Re-working the way we spend our vacations

The demands of work are causing many Americans to re-work the way they spend their vacations. Rather than give up the family vacation, many Americans have chosen to make their vacation days work for them.

According to a 1997 travel forecast by the American Automobile Association (AAA), U.S. vacations will be shorter this year, with travelers spending only 8.1 nights away from home-down from last year's average. Additionally, a recent U.S. study found that 21 percent of Americans don't use all the vacation time their employers give them.

A working vacation might be the answer to keeping the beach home a family tradition, while maintaining contact with clients. Often, people equate taking a vacation to abandoning work and possibly threatening the profitability of their business. For small business owners, a vacation could mean a lot of stress as they worry about leaving their business for weeks on end. But there is good news. Thanks to modern-day advancements such as laptops, modems, voice mail, cellular phones and faxes, a working vacation is technically feasible from almost anywhere in the world.

Still, many small business owners who rely on the office essentials such as copiers, printers and fax machines can't imagine working without instant access to these machines during their summer retreats. One answer is a new breed of PC peripheral products that combine the necessities of any office-copiers, printers, scanners and fax machines-into one compact all-in-one device. All-in-ones work with a PC and offer the essential office machinery right from the desktop.

For example, Hewlett-Packard Company recently introduced the HP OfficeJet family of color all-in-one devices that combine the capabilities of color printing, scanning, copying and faxing, starting at about $499. An OfficeJet all-in-one enables vacationers to fax invoices, finish reports, receive client contracts and more. Plus, they can take only one compact, integrated machine on their working retreat instead of four.

Taking an all-in-one product and a laptop with them can also be the answer for families who have an imbalance in their vacation allotment. "My wife has the pleasure of six weeks vacation a year, yet I own a very active home-based business and have a hard time getting away," said Ken Libby, owner of a West Des Moines, Iowa-based software consulting business, who believes in taking technology on vacations. "Our summer lake home would hardly be used if I didn't have the option to take technology along with me. My clients don't really care where I am, they are just happy to be able to reach me if I'm needed."

And while you're on this working vacation, said Libby, "there's always the chance you can sneak away and get some well-deserved R&R; yourself. (NAPSI)

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