Site of my next vacation - Costa Rica
I want to confess to you all that I am a travel junkie...which is unfortunately an oxymoron in the US since we Americans get basically zero vacation time in comparison to other countries around the world - in my case, a measly 10 days (and 2 personal days woo!).
Let's look at the basic facts. In addition to a few national holidays, the average American gets two to three weeks off per year. But (and there is always a but), a recent poll from Reuters/Ipsos poll found that only 57% of workers use all of their vacation days, compared with a 89% of workers in France. [CNN]
This concept BOGGLES my mind. Here are my facts. I get 12 vacation days and a handful of long weekends off from work. I'm going to use all those days to get to as many places as I possibly can. In 2011 alone, I have traveled already to New Zealand and just purchased a ticket to Costa Rica. Why? Because I have vacation time and I plan to use it.
To me, it's all about time budgeting. I'm lucky enough to live near my family so I don't need to take time off to fly anywhere for Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. But my family and I do sometimes go away for the holidays. In which case, we usually don't take time off to do so. Holiday weekends are perfect for traveling around the US, Canada or Mexico. Just this past Thanksgiving, my family and I went to Toronto for 4 days just to explore the city and do something different than sit at home and carve a turkey. Last Memorial Day weekend, my Dad and I took my sister to Nashville for her birthday.
We save the big vacations for taking time off work. My trip to New Zealand cost me 5 days of work, my trip to Costa Rica will be 4, and then I will take an odd day off here and there for weddings.
And at the end of the year, I will have zero (maybe even some negative) hours left to take off. But it will be worth it because I will have seen new parts of the world and taken days away from my desk. Because honestly it's not just about seeing the world and experiencing new things. It's about taking time away from the people, the office drama, the work piling up on your desk. It's about getting away for a while and not thinking about it. And everyone needs time to do that.
It is your right as an employee to take your time off. And even if it's just to sit at home and watch TV, I seriously get heated when I hear people say they have time rolling over to the next year because that means that they spent almost the entire year chained to their desk. And that's just not healthy.
WG1 actually sent me this article from CNN on why America is the "no-vacation nation". And it quoted John de Graaf, the national coordinator for Take Back Your Time, a group that researches the effects of overwork and he is quoted as saying, "There is simply no evidence that working people to death gives you a competitive advantage." Apparently the US came in 4th in the World Economic Forum's 2010-2011 rankings of the most competitive economies. 4th! We were outranked by Sweden - a country that offers workers 5 weeks of paid vacation!
This to me is proof enough that we need to take back control of our vacation by simply taking vacations where we don't need to answer the phone or check our email or be in touch with people at the office.
Either that, or move to Sweden.