I’m going to take a wild guess and assume you are obviously not on vacation; otherwise, you would not be reading this article… Right?

Assuming I’m correct, we’re going to talk about reasons why you need to schedule time off and book your next vacation. 

According to Glassdoor’s Q1 2014 Employment Confidence Survey, the average U.S. employee only takes half of their available vacation time. And, among those who do go on vacation, 3 in 5 admit to doing work-related duties. At the same time, one-quarter of employees were contacted by a co-worker, and 20 percent were contacted by their supervisor about work-related issues.

According to U.S. Travel, 768 million vacation days went unused in 2018. That’s up 9% from 2017. It’s staggering to think that people will compromise their mental, emotional, and physical well-being before their job.

 Allotted Time Off Around the World:

Surprisingly, about one-quarter of American/Canadian workers get no paid vacation at all. According to Project Time Off, most developed nations have no mandated number of days off for their employees. From that statistic, those who offer an average of 10 days per year, only 54% of workers didn’t even use the days off they earned.

Below is a chart based on statistics gathered from Project Time Off:

Number of Vacation Days Mandated Country
0 Days –        United States

–        Canada

–        Kiribati

–        Marshall Islands

–        Micronesia

–        Palau

–        Tonga

5 Days –        Nigeria

–        China

–        Philippines

6 Days –        Mexico
25 Days –        Austria

–        France

–        Finland

–        Denmark

–        Luxembourg

–        Djibouti

–        Sweden

–        Sao Tome and Principe

 

28 Days –        United Kingdom
30 Days –        Kuwait

The purpose of vacation: why do we need one?

Let’s be clear, a vacation, whether traveling to an exotic destination or finding solace within your own home, is not a luxury. Read that again.

You get up at the same time each day, get the kids ready and off to school, commute to work along the same route to the same office where you spend 8 or 9 hours a day doing the same kind of work. Then, you leave work, commute home along the same route, arrive home, prepare dinner, drive the kids to their sports activity, come home, tidy-up, throw in a load of laundry, help the kids with school work, get them ready for bed, prepare for the next day, crawl into bed at 11:00 p.m., only to wake-up and do it all again. Oh, and let’s not forget Saturday and Sunday, the 2 days at the end of our work week we look forward to so we can catch up on everything we didn’t have time to complete during the week. Now, multiply each week times 4, times 12 months, and there you have it, another year has gone by without you investing in yourself. Want more convincing? Read on.

What are the benefits of taking a vacation?

One of the most well-known benefits of vacation is that it can reduce stress: it is a fact. Indeed, many studies have proved it and they also showed that the effects of a vacation last well beyond its duration. Some of the reported benefits include:

  1. Stress Reduction:

A recent survey by the American Psychological Association concluded that vacations help decrease stress by removing us from our patterned daily lifestyle. A study found that taking time off from work decreased stress-related physical complaints such as headaches, backaches, and heart irregularities. The study also found that taking a vacation had lasting effects throughout the year.

  1. Heart disease prevention. A host of studies have highlighted the cardiovascular health benefits of taking a vacation. In the 1992 Framingham Heart Study, a study that tracked workers for over 20 years, that still stands today, reported that men who don’t take vacations were 30% more likely to have a heart attack, compared to women, who are staggering statistic jumped to 50%. Research shows that it’s essential to allow your body and mind time to shut down, regroup and regenerate.

Even missing one year’s vacation was associated with a higher risk of heart disease. These statistics are not to scare you, but to persuade you that time off is important to your health in the long run.

  1. Improved productivity.In our perpetual rush to be productive, we often undermine our ability to perform at peak levels consistently. Continually striving to get more done in less time allows us to get ahead. Still, it takes a toll on us mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Professional services firm Ernst & Young conducted an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation time employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent. What’s more, frequent vacationers were significantly less likely to leave the firm. Another study by the Boston Consulting Group found that high-level professionals who were required to take time off were significantly more productive overall than those who spent more time working. When you’re more productive, you’re happier, and when you’re happier, you excel at what you do.

  1. Better sleep.Restless nights and disrupted sleep are common complaints–often stemming from the fact that we simply have too much on our minds. When we can’t stop the chatter, it affects our sleep, and a lack of sleep leads to less focus, less alertness, impaired memory, an increased likelihood of accidents, and a decreased quality of life. Researchers say that vacations can help interrupt the habits that disrupt sleep, like working late into the night or watching a backlit screen before bed. If you have stress from work, and you find your sleep is disrupted because of anxiety or tension, take time off and learn to reset your sleep pattern.

Vacations are good for your health and can be considered necessary for your overall health and well-being.

How do you know when you need a vacation?  Michael Kerr, international business speaker and author of “The Humor Advantage,” says,” If you start looking like the photo on your passport, it probably means that it’s time to take a vacation – like the joke says; however, it has a lot of truth in it.”

Burnout is a real thing. If you compare it to a wind-up toy that has been cranked to capacity, it’s only a matter of time before your full capacity trickles down to snail-paced.

Any of the following symptoms may suggest you are experiencing burnout and may signal it’s time to consider a little R&R.

If you…

–  Have difficulty sleeping

–  Are suffering from increased headaches, or back pains

–  Are becoming irritated quickly

–  Are having ongoing conflict in your personal life

–  Are struggling to concentrate

–  Are finding yourself making more and more mistakes

–  Are less enthusiastic about going to work

–  Have lost your sense of humour

–  Are making unhealthy life choices

–  Cannot turn off your mind at the end of the day

These are just a few signs that it may be time to consider planning a vacation. Sometimes, just getting away for a short time to recharge our batteries is all it takes to get back on track. There are a lot of options for a well needed, well-deserved get-a-way that will fit almost every budget. Read on to learn more.  How often do you need a vacation?

One nine-year study, published in Psychosomatic Medicine, suggests that not taking at least one vacation a year may increase your risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease. The number of days you have available each year will determine the length of time you have to go on vacation. By maximizing the full effect of relaxation, it is considered that vacations range somewhere between 7 and 11 days long. This gives the body time to unwind, away from familiar routine, and allows you to begin the much-needed process of destressing.

Research has indicated that taking a vacation is as important as maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, the best time to plan a vacation is when you think you need it most.

The psychological benefits of vacations:

Chronic stress takes its toll in part on our body’s ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and even ability to avoid injury. When stress sets in, you’re more likely to become ill, your arteries take a beating, and you’re more prone to accidents. Your sleep and digestion will suffer, which will produce even more ill effects. 

Clearly, stress is not a good thing. Even people who claim to love the high-pressured lifestyle will admit, in their quieter moments, that there are times when they just want to get away from it all, even if only for a short time.

Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle. We emerge from a well-deserved vacation, feeling ready to take on the world again. We gain perspective on our problems, get to relax with our families and friends, and get a break from our usual routines. 

Gallup Study of 2014 showed that people who went on vacations regularly reached a score of 68.4 on the Gallup Heathway’s Well-Being Index, whereas the people traveling less only reached a 51.4 Well-Being score.

In fact, just anticipating your vacation can improve your mood. During a study on 974 travelers from the Netherlands, researchers discovered that planning and organizing vacations already makes people happier before they even go. This study also showed that the simple fact of thinking about an upcoming trip has a mood-boosting effect and that the impact on your happiness is noticeable. Moreover, the impact of your vacation will still last days after you return home.

Natasha Withers, a primary care physician from One Medical Group, said to ABC News that “Rest, relaxation and stress reduction are very important for people’s well-being and health. This can be accomplished through daily activities, such as exercise and meditation. Still, going on a vacation is an important part of this as well. We also know that the mind is very powerful and can help with healing, so a rested, relaxed mind can help the body heal better.”

The clinical psychologist Francine Lederer specialized in stress and relationship management, said that taking a vacation has a profound impact on the mental health and adds that: “Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out.” 

Do vacations relieve or cause stress?

Taking a vacation is supposed to relieve stress, it is supposed to give you a break and free your mind. And it does. However, some people might get overwhelmed and even more stressed when it comes to organizing a vacation. Planning a budget, choosing a place to go to, trying to find the perfect location, or even making reservations can add to a stressful outcome.

However, waiting until the last minute to book a holiday tends to lead to a stressful situation. When you plan to go on a vacation, plan ahead. Booking your flight and making your reservations months before the trip will not only save money but will decrease your stress level. If everything is already planned, then you have nothing to worry about. Just pack your bag, free your mind, and enjoy your vacation.

How to go on vacation when you can’t afford one?

The problem is that sometimes, taking a vacation can be very expensive, depending on your destination. Not everyone can afford to take an exotic vacation to a luxurious private island. Yet, it is still possible to travel on a budget, if you plan and take the time to research various destination.

There is plenty of research that proves taking a vacation, or taking time away is critical to your health and well-being. Therefore, the best plan of action is to plan ahead and budget for this expense, as you would your regular monthly bills. Start planning now to put a little away with every check that comes in, and forgo some of the unnecessary things you purchase throughout the year and apply that to your vacation savings fund.

A vacation requires planning and organization. Pick a date. If you opt to make January 1st of each year to plan for next year’s holiday, pick your location, itinerary and all expenses related to your desired choice, decide how much you want to spend based on a set amount, then that expense becomes part of your regular household bills. You may have to give up that extra take-out meal, or that trinket you want to buy to decorate your home, to achieve your vacation goal, but, I can assure you that the life-long memories you will create, while on vacation will have a far lasting impression than something you may think looks pretty on your shelf.

If you have reviewed your budget, and cannot afford a vacation away, don’t despair. There are plenty of ideas you can research that will give you time away, without breaking the bank.

  1. Consider a “stay-cation,” a vacation where an individual or family stays at home and participates in leisure activities that do not require overnight accommodations. This may include visiting different cities and towns within your area. Research destinations that you may have not even thought of to see, right in your own backyard. You can incorporate day-trips to various places such as museums, beaches, and drives to new destinations close by, all within a modest budget.
  1. There are plenty of opportunities to travel if you want to exchange your help with lodging and food. Although this may be an outlandish suggestion, there are many opportunities to see the world for free, or practically free, through volunteering your time. Check out this website 10 volunteer opportunities for free travel to see if any of these suggestions may meet your needs.

Regardless of your allotted time off, or your budget, there is no excuse why you can’t enjoy time away from your regular routine.

In Conclusion

The bottom line is, taking time away from the stress of everyday work and life can significantly improve our overall health, motivation, relationships, and job performance. It gives us the energy and stamina to return from our time away, feeling better equipped to handle whatever comes.