The Time of Your Life

A busload of kids chanting, “One more day! One more day! One more day!” You have probably seen the commercial suggesting that one more day of vacation is priceless. It shines a spotlight on that all too common American phenomenon — we choose not to take all our vacation time.

IMG_0335I’m an engineer by profession, and an international traveler by passion. Over the past decade, I’ve worked full-time at a multinational corporation, and traveled for fun to almost fifty countries, using up every minute of every vacation day. If you, too, would like to travel more, there is no reason you cannot. Just challenge yourself to think differently.

A big stumbling block on the wishful road of more travel is work responsibility. Face it, there is never a good time to go. But what if you were forced to take time off from work due to circumstances (like illness) outside your control?  How could you delegate more and divide up responsibility? What could you get done ahead of time, and what could wait for you to come back? I have led projects where each team member’s vacation time was scheduled right into the project timeline. Studies, including this one published in Fast Company, show that an employee refreshed after a few days away from work is much more productive. This makes a good talking point if your manager is reluctant about your vacation. Remind him or her diplomatically that your career advancement should be about the results you deliver, not the days you put in. If you are a manager yourself, consider taking the time off as a way to set a good example for your employees. Most of all, turn off that work email and phone, or at least, confine these activities to a fixed hour in the day. There is nothing worse than a mind that doesn’t accompany your body on vacation.

Personal responsibilities also play their role. If planting your garden or working on your deck is your mode of relaxation, a staycation may be just what you need. But don’t let these things become an excuse for not going on that trip you really want to take. Ask yourself, “What if I simply had to take this trip? How would I fit it in?” Nor should children be a reason to stay at home. Lonely Planet, which I personally reference early and often in my trip-planning, has an excellent website on all things travel-related, has this to offer on the subject of traveling with kids. People across the world will relate better to you if they see you with your tots, taking the experience to another level for all of you. Moreover, traveling to a part of the world different from your own can be the best education you give your children. They will learn to respect different people and cultures, and build a healthy love for this world we all share. And if you are the primary care-giver for an elderly parent, the New York Times has this to say about savoring those precious moments together.

IMG_0331The biggest obstacle to our travel plans may be our fears about the budget. This should be the least of your worries. There are many books on the topic of budget travel  (“Vagabonding”, a book that covers budgets and a whole lot more, is one of my favorites), and the internet leads you to the stories of people who have traveled for years with almost no money. The best deals can often be found in low season, so do your research. There are also countries where you could live for an entire year (airfare included) for what you spend in a month at home. Look for destinations off the beaten track in Southeast Asia, Africa, or South America.

Make it your goal this year to enjoy every single day of your hard-earned vacation. Or, at least, one more day!

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3 Responses to The Time of Your Life

  1. kathaykathay says:

    Very well thought out and researched post Mimi! It’s true that at times getting away from work for a vacation makes you more productive. Also, after a break you WANT to get back to work. It’s also a great way to spend quality time with your family.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Hiatus in Haiti | Cheer Up!

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