Don’t Forget to Use Your Vacation Time: Part 1

By: Marie Donlon

You’ve likely read — both here and elsewhere — about how important it is to use your vacation time. Unfortunately, it bears repeating as most of us are leaving considerable sums of vacation time behind at the end of each year.

In fact, an annual study from the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off estimated that 52 percent of Americans left unused vacation time behind in 2017.

What follows is a list of reasons employees should be using all of the vacation time that they earn:


Vacations help to improve both mental and physical health. Not only will time away reduce stress, it will also lower a worker’s risk of heart disease, according to a number of studies. An unending work schedule without a break will lead to burnout. Taking time away from the office, be it at the beach or just at home relaxing, can go a long way toward keeping you healthy.

Improved Productivity

According to an Ernst and Young study, for every 10 hours of vacation time taken by an employee, at year-end, when that employee’s performance is measured, they managed to increase their performance rating by 8 percent.  Likewise, changing your location can go a long way toward boosting your productivity and refreshing you enough so that you return to work renewed and ready for whatever comes next.

Expanding Horizons

Often, when we take time off, it is usually to handle things locally -- small local trips, staycations to complete household chores or time spent at home entertaining guests from out of town. However, reports suggest that employees who take the time to travel to new destinations had a greater chance of being promoted, given a raise or receiving a bonus in the future over those who stick close to home.

To come to that conclusion, experts determined that travel expanded a person’s horizons making them see the world differently. As such, when they return to work, they return with new ideas and potentially with more ideas related to the workplace.

Still, any time away from work is thought to be valuable, yet the benefits of a vacation or a staycation are only experienced if you follow the rules:

  • Resolve to be unreachable. Regardless if you go away or plan to stay in the area, make sure that your boss and or colleagues know that you will be out of reach for however long your vacation is expected to last.

  • Do not check your email.

  • Do not engage in ANYTHING that is work related.

  • Don’t use your vacation time to fulfill obligations to others if you can avoid it. Meaning don’t use that time to care for a sick friend or relative, or to help a friend move. Do something fun, if you can.


Time away from work results in a happier worker. Connecting the dots, happier workers often make more productive workers.

For more on vacation time, check back next week for Part 2.