Do I miss things while I'm on vacation? Most certainly. Inevitably, I will receive numerous emails from journalists covering year-end stories about teens, people wanting me to review journal articles, students wanting help with their term papers, and perhaps an invitation or two. I do feel guilty not personally responding to these people to say that I'm unavailable but that's precisely the point. I need to let go in order to truly take a break and refresh.At first glance, this seems positive: Absolutely. Does email really have to mean being on call all the time? If you're going to take a break, take a real one and leave the email requests (and the guilt) behind. Since she's already written to her usual correspondents and work partners telling them she's doing this, they ought to be ready for it.
On the other hand, what if you're a fellow researcher not in regular contact with her who is, say, putting together a conference panel or asking her to review an article for you? And you write to her and wait? And since you don't even get an autoresponse saying that she's gone, you wait some more or maybe send a second message, because you don't know it's going straight into the trash? And then you go on to someone else, but only after you've wasted a week or two?
Much as I hate autoresponse, it does strike a balance between "no information at all" and "personally responding," but those messages usually say "I'll be in touch when I return." She doesn't want that to be the message she's sending.