Acing the Family Vacation

Lessons from three hard-charging CEOs on how to make time for—and make the most of—travel time as a family.

May 15 2013 by Michael Gelfand


When Kathleen Westcoat, CEO of Healthcare Access Maryland, turned 40 she made a resolution: to take an annual family vacation. “I decided, come hell or high water, we are going to do this every year,” she says. “It’s critical for busy families to spend concentrated time with one another—and to do that, you have to make it a priority.”

That sentiment was echoed by all of the CEOs we spoke to for this article, each of whom makes a concerted effort to block out time to travel as a family—and each of whom admits that arranging those escapes is no easy feat. “The whole notion of a vacation has changed,” notes Peter Orrell, CEO of Junior Sports Corporation. “With all the connectivity we have now, it’s virtually impossible to disconnect; but in my view, you can’t be optimally effective in your professional life if you aren’t optimally effective in your personal life and vice versa. So you have to balance that out.”

KathleenWestcoatFam

The Connectivity Conundrum

Ironically, the technological advances that provide 24/7 connectivity around the world both enable and hamper downtime. The trick, say vacationing CEOs, is to find ways to leverage your accessibility without letting it take over your time away. Orrell, for example, finds it impossible to go completely dark, so he sets aside a few hours to check email and handle urgent business while away and also makes sure to choose destinations offering the dedicated landlines and high-speed Internet that allow him to do that efficiently.