With the pandemic increasingly under control in the United States, more people vaccinated, and some offices gradually re-opening there’s a brief window where you can really travel and work at the same time. While work from home is likely to be more common than in the Before Times, we may not have the same flexibility in the future that we do right now. Become location independent, if only briefly. Go take a trip and work from somewhere else. Combining work and vacation is actually the best way to vacation anyway.
A couple of years ago Samantha Rosen wrote at The Points Guy that “nearly 70% of people don’t disconnect from work while they’re away.” She suggests that’s a problem and recommends that you “put your phone down and enjoy yourself once you do” take vacation.
It’s cliche’ that Americans don’t take enough vacation time and that we don’t really take off from work when we go. But totally unplugging is bad advice for many people. If you fully unplug, you may not get the greatest benefits from your trip.
The best advice comes down to: spend time planning vacations, take more trips, work while you’re gone, and experience new and unusual things.
- Planning vacations contributes more to your happiness than actually taking them. You may need to take some of those trips to justify all of the planning time.
- You get all of your relaxation benefits on the trip itself, so don’t expect to be relaxed when you get back. We quickly snap back into the stress of daily life, sans any benefit from the vacation. Don’t set the bar for “needing a vacation” that you expect to be reset, relaxed, and in a different place with work upon your return. Not working at all on vacation may even exacerbate this effect of being stressed out when you return.
View from the Andaz Maui
- Being on vacation can actually be stressful. We put pressure on ourselves to enjoy, quickly, in a compressed period of time. After all, unless you travel frequently, you only get one shot at making the trip right. That’s a big weight on you to deliver relaxation in a compressed period of time, especially if you’re planning for family or friends too.
So take more trips. Don’t make them one-shot deals. Avoid the stress where each trip has to be perfect. Don’t try to do everything, it’s better to leave some sites unvisited and have some experiences left for the future. Longer trips can be worse, leave yourself longing for more.
Overwater Villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives, Where I’ll Soon Return for the 5th Time
- People actually enjoy trips more when they’re interrupted by real time, as counterintuitive as it seems. Many short trips get interrupted by returning to work in between. That resets your appreciation for vacation. Work during trips, too, can help you re-experience the wonder of arriving in a new place. It feels fresher, compared to one vacation moment bleeding into the next. So consider staying connected.
Working Onboard Etihad First Class, Abu Dhabi – Dusseldorf
- Look for intense or unusual experiences, things you’ll remember specifically. You’ll get more lingering value out of the trip that has peak memories than just a general sense that you must have been relaxed but where did the relaxation go?
View from Waku Ghin at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
- Make travel part of the trip. And since planning contributes to happiness spend time working through contingencies so you know how you’ll handle things like missed connections along the way.
Hopefully Emirates A380s Will Be Back In Full Force
Vacation itself is a modern invention, taking root over the past two hundred years. Ideas of prudence and work ethic embedded in Western religion frowned on it even to the extent that someone had the resources to stop working while they were still physically able to do so.
Middle class vacation is an idea very much mired in the industrial revolution, the idea of needing an escape from the drudgery of work, the notion that employment was miserable needing escape, and that two weeks in Miami Beach was the one thing to look forward to each year. It’s also influenced by Eastern notions of spiritual enlightenment.
The best strategy, for those who can accomplish it I think, is to find work that isn’t miserable but to still seek out new insights and experiences, to stay in touch at home while traveling abroad.