Who Killed Summer Vacations?

A headline on the cover of a recent Time Magazine: “Do you remember as a child when the family took off in the car together usually to visit the grandparents or that small summer cottage by a lake? We had time together and away from the mundane activities of ordinary life. There were no electronic devises to keep us connected. We played, ran around, ate Popsicles, swam, cooked marshmallows and relaxed. Mom and Dad did too!”

Yes, the world is a very different place but we still need vacations. Wikipedia: “A vacation or holiday is a specific trip or journey, usually for the purpose of recreation or tourism. People often take a vacation during specific holiday observances, or for specific festivals or celebrations. Vacations are often spent with friends or family, “but not today in America. Being overworked is the main reason Americans say they skip vacations. Is that not the reason to take a vacation? There are so many excuses people give. Did you know that 40% say it’s because of the heavy workload upon return; 35% say nobody else can do the work; 33% say they can’t afford to take it; 28% want to show dedication and 22% don’t want to be seen as replaceable. Americans say work is hard to shake even while vacationing with 61% plan to work at some point, 38% emailing, 32% accessing work documents on the computer, 24 % texting, 30% calling and 20% fielding requests by boss, co-workers or clients.

We have paid vacation days. Most Americans with jobs are salaried with vacation benefits (except for those of us on straight commission.) Yet almost 5 days each year go unused and almost two get carried over to the next year.

On my white water rafting trip, 15 guests and 5 guides were without cell phone service, wi-fi access or any electronic connection to humanity. It was amazing to watch these very accomplished people stop the world and get off. Us guests had virtually no tasks except to enjoy the environment, put up our tents and roll out our sleeping bags (my son did mine.) By the fourth day everyone was talking about how calm they were feeling. Now that is a vacation! We were so far from normality it seemed like weeks.

You may have heard this story I often tell: Two lumberjacks were arguing over who was the better woodsman. So they decided to have a contest. Each were given a cord (lots) of wood to split. About two hours into the day’s contest one looked over to the other and noticed he was sitting down. And thought, ‘I will win.’ Later in the day, the same lumberjack noticed the other one again sitting down. And said to himself ‘I will surely win.’ But when the day was over and the wood was stacked and measured the lumberjack who sat down several times had more wood. The one who worked straight through could not understand and said, ‘How?’ Well, the one that sat down said, ‘When I was sitting I was sharpening my axe!’

We all get dull and need to sharpen our axe. Winter, summer, spring or fall let me help you sharpen your axe. And let’s not loose our summer vacations!

About alwaysharriet

With thirty years experience in corporate and leisure travel consulting, Harriet Ahouse has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and worldwide. An avid scuba diver, she understands the requirements of travelers both on land and in the water. On the European scene she has offered traditional and personalized travel itineraries throughout the continent--Italy, France, and England are some of her favorites. As a Virtuoso Agent, she also has extensive resources to enhance her expertise in designing individual destination travel itineraries--and honeymoons--worldwide!
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