"How are things back at the office?" one of the gentlemen in my bicycle tour group asked me as we were nearing the end of another lengthy ride through Croatia's scenic countryside.
"I assume they are going fine," I said. "I haven't had any contact and I don't plan to."
"Your phone isn't on?" he asked, incredulously. "You haven't checked your email?"
"My phone is off and no, I'm not planning on checking email," I said.
My wife Heidi and I took my children, Daniel and Rachel, on a two-week trip to Croatia, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. We made the choice to spend some of our money on this wonderful experience so we could spend time bonding with each other and the kids.
Why would I diminish the environment we had traveled thousands of miles to create by bringing my work environment into it? That would be counter-productive to everything I wanted out of this trip. If I worked during this experience, I would be taking time away from my family and sending them the message that work takes priority over them.
In addition to sharing this incredible experience, I wanted to take us all out of the activity-driven world we live in. If I had my cell phone on and was constantly searching out a wireless connection to keep up with the office, I would just bring that hyper-connected environment into the peaceful, meaningful world I was trying to create.
One of the primary purposes of taking a vacation is to rest and rejuvenate. How can you accomplish that goal if you simply move the source of that stress to a different location? Granted, it's one that may have a better view than your office window, but you haven't truly gotten away.
In addition to creating life-long memories with my family, another wonderful thing happened as a result of this bike trip. As we were returning home, I was flooded with new ideas. I came up with concepts for nine blog posts and several ideas that I want to incorporate into my business.
It felt like I had received an unexpected bonus. While it wasn't the goal of the trip, I was rewarded with fresh insights, ones that never would have occurred to me during the regular course of business. Taking time off restored and rejuvenated me and allowed my creative spirit to really come to the surface.
The good news is that at least half of Americans agree with me. The travel website company Expedia.com recently released the results of a survey that examined the link between vacations and happiness.
Among other findings, the survey found that 46 percent of employed Americans reported that they never check in with work while on vacation. However, 59 percent of men make it a habit to check with the office. Not surprisingly, those who check in at least once a day reported higher stress levels.
Here's another argument for getting away: 47 percent of people who went on vacation last year like their job while 71 percent who haven't vacationed in five years don't. And 86 percent of Americans link their personal happiness to vacation.
Vacations make us happy, give us time to bond with our families and allow us the downtime for to feel rejuvenated and inspired. Just leave that cellphone off and that laptop behind.