Imagine giving up 55% of something that you’ve earned. Your paycheck, your house, your food, or anything else that you have worked hard to earn. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it happens every year with vacation time! In 2018, 55% of Americans left vacation time on the table. That adds up to 768 million vacation days unused with an average of $571 of donated work time per person. That’s time unused that could be spent with loved ones, on vacation exploring the world, or just being alone and away from it all. In today’s age we live hectic lives, both at work and at home, and it’s necessary to take some time in a new environment to reset, regroup, and relax! So, for National Plan a Vacation Day 2020, we want you to plan. Plan for yourself, plan for your family, plan for some relaxation and rejuvenation, and plan to have some fun!
As you read this you might be thinking to yourself that you’re one of the ones who don’t typically take vacation. You might feel you can’t because of the mountain of work you have to do, you might think that you’ll be looked down upon for taking time off, or, like I used to, you might almost feel a sense of accomplishment for not taking action. I used to be proud of not taking vacation, I was dedicated to the job and always there to do my part. As time went on I discovered this wasn’t always the best route. Now, I didn’t always have money to spend on vacation, but I discovered just taking an extended weekend here and there helped me to reset and regroup. And the science is on the side of taking time off. A study by the American Psychological Association found that vacations reduce stress by removing people from their day-to-day work related environment. It also found that the benefits trickled over to your return to work finding that vacationers had fewer work related issues once returning, such as headaches, backaches, and heart irregularities (source: Inc.). It’s not always about planning the week long vacation to the islands, sometimes it’s simply taking a Friday and Monday off so you have a 4-day weekend and some time to yourself.
Now let’s say you do want to plan that big getaway with the family, friends, or a solo adventure, where do you start? Well, the first step is to plan! It sounds simple, but 46% of American households skip the planning phase. By skipping the planning phase you’re either left with a half-hearted attempt at a vacation that can end up adding more stress to your life, or your idea of a vacation never materializes and you end the year wondering why you have 15 days of vacation left and a backache to boot! Not planning is why we see that 83% of Americans want to use their time off to travel, but end up not doing it.
I will admit that planning is not my specialty. I can see a direct correlation between me meeting my wife and me taking more vacations. She’s the planner, I’m the go-with-the-flow kinda of person. But, as I stated before, I used to not take vacations and I can say I was worse off. In more way than one I can say my wife improved my life, but in regards to vacation I can say she’s helping me better fight off things like heart disease. Studies show that there are significant cardiovascular health benefits to taking vacations (source: Inc..) For men, going 5 consecutive years without a vacation makes you 30% more likely to have a heart attack over those who took at least one week off each year. For women, taking a vacation once every six years, or less often, causes an almost 8 times increase in developing heart disease, having a heart attack, or causing other heart related issues than those who take at least two vacations a year. It’s scary stuff, but it’s true.
I understand that in today’s age, with schedules, commitments, and family needs, that planning a vacation can be tough. You think about it, you might even start the planning process, but something gets in the way and you never really get back to it. However, by being a planner and following through with planning your time off, you’ll benefit in many ways. Studies show that planners are significantly happier than non-planners in the following categories:
• Personal relationships with friends and family (82% vs 68%)
• How paid time off is spent (76% vs 54%)
• How much of paid time off was used (75% vs 51%)
• Physical health and well-being (63% vs 51%)
• Company where you work (61% vs 50%)
• Feelings about your job (61% vs 49%)
Maybe you’re sitting there, you’ve made it this far in the blog, and you’re shocked. You realize your last vacation was 3 years ago with no plans to take one in the future. You want to change that fact but you don’t know where to start. Well, if you’re ready to take that first step I can help with that. Check out this Vacation Planning Tool that’s set up by the U.S. Travel Association to help you plan for your future! Make a plan for your family, for yourself, and for your health. It doesn’t have to be a trip to the other side of the world, maybe it’s an adventure through a new book or a stroll through a local forest, the choice is yours! But make the choice to plan for your future so that you have a future to plan for.