You Call That a Vacation? With Family and iPhone in Tow

Summer vacation plans and traditions.


June 12, 2014

It’s summer time in the Northern Hemisphere and for many of us, that means vacation time. Next in our work/live series - how do you vacation? With family? friends? solo? Do you plan it around conferences? Do you work while on vacation? Do you have a mobile device ban of sorts?

Mary Churchill, Boston, Massachusetts, USA: I almost always vacation with my husband and 9-year-old son. That requires the juggling of three different academic calendars. While we all begin our school years the first week of September, my son is in classes until the end of June. So, our vacations occur during his winter break in mid-February and his spring break in mid-April. Then, we scramble to find time to get away together in July or August. As an administrator, the busiest time of my year occurs in July and August and taking off for longer than a week is a real challenge. This summer, we’ll be doing an extended weekend in Cancun, visiting my in-laws. I try to go to places without wi-fi, without reception - otherwise, I’m terribly tempted to check e-mail and do work. I really need the mental downtime that a break from the internet provides.

Bonnie Stewart, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada: My partner & I both travel a fair bit for conferences and talks, but we’d never really taken a “family vacation” until last summer...in terms of finances and schedules, it had just never come together. Last August, though, we cashed in points and took the kids to New York for five days...it’s a short-haul flight from PEI, and a city I absolutely love. Our then-seven-year-old loved it too, especially the museums, but our not-quite-five-year-old daughter wasn’t entirely as enthused: too many sounds, too many smells! This summer we’ll go less far afield...just the trip up to my in-laws’ place on the northern New Brunswick coast, where the strangest smells are the lobster they fish for. In the fall, though, the kids and I do plan to tag along with Dave to Florida: he’s keynoting a conference at Disneyworld over Halloween, and that seemed like the kind of thing a person shouldn’t do all on his own! I’ve never been to Disney...the kid in me is tickled by the idea. The rest of me is half-terrified...mostly that I’ll love it. ;)

I freelance and have pretty serious doctoral deadlines right now, so not much chance of not bringing the computer with me, no matter where we go.

Lee Skallerup Bessette, Kentucky, USA: Does going back up to Canada to visit family count? No? Good. We go to Montreal just about every Christmas to visit family; this year, my husband and I got a lunch date together. It’s not very restful. But, what we did do this past holiday season was cut the trip to Montreal shot and headed to Southern California (where my daughter was born) to visit friends and just relax. We went to the beach, and my son flopped down on the sand and started making a sand angel. They both declared it was the best vacation ever. My husband and I agreed, and we’re hoping that we can make it a semi-regular thing. We didn’t even take our computers (our phones, however, were fair game; I have to live-tweet everything).

Gwendolyn Beetham, Brooklyn, New York, USA:  I was a big traveler most of my life, and I have fond memories of annual summer vacations with my family (though not-so pleasant memories of excessively long car rides - my parents drove us everywhere!).  Although I don’t take big vacations every year anymore, I do like to get out of the city several times over the summer. I love New York, but there is just not enough green! Usually I go on short trips - hopping on the train or bus to visit friends upstate or in Philadelphia. However, if I have time for a longer vacation, I like to go to my family’s place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s the most relaxing place for me. Depending on how long I’m there, I try not to work. I’ve found a yoga studio that I like down there, so I try to take in a few classes. But mostly, I sit near the water and read. I actually finished the entire Hunger Games series when I was there once. That’s vacation to me: sun, sand, and dystopian fiction!

Janni Aragon, Victoria, BC, Canada: I usually get to California during the Summer and we visit family and friends. This Summer we will do some staycations and go to Vancouver to visit family. I will have some travel time to conferences alone and this counts as a vacation, right? Living on an island that usually has great weather, there are days that I feel like I live in paradise. It is rather easy to take time off on the weekend and hike, go to the pool or go running around one of the local lakes. We try to spend as much time outdoors and read. I’m with Gwendolyn in spirit: outside with books!  

When vacationing with my family, I try to leave one device at home. This gives me a breather and it's great to disconnect. I try to read more while vacationing, but I seem to always have some work with me. I like my work, so it doesn't always feel like I'm working. I imagine my family would disagree.

Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, Evanston, Illinois, USA:  For the first time, our family will go to Europe in the summer as opposed to availing ourselves of less expensive flights over the spring break.  On past trips, I have visited multiple British and Irish Universities.  This time, I we will spend two nights in student accommodation at Trinity College Dublin, and I hope to visit the American Academy in Rome.  I hear the cuisine is divine!  The rest of the summer - when not in the office hasling students or in the car chauffeuring children, you can find me pottering in my garden or sitting on my patio with a drink in my hand and my head in the clouds.

Meg Palladino, New Haven, Connecticut, USA: Working for Summer Session, I haven’t gotten to take a real summer vacation lately, but I am already planning a trip this fall to Prague, and then to Tunisia. The Prague week is actually for a work conference, but I am bringing along my 2 year old son, my dad, and my brother, so we should have some fun. The Tunisia trip is with my partner and his family and of course our son. During the rest of the year, we have taken some small day trips and a stay-cation or two, but the big trip is in the fall. I do my best to avoid work during vacations, but it always creeps in a little.

Ok, now your turn, what are your plans for the summer? With or without your iPad/smartphone?


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