At a time when more Americans say they long to take a vacation, they instead work longer hours with less vacation time, more stress and economic instability. Tragically, Americans are working approximately 11 more hours per week now than they did in the 1970’s, yet the average income for middle-income families has declined by 13% since the 1970s. 1 Don’t get me started on how much more vacation time other industrialized countries enjoy in comparison to stateside workers.
Studies have shown that taking a vacation increases one’s sense of well-being, improves relationships and job productivity. Vacationing overseas also increases tolerance and self-confidence. More than eight out of ten travelers say they feel energized and productive after returning from a leisure trip, says the American Travel Behavior Survey conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Hotwire.com. Employed Americans have an average of SIX unused paid vacation days at the end of each year. 3
I don’t have a stockpile of vacation time but writing about travel leads me often out of the office and onto the road. Still there’s no way I can really justify sitting in a Fort Bragg coffee shop other than they have WiFi and I’m ‘working’. How I came here is a story and I’m really not begrudging the opportunity to travel this week. “Forget all the work piling up, slide around the deadlines, do the minimum and get out in the world”, I tell myself.
It’s a beautiful, fresh day in this northern California coastal town. There are tourist traps but few as Mendocino, the colorful burg a few miles south, pulls the most attention. This is a working town. The fishing community has been flourishing for a century and that’s why I’m here.
My partner’s in the business of buying and selling fish. He has a joint venture here and comes north from San Diego a couple of times a year. This year I’ve promised myself that I was going to join him to harvest Abalone off the tidal rocks. It’s a bit daunting and as much as I love eating fresh fish, I hate the killing part. Abalone still thrive in these cold waters. South of Santa Barbara has few as a disease swept through about 15 years ago. Divers kept finding the shells, with withering abalone lying nearby, if found at all. The disease hasn’t swept through the colder, northern waters and so, we’re here to gather a quota and share the harvest, the delicious tenderized steaks with family and friends.
But here I sit this morning, drafting a few posts, researching others, catching up on email, finalizing some papers and meeting a few of the crowd sharing the internet connections.
Yesterday was a travel day. We flew north to Oakland, drove to meet relatives briefly at a winery in St. Helena (V.Sattui pours a velvety Maderia that has to be savored to be believed), then met other relatives near the slough in Petaluma for a ‘farm to table’ dinner at The Central Market restaurant. The slog over the pass to the coast took us deep into the evening but a road trip is time for napping, browsing the dial of local stations, sharing stories, making plans and enjoying the company.
The week stretches ahead. There’s more to discover in Fort Bragg on a sunny, late summer week. Whatever happens, I’m determined to leave my curmudgeonly ways behind and know that work can wait a little bit – this experience can’t.
Where are you going today?
- Vacation Deprivation Survey Facts: http://www.expedia.com/p/info-other/vacation_deprivation.htm
- EXPEDIA.COM, 2011 VACATION DEPRIVATION STUDY: http://media.expedia.com/media/content/expus/graphics/other/pdf/vacation-deprivation-fact-sheetnov2011.pdf
Elaine J. Masters, travel writer, speaker, award-winning author of Drivetime Yoga and Flytime Yoga. Books, audio and other travel ease products at: www.DrivetimeYoga.com