For the first time in over a decade, I’m taking a real family vacation this year.
Actually, come to think of it, I haven’t had one since I started covering this business. Wonder if that means anything…
At any rate, I’m packin’ all the kids onto a plane and heading down to DisneyWorld. Then we’re road tripping back home through the Deep South – stopping along the way to see family, eat grits and learn as much of the Frozen soundtrack as I can.
It’s funny. It’ll be the first time I try to unplug from work for longer than a holiday weekend. And I feel guilty as hell about it.
I’m clearly not alone. According to a Harris Interactive poll last year, 61 percent planned to work over their vacation – nearly a 10 percent jump over the year before.
And those are the people who actually manage to get out and take a vacation. According to the vacation boosters at Expedia, Americans took two fewer vacation days last year. And this, from a workforce that’s already one of the world’s least likely to actually take time off
Sure, most of that “work” consists mainly of checking (and responding to) e-mail, allowing us to confidently point to technology as the prime suspect in robbing us of real vacation time.
(It’s also probably why my tech-averse art director likes to take his vacations with little more than a tent and some sleeping bags, wandering off the grid in his pick-up where he has little choice but to unplug.)
It’s funny because I experience both sides of this dichotomy. As a boss, I’m loathe to reach out to employees enjoying some paid time off
, hesitant to even text them, even though it would be so easy and seem less intrusive than a phone call. But as an employee, the guilt creeps up on me with each passing day off, so that by the end of a three-day holiday weekend — like the one we have coming up — I can’t help but check my own e-mail to make sure I’m not missing anything. Of course, I almost never do.
Despite what feels like stern resolution right now, I know I’ll catch myself checking my iPhone next week, “just to see.” I’ll be among 69 percent of Americans, according to Harris, who brings their smartphone along on vacation.
I know it’s for the best, though, not unlike a physical or my annual eye exam. There are more studies than I can count that point to increased worker productivity linked to taking time away. But, if you’re like me, you feel guilty chucking the work aside and disappearing for days at a time. But I need it this time. If my battle with depression earlier this year
taught me anything, it’s that (as my own boss told me), “You have to take care of yourself first.”
So you’ll have to forgive me next week when I try to unplug and bask in the laughter of my 3-year-old frolicking on the beach, watch my wife catching up with a childhood friend and have my teenagers’ undivided attention for maybe the last time.
Of course, I can’t help but recall the words of Elbert Hubbard, who once remarked that “No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.”
Oh well, one year at a time, I guess.
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com