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Scorching Hot Summer Take: We Need to Retire the Phrase ‘I Need a Vacation From My Vacation’

It’s not accurate. And you sound like a boorish pig.

We get it. You just got back from vacation — and you’re so jet-lagged that you still need another bit of time to relax and get your bearings. But here you are, poor, weary world traveler, sitting at your desk, just trying to get back into the swing of things. Off island time and back on the dismal capitalist clock. Oh no… what’s that? Did you just utter the humble brag of all travelers everywhere? You… need… a… what? A… vacation from your vacation? Another vacation? After the vacation you just had! Get this man a ginger beer and a back rub, stat. He’s vacationed too hard!

In all seriousness, I know the feeling. Sometimes I need a massage after the massage. Because they kneaded too hard, and I’m a little sore. Sometimes I need a house cleaning after the house cleaning, because don’t you hate it when they put your stuff away in the wrong spot?

If there’s one thing you learn after being lucky enough to experience the luxury of a luxury, it’s that you need a luxury chaser to swallow the first luxury down because it’s so good of a luxury that you’re all luxuried out.


But even if there is some truth to what you’re saying, remember that when those exact words leave your mouth, you’re really still just being a travel braggart, which is a form of place dropping. You’re basically telling us that you have considerable disposable income and free time. Or maybe, worse yet, that despite all of the former (i.e., your money), not even you will have ever have enough of the latter (i.e., time — the true luxury).

The real problem, of course, is that we’re doing vacation wrong. And that’s not entirely our fault. For starters, the American summer vacation has only existed since the mid-19th century, when education became standardized enough that the summer became a “leisure economy.” That means we’ve only had less than 200 years of practice at this vacation business.

Prior to that, children still went to school in the summer unless they were affluent, and could pop in and out of school as they wished, and travel extensively with their families who escaped the dreadful heat of the city to journey to the Adirondacks or Europe.

The problem is, summer has now joined the ranks of middle-class people attempting to have every single experience possible, in that it’s defined by a must-do-something mentality due to FOMO and achieving what’s still clearly in our DNA — an idea for leisure we’re copying from people so affluent they could go somewhere for a month and do nothing but chill out next to a lake or ocean, returning eventually to their life, but not necessarily some soulless job.

The pressure to do, and the inability to really relax when we do it, creates this dreadful sentence. Mostly because, chances are, you did more work in the week before the vacation to be able to take it, meaning you’re more burned out than usual. Meanwhile, you also run around like crazy preparing to leave your house and/or pets unattended for a mere week. And you do all of this to be holed up somewhere far less fancy than you saw in the brochure, with the very people who get on your nerves the most: your loved ones.

You also aren’t really getting enough time to take the vacation. Most people take eight days maximum, and research shows you need eight days minimum to benefit from time off. That’s the only way to really adjust to vacation mode, savor the experiences as you’re having them, sleep better doing so (which gives you the restorative benefit vacations promise) and truly take advantage of what’s known as the vacation sweet spot — the dead middle of it.

Instead, you hate the first part, kinda start to enjoy the middle and then start sweating the fact that it’s going to end before it’s even over. In between, you’re probably running around like a nutjob trying to see everything, unable to zone out by the pool and relax.

All that hassle and stress is why you defensibly do need some kind of break from your vacation. But if it were actually another vacation, that would double suck and no doubt produce the same exact need. So no matter how long you manage to take off, you only need to build at least a day, maybe two, after you’re back to regroup and get ready to get back to work, where you will most certainly return immediately to more or less the same way you felt the last day you worked before you left for the vacation.

All of which is to say, how you feel is understandable. But that’s no excuse to keep trotting out, unironically, that you need a vacation from your vacation, sounding like a boorish pig. As an alternative, try taking more than eight days with a buffer day or two to relax on the home turf. And if you can’t, just try saying something else: I needed one more day at home to do nothing before coming back into work. It’s not a vacation! It’s a Buffer Day.

Let’s all say it together: I need a Buffer Day After My Vacation!

No, it’s not as pithy. But it’s also not as insufferably annoying. You might actually get a little sympathy, too. Because here’s what you’re getting now when you say you need a vacation from your vacation, whether you realize it or not: All of us collectively doing the jerk-off motion behind your back as soon as you putter back to your desk.