The Secret to Using your Vacation Days

Jan 7, 2020
Individuals in the U.S. who have earned paid time off from their jobs often don't take all of it. Experts say if you're not taking the time off you deserve, you could be not only leaving money on the table, but also risking your health.

Individuals in the U.S. who have earned paid time off from their jobs often don't take all of it. Experts say if you're not taking the time off you deserve, you could be not only leaving money on the table, but also risking your health.

According to a poll conducted by Bankrate of almost 2,600 adults, among those currently employed in the U.S., 13 percent say they plan on taking a quarter or less of their vacation time this year. This poll also finds that four percent of individuals in the U.S aren't planning on taking any vacation time at all — even though it's offered by their employers.

The average person in the U.S. in the previous 12 months, took 54 percent of their available time off, Glassdoor found in 2018.

Why You Should Take your Vacation Days

Various studies have shown the cardiovascular health benefits of taking vacations. One study showed men with heart disease risk who skipped vacation for five years consecutively were 30 percent more likely of suffering heart attacks than those who took a minimum of a week off each year.

Another study by the American Psychological Association showed vacations help to decrease stress by removing individuals from environments and activities they associate with anxiety.

If you're feeling burnt out and fed up with the daily grind, but you don't know how you can possibly squeeze vacation time into your already tight-packed schedule, the following tips below could help you maximize your vacation time.

1. Take Extended Weekends

Most normal nine-to-five jobs are on a weekday (Mon-Fri) schedule, therefore you already have weekends off. That's 104 days each year away from the office and chances are you're not making the most of these days off. First, you can begin by challenging the assertion it's only a "vacation" if you leave home and take a week off work or more.

A weekend getaway can be a great way of recharging your body and re-energizing your spirit by getting away from your standard routine and out of your element. However, if you're looking for a real vacation, remember to use both weekends along with those five days you'll be taking off.

2. Book Nonstop Flights

While planning your next vacation, consider booking nonstop flights, if you can. You'll want to spend as much of your vacation time enjoying your destination, instead of waiting at an airport and trapped inside a plane.

3. Travel During Non-Peak Times

Another way you can maximize your travel time is to visit popular destinations like during off-peak times. By traveling during peak times, you could be substantially slowed down by: required reservations, long lines, or delayed transportation.

If you plan your vacation during non-peak times, you can often catch the first bus, skip those lines and avoid delays— with more time exploring your destination and enjoying your vacation.

4. Schedule 12 Months of Vacation

At the start of the New Year, allocate each vacation day on paper. In early January (or late December), grab your calendar and mark off most of your vacation days in advance. Remember school vacation periods and your spouse's or travel partner's vacation policy when coordinating family or couple vacations.

Once you're confident with the vacation times you want, have your manager and HR manager approve your time off requests. The sooner you get your vacation planned out and approved, the easier you can work through the year without having to concern yourself about running out of time to take your days off.

5. Take One Big Vacation

If it is possible take one big trip that will use the bulk of your paid time off. For instance, if you have four weeks per year, go on a 2 week vacation. Be sure to add in floating holidays or official company time to the mix to add in an extra day if it lines up with your vacation time.

Bottom line, you deserve the time off you’ve earned and shouldn’t feel like it’s a privilege to take it off or that you’re inconveniencing your manager if you do. It’s your time — you worked hard for it.

Taking time away from daily life and work stresses can improve your health, relationships, motivation, perspective and job performance, providing you with the break you need to get back to your normal life and job refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

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