It's not unusual for founders to put off taking vacations until the insane startup stage of their companies has passed. Still, even among entrepreneurs, Elon Musk's vacation track record--or lack thereof--is particularly spotty.

You sort of can't blame him. At PayPal in 2000, Musk was ousted and replaced with Peter Thiel by the company's board while he took his first vacation in years. Soon after, he contracted malaria and nearly died while visiting Brazil and his native South Africa.

Musk hasn't fared much better when he's tried to relax in more recent years. In 2015, he admitted he'd only taken two separate weeks off since founding SpaceX a dozen years earlier. During one of them, the company's rocket exploded. "The lesson here," Musk joked, "is don't take a week off."

Still, he's tried again. Musk did enjoy some time away from Tesla and SpaceX earlier this year and, it seems, nothing went completely awry as a result.

If he can do it, so can you. Here are some things you can learn about how Musk takes vacations.

1. Build a team you're confident in.

It's hard to get away if you don't fully trust your team to pick up the slack when you're gone. How could you ever fully relax?

"My priority right now," Musk said in 2015, "is to try to add some more management bench strength, to Tesla in particular, so that I can take a vacation." Musk spent years building his companies and surrounding himself with people who could step in for him. Apparently, he's made headway: Since last year, he has taken trips to Miami, London, and Australia.

2. Do something with a high excitement factor.

If sitting on a beach means your mind will have time to wander, then take a different path: Do something thrilling. Musk went on vacation to England in 2015, and he didn't sit around--he went walking on the wings of a flying airplane. "What could possibly go wrong?" he wrote on Instagram. (He wore a harness.)

What you do doesn't have to be death-defying, but getting the adrenaline flowing could be a good way to distract yourself from work. It could even make you sharper: Researchers have found that experiencing new and novel things spurs the brain to be more creative and better at learning.

3. Completely unplug.

Musk has admitted Tesla nearly went bankrupt during the 2008 financial crisis. Understandably, the entrepreneur wasn't keen on taking extended holidays in the years that followed. But even Musk appreciates the value of changing your scenery once in a while.

"After 2008 meltdown, vacation for me just meant email with a view," he tweeted in 2012, "but SpaceX & Tesla are now strong enough that I can make it real (yay!!)" If unplugging can elicit a "yay!!" from Elon Musk, then it's probably something you should try, too.

4. Really can't get away from work? Extend your business trips into vacations.

In April, Musk traveled to Australia with girlfriend Amber Heard and two of his sons. While there was plenty of time for wining and dining on the Gold Coast, Heard was actually there to film superhero movie Aquaman. Musk, meanwhile, had recently promised the country he could build it a giant lithium-ion battery within 100 days to solve its power grid problems, so it's likely that he was there to help seal the deal--which he officially did earlier this month.

Published on: Jul 21, 2017