in article about vacations, lady using laptop on vacation
Illustration by Shannon Czerpak, University of the Arts

Are Vacations Really the Time To Forget All of Your Troubles?

People need time to relax and have fun. But it’s easy for work-related issues and familial tensions to occur during a getaway.

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in article about vacations, lady using laptop on vacation
Illustration by Shannon Czerpak, University of the Arts

People need time to relax and have fun. But it’s easy for work-related issues and familial tensions to occur during a getaway.

Vacations are supposed to be fun, right? Vacations should be a time when individuals put their usual life on hold and switch up their routines. To vacate means to leave (something behind) and when people take vacations, they hope to forget all their worries and enjoy their destination. However, many Americans have trouble putting their life on pause while they’re supposed to be enjoying a time of complete bliss.

An article from Harvard Business Review strongly encourages people not to work during vacation. The authors of this article argue that individuals who work on their vacations experience a decrease in intrinsic motivation, which comes from within, as opposed to extrinsic motivation, which is caused by external factors. When Americans work during their vacation time, they’re giving up their free time to feel more productive. But they should just be vacationing while on vacation.

Besides work-related matters, individuals can also feel tension with family members on vacation. Family members love us, but they also know how to get on our nerves. For instance, the family arrives at their destination and they’re so excited to finally be on vacation, but then a parent fights with a child, the child fights with their sibling, or both parents start fighting with each other. This can clearly create problems when a family is trying to just relax and enjoy the vacation they planned. I remember when my family and I went to Lake George: I was excited to spend time with my sister because she’s only four years younger than me, so we’re close in age. But spending time with my parents, who are anxious people that are extremely cautious of COVID-19, would be a challenge.

On our last day at Lake George, my dad snapped at me, and I ended up getting very upset. But when I got back home and our friends and family asked how our vacation went, all I could say was that we all really enjoyed our time in upstate New York. Many people forget the hard times on vacation, and they only remember the fun times because that’s what their brain wants them to remember. And this makes sense — no one enjoys thinking about unpleasant events that have happened to them.

Another thing that makes vacations more stressful is the planning phase. Some individuals are anticipators, while others enjoy spontaneity and prefer not to plan. Planning a vacation can be challenging because you must figure out where to go, how to get there, how much money will be spent, what to pack and what activities you will do. If the destination requires taking an airplane, that can add a lot of stress because getting to the airport on time is essential. Americans must make sure they have enough time to check in and go through airport security and then get to their gate. It would be a true nightmare if people were always rushing to get to their flight — and if they miss their flight, that’s a complete disaster.

Thinking about money can also cause anxiety for many Americans. Even though budgeting can be challenging, creating a budget for a vacation can be easier if one thinks about it positively. A person is creating a budget for what’s supposed to be a fun time away. If Americans think about budgeting for vacation because the goal is to have fun, they may become less stressed about the whole money component.

The final factor that can take the fun out of vacations is comparing one’s vacation to someone else’s. This happens on social media, such as Instagram or Facebook. These social media platforms are great for sharing and updating friends and family about what you’re doing in the world, but posting photos can also lead to jealousy or anger. And obviously, people don’t want to be annoyed while they’re on vacation just because of other people’s posts.

Therefore, it’s important to unplug while on vacation. Putting down the phone and forcing yourself not to have access to social media platforms may be a good idea. This way, you’re not comparing your life on vacation with other people’s lives and their vacations. It’s important to be grateful that you’re even taking a vacation because many Americans can’t even afford one. And comparing what you have with others takes away that gratitude entirely. Human beings must remember to be grateful, unplug, and be present while taking a vacation. Doing all these things will lead to happy memories once the vacation has run its course.

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