If all has gone well I've been on vacation this week, enjoying the world class quartz sand at Siesta Key in Sarasota while you work and cheerfully read my blogs entries for the week. If you've been to Cocoa Beach or Daytona, those are good beaches, but the sand gets hot and is often sticky. Just not so in Siesta Key! It's the little things that matter isn't it?
Right now my plan is one week of vacation per quarter, where I define a vacation as not going to the office and only lightly checking email. One week is a nice break, but it's not enough to really power down from the stress of work, so sometime early next year I'll do a 2-3 week vacation for the first time since starting End to End Training in mid 2006 with my partners Brian Knight & Steve Jones. Taking those breaks is important, and often leads to break throughs on problems, something Steve talks about in The Brainstorm Zone.
Four weeks (or more) sounds like a good bit of vacation, but it's offset by frequently travel and a good number of weekends. Would more vacation help? Be appropriate? Not sure I know the answer to that yet. I do know that without the vacation I get into deeper ruts than I should, and start to lose the long range thinking that makes the difference.
I know many companies allow employees to carry over vacation, and most do, primarily as a rainy day fund if they quit/get fired/laid off. Nothing wrong with hedging a little, but it's hard on you, your family, and ultimately your employer if you go 2 years without a break just to build up the extra days. My preferred implementation is to require everyone to use or lose their vacation days each year, and to require that for those with 4 weeks or more annually, that they take 2 of those weeks consecutively. If you haven't done a two week vacation I think you'll be astounded at the difference it makes.
Think about how you use your vacations, how you spend your vacations, and use them wisely to maintain that ephemeral goal of having a good work/life balance.