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I’m in the midst of a wonderful two-week staycation from work. When I initially decided to take these two weeks off, I thought that I would get bored. Boy, was I wrong. I have been able to work out, work around the house, and meet my Nephew who was born on Monday (three days after my birthday!).
Typically, I’d be the first to want to go out of town with this much time off from work, but I am thoroughly enjoying this staycation. Not being at work has been wonderful and not having to plan a vacation has also been wonderful.
Earlier this year, I took my first staycation. We preferred to stay local because my son did not travel well at the time. That was proven when we drove to my sister-in- law’s graduation. It probably had something to do with the standstill traffic, but either way, the two-hour car ride was miserable.
We figure at this point in time that the max we can drive before he becomes too fussy is about 1.5 hours. I am one of those people that loves to travel and play at the beach, but unfortunately, warm weather is not 1.5 hours away for me.
So I am home-bound for these two weeks. But it’s actually been a huge blessing as I’ve been able to really relax. I still wake up early since my son can’t sleep in past 7 am. As a result, my days have been pretty productive and packed with playing with my son, spending time with my wife, and even catching up on some leisure reading on my Kindle.
In my opinion, taking one week of vacation is not enough. In order to totally feel totally recharged, I like to take of two full weeks, if at all possible. During the first week, I’m still trying to decompress from the stress of work while my brain attempts to flip over to relaxation mode.
But, ahh, the second week of vacation. I finally feel relaxed and no longer have work on the forefront of my mind. Another positive is that I’m usually ready to get back to work after the second week no matter how amazing the vacation has been.
Losing Vacation Days
I am really fortunate in that my boss encourages me to take my allotted time off each year. So I can say that in my 10+ years in the government, I have only lost three days, which was my fault because I miscalculated the amount of time I had available.
After that happened, I said never again and now try to plan out my vacation days far in advance, so I don’t lose track of my vacation days. However, I know that I’m not the only one that this has happened to.
The average American receives 21.9 days off each year. However, last year the average American only used 16.2 days. This means that on average, people give up a week of vacation. On top of that, 55% of American’s didn’t use all of their vacation days in 2015.
Vacation Benefit: A Raise or Bonus
I know some think that they are too invaluable to take time off from work. Others are concerned with taking off because of overwhelming workloads and deadlines. But according to a study done by GfK, employees who take 10 or fewer days of vacation time are less likely to have receive a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who took 11 days or more.
A study completed by Ernst & Young, found that for every additional 10 hours that an employee took for vacation, an employee would be more likely to receive an 8% higher raise the following year.
Vacation Benefit: Health
On top of the monetary benefits of a vacation, according to Centerstone, a nonprofit community-based behavioral health healthcare network, “Vacation helps shrink stress and anxiety while boosting the mental and physical health of the entire family.” This study completed by UMass found that those who frequently vacationed had “a significant reduction in the risk of death.”
So, not only is it good for your mortality, but it’s also incredibly good for your mental health. “Leisure, including vacations, contributed to more positive emotions and fewer negative feelings and depression,” as reported by NPR.
Vacation Benefit: Creativity
Finally, evidence suggests that when workers return from vacation, they oftentimes come back with more creative ideas than they had when they left.
So with the New Year coming upon us, don’t be part of the 55% that lose vacation days each year. Plan out your year to ensure that you are maximizing your time away from the office.
Readers, were you able to maximize your time away from the office this year? Did you experience any of the benefits laid out in the research above? Share your thoughts below.