The Personal Analytics of My Vacation

Last week, the family and I spent the week up in Maine on vacation. We had a lot of fun, and of course, the vacation ended far too quickly. I wrote while I was on vacation, I blogged a bit, I read some, and I walked a bit. It seemed to me that since I was on vacation, I’d be able to do a lot more of those things that I normally do. So you can imagine my surprise to find that I did far less in almost every category.

Since I have automated scripts that collect data on my writing, blogging, walking and reading, I decided to look at the data and separate it out into “vacation” and “non-vacation” days. To do this, I aggregated the data to produce an “average” week when I am not on vacation, as well as an “average” week when I am on vacation. The results are pretty interesting.

Fiction writing

When I am not on vacation, I have averaged about 800 words/day of fiction (and my consecutive-day streak currently stands at 134 days). On vacation, while I did write every day, my average dropped down to about 540 words/day. Here is the comparative breakdown by day of week:

Fiction Writing

Blue indicates days when I am not on vacation and red represent days when I am on vacation. Sunday is skewed slightly by the fact that I crammed in an extra effort upon returning from vacation. Technically, the last Sunday of my vacation should count for both on and off vacation, but I gave myself the benefit of the doubt.


Blogging suffered quite a bit while I was on vacation, with multiple consecutive days going by without a blog post (a rare thing for me when I am not on vacation). Here is what the comparative chart looks like for my blogging:


Tuesdays are skewed because I publish my Going Paperless posts on Tuesdays, more often than not, and this continued while I was on vacation. But you can see that I had no posts at all on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday (either the first or second Friday) of my vacation.


I thought I’d get a lot more reading done on vacation because, you know, vacation. Also because I figured I’d be able to listen to audio books on the drive to and from Maine. That was partially true, but the results still surprised me. Here is the comparative breakdown of my daily hours of reading, both for a typical week and my vacation week:


This is a striking difference to me. Sunday was more because the Sunday we drove home, I listened to audio books for the better part of the drive. But look at the other days! I normally spend nearly 3-1/2 hours reading on Mondays, but didn’t even manage half an hour while on vacation! I guess I was busy vacationing!


I figured that while on vacation, we’d visit a lot of places and therefore do a lot of walking. We did go to a lot of places, but it turns out, unless you make a deliberate effort, you don’t necessarily do a whole lot of walking. Here is the comparative breakdown of steps (via my FitBit Flex) for a typical week and my vacation week:


This is almost pathetic! I barely walked half of what I normally walked, and on some days (like Fridays) it was a lot worse!

For some reason, I imagined that vacation means more time to do things like reading and writing and walking. But I suppose my imagination didn’t factor in that we had to entertain two little kids, as well as find fun things to do for ourselves.

On the flip side, I guess you can say that when I go on vacation, I really do go on vacation. The work, even the fun work, slacks off and I tend to engage in the things that we are interested in doing, sacrificing the reading or walking or writing in their place.

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