My husband and I differ over what constitutes a vacation in 2013. For my husband, getting out of town for a few days would be defined as a vacation, an important part of work-life balance. That of course doesnt mean unplugging all together. He still sneaks in brief phone calls to the office, 6 a.m. emails, and work-related reading.
For me, those few days away arent enough. In this workaholic, multitasking society, I need more than a few days to unwind and less time in contact with the real world.
Of course, I realize my family is fortunate to be able to take a vacation at all. Many Americans about 23 percent, according to a recent survey by Kelton research commissioned by SpringHill Suites dont get paid time off, or have the money to get away. But the economic worries that led American workers to limit themselves to drive-by vacations for the past several summers seem to have lifted. Fortunately, this summer, the two-week vacation is making a comeback even among overachieving professionals.
Mostly, its because people have figured out ways to integrate work and travel to make for a better return.
Travel agents, hoteliers, and rental-property owners report a trend toward longer, farther trips this summer, according to TravelMarketReport.com and AAA. The trend is buoyed by more hotels that offer wi-fi and more mobile devices that have the same functionality as desktop PCs. A new TeamViewer survey found about 70 percent of employed vacationers bring work-capable devices with them.
You have to weigh the ability to disengage fully with how much pain there is in the return, said Michael Crom, executive vice president of Dale Carnegie Training, who just returned from a two-week road trip from New York to North Florida. People are coming to the decision that they need a mental break, but they dont want to come back to thousands of emails.
Cindy Kushner, tax partner at Crowe Horwath in Fort Lauderdale, brought a laptop with her when she traveled throughout China for 15 days with her college-age son last month. Before bed each night at hotels, she would read and respond to work email, schedule meetings on her calendar, and flag and prioritize what needed to get done when she returned. She also checked email on train rides.
I was able to stay organized and I think it helped me enjoy my vacation more, she said. It felt good to come back and not feel overwhelmed.
While that might not seem like pure vacation, Kushner says she spent her days exploring and stayed away from working on tax returns or other documents.
I just flagged it with a reminder and left it for later so that I could enjoy my vacation.
An abundance of research has found employees who take advantage of their vacation days perform better (short- and long-term) and are happier than those who let their days squander. I believe it. One year, when my husband and I moved homes, we opted not to take a family vacation all year, by the time the next summer rolled around, my husband and I lacked patience for each other, our kids, and our jobs, particularly during intense work weeks. Crom says getting out of the office for an extended time has big benefits: It allows you to work on bigger-picture ideas and come back reinvigorated. Its one of the critical drivers of engagement.