Vacation: Use It or Lose It

It’s October as I write this which means you may have a lot of vacation days left. Use them or lose them. If you don’t, you could miss out on some wonderful experiences.

LISTEN: Hey! Use it! No regrets!

Vacation: Many Don’t Use It, Do Lose It

Most full-time workers in the U.S. do get paid vacation, but not much.

These figures, published last year, show the total for government-mandated paid vacation days plus paid holidays.

  • Brazil: 41
  • Austria: 38
  • Portugal: 35
  • Spain: 34
  • Italy and France: 31
  • Belgium, Germany and New Zealand: 30
  • Canada: 19
  • Japan: 10
  • United States: 0

Ouch. Nevertheless, if you have reasonable benefits chances are you get paid days off but here’s the sad part accord to a surveys:

  • U.S. workers only use 51% of their vacation.
  • 61% of U.S. employees work during vacation.

It could be worse, though; a whopping 72% of Chinese workers say they haven’t taken time off in three years. That is not good, according to health professionals who claim vacation refreshes us mentally and physically. I’m always flying and while some of it is for business, I love seeing new places and find traveling recharges me.

Find the Time, Find the Cheap Flights

Maybe you’re trying to ease into the concept of vacation. Start with short trips, maybe a few days during the week or a weekend getaways. Some tips:

  • Hurry: Make plans now since some companies don’t allow employees to carry-over vacation days into the new year. Once Jan. 1 arrives, hard-earned vacation days may be gone for good.
  • Fly cheap days: Flying Fridays and Sundays can often be expensive because that’s when people like to fly but you can find weekend deals on airlines like United. Or move your itinerary to cheaper days like Saturday-Tuesday or Thursday-Monday.
  • Take short hops: You can often keep costs down by taking flights lasting about 90 minutes or so between major airports (such as Los Angeles-San Francisco, New York-Boston); such flights are usually immune to the big price swings.
  • Find a deals to favorite cities: If Europe is your dream, do it; airlines like Norwegian and Wow frequently have amazing deals especially during off-peak periods. Can’t find a deal to your favorite city? Set airfare alerts and receive the best prices available.

Tip: It’s called “time off” for  a reason so when possible turn at least some of your electronic devices off. And consider leaving the laptop at home.

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Updated: October 26, 2015