your control.


(Norway 2008 )

This solution is more challenging when on a hiking vacation. When sleeping in a cabin most fellow hikers get up early too. For this we have solution 2, start late.

Stop late when the others sleep.

This one is harder for me than get up earl, it needs some discipline with the wine.

With a hiking vacation this will work perfect. Everybody is tired after a whole day walking and they will go to bed early. That is the moment you can open your laptop and write that fantastic line of code, which you have been thinking about the whole trail.


Italy 2015

Take books with you everywhere.

Coding time on a daily basis, isn’t always reachable on vacation. Maybe you don’t want to get up that early, or you are tired after a day of hiking, and often family members dislike you are behind your laptop, autistic not responding and ‘in the zone’.

Books to the rescue. You can take books, computer books, with you everywhere. They are widely adopted as a vacation attribute, many people use them to relax on vacation. So, take your computer book to the beach and enjoy the smell of code the whole day. Get new ideas and learn new skills.

I walked with many kg of computer books several mountain trails in New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and Italy.

A downside of books, they can’t compete with a keyboard and internet. And be aware when the book has some great tips and ideas which bring new possibilities to the system you are working on, you can’t try it. A solution can be to bring your laptop up the hill too and do one of the above survival tips. Otherwise deal with it or find an internet cafe and connect to you cloud environment.


Netherlands 2016.

Take a Surface.

E-readers and iPads are taken by people on vacation. These two devices have one thing in common, you can only consume. An e-reader or iPad are useless for people who want to create code, create not consume.

When the people who are with you on vacation take their ‘consume’ gadgets, you take your Surface. A Surface looks like a tablet for many, which make them think you are relaxing like they do. While they are consuming you are creating code.

This doesn’t work anymore within my family, while my wife owns a Surface Pro 3 (and takes it with here on vacation). But the pushback I get when behind a Surface is much lower as when I take my big Lenovo with me. Also the weight is much lower, so even for hiking it is a great option.


(Italy 2014)

Make small one hour tasks on your tasks board.

A small tip on organizing work. On vacation you actually don’t want to plan anything. But, the short time frames you have require some preparation.

I keep my tasks, my ideas (pbi’s) organized in Visual Studio Team Services on the backlog, just a simple backlog and team with one team member in my personal account. The tasks I break down in very small pieces of work, max an hour. This helps in being productive the moment I found a slot to do some coding. For example when waiting on an airport for a flight is an ideal moment to open your Surface and make some small code adjustments.

I created this Windows 8 App in 2012 on airports waiting on planes.


Bring your gadget

This one is when nothing else works and you are almost getting a cold turkey. It is the methadone for the computer nerd, it will ease the symptoms a bit.

No computer around, not aloud or not possible to bring books and or computer with you on vacation, take a gadget. I have my Garmin Fenix 3 ( exchanged my 405 which died in April 2014 ), it is a full blown smart watch with lots of configuration capabilities. I take it everywhere with me on vacation and fulfills a bit the needs to configure something.


Seattle 2010

Mobile phone to the rescue.

In the category ‘methadone gadget’, but this one is connected and brings more methadone like possibilities. You can’t create things with it, not when you don’t have a Lumia 950 with Continuum (which I have J ). That phone simply is as powerful, and usable as a computer.


With a phone, you can do some blog readings, navigate the web and … see the next tip, have daily standups with your team members .

Don’t cancel online meetings.

Did it once, I don’t recommend this. I know you feel disconnected with your team, they are moving forward, making nice code, while you can’t discus and brainstorm with them. Deal with it, this will ruin your vacation. Take the single developer team modus and investigate that piece of cool technology completely useless for your current project. That’s where vacation is for.


Canada 2008, in a call.

Activate all software with a license key.

A small tip on using internet licenses based software on your computer. While on vacation, often there is no internet. When your tools are licensed via a subscription which is validated periodically via internet, this can become a problem when on a disconnected vacation.

It happened to me once. On the top of a mountain, no internet and a tool which wanted to check the license. The tools wasn’t able to validate and refused to open. Leaving me silently crying in the morning while everybody was a sleep.

Handle the symptoms and carry on.

The toughest and greatest tip I have. Just do it, leave all computer stuff behind. Take some great literature with you, play with your family and enjoy the environment.


Have a good vacation and please share your tips.

Comments (3) -

Tarun Arora 7/22/2016 3:40:33 PM

Phenomenal! Thanks for the useful tips Smile

Martijn Mulder 7/26/2016 10:32:36 AM

These are hard times indeed. I agree on the online meetings while on vacation part, did it once back in 2012: "Sat in my car outside the restaurant while the family was enjoying their dinner". My food was cold afterwards (yes the heated it up again in the microwave, which was a nice service).

The reason for this was really interesting interview with Microsoft and you Clemens Smile.

Final thought, think I would do it again :p

Great post

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