Why You Should Use All Your Vacation Days in 2020

"Guilt" is right behind "cost" for reasons Americans don't travel

Vacation Days Make You Productive
By Tanner Garrity / November 11, 2019 12:49 pm

Earlier this year, the United States Travel Association released its annual State of American Vacation, a comprehensive report on the habits of American travelers. The takeaways were depressing. Over half of American employees reported that they had unused vacation days at the end of the year. Of those people, 61 percent said they feared looking replaceable.

This is a common theme across the American workplace, experts recently shared with Travel + Leisure. The hard-earned, “bootstraps” mentality that compels many of the nation’s workers to work long hours, now has them working long years. And that buildup of stress can have tangible physical consequences, even contributing to cardiovascular diseases. So where’s all that stress coming from? After “cost,” the biggest prohibitive to travel cited by Americans is “guilt.” They fear being seen as inessential personnel, fear being passed for a promotion, or even let go, and thus leave their vacation days unused.

Those concerns are legitimate. But if that description sounds like you, you’ve gotta snap out of it. We wrote earlier this year about the importance of taking a daily constitutional; basically, leaving the office to catch some fresh air and sunlight will lead to more productive afternoons. Vacations are that philosophy stretched out over a few days. Time away from work (real time, no logging into your email every 20 minutes) will take a load off your shoulders you might’ve forgotten was there. It’s time to explore a place or passion you’ve always wanted to know more about, and it will make you a more true and interesting version of yourself in the process.

From a logistical standpoint: have a discussion with your employer. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your company’s vacation policy. They’re not allowed to make you feel bad for taking days explicitly outlined in your contract. Besides, vacation days are good for the American economy; Americans lost out on $62.2 billion in benefits in 2017 from unclaimed days. When you are off, feel free to dream big (fly fishing in New Zealand) or comfy (watch Frodo and Sam walk through New Zealand). It’s all good for your brain, and will have you fresh and ready to do your thing when you get back.

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