One third of Americans pick their vacation destinations based on their ability to stay connected to their daily lives, and over half of vacationers use technology throughout their stay to stay up to date with email and work-related tasks. According to the forecasting in Ford’s latest travel trends report, these statistics echo a larger movement that is taking over millennial travel: the bleisure class. Part business trip, part leisure vacation, the bleisure phenomenon is a trend that stems from the technologies that have allowed us to “go away,” but not truly go away.
In some circumstances, this blurring of work and play can be beneficial in today’s workplace culture. Hypothetically, if employees feel more comfortable booking a vacation knowing they can answer an occasional email if needed, they can benefit by not feeling horrible stress throughout their trip and wondering what happened at their office. But in practice, it’s often worse to feel that connection — knowing that you’re able to check back in with the office can mean that you’re unable to resist the urge to do so.
The trend reflects a generation that has serious trouble unplugging and being present. The report specifically points out the “paradox of plugging in to check out,” as digital nomads are “finding new ways to plug in and work in order to physically check out of the office.” This always-in-office mindset poses a threat to our well-being, and even sets a standard that employees should in fact check email on vacation.
While this trend of going on a business-leisure vacation may sound like the best of both worlds, there is still value in setting boundaries with technology and getting our time back, allowing us move from “time well spent” to “time well invested.” With pushes in both directions, millennials will have to gauge whether or not incorporating work into their leisure time is affecting their well-being and mental state — and plan accordingly. In other words, if you find that you’re unable to relax at the beach without checking your inbox every few minutes, you may be better off scheduling that automatic “Out of Office” email.