Tag Archives: adventures

Why Are We a No Vacation Nation?

Americans On Vacation – A Rare Event

 

Why Are We a No Vacation Nation?

Our German, Japanese and Australian counterparts get four weeks off per year, guaranteed.

And Finns, Frenchmen and Brazilians get a whopping six weeks off, guaranteed.

The reason why?  Their governments mandate paid time off by law.

How much do we Americans get off per year?   A shamefully under-used two weeks off per year.

Unguaranteed.

That means the U.S. is the only advanced nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee its workers annual leave, according to a report titled “No-Vacation Nation” by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Our Inability to Escape and Unwind

Our chances to escape and unwind are gruesome.  For example:

  • Only 57% of us use our entitled vacation days compared with 89% of French workers, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.
  • U.S. employers discourage us from taking off more than a week at a time.
  • If we do take a vacation break, we are still expected to check in electronically around the clock.

Vacations Threatened by Economic Crisis

Since the economic crisis has hit, it’s gotten worse.  Fearing layoffs and a faster work pace, many Americans are reluctant to be absent from the office.  If they do take time off, they’re anxious that they’ll appear uncommitted to their job.

Ironically, if we need to be good at what we do, unplugging helps us:

  • Gain new insights
  • Live in the present moment, good for mental health
  • Jump back in renewed and excited

Let’s Take Back Our Vacation Time

October 24th is Take Back Your Time Day.  According to National Coordinator John de Graaf, it’s not an issue of staying competitive.  He says we’re the most competitive country in the world yet Sweden, which offers five weeks of paid vacation, comes in second.

Are we shooting ourselves in the foot?

While our international counterparts take their (deserved) time off, returning tanned, rested and ready to kick butt, we stay trapped behind, fearful that time off means time out of the office, permanently.

What do you think?  Why are we a no vacation nation?

5 Surprising Discoveries About Belize

As I crisscrossed this Latin American natural wonderland, I made some surprising discoveries about adventurous Belize as an optimal destination for women travelers.  Read on.

Sleepy Caye Caulker on the Caribbean Coast of Belize

Belize is Safe for Traveling Women

1. Belize lacks the machismo culture of Latin America, identifying more with its Creole identity and British pedigree as the former British Honduras.  On Caye Caulker, I met a young Australian woman traveling alone who marveled at the difference as she traveled overland from Mexico to Belize.  From the adventure center of the Cayo District in eastern Belize to the Caribbean cayes on the coast, I felt perfectly safe, night and day, using a traveler’s necessary sense of caution, of course.

Avoiding Belize City at any time of day is a good idea as there’s no tourist infrastructure there anyway.  Most travelers ride cabs between the international airport and the water taxi landing or come in or out by shuttle from the inland.

Belize Is An English Speaking Nation in Latin America

2.   A traveler who only speaks English pointed out to me how much easier it is to get around, read signs, or strike up conversations with locals, making Belize an easy destination if you lack Spanish skills.  Though English is officially spoken in this British Commonwealth nation, you’ll also hear Creole, Low German from the Mennonites, Chinese from the shopkeepers, and even Mayan.

Jamal from Pacz Tours in San Ignacio, a typical kind-hearted Belizean.

Belizeans are Kind-Hearted, Friendly and Helpful

3.  After I dropped my digital camera into the drink before canoeing into Barton Creek Cave, I was devastated.  Back at Pacs Tours, my tour arranger, Jamal, heard my plight and simply said, “I know who can fix it.”

He headed next door to a clothing store in downtown San Ignacio where a fix-it man sat at a card table, tinkering on the town’s electronic devices and computers.  Mr. Fix-It deftly popped open my camera’s housing, wiped off the droplets and dried the interior with a borrowed hair dryer.  Disaster averted.  Thanks to the kind-heartedness of Jamal, a typical Belizean.

An Amish Mennonite Homestead in Lower Barton Creek in eastern Belize

The Mennonites Grow Belize’s Food

4.  Is watching an Amish Mennonite buggy negotiate San Ignacio’s unpaved roads or observing a barefoot Amish woman working in a long dress and white cap in the tropics seem incongruous?

Yet these are the scenes of everyday life in rural Belize.  Low German-speaking Mennonites feed Belize from their organic homesteads, producing most of the country’s eggs, dairy and produce as well as building most of its furniture.  After migrating in the 1950s, the Mennonites still remain insular and the government honors their refusal to pay taxes or serve in the military.

Belize is a Tropical Rainforest and Caribbean Wonderland

5.  Where else can you explore Mayan magnificence in monuments and history as well as chill to the sounds of reggae on a white sand Caribbean beach?

Belize offers two kinds of vacations.  In the Mayan Mountains, fall asleep to jungle chatter in an eco-lodge after exploring crystal caves full of Mayan artifacts or climbing a pyramid.   Then head to the Caribbean coast where white sand cayes, such as Ambergris Caye, offers island resorts, mojitos at sunset and snorkeling the Hol Chan Marine Reserve on the Belize Barrier Reef, the world’s second largest.

Got any more ideas about surprising Belize?  Let everyone know in the comments section below?