Clicking through an endless stream of gorgeous travel images and videos can really shift your vacation desire into high gear, but truth be told, inspiration doesn't get you anywhere if you don't figure out your vacation schedule first. Don't get us wrong; it's fun to dream! However, one of the greatest obstacles to going on that dream trip is your calendar.
According to Project:Time Off, over half of the American workforce has vacation time that goes unused, resulting in a whopping 658 million vacation days that are wasted per year. That's literally free time, and as we all know, time is a precious commodity that we'll never get back, so we need to start using it.
Those who take the time to plan a vacation benefit greatly. Research has indicated that productivity at work actually increases when employees return from time off. And you'll feel happier, be more positive and notice an improvement in both physical and mental health. Not to mention, a more satisfied person has better relationships. Vacations are a gift that keeps on giving.
Yet, $52 billion in benefits is annually forfeited because many employees are too afraid to ask for time off. 37% of the workforce put off scheduling a trip because they're fearful that their work will pile up, 22% worry that being gone for a week might affect their job security and 30% think that no one can cover for them while they're out. None of these fears are insurmountable with proper planning and communication.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "How much of human life is lost in waiting." If you keep waiting for the right moment to take time off, you might wait forever. You'll find yourself wondering exactly how much of your life you lost and how many experiences you missed out on.
So, if you're determined to make a vacation happen this year, you need to start thinking about it right now. The earlier in the year you schedule your time off, the more likely you are to actually use it. There's also the added benefit of having something to look forward to.
Before you even consider where you're going, you need to make sure you fully understand your company's policies on paid time off. Half the battle is knowing how many days you have to work with.
Once you're armed with that information, it's time to start looking at your schedule. If you're strapped for days, let paid holidays work for you. They're like built-in vacation days, especially when combined with a weekend.
When you have a general idea of what days you'll be spending away from work, start scrolling through those travel articles and photos again. Craft a bucket list. Start an inspiration board filled with all of the places you'd like to go. Seriously, go nuts and book that dream trip.
Most importantly, make the plans concrete with your boss and co-workers. Your boss is the last person who wants to see you stressed and burnt out and they'll likely support any vacation time scheduled in advance. Don't be afraid to have that conversation.
And let all of your co-workers know about your plans in advance as well. You need to coordinate with them before you go to make sure things run smoothly. On your own, work as far ahead as possible so that you're not playing catch-up when you return.
Remind everyone that you'll be away before you leave, and set expectations for how unplugged you're going to be while you're gone.
Once you get back, be sure to share all of your amazing travel stories and photos with everyone. They should be encouraged to take time off as well! And don't forget to support your colleagues when it's their turn to take a break.