08 Jun The Importance of Travel: Finding Inspiration On The Road
Imagine a world where you don’t feel guilty for taking a week of vacation time, or spending a couple of weeks visiting a ski resort in the Swiss Alps. Wouldn’t that be nice?
More and more countries are realizing the importance of giving employees extended periods of time off from work—and they are reaping the benefits.
Here in the U.S., things are a little different. If you take a look at the statistics, you’ll see that we are now at an all-time low for utilized vacation time. And with an average of fewer than two weeks of paid vacation time in most workplaces (and no nationally-required minimum), it may come as a surprise that most people don’t even use the little they have.
Realizing why vacations are important goes much deeper than the act of simply “getting away,” and whether it’s a long or short-stint vacation, it’s important to take the time to relax and recuperate.
No Time To Take Time Off:
One of the top reasons Americans are averse to taking time off is, you guessed it, they don’t think they have time to.
And to a certain extent, they may be right.
Studies have shown that because of an “at-will” job environment in the U.S., where a job can be lost at any time, employees feel a lot of pressure not to fall behind on their work.
While allowing employees to have months off is an adopted standard in some countries, for the most part, Americans aren’t able to enjoy the same level of leisure. On average, Americans are only given 10 days of vacation time, of which only about 50% of that time is generally used.
You might think that having less time off would mean taking full advantage of what is given, but the opposite is proving true. Some experts blame the work-heavy ideals that are ingrained in American culture. Others point to the fact that employees don’t want to seem apathetic about their jobs.
Regardless of the reason, the results can prove harmful not only to employees, but also to the companies they work for.
There’s a long list of negative effects associated with not taking time off from work. From higher stress to lower life expectancy, the effects are just as serious as you might expect from a negative habit that’s being stretched over a lifetime. One study even suggests that the risk of heart disease is 30% higher for men, and women were eight times more likely to develop heart problems, when they don’t take annual vacations.
When it comes down to it, taking a vacation is less of a luxury but actually an essential part of taking care of your health.
Why Does It Even Matter? The Science Behind The Suggestion:
So why are vacations important? What do you get out of taking time off to travel? Benefits of traveling include stress relief, weight loss, reduced risk of depression, improved sleep quality, and overall happiness. And that’s not all.
Perhaps one of the most applicable benefits to your business’ success is the improvement in personal creativity and innovation.
A study by Northwestern University showed that you can actually build faster problem-solving skills, by taking time off to add rest and relaxation to your schedule.
Some entrepreneurs have already taken the plunge to invest in their future by taking the time to step away from their work. Stefan Sagmeister, an award-winning graphic designer who has done work for the likes of The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith, is a prime example of how beneficial taking time away can be. Every seven years, Stefan follows through on his commitment to take a year away from his studio.
Sound a bit extreme?
Stefan’s argument for why this is necessary for his business points to the fact that many of his most successful projects have come out of his time away from work. Other examples he points to are products such as Scotch tape and Sticky Notes, which were invented while employees were taking sabbaticals.
Following the example of companies such as Google, which is famous for encouraging employees to take “20%” time, or to spend 20% of their time at work tinkering with side projects to improve their work environment, Stefan gives himself 12.5% personal use time to develop new ideas. For him, the realization is that having this time off from normal work is as valuable to his company as the time spent working in his office—and it’s another great example of how important it is to allot this time for yourself.
It’s not always practical to take a year away from your life and work, but we can all acknowledge the benefits of taking time to allow our minds to rest. Whether it’s a year-long trip, month-long change of scenery, or a weekend getaway, taking time off can create more benefits than you might imagine.
How To Vacation Like A Pro:
Saying that you should be taking time off is one thing, giving you the tools to make the lifestyle change is another. So what steps should you be taking to add travel into your lifestyle? We’re glad you asked.
The science behind how long you should be taking off is actually pretty clear. While taking a weekend away can be just as satisfying, researchers have found that satisfaction peaks on the 8th day, and then begins to fall. So that week in Hawaii you were planning is just about perfect.
But what really matters is just taking the time away from work.
Even if it’s just for a weekend, you can take advantage of online resources like Airbnb to rent local spots at affordable prices. Here are some of our travel tips for you to keep in mind when booking your trip.
Plan Out Your Trip:
To start things off, plan out your trip in order to have the most successful time. There’s nothing as frustrating and time-consuming as trying to find your way around a strange city, last minute. Even if you’re not a natural planner, it’s a good idea to have some things planned before taking off (such as lodgings and restaurants) to have a solid foundation to build off of. Planning ahead doesn’t mean that everything has to be set in stone—you can also easily divert from those plans if something else comes up.
Be Smart About Booking:
Remember to also book your lodging close enough to popular attractions for you to easily reach them. Having long commutes in a foreign city can ruin a vacation and waste precious time. For smaller trips you may also want to skip the bag check. Try fitting all of your necessary items into a carry-on bag. Not only will it get you out of the airport faster, but you will also save money on airline baggage fees.
Fly As Direct As Possible:
And lastly, don’t book a flight that has multiple connections. Not only will this postpone getting to your destination, it will create additional stress from boarding, deplaning, and boarding again. Avoid the stress, if you can afford to—pay a little extra and travel stress-free.
Examine Your Motives:
Before you head out, make sure you know the “why” to your travel. Make sure you take some time to clearly define what the objectives are for your trip, and what you hope to gain from this time away. By setting goals you’ll prevent yourself from landing straight back in the same spot just months after you took time off to escape.
Check In At Work Before Heading Out:
Before you head out to the sandy beaches of Morocco, make sure you know what you’ll be coming back to, once your vacation is over. Check in with management at work to find out if you can work remotely, take the entire time off, or put your employment on hold.
One of the primary reasons for taking time to travel is to immerse yourself in interests that have been neglected and to expand your mind and thinking. By taking yourself out of the everyday grind, you’re able to have a unique perspective that can spark creativity, as well as innovation and productivity. Don’t miss out!
If you’re looking for additional resources, there are so many out there! Learn more about why vacations are important by checking out this list of books from Stefan Sagmeister, meant to inspire and motivate you to get out there and start benefiting from travel in your life and your business. Oh! And once you’re on the road, don’t forget to send us a postcard!