More than just yearly rituals in which we connect with friends and family, vacations are also exercises in self-definition. In affording time away from the demands of everyday life, vacations disclose what people choose to do rather than what they are required to do. The history of vacations is embedded in a familiar history of the United States—the transformation of an agricultural into an urban-industrial nation, the growth of a transportation network, the creation of a large middle class, and the increase in prosperity and free time. At the same time, vacation resorts themselves became sites of change—creating environments in which vacationers not only could enjoy new sorts of pleasures but could also experiment with new, often less restricted, rules of conduct and behavior. Also, men and women differed when it came to ideas about work and leisure.
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