It’s time to take a vacation that doesn’t include work

Dec 27, 2021

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I’m tired. You probably are, too. The last two years have been, well, a lot.

And yet, here we are — still living with a constantly evolving pandemic, wondering if our kitchen tables will forever be our schools and offices and imagining when life will ever return to something resembling normal.

So, it’s safe to say we all need a vacation. A real, work-free vacation.

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But therein lies the problem: Does a true vacation really exist anymore? Talking it over with friends and colleagues, it seems like proper vacations (ones without laptops and cell phones and email and Slack and Zoom and work) are hard to come by these days.

Working on vacation is nothing new, and we all know that.

Even years before the pandemic, advances in technology, specifically with instant messaging tools and email, have put “work” right in the palm of our hands like never before … even if those hands are on the beach in Roatan trying to forget about work for a few days in the first place.

And then came COVID-19, and the closure of offices that suddenly saw huge chunks of the workforce become “remote” workers, at least for a while.

Employers realized we can do nearly any job nearly anywhere in the world. Suddenly, “work from anywhere” programs, “workcations” and “bleisure” (a regrettable term for a trip that is for both business and leisure) took off once it was safe to travel.

According to a pandemic-era Harris poll reported by Axios, 74% of Americans who were working from home at the time said they’d consider taking a workcation.

Hotels and tourism boards responded to the demand by creating unique packages that gave these workers the tools they needed to be successful while working remotely in a new destination. People went, and continue to go. In fact, Hyatt just extended its “Work From Hyatt” program — special packages designed to help folks do their jobs at Hyatt hotels around the world — through the end of 2022.

Let me be clear: I’m a huge fan of many “work from anywhere” packages and love that so many people are able to blend work and personal travel. It’s especially amazing for the folks who probably never had that chance before because their jobs had them stuck to a desk all day. And I hope that people are able to continue taking advantage of this newfound flexibility.

But we all also deserve a vacation, big or small, where work is truly left behind.

Just imagine, if you will, that you’re waking up one morning while on vacation to Greece. You make a cup of coffee and drink it on your balcony overlooking the sea and the mountains while thinking about how beautiful it all is. That’s it. That’s all you think about.

When your phone vibrates, you don’t worry it’s a Slack message. You don’t wake up early to file reports or update spreadsheets. It never occurs to you to skip drinks to reply to emails. You simply enjoy the day at your leisure.

Look, I know it’s maybe not that simple. But also, maybe it is.

Ultimately, if we’re in charge of our own lives, can’t we choose to say no to work when we’re on paid time off? Can’t we choose to have all our ducks in a row before we head out, plus a contingency plan with colleagues in case something goes wrong that doesn’t involve interrupting our time away?

Can’t we tell ourselves we deserve a break, a proper rest and the chance to clear our minds of the problems and plans and spreadsheets that will be waiting for us later?

Yes, yes we can. And we should.

So when it’s time to head off for your next vacation, whether it’s just around the corner or farther in the future, set an intention to say no to work.

Set an out-of-office message and stick to it. Breath, relax and enjoy yourself. Work will always be there, but your vacation is temporary and you deserve to enjoy every blissful moment.

Featured image by Martin Novak/Getty Images

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