Vacation plans (and lack thereof)

Jackson Hole, LinkedIn, and 7 other things worth your time.

Let’s talk vacations. It’s a story with two parts. It’s also an excuse for me to use these kinds of aspirational landscape photos.

Part #1 is from National Geographic, and it has to do with our national parks.

A few months ago, residents of the valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, worried the summer tourism season might be a dud.

Now a record 40,000 visitors a day stream through Jackson, a town in the valley and a gateway to neighboring Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Closed from March 24 to May 18, the parks are now seeing hundreds of thousands of tourists a month.

Jackson is not alone. Mountain towns, beach communities, and vacation destinations throughout the country are facing an influx of visitors—many traveling from virus hotspots—in the middle of a rapidly worsening pandemic.

Anecdotal accounts in Jackson suggest many tourists are surprised to hear COVID-19 exists in the area at all, having mistaken picturesque mountain vistas and wildflower-blanketed meadows for safety.

Part #2. It’s from LinkedIn, which commissioned a survey of 1,000 working professionals earlier this month and asked them about their vacation plans. Takeaways:

  • Almost half of American professionals (44 percent) say they’re sure they won’t take any vacations through the end of 2020. Another 23 percent say they just don’t know what their plans are yet.

  • Among those who won’t take vacations, the pandemic is the number-1 reason why. Just over half (52 percent) say they’re simply afraid to travel as a result.

  • Related, perhaps the saddest statistic: 22 percent said they don’t want to burn through vacation time now, becaue they’re worried they or a family member will get sick with Covid-19, and they’ll need the time in the bank to deal with it then.

  • Surprisingly, financial fears and the idea that they don’t want to “waste” vacation days when they’re already working at home don’t play that big a part: Only 5 percent and 8 percent cited these reasons for skipping vacations, respectively.

  • And then: Even if we look at that one-third of professionals who say they do plan to take some time off, 38 percent of them say they’re just planning “staycations.” Ugh.

So, how do we square the notion of people saying they won’t take vacations with the idea of packed tourist towns?

It’s not just Jackson Hole, by the way: I spent yesterday at the beach with my family — it’s well over 90 degrees here — and I’d thought that since it was a weekday, we might have the place to ourselves.

Not exactly. We social distanced, and they aren’t selling as many passes as they did pre-pandemic. But there were a lot of people. I admit I wondered, “Don’t all these people have to work?”

Of course, that might be part of the answer: a 12 percent unemployment rate.

And digging a bit deeper into the Jackson Hole article, NatGeo talks about: “RVs with license plates from coronavirus hotspots like Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California meander[ing] through town,” and tensions between people who own businesses and want customers to wear masks—and tourists who refuse to do so.

“The tension in the community has been so high, the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce hosted a webinar to offer businesses and employees guidance on how to defuse hostile encounters,” the article says, and “[c]onstant vigilance, aggressive visitors, and fears of contracting the virus—or spreading it to loved ones—all take their toll.”

Perhaps the answer is that these just aren’t the same people: the “professionals” who would answer a survey from LinkedIn, and the people who would drive from Florida to Wyoming in an RV only to get in a fight with a store owner over whether they should a mask.

Or, it could be that we’re all just really good at lying to ourselves.

Another nugget in that LinkedIn data is that even though most Americans don’t use all their vacation time even in normal years, 53 percent of those surveyed say they wouldn’t take a job if it didn’t them enough vacation days or paid time off.

I suppose a devious employer might find an opportunity there: offering lots of vacation as a recruiting tool, secure in the knowledge that many workers will never take it.

Anyway, I can’t square all of this flawlessly, but I do know that we Americans need a vacation perhaps like never before.

So, I’ll practice what I preach: a reminder that I’ll be off again next week. I hope you can find some way to get away, too.

7 other things worth your time

  • Major League Baseball postponed the first games of the season for coronavirus-related reasons, after 14 players and staff members on the Miami Marlins tested positive for the virus. Meanwhile, the NFL canceled all preseason games. (USA Today, CNN)

  • Walmart bans Nazi face masks, after a couple insisted on wearing them in a Minnesota store. (Fox 9 Minnesota)

  • “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is the subject of an internal investigation by WarnerMedia following numerous accounts of workplace problems on the long-running daytime series. (Variety)

  • Google tells employees: Work from home until at least July 2021. (CNBC)

  • New study: Wealth men are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure as men with low incomes. (Study Finds)

  • The Americans With Disabilities Act turns 30 years old this week. (TechCrunch)

  • Search for Covid-19 on Amazon, and you’ll find page after page of supplements for sale suggesting they can fight the virus. Critics are not happy. (NPR)

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