Tag Archives: vacation

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?

Why Vacations Are Good for You and Your Brain

She’s Improving Her Brain

Why Our Brains Need Vacations

It’s no joke that as women travelers we can be derided for taking time off to experience the world.

But taking off on a vacation from work and family is imperative.  As women, we need to be good to ourselves, to refill our creative wells.   Brain research tells us so.

Here’s why traveling is so good for you and our brains:

  • You can gain new perspectives to handle life’s challenges
  • You can become more creative with one simple trip away

Simply, tearing yourself away from emails and computers screens to experience the new and unfamiliar brings better creative thinking and new perspectives.

And you don’t even have to travel far to achieve it.  Even holing up in a nearby vacation home to catch up on books to read does the job.

But recent brain research shows that to really make your brain happy, to re-boot in  from stress, there’s one way of doing it best – travel internationally.

Why World Travel is Best

Landing and immersing yourself in a new culture gives you new creative thinking skills.   Whether in the Italian foothills or on an Asian beach, you’ll learn about a whole other set of social norms and customs.  Handling new languages and currencies, tasting a new cuisine or learning about another religion brings you a better sense of understanding yourself.

Best of all, you become intensely aware, taking note of new faces, things and events around you.  Free of your everyday routine, you become like a child again, fully engaged in discovering the new and different.

And you lose yourself in the present moment, a state of mindfulness.

What are you thinking about in the present moment?  How the blue seawater glints in the sun? The temple monk’s lovely smile?  The fiery burst of flavor from that paella?

Your brain loves this.

Why World Travel Makes You More Creative

Detaching from the familiar gives you a whole new perspective on your everyday life, according to research at Northwestern University.  And pulling away from your close perspective at home brings in new creativity.  Living in mindfulness is relaxing and allows your brain to do its job better.

And that is why world travel is so exciting.  Your brain is firing new synapses.  Your brain likes getting a workout.

It’s why Gauguin found French Polynesia so enticing for his work.  It’s why Hemingway took off for Paris to heal from his World War I trials and ended up writing “A Farewell To Arms.”  It’s why you need a vacation.

What do you think?

Six Reasons Why Everything You Know About Vacations Is Wrong

1. We think summer is the time for summer vacation

And it’s exactly NOT the time to take off.  We got this idea from carefree childhood summers free of schedules and limitations.  Taking off during other times of the year brings unique opportunities beyond your imagination.  Not to mention the cost savings of traveling during shoulder season, usually during spring and fall.

Traveling off-season has its own particular joys.    During our Northern Hemisphere winter, summertime in Sydney, Australia is lovely.  A cruise in October down the Mexican coast means huge bargains for your vacation wallet as well as a more peaceful journey.

2. We think we’ll find peace and serenity during our summer breaks

And we are not.  During the summer, escaping a crowded city or packed freeway means handling even more daunting logistics and stress.  And relaxing on your patch of sand on a packed beach is no vacation.  Standing in a two-hour line into European museums is no picnic either.

3. A staycation is not the answer

You must take off for somewhere, anywhere, to get your much-needed break.  Despite the idea of ‘staycation,’ staying home is not the answer.  You’re still going to answer the phone, pick up your mail and check email.

Go away, anywhere, but do it and do it often, which leads to my next point.

4.  We don’t take enough vacations

Brain research shows that we need to disconnect and re-boot after long periods of stress.   And taking a long vacation is, yes, the answer.  So is taking more, shorter breaks throughout the year.   Turns out you’ll be more productive and creative upon your return.

5. We don’t vacation long enough

Europeans and even Asians take longer vacation time than we poor American suckers, a government mandated three to six weeks off.

And we only get an unguaranteed two weeks off.  Who thought of this?   Why, I ask, do we get glorious three months off as kids but only two weeks as a grown-up?  This feels so wrong.

6. Don’t take vacations – live as a local

The idea of career breaks or mini-retirements may be out of the purview of many.  But, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you can take as much time off as you like and when.

But why not set yourself up as location independent and take an extended visit to Buenos Aires or Bangkok while still connected to your work?   You’ll get the best of both worlds, time off for new adventures, people and cuisine as well as keeping up with work.  And a tsunami of emails and work will not await you upon your arrival home.

Take a daily ocean swim or long walks, enjoy a Mediterranean diet or learn about local history.  Get to know your butcher and baker.  Watch your kids learn a new language.  Create fond family memories.

There are solutions.  Maybe you need to take some needed time off and think about this.

Can’t get away?  Tell me why?