I haven't gone on a summer vacation since 2008. But I've also started a new job either in the beginning or middle of summer for the last two years, which means I knew it wasn't in the cards anyhow.
This year especially, I thought I would be alone in not having the opportunity to get away. But I'm noticing more and more that my friends are not going to the beach, flying to another state or country, or throwing away money on any of the many traveling escapades that you're supposed to do when you're young.
How can this be? Well, a number of 20- to 40-something-year-old friends are still unemployed or have just landed jobs after not having one for quite a while. Some just had babies and don't want to take a newborn on a trip. Some have too much going on at work and can't get away. And some just simply don't want to spend the money -- those that work for the City of Baltimore or the State of Maryland have had their salaries cut (a.k.a. furloughed) for years now.
A recent study shows that people actually experience a boost of happiness just by planning a vacation -- up to 8 weeks leading up to the act of going somewhere or not going to work. On the other hand, other studies have shown that after coming back from being away, the "carry-over effect of a vacation on happiness" is "so small."
And for when we actually are away, American Public Media recently reported that "more than a third of managers surveyed say they work while on summer vacation. And 80 percent of those respondents say they frequently check and answer emails..."
Sometimes the best trips aren't planned. As Lao Tzu, a philosopher, once said: "A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” When you go out, do you always have your work BlackBerry or laptop with you? By leaving them at home, it might be better to let the mystery of the unknown sink in. If you're not coming home for awhile, as long as someone is watching your dog or cat, who else needs to know what you're doing? Because that's really getting away from it all.
Carrie Oleynik is a writer based in Baltimore, Md.
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