Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Economic Response to Vacation

The following is a letter I wrote to my close friend, Kevin, regarding the chances of me taking a vacation in the summer after my having just started a new job, needing a vacation to actually rest, and the other constraints that actually go into having a vacation.

Kevin,

Regarding the amount of time I would have accumulated for vacation by the summer. The answer to that question is multi-faceted.

Firstly, in terms of actual time, I will not have much. To say that I would have none would be a lie. However, knowing that I will probably not even have a full week, there still are other issues.

In my experience, and with other empirical research (Daniel Gilbert comes to mind), it has been shown that when together with the same person, or group of people, for a prolonged period of time (let us say about a week), one's level of happiness decreases. "Happiness" of course may be loosely defined; however, the relevant difference in happiness – and in this case, decrease in happiness – is significant and makes the point. The reason why honeymoons and married couples fair far better, and may actually have a good time is because they have a "psychological reset," otherwise known as sex.

Moreover
, I believe it is time we all were honest with ourselves and understood that the large pitfall of vacations is that it is work in disguise. This is mostly the reason why when workers actually end up coming back to work, they are feeling refreshed only in the sense that the work they were doing during their vacation had the possibility to provide pleasure. Empirically, this can be seen easily with families because the parents have to work hard in order to make sure everyone is happy. Scott Adams once noted that it was like, "trying to solve a rubix cube 10 times a day."

Also
, during the instances when vacations do not include much effort, they usually cost vast amounts of money. In the example case you have proposed to me, it will cost money. Money, which I am not sure I will have.

S
o, in summary:

- Time is a commodity that I don't know how much I have of.
- It will still take money to go do this.
- No sex.
- Friends may drive each other insane over the course of a week.

Remember to keep in mind that vacations are wonderful and necessary, but when we look at vacations from outside the box, we can see where the pitfalls of some "normal" vacations lie.
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