Sunday, August 08, 2010

On The Road Again

I remember when we were new innkeepers people used to ask us, "When do you go on vacation?" We used to smile bravely and point to the beautiful Vermont landscape just outside and reply, "We're on vacation every time we open the door." It wasn't really true; every time we opened the door, the trash had to go out, or a gutter needed to be replaced, or the snow needed to be shoveled. Those early years required sacrifice, and one of the sacrifices we made was vacations.

When we finally reached the financial point where we could take a vacation, we were limited by our children's school schedule. And a summer vacation was out of the question; we're busy seven days a week from mid-June through the end of October. But finally we decided that we could take a couple of days off and go down to the beach. We reasoned that with Internet access and cell phones we'd be able to keep up with any incoming calls and reservations. And for a couple of years that worked just fine.

This year we took four days off at the end of July. Though the reason justified our decision (a family reunion celebrating my mother-in-law's 75th birthday), it was still a tough financial hit for us to take. This year, July was as busy a month as we've had in some time, and given the economic climate, we were loathe to forgo any revenue. In other words, we turned away a lot of business.

Further complicating things was a virus attack on one of our computers just before we left. Just two days before our departure we rushed the business laptop into the ER for a crapendectomy. When we arrived at our destination, the Internet access conked out, and we had to find a public library. Each morning we made a trip to download and reply to the tide of emails indifferent to our notions of vacation. And then the cell phone broke--it could still receive calls, but the display screen went blooey.

This is pretty standard fare for an innkeeper's vacation. When the fabric of your professional life is woven so tightly with your personal life, you can never really leave it all behind. Nobody's going to run your business for you the way you can. But the cost of burnout exceeds a few days of lost income, because if you don't takke care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else.