Recently, I read a study claiming 55% of American workers left some of their vacation days unused.
Say, what?!? 55%? That’s a legit majority of American workers who aren’t using all their vacation time. Seriously, that’s crazy.
So, yeah, this got my attention immediately. Who does this, how could they do this to themselves, and why? I still have trouble wrapping my head around it.
I’ve never been one to leave my vacation time on the table. Even when we worked a 9 to 5, Greg and I spent our days dreaming of our next family trip. We’d plan and save for them all year, only for them to be over in a flash. Never wanting them to end, we usually shed some tears on our way home…
You see, due to our hectic jobs, vacation time came around twice a year – tops. It left us feeling deprived, as though we were missing an important part of life. We felt like we were living to work instead of working to live.
So, we looked for a way out. We worked our tails off to create a life that revolves around living, not working. We rearranged our priorities and crafted a new “normal” for ourselves. Honestly, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure we never lose this freedom.
Even if your goal isn’t to change your work situation, taking time away from your job is incredibly important to your well-being. To make the most out of life, I believe you need a vacation. Here’s why.
Vacation = Time Away From Responsibilities
Let’s get one thing straight: Using vacation time and going on vacation are two entirely different things. Sure, you can use your vacation days to stay and run errands, but my definition of vacation requires actually leaving my home.
When I use vacation days at home, it’s hard for me to relax. I see cabinets that need organized, projects that need completed, and things that need cleaned. There is laundry that needs to be done, clothes that need to be sorted, and important papers that need to be filed. To actually enjoy my time off, I have to leave. I need a vacation. (Don’t worry; I take Greg and the kids with me!)
For me, seeing the world is a great way to relax. I get to unplug from the daily grind, forget about even the simplest of responsibilities, and remember the soul of who I truly am. But taking a vacation isn’t just good for my mental health; traveling the world allows me to experience new places, new people, and new cultures. All of these things have provided a greater understanding of others while reminding me of how great I have it back home. While it costs money, I truly believe travel is one of the few things that can really make you richer.
Vacation = Reward for Good Behavior
I hate collecting “stuff;” I’d rather collect experiences. Taking a vacation is a great way to reward my family for meeting our goals. That said, vacation wouldn’t be enjoyable unless we budgeted, saved, and planned ahead. But once those pieces are in place, we can have fun and relax.
If you’ve got a demanding job, vacation can be a super important part of staying productive. I know when we worked in a funeral home, taking a vacation was a must. Not only was it a nice reward for all that we dealt with throughout the year, it was a necessary time for us to recharge our batteries and avoid burn out.
Even now that we work for ourselves, we still need a vacation. Plus, it gives us something to look forward to – something to work toward. Whenever we get tired or things are tough, we can look at our calendar and know that a vacation is right around the corner.
Vacation = Family Time
Going on vacation provides great bonding time for our family. We create new and important memories on each trip we take. Taking a vacation allows us to let go of our worries, have a lot of fun together, and spend all day giving our undivided attention to each other. It’s almost as if we become the best version of ourselves while we are away.
Even though we travel more often than we used to, I still look forward to the trips we take as a family. Every trip is special in its own right, and I love watching my girls enjoy traveling as much as I do. It’s like my own little slice of heaven on earth.
For us, taking a vacation is one of the most important things we can do with our money. Even before becoming self-employed, we made sure to set aside enough money and time to make it happen. While we still make some sacrifices to afford travel, for the most part, all it takes is spending less on things that don’t matter so we can spend more on the things that do.
In our eyes, there is nothing we’d rather do than travel.