Given America's aversion to taking our earned time off, it be can challenging to consider thinking a step further and planning a travel experience. While everyone's personal and professional situations differ, we thought we could start by evolving our mindsets towards prioritizing vacation, travel and personal experiences. We start with adopting a vacation mindset before even planning a specific experience and end with the trip aftermath.
The Vacation Mindset
- Communicate Regularly: Managers/Employees should align expectations to take time off and disconnect
- Use All Earned Vacation: 650m+ vacation days go unnecessarily unused in the US annually
- Remember, You Earned It: Think of vacation as an earned benefit vs. a luxury or privilege for a select few
- Consider Cost of Overwork: Those who don’t take time off could be more likely to suffer health problems
- Encourage Others: Avoid shaming colleagues out of using vacation or being a vacation resistor
- Encourage Yourself: Avoid overwork (work martyr complex) and being shamed out of using vacation
- Embrace Experience vs. Materiality: Remember experiences last longer through our stories vs. material goods / gifts
- Adopt Global View: Under 10% of U.S. graduates study abroad; 60%+ of Americans do not hold a passport
- Recognize Professional Benefits: Inspiration, Innovation, Diversity, Community, Productivity, Awareness, Empathy, Focus, Memory, Creativity; Prevent burnout and expand comfort zone etc.
- Anticipate Teachable Lessons: Life is full of culture + adventure; We are more capable than we think; People are good + compassionate; Each person is a tiny blip in the broader universe; Stereotypes are unwarranted; Anyone can make a difference; Vulnerability can teach strength etc.
- Consider a “Staycation”: Stay at or near home but still take vacation; Minimize stress – e.g. no cancelled flight, long distance travel, airports or lost luggage; Stretch budget while opening your eyes as a local tourist; Stay active; Eliminate issues getting home; Return to work restored and renewed
- Consider a “Bleisure” Trip: Consider Business + Leisure trip in one. Extend work trip on either / both ends; The percent of leisure trips with a business component is rising; Furthermore, 20% of business travelers take bleisure trips
- Consider a “Glamping” Trip: Consider Glamourous Camping; Spend time off the beaten path but with luxuries and comforts of home; Allow digital detox; Escape daily urban grind in remote wilderness (e.g. Safaris, National Parks etc)
- Embrace Intergenerational Trip: Baby Boomers see travel with grandchildren as an important part of family life; Socializing across generations is important for kids who tend to remember multifamily gatherings most; Kids enjoy hearing family stories and develop identity as part of a family with a shared past
- Travel With Kids: Expand education by offering kids freedom and opportunities to be creative, embrace culture, try cuisine and appreciate unique experiences; Allow kids to spend quality time with parents; Parents feel the lasting memories are worth the time and money since kids remember experiences years ahead
- Travel With Close Ones: Embrace togetherness and the emotional and social benefits of close ties with close ones (e.g. spouse/partner, friends, family etc); Younger relatives of similar age can also be more accepting of each other (relative to schoolmates) and can create shared memories; Children can pick up new interests / social skills from relatives
- Consider Wellness Travel: Vacation while enhancing and maintaining physical, mental and spiritual well-being; Prevent returning to work exhausted; Globally, the U.S. is the largest market by value, Europeans take the most trips and Asia is fastest-growing
- Try Solo Travel: Choose everything you want to do yourself; Come and go with no need to compromise; Incorporate via bleisure; Key is take the trip if you want to take it and not be limited to needing others (family, friends etc.)
- Experience Adult Camps: Learn new skills or master existing ones; Continue to be a player during leisure time
- Embrace (holiday) weekends + Mini-Trips: Try not to overdo it; Stay near attractions or activities; Focus on key activities & relax; Remember to not stress as these getaways don’t have to be as costly as longer, farther trips
Check out the Lists section of our Explore tab for more ideas
- Daydream: By regularly keeping travel & experiences top of mind for personal leisure, it may inspire a trip
- Engage Social Media: Follow social platforms (e.g. Twitter, Instagram etc) of travel sites, bloggers, influencers etc.
- Plan Ahead: We derive happiness from the anticipation of experiences
- Prioritize Quantity of Trips: If faced with the choice between once-in-a-lifetime vs. more trips, I would do more. Otherwise, inertia may set in and you may do no trips. Hopefully over time you can build up to doing the once-in-a-lifetime trip
- Solicit Friends/Family Stories: Asking others about their trips can build excitement and be a source of ideas
- Plan Early at Work: Confirm benefits; Review calendar in January; Pencil dates to be away (even if no plans); Brainstorm travel goals / ideas; Talk with manager / colleagues about vacation plans; Arrange reciprocal coverage etc.
- Manage Costs: Leverage competition; Consider alternative airports; Book (somewhat) in advance; Avoid peak; Consider using loyalty points; Drive; Pack supplies; Save money at home; Deposit small amounts regularly in a separate travel account etc.
- Inquire with Hotel Concierges: Concierges are local experts and can provide valuable and authentic insights prior to traveling
- Make (some) Reservations: While it is great to explore/wander, if there is something specific you know you want to do, reserve ahead to avoid disappointment (and just cancel if need be)
- Manage Work Transition: Give advanced notice; Create plan (projects, status, deadlines, issues etc); Coordinate with backups (meet, give direction, buy lunch); Bring manager up to speed; Finish what you can pre-leaving; Set expectation on availability; Close communication loops; Provide contact info / return date in out of office etc.
- Be present: Prioritize non-work life - take photos, strengthen connections, try experiences, meet people, have fun etc.
- Explore: Immerse yourself in the destination and surroundings – e.g. peaceful, adventurous, educational etc; Allow for wandering
- Practice Self-Awareness: Listen more; Learn local courtesies; Show respect in other countries; Feel the destination
- Meditate: Prioritize spiritual & mental health; Sharpen attention, memory, and emotions; Build resilience; Enhance creativity; Improve relationships; Calm down and lower blood pressure; Let meditation do us
- Disconnect: Unplug (digital detox?); Draw boundaries where possible: Test office staff via delegation; Truly disengage otherwise you may relinquish the value of taking time off
- Extend Yourself: Expand hobbies; Try new things; Do different activities outside of daily life
- Reflect: Feed creativity; Allow solitary introspection; Renew perspective; Enjoy clarity of thought; Improve emotional health
- Rejuvenate: Rest, recharge, relax, reenergize, replenish, renew; Sleep; Prioritize physical health and exercise (e.g. hiking, biking, gym etc.)
- Volunteer: Incorporate giving back on trips; Majority of travelers increasingly tie vacation + philanthropy; Practice empathy and kindness
- Learn Local: Expand curiosity; Visit in destination cultural centers, museums, regional capitals, parks etc.
- Return Smart: Return with grace; Don’t complain about being tired; Consider coming back on Saturday; Depending on the trip, consider returning to the office / routine midweek
- Tell Stories: Talk authentically about vacation; Share most interesting or meaningful stories / experiences
- Engage Community: Share pictures and / or other highlights with close ones across communication channels and social networks
- Ease Back to Work / Life: Start routine the day before you officially return; Get up early; Take time to find out what happened while away; Read emails or updates in last-to-first order etc.
While vacations feel like they come and go so fast, we consume anticipation of experiences and derive utility from sharing our experiences with others afterwards. It may be best not to see vacation or travel as a specific event during a specific time period, but as an experience you will talk about and think about a lot before, during and years after. While it is nice to seek out unique vacation experiences that cannot be compared to others, it may sometimes be best to focus on what makes a specific trip unique to you and your close ones.
Remember: Life is finite, work is infinite so plan a vacation, enjoy the experience and share your stories.