September 4, 2007
Is there a really new majority in this country? A mean coalition of vacation-haters threatening the existence of us vagabonds, jet-setters, and beach bums alike?
All season, the US media has been pelting us with proof that the American summer vacation has gone the way of the in-flight meal: kaput. The New York Times points to our field of presidential contenders as a microcosm of a nation suffering from “leisure phobia.” By campaigning 7 days a week throughout the summer, the newspaper says, “most candidates are adopting a vacations-are-for-wimps posture.”
It’s not only Washington that has collectively forgotten how to head out of town; wave goodbye to the Hamptons, because CNN calls summer getaways the "latest casualty" on Wall Street. For its part, the Wall Street Journal says that even when workers do vacation, their briefcases are their heaviest baggage—and that even worse than bringing work on your own trip is when your bosses take their projects with them.
Hoping against hope that these articles got it all wrong, we turned to IgoUgo members for reassurance that traveling beats working any day. What we found is encouraging: IgoUgoers are still vacationing despite the doom-and-gloom stance of the media.
From 1-day Hudson Valley jaunts to 2 weeks in Italy, travelers largely spent the last few months doing what they do best. They made multiple trips to favorite destinations (callen60 visited Minneapolis—and his college days—twice) and traveled locally (Queens native ripplefan2 did the tourist thing in New York City, where he took in two boroughs in one day). They relaxed on Santorini, sunned in Sydney, and dove into local cuisine just about everywhere in between.
Summer holidays spurred many travelers into action; the Fourth of July was, as always, a popular vacation week, and patriots passing through both Lake Tahoe and South Dakota’s Black Hills raved about the fireworks displays. Meanwhile, visitors to Helsinki took part in traditional Finnish Midsummer festivities with bonfires and stilts (not too close together, we hope). And in another North, families hit the road for Canada Day, which just wouldn’t be a celebration without debate reenactments and Tim Hortons.
When our travelers do heed the call of work, it seems to come in the form of business trips. We’re a little suspicious of the validity of C.Kowalczik’s business at Disney World, but more power to her for pulling it off! Other summer “business” travelers headed to Birmingham, Alabama, for burgers and buffets, and Washington, D.C., for monuments and memorials.
And that may be the key to how IgoUgo travelers managed to hit the roads and skies all summer long: they found ways to use work to their advantage. Idler, a teacher, says that “time spent waiting at the airport and in flight is ideal for grading papers.” In fact, she says, “I suspect that if I didn't travel from time to time, those papers would never get graded.” Similarly, Samlawali works while traveling to ease her mind. And it would be hard for New Delhi resident phileasfogg to complain about work when her job continues to send her to Chicago and Mumbai.
Some travelers, of course, fiercely preserve the integrity of their trips by keeping work at bay; Spanish and history instructor Jose Kevo, for one, makes a “conscious effort not to work on vacation,” unless you count his penchant for Latin American destinations. He says that “absorbing the surroundings and making comparative analyses is about as mandatory as it gets.”
Whether they work to vacation, vacation to work, or meld the two together seamlessly, IgoUgo members are proof that people continue to seize vacation time and see the world—no matter what you read.