VACATION TIME IS PRECIOUS.
Taking time away from the daily grind allows us to gain fresh perspectives on life, meet new people, and experience different cultures. Yet it's all too easy to procrastinate and lose out on our paid time off. In fact, only 46% of Americans used all of their vacation days in 2016.
Today is National Plan for Vacation Day, an initiative from Project: Time Off, a coalition committed to changing the thinking and behavior of Americans about their vacation time. No matter where you are in the world, taking the time to plan out your holiday time, in fact, makes you happier.
Planners report greater happiness than non-planners with their relationships, health and well-being, company, and job. According to Project: Time Off, a majority (52%) of workers who set aside time each year to plan for travel take all their time off, compared to just 40 percent of non-planners. Planners also tend to take longer vacations: while three-in-four (75%) planners take a week or more at a time, non-planners take significantly fewer days—zero to three—than planners at one time (42% to 18%).
HOW TO START VACATION PLANNING
1. BLOCK YOUR CALENDAR
I connected with Katie Denis, Chief of Research and Strategy at Project: Time Off, to learn how to help people get started. "Blocking your calendar is the most important step," says Denis. "Start with the boundaries in your life - work commitments, school schedules, and family events - and you will see opportunities to fit in vacation time." Use a monthly view of your calendar to find the natural gaps that fit around your existing commitments and make a note of those dates.
2. CREATE AND SHARE YOUR PLANS
Visit our 2018 Travel Planning page to use the handy online planning tool. Simply enter the number of vacation days for the year and add in the dates you blocked off in step one. Don't worry too much about WHERE to go just yet; the point is to set aside the time now. The tool allows you to share your plans not only with friends and family but also with your colleagues. Allowing at least a few months notice helps everyone at work prepare for your absence.
3. GET VACATION INSPIRATION
Now that you have your vacation time set aside, start dreaming! Talk to your friends and co-workers to find out where they are heading this year. Check out the annual lists of places to go from your favorite blogs and travel publications (I'm a fan of the lists from the New York Times and AFAR). Make a wish list of your top vacation destinations and start matching them with the blocks of time you have set aside. Consider travel time, weather, and seasonality. There are plenty of ideas on the Compass & Key blog and in our destination guides. Still stuck? Contact us and we'll help you brainstorm.
SPREAD THE WORD
Encourage everyone to take advantage of National Plan For Vacation Day.