One searches in vain for a vacation-themed quotation by Ben Franklin that urges the reader to “take it easy,” “relax,” or “take a break from work.” Mr. Franklin could barely imagine life without work, though his idea of work covered all manner of activities into which he could pour his energies. While he preached the virtue of hard work, he scarcely meant servile labor by this. Rather, he encouraged all young people to continually apply their intelligence, their wits, and their energy to promising undertakings.
Although he was unfamiliar with the idea of vacationing, Franklin could still offer sound advice for travelers. In his essay, “Precautions to be Used By Those Who Are About To Undertake a Sea Voyage,” he made several recommendations to those who faced the grueling dangerous ocean crossing that could last up to three months.
Some of his ideas are helpful even if preparing for no more than a week away from home. If you intend to travel, he suggests, “Nothing is better than to keep it a secret till the moment of your departure. Without this, you will be continually interrupted and tormented by visits from friends and acquaintances, who not only make you lose your valuable time, but make you forget a thousand things which you wish to remember; so that when you are embarked, and fairly at sea, you recollect, with much uneasiness, affairs which you have not terminated, accounts that you have not settled, and a number of things which you proposed to carry with you, and which you find the want of every moment. Would it not be attended with the best consequences to reform such a custom, and to suffer a traveler, without deranging him, to make his preparations in quietness, to set apart a few days, when these are finished, to take leave of his friends, and to receive their good wishes for his happy return?”
Franklin also recommends a few provisions that a smart traveler will always carry: good tea, ground coffee, chocolate, wine (“of that sort which you like best”), raisins, almonds, sugar, citron (a citrus fruit with a refreshing fragrance and a pulp that eased motion sickness), hard-boiled eggs, and crackers.
And, in a passage that reflects his broad kindness, Mr. Franklin reminds readers who have planned and packed well to readily share their provisions with less fortunate travelers.
“These passengers are sometimes sick, melancholy, and dejected; and there are often women and children among them, neither of whom have any opportunity of procuring those things which I have mentioned, and of which, perhaps, they have the greatest need. By distributing amongst them a part of your superfluity, you may be of the greatest assistance to them. You may restore their health, save their lives, and in short render them happy; which always affords the liveliest sensation to a feeling mind.”