Some would say the title above was a misnomer. Basically how can one possibly vacation while they are working. Years ago I use to define vacation to my management team as rest and relaxation. At the time I was trying to make the point that employees should be planning their vacation time and not be using it for unexpected absences such as sick days.
While I still agree vacation should be for rest and relaxation there are times working on vacation is either required or a choice. The required is and should be very rare in the case of an emergency only. It's definitely not something that is preferred.
The choice for me is the same as my day to day working habits. I balance the needs of my family with the needs of my work. I realize I have more flexibility than someone with a typical 8-5 schedule. However, I think that many of us chose to do some work on vacation regardless of our typical work schedule in order to minimize the horrendous backload of work that we would return to if we did nothing on vacation. For example my husband and I left early this week with my son (who was on Spring break) to visit family and see some sights before the SHRM Student conference I just finished judging today. He averaged about 30 emails and 3 phone calls a day while I averaged 100 emails and 1 phone call a day. Had we both chose to ignore or postpone the response we would be go back to a mountain of work. Just thinking of the potential hike up the mountain causes me stress.
Having a smartphone makes it easier to handle work while on vacation but it also makes it harder to avoid what's going on at the office. The choice for me is simple because I am a salaried employee. Unfortunately we don't have the same luxury to allow non-exempt employees to do the same because of FLSA requirements.