It's true that planners have difficulty leaving their work behind when they travel, but so do many other corporate executives. However, I confess that if I'm going to a location or facility where I've not hosted a meeting, by all means I'm going to check it out for future reference. Does it mean that I'll schedule a formal site visit? Probably not. I will most likely return home with a sales kit, however.

We like a beach vacation, during which I sleep late, do not check e-mail or office voice mail, and use my phone only for personal calls. I feel that we are investing in being away for the two weeks and that deserves my utmost attention. I have to add that when I first began planning our annual conference, I tried to double that with the family vacation, but it really wasn't a vacation.

I used to have a hard time taking off the meeting planner hat, ending up doing impromptu site inspections while my family had blissfully ignorant fun. I found the cure in the form of a week at a cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine, last year. Although the cottage had high-speed wireless Internet, I couldn't get it to work. It also was too remote for cellphone service, so after the first three days I gave up trying to connect. The last four days of my vacation I was blissfully incommunicado! This year we're returning for two weeks!

I'm a workaholic (primarily because — let's face it — we have careers in one of the greatest industries out there). If I am near a computer, I am checking e-mail, wondering how the office is doing, etc. I try to go to places where I'll be outside a lot and just enjoy life. I enjoy staying with friends/family much more than in hotels when on vacation. Although, wherever I am, I do love to go scope out the awesome hotels in that area. So yes, I do put on my meeting planner hat — but only under the “kick back and relax” hat I put on first.

I do conduct site inspections while on vacation. A friend and I just about took over a mutual friend's wedding when the cake sat on the dance floor too long after it had been cut by the bride and groom. But the reason I wrote is because I cannot walk past a piece of trash inside a hotel, convention center, or my office, without picking it up. I also have a habit of tidying up at conferences I attend (I'll collect plates, cups, and trash from tables near where I'm sitting and move them to the collection trays for the catering staff). And don't get me started on the labels for food at buffets!