In just a few days I will be in Colorado with my family - fly fishing on the creek, horseback riding, hiking trails, and simply being on vacation. However, planning this trip wasn’t quite as delightful as going on it will be.
My family lives far and wide all over the U.S., and getting us all to meet in one spot is a difficult task (I haven’t seen my sister and brother-in-law in over a year!), made even more painstaking by working around the number of vacation days everyone can afford to take and still get the most out of the trip.
This sticks out particularly in my mind after having spent a year in Europe, where countries like Spain and France get an average of 30 vacation days per year. That’s a whole month, while in the U.S. we average 12 days per year. So, what’s our problem? Where did our vacation go?
What?! It’s true: a study by Harris Interactive in 2011 found that 57% of (working) Americans have unused vacation time at the end of the year.
There are many reasons why we don’t take our vacation days. Some companies offer cash for unused vacation days, and employees take advantage of this as a new way to save money (although I would not say it’s a fun way to save money). Many others simply feel as though they need to be at work or else the work won’t get done. Taking a vacation will either leave them with piles to come back to or a hurting company.
So, sadly, I can’t complain to any company that I haven’t seen my sister in over a year. The only people we can blame for our low vacation days are ourselves; after all, why offer more vacation days to Americans if we don’t seem to want them?
Why that needs to change:
1. You deserve a break: We may be getting more and more tech savvy and loving everything that we can do with our fancy multitasking technology, but it is important to shut off and leave work behind for a while. If you’re wondering how to stop worrying and start living, taking a vacation is a great step.
2. Vacations are good for your work: Stress is bad for you. Even a little bit of stress, daily, without break, is bad for you. Take a break from your daily stress, refresh your system, and you will make smarter decisions and do your job better.
3. Vacations are good for your health: It may be surprising to some, but humans aren’t actually robots! We need proper rest and relaxation. Stress leads to heart problems, and lack of sleep leads to a long list of health issues. Keep yourself in tip-top shape and take your vacation! I like how Fareed Zakaria puts it in his post for CNN, “Hey, America: Take a vacation!”:
If you're worried that working less will mean America lags behind: Don't worry. America's growthhistorically has been fueled mostly by investment, education, productivity, innovation andimmigration. The one thing that doesn't seem to have anything to do with America's new growth is abrutal work schedule.
So here’s the cold hard truth: We need to suck it up and take our vacations. It’s better for everyone if we do.
While it sounds great, I know that the reasons for not taking those days are real, and money stress becomes the deal breaker. But even if it just means taking a day to sit at home and relax, you can do vacation without going over budget. Create some steps for budgeting and start to save money for vacation with an ImpulseSave account, and little by little you can reach a goal that will help you get the most out of all of your vacation days!