(CNN) — Workers in the United States left a record number of vacation days on the table last year, equating to billions in lost benefits, according to research from the U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics and Ipsos. A total of 768 million days went unused in 2018, a 9% increase from 2017.
If you’re anything like us… then reading this research is a hard pill to swallow. All that vacation time, unused. All those adventures that weren’t had. It kinda breaks our hearts.
Did you know that vacation time is actually the 2nd most important benefit for employees? (after healthcare) If that’s the case, then why aren’t we using it?! While it’s true that it’s becoming increasingly important to find a work culture that includes travel, the stats don’t lie, and for many, regardless of where their employer stands, those vacation days are still going unused.
But, this needs to change! Taking time off, having a break, and actually using your vacation days is so important. Dare I say, it’s more important now than ever, with the stress of the last year still weighing on us. Many people took little to no vacation last year, because of the limitations on traveling. So, let’s dive into what the exact benefits of using vacation time really are.
Benefits of using vacation time
It’s been readily proven time and time again that travel is good for your health. It helps you gain mental clarity to take a break and it sparks creativity when you go somewhere new. Taking time off allows you to reset mentally and when you return, you’re likely to be more productive. Travel makes people happier overall. It can help strengthen your relationships, and remember who you are.
There are so many benefits to traveling, we could go on all day. But, here’s the thing… you won’t get any of these benefits, if you’re not willing to actually take the time off and experience it for yourself. So, why aren’t people taking advantage of time off? Sometimes it’s as simple as not knowing where to go.
How to Figure Out Where to Take Your Vacation
Sometimes people don’t take vacation simply because they aren’t sure where to go, or because the thought of planning a trip scares them. We can help with that. Here are some of our tried and true ways to figure out where you’d like to go and what to do while you’re there! It really helps when you give yourself something to look forward to.
Keeping a journal is an amazing practice for everyday life. It helps with mental clarity and it can be a great reminder for thoughts, dreams, and hopes you had, if you go back and read what you wrote! Keep a journal with a list of places you’d like to go or things you’d like to do! If you’re ready to use some vacation and unsure what to do with the time off, go back and read what you wrote to spark some ideas!
Airbnb is full of amazing stays, all around the world. If you’re struggling with where you’d like to go, maybe a certain accommodation will jump out at you and that’ll be it, you know exactly where to go! There are some crazy amazing homes out there, just waiting for your arrival!
There’s an endless supply of books and magazines (or even Instagram accounts) that can offer you allllll the inspiration in the world. There are books with lists of the top 500 places to see, ultimate travel list, epic hikes of the world, and more! There’s nothing that will get you inspired as quickly as flipping through the pictures and reading about different places!
We have hundreds of guides to cities around the globe. If you don’t know where to go, or where to begin when it comes to planning an adventure, we’ve got you covered. Check out all of our amazing guides in our shop and see what sparks excitement.
Look at the top places to go (romantic / fam / gals):
Check out a list of the top places to go for the type of trip you’d like to take. For example this list with the 10 top spots for a “bae-cation” if you’re looking for a romantic getaway. Or this list of Getaways You’ll Love This Summer. This can really help spark some fun ideas for a girls getaway, family trip, or even a solo adventure!
5 Ways to Make It Easier to Take Vacation Days
Still not quite sure you’ll do it? Here are 5 more ways to make it even easier on yourself to ensure you take the time off you deserve!
buy a large desk calendar to keep in front of you and circle the days that you will definitely be taking off. Get yourself excited about it. This will also help you be more organized and productive because you will know that you have to finish things up before being out of the office!
Having some pictures in frames from old trips or fun times, can help amp you up for more fun trips and time away from work.
Similar to the photos at your desk, having a cork board with inspirational quotes or pics from places you’d like to visit can motivate you not only to actually take the trip, but also to be more productive while you’re working so that the time off for the trip can become a reality.
Use friends and family to keep you accountable:
Whether this is your partner, a work buddy, or your best friend, it’s important to have people to help keep you accountable! Tell them your dreams of taking a trip and where you want to go, and how you will make it a reality. Tell them the days you will take away from work. Then, have them help you stick to your word!
Sometimes, having something tangible to look at that’s helping you actively move towards your goal is the best way to make it happen. Put a jar in your kitchen or bedroom and every time you have spare change, toss it in. Not only will this help your travel fund grow, but it will get you excited for what’s to come whenever you look at it or add to it.
This is your final friendly reminder… TAKE THE TIME OFF! Use your vacation days and get out there, explore, see the world, just take a break. We all deserve it, and you’ll be a better person and employee if you do!