Skip to content

Why Vacation Time is Important for Your Health and Wealth

It’s a known fact that American’s work much longer and harder than European countries who seem to be on a permanent vacation. Yet, our European counterparts tend to out produce us.

How is this possible and why do Americans work so much?

Whitefish Point, Michigan

On the low end of the vacation scale in the European Union the average worker is guaranteed by law a minimum of four weeks vacation per year. On the high end they are guaranteed as much as seven weeks of paid vacation per year.

That’s just the government mandated amount. Many receive much higher, such as nine weeks or more.

Meanwhile in the United States the average worker is guaranteed zero paid days of vacation per year. However, about 75% of employees receive two weeks of paid vacation, while 25% of employees receive no paid vacation.

Out of Americans who receive two weeks of vacation, many don’t take their vacation out of fear of losing their job.

Many Americans who do take vacation, still field work phone calls and check emails. They feel guilty while on vacation or so important that their work place can’t function without them.

Other Americans don’t really take a vacation. Instead they take a “staycation”. That’s where you take the time off, but you’re too broke to go anywhere else.

So they make up excuses that they have work projects around the house to do. I’m not saying this can’t be a good thing to do now and then, but just not all the time.

Studies show that people who take vacation time to recharge often come back to work more productive

While we as a nation have become workaholics, either out of fear or losing our job or getting that next promotion, it’s a proven fact that when people take real vacations they come back to work happier and recharged.

Devil’s Slide / Log Slide Overlook, Grand Marais, Michigan

I am one of those lucky people who have about 37 paid days off a year or just a little over seven weeks of paid time off. Vacation time accounts for 16 of those days. I also get my birthday off and 10 days of paid holidays.

My work place encourages us to take vacation time off by utilizing a use it or lose it policy for vacation time. Too many times employees simply bank their days off or sell them back.

Employees who take time off appreciate their employer more and have increased job satisfaction

A lot of employees like myself embrace the phrase, “Work hard, play hard”.

What that means is when you are at work you give it your all. Then when it comes time for vacation you don’t take any business calls. You have someone else at work capable or handling any situation for you.

Some more forward thinking employers have even instituted a paid vacation policy for their employees including a bonus for them to get away. However, if they answer any business emails or phone calls they have to pay their bonus back.

These employers know and understand that employees who totally disconnect from work and are able to afford to go on a nice real vacation will come back at peak performance and creativity.

If you haven’t noticed all these pictures on here are from my short vacation I just took

When I’m on vacation, my girlfriend and I like to plan things out in advance.

Mackinac Bridge in Michigan

Not in the most minute details, but in general, such as where we plan to stay and the main things we want to do. Then we just go with it and explore and have fun.

We like to book our place to stay at least a month or more in advance. This allows you to shop for the best deals.

We were able to stay at a great location by booking in advance. had we waited, we would have seen the sorry, no vacancy sign.

Here is where we stayed:

This cool cabin was a recently remodeled motel. It was nice and clean and modern with a full kitchen stocked with everything you need, air conditioning, nice wood looking tile throughout with a carpeted bedroom, and a modern full bathroom.

It was peaceful and safe here. I felt like I was at my second home. I don’t get any compensation for recommending this hotel, but if you ever want a close place to stay in Paradise, Michigan within a short drive to Tahquamenon Falls and Whitefish Point, this is it. Tahquamenon Suites Lodging

Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan

You can vacation in nice places without breaking the bank

We like to have fun and have nice vacation, but we always do it on a budget.

Here are some tips below:

  1. Plan in advance so you can shop around for the best deals on hotels, flights and discount tickets.
  2. If you can manage it, a trip that starts and ends during the weekdays instead of the weekends can save you money. Everyone wants to travel during the weekends, but few can or do travel during the middle of the week.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try Airbnb . We booked our first Airbnb when we took a vacation to Peoria, Illinois and we were able to get a cheap, brand new, one bedroom apartment in the heart of the city where we could walk to everything. It was cheaper than any average hotel. It was a great experience.
  4. Don’t be afraid to just get away for a long three or four day weekend. If you can, take a short drive within a couple of hours to get away for Friday, Saturday and Sunday or Saturday, Sunday and Monday, go for it. Short trips can be a nice mental and physical break in between your longer holidays.
  5. I’m able to get a nine day vacation by only using three or four days of vacation. If you normally have Saturday and Sundays off you could take 5 days vacation and have nine days off total. To get more bang for your vacation buck, why not wait until your work has a three or four day holiday weekend off. Then you only need to use up three or four days of vacation to get nine days off. This will make it seem like you have a European employer.

Take a lot of pictures and videos but stay off Facebook and social media until you get back to your hotel that night and then post it

You want to enjoy the day whether you go by yourself, your family, with a group or your significant other. So take a break from social media during the day. But look at your pictures and videos that night and decide what to post to Facebook together once your back at the place you’re staying at.

Whitefish Point, Michigan

Take someone along that you enjoy being with 

You need to be compatible with the person or people you go on vacation with.

Nothing can ruin your vacation quicker than bringing along a “Negative Nancy” or “Debbie Downer”.

Instead opt for a “Positive Polly”.

Be flexible. One time you may get to pick the place. It may not be your partner’s first choice or even any choice of where to go. So find some fun things there you think they would enjoy.

When it’s your partners turn to pick the place to go, be optimistic and have a good time even if it’s not your first choice.

A little give and take in any relationship can bring new joy and experiences into your life and relationship.

Maybe you’ll even fall in love or reconnect with each other.

Au Sable Point Light Station in Grand Marais, Michigan

Explore new things instead of going to the same old place over and over again

Many of us growing up went with our parents to the same place every year for vacation.

It was a family tradition. So we feel obligated to keep it going and tend to go to the same place every year with our family and pass it down for generations.

Oswald Bear Ranch in Newberry, Michigan

While it can be fun to explore old areas you went with your parents to as a kid, it can get mundane and monotonous to do the same thing over and over every single year.

Instead pick at least one new place or more to go explore every year.

Research other areas that you may be interested in and find out everything you can about it.

Then start planning your time and budget to make it happen.

This will make you grow as a person.

It’s good to experience new places, people, cultures and ideas.

I once read for a year about Ikaria Island in Greece as one of the Blue Zones where people lived the longest and healthiest in the world.

I went there in September and October of 2012. I was able to get a great deal on everything and it’s one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to.

Get off the beaten path and learn how to party with the locals instead of the tourist crowd

I’ve always prided myself on finding trips that a lot of Americans hadn’t traveled to.

Places like Ikaria Island in Greece, where people live longer and healthier than any other place  in the world.

Or to Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan which is the second largest inland salt water lake in the world in a former Russian Republic.

While it’s cool to see the main sites and travel the world, I try not to be like the other Americans and take the same goofy photos of making it look like you’re putting your finger on top of the Egyptian Pyramids or keeping the Leaning Tower of Pizza from falling over.

Ok, truth be told there is a picture of me in a former Soviet Republic climbing up on a Soviet workers statue helping them push the wall up. So I do goofy pictures now and then too.

Health benefits of vacation

Taking a combination of long weekends in between one week or longer vacations can help alleviate stress, burnout, and boredom.

Planning and researching for a vacation stimulates your mind and gives you new knowledge about the new areas you thought of.

It gives you something to look forward to. There is no better feeling in the world knowing you prepaid for your vacation and all you have to do is show up and enjoy yourself.

This also eliminates making excuses to not go, such as lack of money or having to do projects around the house.

You’ll also feel recharged and have a better attitude and increased motivation when you go back to work.

You can use your stories to make yourself the cool person everyone wants to be like.

You’ll find yourself connecting with other like people who enjoy traveling. Many of them will be more successful and interesting people.

Don’t fall for these myths, that if you take a vacation, you are:

  1. Lazy
  2. A slacker
  3. Not a loyal worker
  4. Not a good leader
  5. Not promotable
  6. Not tough enough to stick it out at work

Instead be a leader and be confident that taking a vacation is productive and healthy for you and best for your career by doing the following:

  1. Plan cool vacations that people will be envious of
  2. Take good pictures and write short stories on social media after your vacation
  3. Use your vacation experience to learn new ideas
  4. Use your vacation to clear your mind
  5. Come back recharged and ready to go with new ideas
  6. Share where you are thinking about going next and why.
  7. People who travel more are more interesting. More interesting people tend to be promoted over non interesting people.

Follow these ideas and be a leader at work. Encourage others to do the same. It will make you a better person and your fellow coworkers better people also, if you can plant the seed for them to do the same.

If you are interested in getting the best deal and some cash back, check out this free travel membership that gives a great website to compare the best rates and earn cash back. Did I mention it’s free?  Click here to learn more