When you go on vacation, can you really be on vacation?

Many people will take vacation time during the next two weeks, but their cell phones and e-mail may keep them connected to their jobs. Today’s Question: When you go on vacation, can you really be on vacation?

  • DMox

    What is this vacation you speak of? Should I have the delightful fortune of ever getting one, I would take it purposefully on an island with no cell or internet service.

    Companies don’t even expect for you to be too far away, as they continue to contact you & send you imminent email even while you’re away – and expect “a quick answer.”

    Unless you’re backpacking in some South Pacific Atoll……vacations are all but dead.

  • Hiram


  • Clark

    No, but that is what is great about current technology.

    I would much rather manage problems day to day, even while on vacation then come back to 700 e mails, which is what happened before blackberries, etc.

    If you are a highly educated, high income wage earner, I doubt you achieved success by blocking out work related issues for 2 or 3 weeks every year. (This, of course, excludes the french who block out work issues 2 to 3 months of every year.)

    Constant communication is why we have become so productive in the U.S. and unfortunately why we need far fewer workers to perform the same tasks 15 or 20 years ago. That is reality so quit your whining!

  • Gary F

    When you work on straight commission, it’s tough to completely leave work.

    The hardest thing now is that your cell phone now has your e-mail. So, you may not be answering it, you still know what you are missing.

    Same goes for cell phone, for the customers that always use my cell number first instead of my office number, you can ignore the calls, but you still know you are missing something.

  • Brooke

    Yes. If you really want to unplug, you can do it. You just have to be willing to leave behind the laptop, the iPad, the cell phone, or whatever device you use to connect to people back home. If you plan ahead, you don’t really need to bring those with you. People were able to vacation just fine without those items a couple decades ago. Alternately, if you feel you do need them (like for the GPS feature or something), then you just have to exercise willpower and keep the item PUT AWAY when you aren’t using it for whatever vacation-necessary feature.

  • Chris

    No, and I assume when you say Vacation you mean Furlough.

  • Wade

    When I go on vacation, the cell phone is somehow “forgotten” at home.

    I tend to travel to places where there is no cell reception. The job can do without me until I get back. If they can’t, well that’s not my problem. Vacation days are just that, to be used as vacation. Not working away form the office.

  • steve

    yes and no i am not tied to cell phone and computers but i have lots of projects around the house and 2 teenage kids, so i am constantly going!

  • Steve the Cynic

    I can’t even be off on my days off. Theoretically, the free-market economy is supposed to serve humanity by promoting spontaneous organization and division of labor that makes everyone’s life better. In practice, human beings are increasingly finding themselves in a state of servitude to economic forces, and the ability to be constantly connected is making it worse. We have become largely a nation of wage slaves. As Clark points out, France is stuck in the opposite ditch from us. Somewhere between our ditch and theirs must be a good road to travel.

  • Ada

    Although I’m a stay-at-home dad and don’t really deal with this issue, I can say that as a family, the best way to for my wife to unplug from work and for me to unplug from other responsibilities (church, education stuff) is to leave the country. My wife is in sales and as such is never “really free,” but her corporate culture strongly believes in time away (the whole company has “use it or lose it” vacation time policy so that everyone takes time off). When we vacation domestically, we try to limit email/cell phone time, but going out of the country really achieves that goal for us.

  • Sarah

    Well, I’m a stay at home mom but I feel like I do have this problem. I feel like I’ve signed up for working vacations for the next decade or so. At least my clients are cute.

  • Annie

    I truly love my work but I do need to step away from time to time.

    My belief is being “on” (and available) all the time is not good for one’s health. I truly wish we all would give each other a little more courtesy in this regard.

    It is far easier to set parameters over the holidays. I am VERY SPECIFIC with my email away message with the closing phrase, I will be back with you the first week of January!

  • Josh D.

    I work for Public Works so when I have a day off, I’m still on call. And with a winter like we’ve been having, I work on many of my days off as well as during the week, and during the night (I’ll be out at 2am tonight, really looking forward to that….). But when I’m on vacation, the work phone stays home. In fact, I usually turn off my personal cell phone too. My mind couldn’t be farther from work than when I’m on vacation. I go up north, crack open a beer, and go for a hike or sit by the lake; certainly not thinking about work.

  • sam

    As a freelance designer with a smart phone, I find more and more clients grow comfortable expecting immediate responses to email and giving shorter and shorter deadlines. Since saying no means they go elsewhere, I have a hard time keeping weekend plans let alone taking vacations.

  • Kevin VC

    Some people think those on Unemployment are on vacation. Sorry wrong thinking….

    Working every day to get work and paid a 1/4 what you were and spending more then when you had a job….

    When I had vacation days and had the comfort of having a job, I would be thinking of work.

    But there is some comfort in that, I was able to work out ideas and solutions without the bustle of work keeping me behind. Working and yet allowed to catch up.

    Granted I had very little vacation time…. Either way I was grateful for the ‘paid’ time off.