Diana Kelly Levey

How to Make the Most of Your Vacation Time Each Year

August 21, 2017 | Categories:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wasted vacation days that didn’t roll over into the next year. Yup, that’s what we thought. According to a survey from Expedia.com, employed Americans typically earn 14 vacation days a year—but leave two days on the table. (Here’s why it’s important to take every last vacation day.)

For the most part, we’re guilty of skipping vacations for two reasons, the survey notes: It can be tough to coordinate family schedules, and a holiday can often seem too darn expensive to justify. Here, travel experts share tips on how to schedule and maximize your vacation days. Both are fair challenges, but taking time away from the office is a boon for your mental and physical health. In fact, women who don’t take regular vacations (fewer than one every six years) are eight times more likely to develop heart disease or suffer a heart attack compared to those who travel at least twice a year, according to data gathered in the Framingham Heart Study.

Plus, the build-up to the big event can actually be the most rewarding part of a trip, according to research from the Netherlands. Researchers concluded that people with a looming vacation enjoyed a boost in mood for eight weeks prior to take-off. Even if they’re brief or inexpensive, a few trips to look forward to each year might very well keep you happier at your desk.

Convinced you need to take more holidays? To help you maximize that precious time off, we asked travel experts Rick Griffin and Sandi McKenna, co-hosts of Midlife Road Trip, for their top tips.

Create and maintain a “bucket list.”

Jot down the resorts, cities, and hiking trails you’ve been dying to check out—whether they’re exotic destinations or merely a few hours from your house. The list will keep you inspired during blah work days, and can serve as a blueprint for future vacations.

 

Ask for time off—even if you might not travel.

You get paid to take vacation days, so use them up. Even if a trip isn’t in the cards, use the holiday to tackle projects around the house, try a new class or two, or explore your own environs through the eyes of a tourist.

 

Save big with social media.

Engaging online is a great way to meet fellow travelers and get unfiltered reviews of various destinations, McKenna says. Scan Twitter and Facebook travel clubs for the latest deals, group trips, or other creative ideas that may not have crossed your mind (Volun-tourism? Yes, it’s a thing.) Here’s how to tack a vacation on your next business trip.

Add a little padding.

Take one or two extra days after you return home to decompress—and get caught up on laundry and grocery shopping—before going back to work. These extra days will ease you back into your normal routine, and give you an opportunity to “reflect” on your travels, Griffin says. Take a few hours to organize photos from the trip, Griffin suggests, to keep that holiday spirit alive.

Here’s how to be active on vacation and stay fit while you travel.

Read the full article on Prevention.com.

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