Enjoy Your Vacation ... Damn It!
July 21, 2015
I recently visited a VP/Programming who I used to do battle with when our stations were in toe-to-toe fights for ratings. We had a good laugh over some of the stuff we did against one another. Like the time both our stations were at a community meeting and when everyone was leaving, I distracted the guy driving their station van. Meanwhile one of my jocks put several of our stickers on the passenger side door. Apparently he drove all over town before returning to their station. We heard back from one of our spies that they were not pleased and to watch our backs. Ah yes, anything and everything was a part of winning on the air and getting into the heads of our worthy radio adversaries.
Now back to the point of this column, the one thing I took away from our reunion of Radio Wars was what he said about vacations, "I was afraid to go away on vacation because of what you might be doing to us and I just could not take the chance of being out of town very long."
On the drive to my hotel, I was trying to remember if my reaction to the Radio Wars was similar. Then I remembered going away for a week and constantly calling the Hot line, the Promotions Dir,, the GM, and the MD. By the time I returned from my vacation, everyone I bombarded with calls needed a vacation from me. As I sat at a stoplight, it dawned on me how I had probably increased my stress back then by not taking vacation/downtime from my day-to-day programming duties. I remembered something my grandfather used to tell my grandmother about her continued dusting around the house, "Lil, dust will still be around when we are dead and gone, we'll just be a part of it. Sit and relax, it's not going anywhere."
My grandmother had a tendency to be in constant cleaning mode and I am not sure she ever sat long enough to look around the house to enjoy the fruits of her labor.
My First Radio Vacation
Radio is a great life and the average person looks at our business as fun. I have to confess, during my early radio years it was hard to comprehend I got paid vacations for something I never thought of as work.
My first vacation felt surreal and a little frightening on some level. During my commercial radio days while in college, I had worked what I still refer to as part-time/full-time; just a couple hours fewer than 40 hours a week and part-time received no special days off.
There I was faced with my first real time off, forced on me because if I did not take it, I would lose out because vacation days did not convert to dollars at our company. Nope, take it or lose it. I got excited, then worried. What if my boss decided the guy filling in for me was better? Really goofy things like that gave me a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I shared my feeling about my upcoming days off with one of the veterans on the staff. It's been years, but I'll paraphrase what he told me, "Everyone one needs some downtime. You need to give people a reason to miss you. Don't underestimate what some days away from this sh#t will do to fire you back up. Stop worrying as if this is a punishment or a clever scheme to get rid of you, it's just a vacation. Go do something fun and don't listen to any radio while you are gone."
I know it's easier said than done, but try and put the job out of your mind. It will be there when you get back and hopefully you will be in vacation afterglow and will be able to handle whatever comes your way with ease.
Getting Ready For Vacation
It is no different than your days as an air personality; some prep work is in order. I am a firm believer in learning from others before putting any game plan into motion. Here are some of the things I have picked up over the years.
- Plan, if you are going away, coordinate with the entire family to find out what will make it a successful vacation. It might be museums, restaurants, sight-seeing, sporting activities, or just kicking back. Everything can't be all about you (unless you are away by yourself). A psychology friend told me he gets clients who come back in worse shape than before they left for vacation. A huge part of the problem comes from poor planning. The moral of the story: Don't make it work, but work at making your vacation a positive experience with the least amount of negativity.
- Try and be thorough on all travel plans; is the car in tip-top long distance condition, have it checked out thoroughly. If you are traveling by air, train, or bus, make sure you get tickets in advance and double-check to make sure all connections and itinerary match. If you booked something months in advance, make a last check to make sure of any changes with times. Put one person in charge of the tickets and all IDs for going and coming, this will decrease the possibilities of someone losing anything vital.
If you are staying with friends or relatives, remember you are a guest and try to fit into the flow of where you are. Something might seem odd to you, but it's not your home. In advance make your hosts aware of any food allergies, but politely double-check once meals are flowing, hey, no one can remember everything. There is nothing worse on a vacation than a trip to the emergency room.
Hotels and motels aren't your only choices. Many homeowners and realty owners will rent on a weekly basis. This is a great way to relax and not have to worry about putting out a sign for room service. Also, you can stock a few items from the grocery store at reasonable prices as opposed to dealing with hotel shop expenses and room service for everything.
Keeping the After Glow Of Vacation Serenity
One of my biggest problems is over-analyzing anything and everything. I consider it a hobby. Having given it a lot thought and reading up on the process of a successful vacation, I have concluded the post-vacation is more important than the vacation.
Holding on to the calm feeling from vacation is even more important than the vacation. I used to purposely bring back golfing stuff and place it all around my office. When I was an air personality, I would bring back pictures from trips and take them to the studio; in between talk sets I would take a look to briefly reminisce and just feel good. Yep, even vacation is theater of the mind, but in this case it's your mind.