Can't remember your last vacation? You're not alone

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Americans Take Even Fewer Vacation Days Than You Think


If you have trouble recalling that sand-in-your-toes feeling of a long vacation; you're not the only one. New data shows that a whopping 56 percent of Americans haven't taken a real vacation (one week away from the office) in the last 12 months. What's worse? That's up from 52 percent in 2012. It's not that we don't need a week away from the grind, it's that we just aren't clocking out. But why?

Floating in the Tobago Cays

(Photo credit: Jason Pratt/Flickr)

You're a Special Snowflake

We all like to be told we're the best at our jobs, but when you ask someone to cover you for a week, aren't you secretly hoping your boss sings back to you "Nobody Does it Better" when you return? Don't let a fear that you can be so easily replaced keep you chained to your desk. You can be the best at your job and be awesome at taking a break. What's more, the idea that "work martyring" leads to raises and promotions is a myth to a large extent. Recent studies show that the ones who take vacations (and come back to work happy) are the ones who also get promoted!

You Think You Can't Afford It

Even though we're told the recession ended years ago, there's still a widespread feeling that "it's not over yet." For one thing, real wages are still down relative to before the recession.

According to a Gallup poll from this past May, Americans are still holding onto their dollars, and vacations can be viewed as the ultimate luxury spend. Do we need to go back to the days of piggy banks to put away dollars for a week on island in the sun? Try socking away a few clams every paycheck into a special "vacation fund" savings account. A few months or a year later, you can take that break without racking up major debt.

If you're an hourly contractor, or don't get any paid time off, the expense is even more — loss of wages for the week plus spending more money to lounge around on a hammock somewhere exotic. That can feel like just too much strain on the budget.

A cheap solution might just be in the form of the staycation. Sleep at home and explore your city during the day like a tourist. Just don't check that work email when you get back each night! Here are some quick tips on making your staycation a real relaxing one.

The Fact is, You Need a Vacation

Your mental health is one of the biggest reasons why you need a solid week away from the cube farm. Research completed by Project Time Off (a study group formed by the U.S. Travel Association) shows that managers like it if you're happy — and a great way to get happy is to take some time off for yourself. Show them that grin when you get back.

One of the best ways to get your body and mind healthy is with some time off. The chronic stress of the 9-to-5 world is hard on not only your brain but also your heart, muscles, and joints. That stiff neck and high blood pressure you get from late nights huddled over your keyboard? Get rid of it all with some horizontal time on a beach towel. Plus, during your week off you can get some perspective, broaden those horizons, and maybe even bond with the family. If you can't remember what those folks look like, it's definitely time to schedule some R&R.

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