Your Vacation Days Are Running Out — Here’s How To Use Them

Are you guilty of not taking all your vacation days? You’re not alone: 55 percent of American workers consistently fail to use all their time off. Maybe you feel like you can’t afford one or that the office will collapse without your constant attention. But for every reason you fail to take a vacation, there are simple solutions to help you get away.

“I’m too busy with work and life.”

Of course you’re too busy—you are always too busy. And that’s exactly why you need to take a vacation. 58 percent of American employees believe that America’s work culture stresses productivity over personal balance. Vacations are one way to combat that imbalance, and serve a crucial rejuvenating purpose, just like sleep.

In fact, studies have shown that your determination to not take a vacation is actually terrible for your health. One such longitudinal study compared women who vacationed twice a year with women who vacationed every six years or less. Guess which group had nearly double the risk of having deadly heart disease and heart attacks?

Maybe you go to the gym, eat organic yogurt, and take all sorts of supplements to fight aging, arthritis, and angina. But what good does that do if you don’t take the time to restore yourself away from the office? Pretend like you have a health scare—it isn't that far from the truth—and write yourself a prescription for a vacation.

The truth is, you’ll be busy whether you take a vacation or not. You know all too well that work hardly slows down and, even when it does, more work finds its way to you. But a vacation will allow you to tackle your workload, improve your productivity in the long run, and restore your mind to its most efficient and creative state.

“I don’t have time to plan a trip.”

Never before has it been easier to find and book a vacation, but the seemingly limitless destination possibilities on the Web can feel overwhelming. But planning a vacation shouldn’t be a hassle! To push aside the obstacle of feeling too time-crunched to book a vacation, turn to one of these three vacation-in-an-instant options. Learn how to land on the right trip for you and your budget.

1. Visit a travel agency. Stop by your local travel agency (yes, they still exist) and tell the expert your vacation goals, preferences, timing, and budget. You'll receive several amazing vacation options right away or by email if you wish. Make a decision and let them make all the booking arrangements. All you need to do is show up for your next vacation.

2. Take a cruise. Cruising has become one of the most popular ways of taking vacations for good reasons. Each cruise has a fixed itinerary with onboard activities scheduled from day to night plus tours you can take during stops at ports-of-call. It's a floating vacation that you can book in an instant. Input your criteria to search for a cruise that excites you and fits within your budget.

3. Consider package holidays. Booking a vacation that combines flights, hotel, and activities will save you time and money. The options, whether a booking site or through your favorite airline or hotel, let you book an entire trip in just a few clicks. Enter your departure and return dates to a sun, mountain, or city destination to search for packages. They'll bundle unique air and hotel combination to select from. Click to add extras such as airport transfers, welcome gifts, activities, tours, and more.

“I can't afford to take another vacation.”

This final vacation roadblock is the easiest to solve. You have to redefine the word "vacation" to mean more than just a week at a beach resort or flying to a faraway place. Vacations can be had for little money if you approach it that way. For any budget there exists leisure, outdoor, family, adventure, hobby, or fun activities that are, most importantly, affordable. Whether you save up to take a big trip or go for a staycation, plan your vacation in the exact same way. Research things to do online, document your itinerary, pack the items you'll need, coordinate with your family, take care of work and home to-do items beforehand, and embrace the vacation mindset.

While you can be "on vacation" at home, at a nearby park, in your hometown, or by taking a road trip, sometimes you want to go far and away. That means you'll need to focus on travel over other aspects of your life. Where can you cut back on household expenses and put those savings toward traveling? I'm talking about cutting the cable TV cord, downgrading your cell phone plan, buying groceries at a discount, avoiding take-out coffee or lunch, and shopping less. Consider opening a no-fee online bank account for your vacation savings so you can save money toward a travel goal.


Scott Petoff shares his expertise on how to take full advantage of every vacation day on VacationCounts. He writes about balancing work-life, maximizing employee benefits, and hacking vacation time+money. His travel philosophy is everyplace is worth visiting at least once. Scott took a break from his software developing career to become the CFO (Chief Fun Officer) in the family. As a part-time travel blogger, he motivates Americans to take more vacation time off. He and his wife split their time between the US and Ireland, which works well as an optimization strategy to visit a wider variety of destinations around the globe.

Note: The data and statistics referenced in this post have been updated since we originally published this post. Learn more about the State of American Vacation 2017.

May 3, 2016