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13 out of office message examples to steal for your next vacation

"I'm sorry, I'm currently out of the office riding an alpaca named 'Reggie' across South America through the end of this quarter. If you need help while I'm gone, you're out of luck."

13 out of office message examples to steal for your next vacation Blog Feature

Liz Moorehead

Editor-in-Chief, Speaker, Host of 'Content Lab' Podcast

December 23rd, 2020 min read

When I was "super cool high school" Liz — a rowing, track-running theater nerd — the lead-up to going on holiday break during the school year was always so relaxing, festive, and packed with shenanigans with my friends. 

Back then, all I had to do was:

  • Knock out a few mid-term exams
  • Look like a yuletide baller in an ugly sweater or three
  • Attend a handful of class holiday parties
  • Exchange super cute gifts with friends (and my crush-of-the-month 😍)

It was as if I had a one-way ticket on the stress-free express to Vacation Town, population me. Now, it's a little bit of a different story. 

Going on vacation as an adult with a full-time job is no easy task. Often, you're burdened with the knowledge that you need to double, triple, or quadruple up on whatever work you need to get done ahead of your absence.

If your leave is extended or longer than usual — for example, if you're going on parental leave, due to the arrival of a child — you'll also likely have to write up coverage plans for others to take care of your usual duties while you're out.

🔎 Related: Toxic lies we tell ourselves as leaders when we go on vacation

Whenever I find myself in these pockets of time, when I'm tirelessly prepping to actually take a break from work, I will always have a flicker of a moment, a split-second where I wonder, "Is all of this extra effort worth it?"

Of course, the moment I turn on my out of office reply...

Screen Shot 2020-12-22 at 11.00.29 PM

...I know the answer to that self-doubting question is unequivocally yes.

Because I'm a total drama queen, however, I just love when I'm able to come up with some fantastic, memorable out of office reply message people will receive while I'm gone. Anyone else feel that way? 

I'm going to assume yes, if you've landed on this article. 

Unfortunately, sometimes what I wish I could put as my out of office reply...

Screen Shot 2020-12-22 at 11.01.36 PM

...is not what some would consider terribly professional, no matter how accurate or truthful it might be.

Screen Shot 2020-12-22 at 11.01.01 PM

...or friendly enough.

So, to help myself out (and you, our beloved audience, by extension), I'm going to share some of my favorite professional, memorable, and (sometimes) super funny out of office reply examples we can all use when we take our next break.

But first... 

What should an out office office reply include?

No matter how creative, zippy, plucky, or "Dang, I wish I had thought of that!" your out of office reply is, it will be a total failure if you don't include the following:

  • The date you leave will begin
  • The exact date you will return
  • Expectations about returned correspondence 
  • Points of contact while you're out (if your office is open while you're out)
  • Guidance that the entire office is closed (if everyone is away on holiday)
  • Whether or not you will have some or limited access to email (or have zero intent to check your email at all)

Basically, if someone is reaching out to you, you can't sacrifice meeting their expectations for the sake of winning at the out of office message game. If you miss any of these points (as applicable) in your out of office message, you'll increase the risk that someone will bother you while you're out to get a resolution. 

1. The standard professional "just the facts, ma'am" out of office message

Subject: Out of office until [DATE]

Hello, everyone —

Thank you so much for reaching out to me. Currently, however, I am out of office from [DATE] until [DATE] [for VACATION/CONFERENCE/etc. - optional] with [limited/no access] to my email. If your matter is not urgent, please know that I will follow-up with you as soon as I return, although my response may be somewhat delayed as I work through my missed messages.

If, on the other hand, you require immediate assistance, please contact [NAME] at [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER]. If you need assistance with [FOCUS AREA] specifically, please contact [NAME] at [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER].

Sincerely,

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

🔎 Related: Should you buy email marketing lists in 2020 and beyond?

2. Professional (but more casual and friendly) out of office message

Subject: Oops! I'm out of office until [DATE]!

Well, hello there! 

While I'm so excited to hear from you, you've unfortunately caught me while I'm out of the office [for VACATION/CONFERENCE/etc. - optional], [DATE] to [DATE], with [limited/no access] to my email.

If what you need from me isn't time sensitive, great! I'll get back to you as soon as I return. (Although you can expect a small delay, since I think we all know how time-consuming responding to all missed messages can be.)

Now, if your matter is urgent, don't panic. All you need to do is reach out to [NAME] and [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER] and they'll take care of you. 

Look forward to talking soon!

Sincerely,

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

3. Entire office is closed out of office message

Subject: [COMPANY NAME] closed until [DATE]

Hi there, 

Thank you so much for contacting me. Currently, our entire office is closed for [REASON], from [DATE] to [DATE]. During this time, [SET COMMUNICATION EXPECTATIONS]. 

If your matter is not time sensitive, there is no need to take further action. I will return your message as soon as possible, upon my return. If you have an urgent issue, please [PROVIDE CONTACT INFORMATION OR GUIDANCE].

We look forward to assisting you and we return! 

Sincerely,

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

4. Extended parental leave out of office message

Subject: Away on parental leave until [DATE]

Hello!

I'm so sorry I missed your message, but it's for good reason — we recently welcomed a new child to our family and I am currently out on extended parental leave from [DATE] until [DATE]. 

As I learn the joys of being a new parent (running on little to no sleep!), the talented [NAME] will be taking over my duties in my absence. [NAME] can be reached at [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER].

I look forward to reconnecting with you when I return! 

Sincerely,

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

5. Promote some of your rockstar content out of office message

Subject: I'm so sorry I missed you!

Why, hello there! 

While I'm so excited to chat with you, unfortunately, you have caught me while I'm out of the office. Currently I am away [ON VACATION, FOR CONFERENCE NAME, et.c], from [DATE] to [DATE], with [limited/no access] to my email.

If what you need from me isn't time sensitive, great! I'll get back to you as soon as I return. (Although you can expect a small delay, since I think we all know how time-consuming responding to all missed messages can be.)

Now, if your matter is urgent, don't panic. All you need to do is reach out to [NAME] and [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER] and they'll take care of you. 

If my absence has left a [YOUR NAME]-shaped hole in your heart, here are a few of my favorite pieces of content by yours truly to tide you over until I get back:

  • [LINK]
  • [LINK]
  • [LINK]

Look forward to reconnecting when I return!

Sincerely, 

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

6. Personal video with an animated thumbnail for an out of office message

One-to-one videos you record with a simple software like Vidyard's free Google Chrome extension are a fantastic, personal addition to an otherwise ho-hum out of office reply. 

In fact, for this example, I'll give you a sneak preview of what my upcoming out of office reply email will be:

Subject: Until next year, folks!

Greetings and festive salutations, friends!

I know you were hoping to catch me, but...

Oops, you caught me on vacation!

(I hope you can forgive the cave-like lighting, I recorded this while burning the ye olde midnight oil to prepare for my vacation.)

Anyway, I'm currently out on holiday through the end of this year. Much like Ahhnold, "I'll be back" bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the first week in January. 

In my absence, you can keep up with me through our thrice-weekly email newsletter, THE LATEST, which I will still be writing throughout the break. Also, don't forget to browse our learning center for the latest digital sales and marketing insights. (We publish every day, even on holidays!)

OK, I'd love to stick around and chat, but my egg nog is calling to me. Can't wait to catch up in the new year!

Cheers,

Liz Moorehead

Of course, this is very much in line with my tone and personality, so when you do your video, make your message a personal and authentic reflection of you! (This is a great option if you work in any sort of client-facing or audience-focused capacity.)

🔎 Related: Email marketing mistakes you need to stop making immediately

7. Bad news/good news out of office message

Subject: Oops...

Bad news: I know you were excited to chat, but I am out of office for [REASON] from [DATE] to [DATE], with [SOME, LIMITED, NO] access to email. 

Good news: If your matter is urgent, I've still got you covered. All you need to do is reach out to [NAME] and [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER] and they'll take care of you. 

Talk to you soon! 

Sincerely,

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

8. Lead generating out of office message

Subject: I've got bad news

Hey there!

I know you were hoping to reach me, but I am currently out of office for [REASON] from [DATE] to [DATE], with [SOME, LIMITED, NO] access to email. If you need immediate assistance in my absence, reach out to [NAME] and [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER] and they'll take care of you. 

Also, have you heard about our new [NEWSLETTER, CONTENT OFFER, etc.]? I'm so excited because it [SHARE DETAILS ON THE CONTENT PIECE AND WHAT SPECIFIC PROBLEM IT SOLVES FOR, FOR YOUR AUDIENCE]. You'll definitely want to [SIGN UP, DOWNLOAD, OTHER CALL TO ACTION] today. And if you have any questions about it, simply reply to this email, and I'll get back to you as soon as I return.

Sincerely,

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

What's with the subject line? Something like that is more likely to increase open rates if you're looking to generate any leads while you're gone. (You can't covert leads if they don't open your email, right?)

9. Out of office message in pithy haiku form

Subject: Away, I have gone

Away, I have gone

Quite unreachable for now

Vacations are dope

Sincerely,

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

P.S. Poetic urges aside, I will return on [DATE]. You can reach out to [NAME] and [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER] if you need any help before then.

10. Totally honest out of office message with a touching note of humanity

This is a real out of office message our CEO, Bob Ruffolo, used earlier this year. I would be remiss if I didn't share this as an all-star example of an out of office message that is human, authentic, thoughtful, unique, and still checks all of the essential OOO boxes. 

out-of-office-bob-ruffolo

Amazing, right? 

11. Traffic-driving out of office message

Subject: Uh oh... 

Hey there!

I know you were hoping to reach me, but I am currently out of office for [REASON] from [DATE] to [DATE], with [SOME, LIMITED, NO] access to email. If you need immediate assistance in my absence, reach out to [NAME] and [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER] and they'll take care of you. 

Since I don't want to leave you empty-handed, however, here is some of our best content and resources for our top [THREE, FIVE, etc.] topics:

  • [LINK TO FEED OF BLOG CONTENT ON SPECIFIC TOPIC]
  • [LINK TO FEED OF BLOG CONTENT ON SPECIFIC TOPIC]
  • [LINK TO FEED OF BLOG CONTENT ON SPECIFIC TOPIC]
  • [LINK TO FEED OF BLOG CONTENT ON SPECIFIC TOPIC]

If you have any questions on anything you find above, don't hesitate to reply to this email, and I'll respond as soon as I return. 

Sincerely, 

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

Much like the lead-generating email, you'll want to get a little more "intriguing" with your subject line to increase click-throughs. Additionally, this tactic will only work if your blog articles are tagged by subject matter. 

12. The tumbleweed out of office message

Subject: I'm sorry to report...

tumbleweed

...this is the vacant space where my usual response would be, as I'm currently out of the office for [REASON], from [DATE] to [DATE], with [SOME, LIMITED, NO] access to email. 

If what you need from me isn't time sensitive, great! I'll get back to you as soon as I return. (Although you can expect a small delay, since I think we all know how time-consuming responding to all missed messages can be.)

Now, if your matter is urgent, don't panic. All you need to do is reach out to [NAME] and [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER] and they'll take care of you. 

Look forward to catching up when I return!

Sincerely,

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

🔎 Related: 18 email marketing best practices you need to know for 2021

13. Advice-seeking out of office message

Subject: I may need your help

OK, I need to be honest with you.

You're receiving this message because I am currently out of office for [REASON] from [DATE] to [DATE], with [SOME, LIMITED, NO] access to email.(Don't worry, if you need immediate assistance in my absence, reach out to [NAME] and [EMAIL ADDRESS] or [PHONE NUMBER] and they'll take care of you.)

Still, I know myself. There's a good chance I'll periodically undermine this much-needed break of mine by checking my email when I shouldn't be. 

So, if you're feeling so inclined, reply to this email with your favorite tips for staying on vacation while on vacation or for recharging when you're taking a break from work. Hopefully it will inspire me to put down my phone in my weak moments!

Anyway, I look forward to catching up when I get back. 

Sincerely,

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

Don't forget to really take a break

In case you're wondering, yes, that last suggestion is something of a cry for help, heh. I am not the best at being on vacation, but I also know I'm not alone. That's why my parting words to you in this article is a strongly-worded reminder that you absolutely must truly unplug once you turn your out of office message active. 

While it can be hard to feel like you can truly step away — especially if you have a nagging fear of others realizing they "don't need you" while you're gone — you can only be effective and valuable in your current role if you take your vacations and breaks as seriously as you do your work.

Burnout is considered a genuine medical condition, and this pandemic has not done us any good, in terms of being able to better draw lines between our work lives and our personal ones. Moreover, if you're in a position of leadership, your people are watching — if you demonstrate that "going on vacation" means you're still checking in, still doing work on occasion, and so on, they'll never feel as if they can truly take a break, as well. 

So, go on. Take a break. A real one. You've earned it.

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