Auto Reply: Out of Office

As an analyst, I struggled with how to request time off for a vacation. How far in advance do I ask? Who do I ask? Do I do it in person or over email? How much detail do I provide? All of the answers to these questions depend on your manager and your team culture but if you’re in a situation where there isn’t a clear cut process, here are my tips:

1.     Think about what you are asking for and to whom

You are asking for approval, not permission from your manager. So the question isn’t “Can I go on vacation” but instead “I’d like to request your approval the following dates for my personal leave.” If your workload requires coverage while you are out of town, make sure you indicate in your note who will be covering for you in your absence. If you don’t need coverage, you should let your boss know how and when you will complete your tasks.

My preference is usually to verbally mention my vacation plans first and then follow up with a note that clearly outlines the details to avoid miscommunication… all about that paper trail!

Here’s a quick template:

Hi [Manager],

I am requesting your approval for my personal vacation from X date to X date (total of X business days). I will be back to work on [date].

In my absence, [Colleague] will be covering for me -OR- I will have X project completed ahead of my trip and will complete X project upon my return. I [will / will not] have access to my phone and email while I am away. I have also looped in {any other team members that would need to know because they rely on you]. Should anything urgent arise, you may contact me on my personal cell.


I also like to create an outlook invite for my manager, analyst or coverage person so it’s visible on everyone’s calendar. Outlook tip: make sure you turn off the reminder and show status as: Free (not busy or out of office).

2.     Think about timing

Depending on the length and timing of your vacation, make sure you give as much notice as possible and follow up within 2 weeks before your travel date. If you know it’s around a particularly busy time of year, be sensitive to that and make sure you over communicate expectations.

3.     Post Trip

You can share as many or as little details about where you are going and why. It’s completely up to you and try to sense the interest level of your colleagues. It’s always a nice gesture to bring back a treat from your trip for the office to enjoy like a local candy or snack. While you are away, try to disconnect as much as possible as this is crucial to avoid burning out at your job. If you know there’s something important that may require your attention, make sure you are checking emails at least once a day and be honest about what your team can expect from you in terms of responsiveness. When in doubt, delegate!

Hope everyone has a fun summer trip planned for themselves!