When is the last time you took a real vacation? Not a staycation (where you take time off and stay in your hometown) or drop your kids off at summer camp (although time away from them can be a vacation in itself), but a real vacation; one where you pack your bags, hop in the car for a cross-country road trip or grab your passport and jet-set across the world.
Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are from traveling across the country. All 6 of us would pile into our station wagon and our many vans through the years and drive west. We drove to the Grand Canyon, saw the Rockies, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons...the list goes on and on.
The harsh reality is that many American workers aren't using all their vacation days. We are a more driven, over-worked and stressed society. The thought of taking time off to travel can be daunting. It takes time, money, and either leaving your job in the hands of your coworkers or doing it yourself while on vacation (I'm certainly guilty of both).
I get it. We're all busy and have numerous excuses of why not to travel. Yet, for me, the cost (both figuratively and literally) of taking time off outweighs all of the cons. Ever since I started working, my motto has been work to travel. Travel opens my mind to wonder and allows me to take a step away from reality, if even for a few days. And the experiences are priceless.
In the 10 years that I've been at my job, I've traveled all over the states (including Alaska and Hawaii), visited 25 countries on 4 different continents; experienced wild adventures that I could only dream of like skydiving, bungy jumping, glacier hiking, helicopter rides through the alps and Alaskan tundra, camping with the Bedouins in Wadi Rum, hiking through the Virunga mountains to be face to face with the mountain gorillas, gone on an African safari...the list goes on and on.
I've been very fortunate to work for a company that supports my passion and provides me with the time off to experience the world. I've made travel a priority in my life. I decided a long time ago that I would rather live now than wait until I'm 70 and retired.
How about you? Do you take your time off and go on a real vacation? If not, what is holding you back?
Disclaimer: As much as I travel and go on big adventures, I am guilty of not using all of my vacation time each year. I usually plan for one or two big trips per year and somehow still let my vacation time slip away. I have a hard time using my time off for staycations (which can be healing in itself) or taking personal days. I've gotten a little better about taking random days here and there yet still find it to be a struggle. ;)