Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
9 Jun

Vacations: Are They Good for Your Health?

vacationYou count the days. You spend weeks planning and hours packing. Your friends, family, and every citizen within a 20 mile radius knows you’re leaving and exactly where you’re going. Are you looking that forward to the destination or to leaving behind all the – well, you know? Maybe it’s the sheer novelty more than anything else. You’ve needed something new. You’re ready to check out, break out, get away, forge ahead, and dig in. Just how long has it been since you up and left last time? How long has it been since your last great vacation?

Too often (especially in the United States), we forgo vacation. Although Americans tend to get fewer days off than many in other parts of the world, we’re infamous for passing on the vacation days we do get. Recent statistics show a mere 57% of us actually take advantage of our full vacation allotment. In France (where employers are required to give a minimum of thirty days vacation), almost 90% of workers use up their time. In 2010, our unspent vacation days added up to $67 billion in equivalent wages.

Money is tight. There’s too much going on at work right now. We might need extra time at the holidays. The kids are busy in school/activities/camps anyway. For many of us, there’s always a reason not to get away.

We pay a price, I think, as individuals and perhaps as a society for placing such little value on vacation. A good vacation, of course, has the power to melt away stress, fatigue, and frustration. It allows us to luxuriate in bold, intrepid idleness. Alternatively, a vacation can challenge us, push us in new directions. We see new places, meet new people, try different activities. We dare or just take the time to do things we wouldn’t in the course of “normal” life.

In the brief standstill of time away, the blur of the last months comes into focus: what’s happened in the family, what’s happened to us, how the kids have grown. A vacation gives us time to reconnect with our partners, children, and maybe old friends. We rediscover ourselves again – the lighthearted, adventurous, better selves that tend to get displaced in the demands of our regular routine.

As mentally restorative as vacations are, they do our bodies good as well. (I mean more than that tan from the beach of course.) A number of medical studies demonstrate the independent health-protective benefits of time away. Researchers followed more than 12,000 men ages 35 to 57 who were labeled high risk for heart disease. Over a nine year period, they found those who took yearly vacations showed a 21% “reduced risk of all-cause mortality” and a 32% reduced risk of cardiovascular related mortality – after accounting for factors like income, education, and other health factors.

Analysis of the Framingham Heart Study showed that women who vacationed very seldom (less than once every seven years) were approximately eight times more likely to experience a heart attack or receive a heart disease diagnosis than those who vacationed often (two or more times a year).

In less dire terms, other research showed that two to three days into a vacation subjects were obtaining an additional hour or more of quality sleep. In response, their reaction times improved more than 80% and continued to be 25% higher following their trips. More than half of vacationers in a related survey said their work stress was reduced between 10- 25% by vacation time. Other research has highlighted increased happiness, improved mood, and diminished physical complaints (PDF) as a result of vacation time.

Of course, not all vacations are created equal. I’m not extolling extravagance here. A breakneck trip around the world can leave a person tired and emotionally empty as much as an enterprising “stay-cation” can leave another rested and gratified. Anyone who’s ever been stuck in an airport (or on the plane itself) awaiting a long delay with two small, cranky children (been there) knows even the best laid plans can rain down misery. Most of the fatigue and irritability we experience from our vacations, however, stem from our own decisions. We cram too much into one trip. We expect more energy, more cooperation, more good will from our partners, our kids, and ourselves than we reasonably have to give. In other words, we bring the drama on ourselves.

Too often, we plan the vacation we think we’re supposed to want instead of the one we really pine for. Maybe it’s a matter of ditching Disney World for a week in the mountains, a trendy highrise hotel for a quirky B&B in the city, the national parks for the state preserve an hour away. Everyone’s different of course. What floats one person’s boat torpedos another’s. Nonetheless, I think it’s worth dumping the standard media image of the ideal vacation and embracing a personal vision of retreat - whatever that means for you at this time in your life.

As for what that may look like, researchers have identified a few vacation “characteristics” associated with the best recuperation, the most satisfaction, and the longest lasting benefits in study subjects. Subjects’ most satisfying experiences, in their observations, have included having time to oneself, getting exercise and good sleep, making new acquaintances, and enjoying a warm and sunny locale. Sun, sleep, exercise, socialization, and a bit of self-determination. Seems about right, I’d say.

Most crucial, experts contend, is the need to unplug and disconnect on vacation. Research at Tel Aviv University confirms what common sense tells us: the more complete our detachment from work and other responsibilities while on vacation the more “respite effects” we enjoy. No work, no computer. Some of us even need to put down the iPhone/Android/Palm/etc. and slowly walk away. In other words, the more off the grid, the better. Convenience of bank cards aside, it’s a rare luxury these days to be wholly unreachable, maybe even untraceable (for the fun of it). Anyone who’s purposely disappeared from wired society for any length of time knows what I mean.

Furthermore, as much as we benefit from our vacations, research suggests most of us feel our sense of “relief” dissipated within a matter of a few days upon return. (In another study, however, those who reported the best, most relaxing vacations enjoyed a longer sense of enhanced happiness for up to eight weeks.) Note to self there. Dutch researcher Jessica De Bloom explains, the “fade-out” of our relaxation doesn’t undercut the importance of vacations themselves: “It would be a bit like asking why should we sleep, despite the fact that we get tired again.” Vacations are adventures into new personal, if not geographic, territory. They’re retreats that refill our emotional stores. The need for respite and enrichment is a well that calls for regular filling.

Of course, there’s a bigger picture here. Numerous virtues aside, vacations aren’t a panacea. You often hear people say they live for their vacations, but I’m not sure that’s a healthy approach either. A couple of weeks, after all, isn’t enough to upend a year’s worth of distress. Remember what I said about sun, sleep, exercise, socialization and bit of self-determination often making for a satisfying vacation experience? That sounds like a life worth crafting instead of just a vacation worth having.

Thanks for stopping by today. Share your thoughts on the importance of vacation. What is your vision of a true retreat? What has been your most relaxing, rejuvenating break?

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. Very timely post as my wife and I are leaving for a two week trip to Italy on Sunday! Great thoughts, Mark, and being off-grid is one of the most exciting parts for me. It costs and arm and a leg to use even our phones overseas so, although they are going, the phones will be completely off grid while we’re there. My friend today also gave the advice to at least once on the trip go off alone with my wife and be somewhere together when no one on the planet knows who or where where are… Can’t wait!

    Ryan wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • Ryan — after having just returned from two weeks in France, I really agree with your friend’s “disappear for the day” advice. Husband and I saw and did many, many wonderful unforgettable things, but perhaps our very favorite day was the one when we tossed out our planned activities and just stayed put in the lovely garden of our country inn–a vacation from our vacation. Oh and yes, totally ditch those phones :-)

      evadnefrances wrote on June 9th, 2011
  2. As a SAHM of twin boys, I try to have ‘don’t have to’ days every month where I don’t do anything – shower, fix dinner, clean up for a day or some hours. I find it rejuvenates me very quickly.

    For me, that’s better than a week at the beach once or twice a year. Although I wouldn’t say no to that either.

    Alison Golden wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • Allison, I love that idea! With (almost) four little ones, going somewhere on vacation seems more stressful than staying home most of the time :-) I love the idea of a day where I don’t have to cook, clean etc!
      We usually stick to day trips and close by vacations, though the couple of times my husband and I have gotten away ourselves have been wonderful!

      Katie @ Wellness Mama wrote on June 9th, 2011
      • While reading this I realized that an awesome vacation would be having a housekeeper come to my home and clean up after us and cook for us for a week. Can you imagine all the comforts of home, without having to clean up?! We could enjoy our children, our spouses, our own local scenery. I might just do this… It’d have slightly lower cost than most hotels, without having to worry about packing, forgetting things, or transporting your kids and pets.

        Sara wrote on June 9th, 2011
      • I think traveling abroad is super important for kids. Last summer, my wife and I took our 6 month old down to Peru for three weeks. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and it was truly rewarding and entertaining to watch the Peruvians interact with our little one.

        Hal wrote on June 9th, 2011
        • There is no way that I’m taking my 3 year old and 4 month old on an airplane. Even if I could afford airfare, I would rather they be old enough to 1) not drive everyone on the plane crazy and 2) be old enough to appreciate and remember the trip.

          Sara wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • Just like IF gives our digestive tract a break I think days like this are important to revitalize the brain. I don’t have kids yet but I know both my gf and I actually NEED days where we do nothing but chill outside and have a movie or tv marathon.
      Stress relief 101.

      Nutritionator wrote on June 9th, 2011
  3. Next month we’re going for a week of camping in the Grand Canyon to let free our paleolithic instincts and let go of the stresses of modern life! I can’t wait!!!! I would probably stay forever if I could. Vacations are great. I’ve taken one every year pretty much all my life.

    Great insight, Mark! People definitely should take care not to bring all the stress along.

    Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on June 9th, 2011
  4. Funny, my wife and I got married two weeks ago and we have ditched any ideas of a honeymoon because we both “need” to work. Maybe I should show her this post….

    Tony Atomic wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • I didn’t get a honeymoon because I was broke and pregnant. If you have the money, I advise you take it!

      Sara wrote on June 9th, 2011
  5. So excited: am taking a short, music-themed cruise with my daughter this fall. We haven’t had a mother-daughter trip since ’93. She has never experienced warm ocean water. Neither of us has been on a cruise ship. Only 3 months away…

    peggy wrote on June 9th, 2011
  6. I am a vagabond at the very core. Working makes me naseuas. :) I work solely to vacation!!

    Jeanna wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • I want an “I work solely to vacation ;)” bumper sticker asap.

      Nutritionator wrote on June 9th, 2011
      • Yeah, I second that! The times I have managed to stick with a typical 9-5 job, it’s only been because I knew I planned to leave soon. My instincts kept telling me that kind of stress was unnatural – and, hey, who am I to fight my instincts?:) It may have made me seem unreliable in such a job, but I’m more than able to work almost obsessively on something I enjoy. As the saying goes, ‘Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Any amount of unhappiness for money isn’t worth it.

        I’m amazed some people have trouble taking their vacation from work, even if it’s a paid vacation. I guess they’re the people who make sure this world keeps on ticking over. For that reason, they deserve a holiday all the more.

        kerrybonnie wrote on June 9th, 2011
  7. Unplug, disconnect, and see the world! Sounds like a truly fantastic adventure to me, and a good way to get back to basics.

    Hal wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • A vacation is simply this…. “unplug, disconnect and see the world.”

      Bring your phone with you on the plane but turn the damn thing off. Here is an idea: Leave your phone charger at home!

      I just got back from Harry Potter world. It was AWESOME and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’ll make an effort to make my next trip more relaxing. One that allows me to see the real world.

      Primal Toad wrote on June 12th, 2011
  8. Is it bad that I read this post while sitting in a beach house on vacation? I finally read Primal Blueprint with all my down time instead of just reading this site when I should be working.

    Dan wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • I’m reading this on vacation, too… Not so terrible. It was after a great night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast and NO TV.

      Emme wrote on June 9th, 2011
      • I’ve read my on vacation too, during a loooong drive to Florida.

        Asia wrote on June 9th, 2011
  9. Ah, vacations. I wonder if the benefits of vacationing increase with the length or number of vacations… I hope to find out! My wife and I have signed on to become travel agents (specializing in cruises, since that is our favorite mode of vacationing), which I hope isn’t stressful enough to offset the increased access to travel.

    @Tony: I vacationed in Europe for my honeymoon with my first wife (she is now deceased). I promised my second wife a vacation in Las Vegas, a promise I did not actually deliver on for over 10 years — and when we *did* go to Las Vegas, she was underwhelmed. Las Vegas has nothing on a luxury cruise line.

    Speaking of cruises, the 5th annual low-carb (and paleo) cruise is set to go out of Galveston next May. Featured speakers include Gary Taubes, Robb Wolf, Jackie Eberstien, Chris Masterjohn, Denise Minger, and many more. Too bad we weren’t able to recruit Mark Sisson. We went on the 4th annual LC cruise, and it was the most enjoyable cruise I have experienced to date. We expect over 300 in our group for the next one.

    Howard wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • Can you tell more about this cruise?

      Maggie Dow Michelitch wrote on June 9th, 2011
  10. I haven’t been fortunate enough to have ever traveled to another time zone than Eastern (depressing, I know) but I’m definitely planning a road trip out west to see how the other side of our country lives. Can’t think of a better way to recharge my batteries and get ready to return to grad school this fall.

    Nutritionator wrote on June 9th, 2011
  11. Vacation is truly all that Mark says above. The only trouble is that, in America, there is no time when everybody leaves at once, such as in Europe where many countries basically shut down for a month. That means many of us dare not leave for too long, because we’ll either return to a train-wreck of work (bad enough) or to discover our presence wasn’t needed after all (even worse). So many of us take our vacation days one or two at a time, and are never mentally far from the office.

    It is exhausting, and unnatural. The longest vacation I ever had was several years ago when I left for two weeks, and despite my anti-primal lifestyle at the time, I reached something very similar to nirvana half way through the second week. The Europeans on vacation with me were all there for three or four weeks. I can only imagine what it must be like to have that much time away from work and not be unemployed.

    Timothy wrote on June 9th, 2011
  12. I am going to send this article to my husband. He hasn’t taken a vacation since 2001 and regularly gets two weeks of untaken vacation pay reimbursement at the end of the year. I can see he is exhausted and needs a break but he always feels too needed at the office. I don’t think it is normal for one person to be that needed at an office. Maybe this article will help him take some time off!

    Gabrielle wrote on June 9th, 2011
  13. I host golf vacations for a living.
    Someone’s gotta do it.

    Bill wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • We’ll do our best not to weep when we think of your unfortunate professional circumstances, Bill. You jerk. ;)

      Patrick wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • i’m with Bill i vacation for a living. well, if one really enjoy how one earns an income, then it is never work.

      Dasbutch wrote on June 9th, 2011
  14. Hello,

    I just have a quick question. I have been eating primal for approximately 2 weeks. I have read in the posts where ones appetite is supposed to be suppressed due to the fat intake. I am continuously getting hungry about every 3 hours. Is this normal or am I possibly not eating enough fat? I havent really been logging my Fat, Protien, carb intake but I know that I am less than 100gms on the carbs. I just dont want to put fat around my waste by eating too many calories yet I am constantly hungry. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

    Scott.

    Scott Valenti wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • Are you exercising a lot ?? If so this might be the culprit. If not you definitely need 60% of your calories to come from Good fat like coconut oil, Hemp seed oil, Raw nuts and seeds. You should be able to eat a meal and be ok for over 6 hours easy .

      I eat a shake at 8 AM which has 3 raw free range eggs and 2 table spoons of coconut oil and one table spoon of hemp seed oil, one scoop of whey protein , one scoop of super green food , and 8 oz of unsweetened almond milk and I am good till 2 in the afternoon most days.

      keep it up. It’s a process you have to go through of constantly adjusting and tweaking your food until you get the proper intake for your body and your type of activities. Everyone will be different.

      Good luck and hang in there it will get much better quickly.

      Scott wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • Try eating more fats. Have bacon and eggs for breakfast. When you get hungry for lunch have a grass fed burger patty with some avocado or tomato or radishes or salad etc. Have a hard boiled egg or two for a snack. Eat some almond butter with celery. There are many things to eat that are satisfying and will not stay on your gut. Just experiment and remember to stop eating when you stop being hungry.

      Brett wrote on June 9th, 2011
      • Celery is known to enhance appetite.

        Primal Palate wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • When I first started I lost 20 lbs on a 3000 calorie a day diet with no exercise other than walking my dog.

      It’s the ratio between calorie : nutrients that’s important.
      If you count calories and on top of it lack nutrients you will get signals from your body to eat.
      So even if you’re already cutting calories you’re probably even lower on nutrient intake…you’re starving and your bodys metabolism will slow way down.
      Also, overcooking food kills nutrients and leaves you with a calorie:nutrient imbalance. Try and not ‘kill’ your foods.

      Nutrient content is what counts.
      Cod Liver Oil, High Vitamin Butter Oil, Bee Pollen, Spirulina, Azomite or whatever else you can come up with that’s not produced in a test tube will raise your nutrient uptake. The body uses calories to digest and transport nutrients.

      Primal Palate wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • Scott,

      I’ve been primal for about a year now and like you don’t log the nutrients either. But also like you the first month or two, I would get hungry about every three to four hours. What I did was to simply eat when I was hungry as opposed to following a schedule of eating. My take is that in as much as the pb is a restrictive eating strategy, it is restrictive in the sense that you don’t eat grains and sugars and the like as opposed to only eating every so many hours. I agree with the others who have suggested that your activity level may have something to do with your hunger and that is another reason why I would suggest eating when you are hungry but only until you are no longer hungry. Just keep all your meals and snacks primal. I did not go primal to loose weight, I went primal to be more healthy and be more conscious of my body and food choices. So you hunger may also have to do with some of your underlying reasons for going primal. What ever the cause, congradulations on making the leap as they say. This community is especially supportive and I think you’ll find the answers and support here.

      Gorm wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • Scott, congrats on making the primal switch. It does take a little while for your body to get used to burning fat instead of carbs. My recommendation is to stick with it and eat as much good fat as you like (butter, coconut, animal fat).

      The fewer carbs you eat and the more good fat you throw at your body, the faster it will learn to burn fat as a primary fuel source. Coconut oil in particular will never make you fat, no matter how much you consume, to the best of my knowledge and experience.

      Timothy wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • When I started a year ago I snacked insatiably on nuts for the first couple of months which kept me satiated. They were properly soaked so I didn’t worry too much about anti-nutrients but it wasn’t helping my omega-3/6 balance. I very naturally cut back as I am simply no longer hungry between meals. Not that I kept track, but I do think I gradually upped my fat intake and that is the advice I give to newbies. I intermittent fast every day now and I only eat 12:30 pm – 7:30 pm — something that I couldn’t have even conceived of a year ago. Basically I just eat lunch and dinner and I hardly ever snack in between. While my initial body composition changes after starting the PB were dramatic, IF was just as big a change.

      Dustin Bopp wrote on June 10th, 2011
  15. @Scott – Don’t be afraid of the fat. I tried low carb diets for years and couldn’t stick to them until I lost my fear of saturated fat. Since I started cooking my vegetables in butter, eating whole eggs, bacon, and gobs of red meat, I’m never hungry and I’ve lost 35 pounds. I don’t count calories or macronutrients at all, either. Just eat until satisfied and don’t fear the fat and you’ll do great. Trust me.

    Brad C. Hodson wrote on June 9th, 2011
  16. Very timely – I just got back from vacation last night, but we’ve decided to spend half of the week out being tourists and the other half doing small things we never have time for around town.

    Not sure if I got the physical benefits of the trip. Though we did do a fair amount of hiking, I also flipped my ATV, got knocked unconscious and gave myself some pretty nast-looking bruises. But I’ll heal…

    (Yes, I was wearing a helmet)

    RitaRose wrote on June 9th, 2011
  17. I’m still trying to sort myself out so I can do mini-retirements à la Tim Ferriss’ “4-Hour Workweek.” That’s the ticket! So many things I want to do: learn how to sail on an ocean-going tall ship, bone up on my Chinese while wandering through China (again), go on a shark research expedition/dives, travel slowly through villages in southern France, learn to play the mandolin, attend the 7-day MovNat thinger in Thailand in Nov ’12. . . .

    Life’s too ridiculously kickass to devote only 2 weeks a freakin’ year to the full enjoyment of it. Sadly, that’s what it comes down to for most folks. That said, as Mark said, most people don’t even make use of those two weeks, which is unfortunate. They can be life and relationship savers.

    Patrick wrote on June 9th, 2011
  18. I cannot fathom vactioning only once, or less than, every 7 years! We chose a vacation lifestyle early and purchased into a timeshare program when we were in our early 20′s. We also own a camper trailer, enjoy tent camping, and traveling to see family. We’ve get a lot of looks for how often we “get away” but it’s just a part of our life and I don’t know what our quality of life would be without it. Most of our best trips are “unplugged”. It’s rejuvenating. I encourage everyone out there to make vacationing a higher priority – not just a luxury.

    Jessica wrote on June 9th, 2011
  19. Don’t you all think that just PLANNING the vacation can begin to be rejuvenating? My husband and I began planning our ten year wedding anniversary trip (to Nicaragua!) last night and I have such a spring in my step today! It is nice to think outside the box and remember the big wide world out there!

    Of course, if you are living for those two weeks of vacation each year at the expense of enjoying the rest of life, I hope that your circumstances change soon. Enjoying the THOUGHT of a trip is definitely different than dreading one’s regular life…

    Crunchy Pickle wrote on June 9th, 2011
  20. Thanks for all of the advise everyone and I’m sorry that I took you off of the vacation topic. Thanks again and I will try your suggestions.

    Scott Valenti wrote on June 9th, 2011
  21. Hear! hear! to the caveat that vacations have their own inherent stresses. We went on vacation hiatus for three years after The Vacation From Hell…involving a seriously irregular heartbeat and a trip to the ICU (and a subsequently whacked out parent), cowering on the first floor of a motel during a tornado warning, a bad rash, and a 13-year-old with a migraine puking into a wastebasket in a cabin in the middle of the night. We had had others (concussions, dislocations, fevers and, yes, more vomiting), but TVFH was the last straw. I couldn’t wait to get home.

    And it took a lot to get me to leave when we finally got back to it. As it happened, our bad luck transferred in a big way (you DO NOT want to know) to someone else traveling with us, and I am ashamed to say I was relieved.

    Nope, sometimes it’s better to put on the ruby slippers and tell yourself there’s no place like home…

    Nannsi wrote on June 9th, 2011
  22. “Sun, sleep, exercise, socialization, and a bit of self-determination. Seems about right, I’d say.” That sounds very awesome, but the key thing to realize here is that the vacation doesn’t have to be traveling, and in fact, I think that traveling isn’t a very good way for rejuvenating.

    I need to really digest this material, because I’m about to suffer from serious brain burnout. It has nothing to do with working too much, but everything to do with thinking too much and overwhelming myself with harsh criticisms of myself. I need a time-off that means lots of random non-productive stuff with interesting people.

    Risto wrote on June 9th, 2011
  23. Very good point at the end there. So often I feel like I’m spending weeks and weeks waiting for a vacation to happen. During that time I forget to enjoy day to day life. I think more about the trip than I do about my normal life.

    Then the trip comes and I find it hard to enjoy because I’m dreading going back to regular life. So the trip flies by and I feel like I missed out on the experiences of the vacation.

    Not sure how to deal with this, but it would be nice to just enjoy both vacation time and “normal” time.

    Lee wrote on June 9th, 2011
  24. My favorite vacation is heading down to the outer banks for a week and just relaxing on the beach, eating seafood, and enjoying family.

    Gary Deagle wrote on June 9th, 2011
  25. I prefer the term holiday to vacation. We live a great life, that we enjoy every day. We have no need to vacate it. Still we make sure we take every off the job my husband is given to fully celebrate and recreate. It’s the only time my husband will unplug.

    Sarah wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • So true; I think something is very wrong if you are waiting for a vacation like it was your absolute best time ever and that every other day is pointless.

      I also think that we should figure out how to enjoy every day, but some days are necessary for mere relaxation too.

      Risto wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • Agree. I need to work on this myself but I am making progress.

        Primal Toad wrote on June 12th, 2011
  26. I miss vacations from when I lived overseas. In the Netherlands everyone gets 25 paid days per year, plus almost a months pay to spend on it. As my ex and I didn’t have children we would go in the mid season, after most others are back in school or at work, and do “slow travel.” Pack the car, a map, point the car in the direction of whichever country we were visiting and let our days be dictated by what looked interesting. We got to meet more people, see more things and experience more than the average holiday maker ever does. We’d usually set aside 5 days to a week to just do nothing, hang out at the beach and read, but longer than that and I get way too restless.

    Sandy wrote on June 9th, 2011
  27. I loved Mark’s point regarding the mental gap between the holiday we need for our physical and spiritual rejuvenation and the trip we book because of the social conditioning that we need to stay at a plush resort with all the conveniences of modern living. The vacations I have spent in such places usually disappoint even if the location itself is stunning.

    A few years ago I decided to walk the El Camino trail which is a 700 kilometer walk that starts in France and ends in Santiago de Compestela in the west of Spain. I did the hike with a friend and the laughs and hardships we endured along the way has cemented our relationship even further. The accommodation along the trail ranged from luxury to rat infested but that all paled into comparison with the amazing people we met along the way and the fact that we had trekked through mud, snow, packs of wild dogs, deserted stretches of wilderness and survived still smiling and positive.

    We left our husbands for two months to embark on our crazy walk and the memories I have from that trip eclipse all the luxury trips to exotic destinations due to the accomplishment we felt limping on blistered feet into Santiago.

    Carol wrote on June 9th, 2011
  28. My wife and I recently spent two weeks on the island of Kauai Hawaii…rejuvenation in paradise! Our return trip is already scheduled. It certainly does all you mentioned and more for me, and good for me is good for my wife and vice versa!

    Kelly wrote on June 9th, 2011
  29. Serendipitous post…We’re leaving for Bike Week on Monday. YAY. This is my favorite vacation destination, it’s only 3 hours away and we do whatever we feel like, including riding, walking in the mountains. I come back feeling rejuvenated not drained.

    bbuddha wrote on June 9th, 2011
  30. I agree with almost everything you say. This is an occasion where I do not.

    I always hate hearing that vacations are a must. I mean, I like them when I take them, but I think I’d be far happier trying to create a life that I don’t feel I need a vacation from.

    I think many of the studies that you cite point more towards the crappy lifestyles that we lead, and just how detrimental they are to our wellbeing, than to the importance of occasionally escaping it.

    Allbeef Patty wrote on June 9th, 2011
  31. Mark,

    I’m a big fan of taking regular vacation time to preserve my mental health, even if I don’t go anywhere. I enjoy vacations where I just go visit my parents and spend time with them doing nothing just as much as fun party vacations with friends. In fact, these are much more relaxing and way cheaper!

    Alykhan

    Alykhan wrote on June 9th, 2011
  32. I don’t see how this is relevant to PB.

    admin wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • Play, along with lowering cortisol levels by relieving stress.

      RitaRose wrote on June 10th, 2011
  33. Would love to take a vacation. I’m 35 and have been on MAYBE 5 actual vacations in my life, you know, the ones where you take extra time off work and go somewhere relaxing and stay more than 1 full day. Honestly, I have never had the money for a vacation and being self employed for a good portion of my adult life means if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. No vacation days, no sick days, holidays only if money cannot be made on that particular holiday which usually means I am off Christmas and Thanksgiving. Maybe one day….

    Erick wrote on June 9th, 2011
  34. I read a story that said that vacations are less stressful if one vacations in a place that’s familiar to them. I wonder if this was taken into consideration.

    Pete wrote on June 9th, 2011
  35. Couldn’t agree more! I work for 3-4 months up in the arctic in Greenland 900 miles from the north pole and take a vacation of 4-6 weeks in between. The only stress is coming back! But a vacation wher I don’t have to do anything or be anywhere or think about work is very refreshing!

    Thanks Mark!

    Dave wrote on June 10th, 2011
  36. Only living for less than 10% of the year is never good. If you hate your job, or do not like where you live you should consider which excuses are holding you back.

    I do not go on vacation since it implies I need a break, i see it as exploration and seeing new things instead of a small break in a dull life. If one are not happy about their life they should make the change.

    Boris wrote on June 10th, 2011
  37. I know everyone is talking about taking a break from their job, but it’s not just that. Taking a vacation is a break from obligations in daily life too. You can skip out on laundry, dishes, answering cell phones, replying to emails, running errands, and the list goes on.

    While some may be able to avoid these things at home, many are not unless they announce they are “on vacation” and unreachable.

    Sure, it’s nice to fix your life up so it’s stress free and peaceful, but it’s just not in the cards for everyone at certain points in their lives.

    RitaRose wrote on June 10th, 2011
  38. Could it be that vacations are no fun when your obese? Vacations are incredibly fun when your rocking low body fat and enough energy to light up a small town, ready for an adventure of fun and spontaneous sex! (No pills needed woo!)

    james wrote on June 10th, 2011
  39. Because we were so strapped while we were raising children and had few vacations, we have made our retirement home a vacation. We moved in 17 years prior to retirement and have enjoyed it all. We started with virgin woods and turned it into what is to us total relaxation. Birds feeding 6 feet from our rocking chairs on the back deck, an inground pool, a hot tub and 2 acres of what is mostly still woods(not too much yard to mow), and trails in the woods to walk(when the vampires[skeeters] are not carrying us away).
    Now retired for6 years, we know we made the right decisions. We’re making up daily for all those years without real vacations. Yes we still do go away on vacations, but mostly our perennial staycation is just great. If I only had a cook…….

    Nan Zitney wrote on June 10th, 2011
  40. I have 7.5 weeks of vacation and will not even get close to using it. I could take a week off and sit at home but between air fare and hotels, I’ll use two weeks – maybe. And stressing about the money will probably be worse.

    Masterlock wrote on June 10th, 2011

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