A person may take a longer break from work, such as a sabbatical, gap year, or career break.
The concept of taking a vacation is a recent invention, and has developed through the last two centuries. Historically, the idea of travel for recreation was a luxury that only wealthy people could afford (see Grand Tour). In the Puritan culture of early America, taking a break from work for reasons other than weekly observance of the Sabbath was frowned upon. However, the modern concept of vacation was led by a later religious movement encouraging spiritual retreat and recreation. The notion of breaking from work periodically took root among the middle and working class.
In the United Kingdom, vacation once specifically referred to the long summer break taken by the law courts and then later the term was applied to universities. The custom was introduced by William the Conqueror from Normandy where it facilitated the grape harvest. In the past, many upper-class families moved to a summer home for part of the year, leaving their usual home vacant.
Recent developments in communication technologyinternet, mobile, instant messaging, presence tracking, etc.have begun to change the nature of vacation. Vacation today means absence from the workplace rather than temporary cession of work. It is now the norm in North America and the United Kingdom to carry on working or remain on call while on vacation rather than abandon work altogether. Office employees telecommute whilst on vacation. Workers may choose to unplug for a portion of a day and thus create the feeling of a "vacation" by simply separating themselves from the demands of constant digital communications. Antithetically, workers may take time out of the office to go on vacation, but remain plugged-in to work-related communications networks. While remaining plugged-in over vacation may generate short-term business benefits, the long-term psychological impacts of these developments are only beginning to be understood.
Vacation, in English-speaking North America, describes recreational travel, such as a short pleasure trip, or a journey abroad. People in Commonwealth countries use the term holiday to describe absence from work as well as to describe a vacation or journey. Vacation can mean either staying home or going somewhere.
Canadians often use vacation and holiday interchangeably referring to a trip away from home or time off work. In Australia and the UK, holiday can refer to a vacation or a public holiday.
The Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Carnegies, Huntingtons and other fabulously wealthy industrialists built their own spectacular great camps in the Adirondacks of upstate NY where they could disport with their families in private luxury. The scions of New York City took to declaring that they would vacate their city homes for their lakeside summer retreats, and the term vacation replaced the British holiday in common parlance.
In Hungarian, the word vakci can mean both a recreational trip, an officially granted absence from work (generally in warmer months), and the summer (longest) school break. For absence from work, the word szabadsg (freedom/liberty) can be used, possibly as betegszabadsg (sickness freedom/sickness liberty) when the reason of absence is medical in nature.