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To Vacation or Not To Vacation?

by on March 14, 2013 7:17 AM

Another spring break is in the books. Did you get out of town? Did you head south for warmer weather? Did you head north for some skiing? How about a trip to the big city to take in a show or go on a shopping spree?

After all, we have worked so hard and we deserve a break! Don't we?

Isn't that the rationale many people who live and work in a college town use to justify bolting out of town for the week or at least a few days over spring break?

Or were you one of those really productive folks who took time off and did "spring cleaning" or some big home project?

Or, were you part of the “silent majority” who didn’t skip a beat and worked as usual only to be subjected to your co-workers stories of fun in the sun upon their return from spring break?

BTW……What's up with college age kids and the expectation that they “deserve” to go to warm weather destinations during spring break? I don't know about you but I worked during my time off for spring break! My first “vacation” during my college years was the week after my last final exam!

For the bulk of my 19 years in coaching at PSU I spent spring break at the ACHA National Tournament in such noted destination spots as Athens, Ohio; Ames, Iowa; Bensenville, Illinois; Laurel, Maryland; and Minot, North Dakota! Okay, in full disclosure we also played in the National tournament in Tucson, AZ three times but I couldn’t really justify bringing my golf clubs on those trips!

So the question for me these days isn’t limited just to spring break but in a more general sense it is "to vacation or not to vacation"?

Let me begin by using the often stated cliché to put things in proper perspective: “No one ever said on their death bed I wish I would have worked another day!"

Last summer we did not take a vacation as a family, or a getaway just for me and the Mrs., or even a weekend long golf trip with friends. Nope. Nothing. Nada. No break, not even a week to do “Honey-do” projects.

I have vowed never to let it happen again.

Why did that happen, or perhaps more accurately, NOT happen in the first place? Let us count the ways!

* Money is always a great excuse. I can’t claim that one for not blowing out of town last summer but I know plenty of friends who can. Well duh, plan ahead Bozo! It’s called a vacation fund and you need the discipline to save money! A few less trips for the $4 coffees and the sales on clothes that you just had to have. How about delaying that major purchase for one more year to concentrate on rejuvenating your body, soul, and mind with some R & R?

* Too busy at work. Yep. Put a check in that column for me. Ok, I really WAS a tad busy preparing for the transition of two teams from club status to varsity status and busy overseeing the construction of a $90 million building. SO WHAT! It’s just another lame excuse!

Have you really convinced yourself that you ARE the one and only “Indispensable” employee and if you go on vacation the office will fall apart?

Do yourself a favor and go read the "Indispensable Man" by Saxon White Kessinger. I especially like the following excerpt:

“Sometime when you feel that your going would leave an unfillable hole, Just follow these simple instructions, and see how they humble your soul; Take a bucket and fill it with water, put your hand in it up to the wrist, pull it out and the hole that’s remaining is a measure of how you’ll be missed.”

* The Guilt Trip. Come on admit it. I know this is in the back of our minds when we decide whether we should plunk down that deposit on a ski vacation or trip south. This is really an extension of point number two but deserves to stand on its own. People will literally feel guilty for spending money and time on something so “extravagant” especially if they worry about what their co-workers and bosses might think given the economy. Think about another cliché here “you can’t please everyone”.

* The kid’s schedules are just too busy. Yup, guilty on that one. Rationale: between one son starting college in the PSU summer semester and having mid-August jaw surgery and the other playing all-star and travel baseball, we just couldn’t find a time. Hhhhhmmmm? So who says the whole family has to go on the trip or no one gets to go?

* It’s too much of a hassle planning the vacation. Really?? Does this even need comment? Well guess what? Yep, we fell victim to this one as well. We TRIED to plan a trip so perhaps it was more a case of indecisiveness that doomed the family getaway last summer. Seriously, go online and search for “reasons people don’t go on vacation” and you will be stunned at the data and the answers.

Ok, now that I have your attention. You have made the decision that it is healthy for you to take your vacation time to relax, re-energize, and re-focus so you will actually be more productive at work and easier to live with at home. At least, that’s the goal!

So a few questions when planning vacation:

Do you take it all at once as in a 2 week cruise, 3 weeks driving across country or hiking through Europe, or two weeks just hanging out at home? Or do you take a series of 4 day weekends? Or how about a mix -- a 7-10 day family vacation along with the four day extended weekend with the wife and a personal getaway perhaps with some old friends?

Who all goes on the trip? Just yourself? With your significant other? With the kids or without the kids?

Do you let the kids bring friends to keep them occupied so you really do get to sit on the beach reading a book? Do you want the responsibility of watching other people’s kids on YOUR vacation?

Do you vacation with extended family? Friends?

Do you go on modestly priced trips every year or save for that 2 week trip to Hawaii you always said you wanted to take?

When my kids ask me what I want for my birthday or Father’s Day I always give them the same answer, "You don’t need to buy me a thing because all I want on those two days is peace and quiet!”

I know you are all dying to know: did we go away for Spring Break as a family? The answer: ABSOLUTELY! We had so much “cabin fever” and “go-fever” built up from not taking a summer trip that we did the unthinkable in our house. We threw together a last minute trip to South Florida! We found great airfares, asked friends for help in securing lodging, and we just packed up and went.

How did it go? We visited our nephew in Miami; saw the Pirates pound the Red Sox at Fenway South in Fort Myers; had a couple of dinners and met for coffee and Happy Hours with a number of PSU “snowbird” friends in Naples; we played mini-golf; we visited the Naples Zoo; the boys and I went on a successful fishing charter; the girls went shopping; and we sat on the beach and read books and magazines. Most importantly we spent time together as a family

Was it worth it?


Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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