You need a vacation.
This is most obviously true if you are overworked and feel like you’re on the edge of burning out, but even if you don’t feel burnt out, studies suggest that vacations are good for your health. In spite of this, for the past 20 years, Americans have been using fewer and fewer vacation days. And these are paid vacation days, so using them doesn’t cost any money. In fact, by not taking them, you are donating your time to your company for free.
Why do people let paid vacation days go unused? One common answer is that people feel like they need to devote the time to work. But skipping your vacations won’t help you get promoted any faster. And if being productive is your top priority, you may be interested to know that numerous studies have shown that vacations can actually boost productivity.
When you think about it, this isn’t so surprising. You go to sleep each night because your brain and body need a break from being active the rest of the day. Sleep recharges us, and if you’ve ever tried to do complex work while sleep-deprived, you know how important it is. But just as our day needs a portion of time set aside as a sleep break, other timespans likewise need a break period.
Brief breaks every hour or so during your work day help productivity, and likewise, your year can benefit greatly from some time away from work. So if you want to be productive, skipping vacation is actually one of the worst things you can do.
The other big reason people don’t take vacations is the expense. Here are some tips for dealing with that:
- Lower Your Expectations: It’s probably not what you want to hear, but not every vacation needs to be a dream vacation. If you can get yourself to think of it more as a break from the everyday, you can vacation more often which might ultimately be better for you.
- Budget Your Vacation: If you budget for your vacation ahead of time, you’ll have a tangible savings goal that you need to hit. And we all know: goals are good. Of course, it helps if you have an accurate budget that includes not only travel and hotel fees, but also transportation, meals, admission fees, and so forth.
- Timing Is Everything: Vacationing off-season is not only cheaper, but lets you avoid the big crowds. If your schedule makes that an impossibility, even taking a day or two to leave mid-week instead of on the weekend can save you some serious cash.
- Let’s Make A Deal: You probably already know to check deal sites like Kayak and Travelzoo for cheaper flights and hotels, but don’t forget sites like Groupon for deals on local restaurants and attractions.
- Skip The Hotel: A week at a hotel can add up fast. Consider alternatives like AirBnB or VRBO.com—renting a vacation house for a week can save you money and feel more luxurious. You can even share a large house with another family to cut costs further.
- Live On Cloud Eight: You can still enjoy your vacation while choosing less expensive options whenever possible. Take a bag lunch instead of going to a restaurant. Grab an Uber instead of renting a car. Visit some lesser-known sites and museums instead of the biggest, priciest tourist attraction.
- Staycation: The main benefits of vacation come from enjoying the respite, not from the hours traveling and tiny hotel bathroom. Check travel sites like Fodors.com to see what exciting attractions you can visit in your own backyard. You may end up enjoying it more than a trip to Disney world—and your wallet certainly will.