Use Your Vacation for Good

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“Until the middle of the 19th century, Americans used the word vacation the way the English do, the time when teachers and students vacate the school premises and go off on their own.”

Robert Siegel used those words in the introduction to an NPR show about vacations. We’re just coming off The Year of COVID. Last year, teachers and students vacated school premises for much of the year. They wore masks and tried hard to make Zoom-supported education work.

You may have vacated office premises and struggled through a dozen or more Zoom meeting a day. Work and home and time on and time off all got jumbled together. Odds are you didn’t have a vacation in 2020, so you may need to reacquaint yourself with the concept.

Vacation? What’s that?

When I was a boy, my family rented a cottage and spent August there. Many of their friends did the same. Primary vacation activities included reading, napping, card games, sitting on the beach, swimming, fishing … you get the idea. “Work” isn’t anywhere on the list.

That’s still my model, even though I’ve never taken a four-week vacation as an adult. Vacation is a time to get away from work and recharge. That’s especially important after the Year of COVID. Here are some thoughts about how to use your vacation for your good.

Don’t Overplan It

You’ll be tempted to recreate the pace of work on your vacation. Don’t do it. Don’t seek out an intense learning activity to fill your time. Don’t make too many commitments. Give yourself space to be spontaneous. The rule is “less have-tos, more want-tos.” It’s vacation.

Sit Still

Try sitting still. Let your mind wander where it will. This may seem strange at first, but you’ll learn to love it. You don’t have to be doing anything. It’s vacation.


Walking is wonderfully relaxing. If you’re near the ocean, walk in the beach where you can hear the surf. Walk in a forest or park and enjoy the symphony of sounds that the wind and the trees and the birds create. Saunter. It’s vacation.


Don’t set the alarm. Get up when your body says it’s time. Take naps when you feel like it. It’s OK. It’s vacation.

Some Other Things to Do

Don’t be inert. Catch up on relaxation but do other things you want to do. Pursue that hobby. Read that book. Catch up that DIY project. Go to a museum. Save work for another day. It’s vacation.


Don’t overplan it.

Sit still.



Do things you want to do.

Save work for another day.

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