We need to talk. It’s a little awkward, and we never thought we’d have to say this, but: You need to start taking more vacations. Seriously. There’s an epidemic going on—a culture of “vacation shaming”—a culture where 46% of young women believe it is a good thing for their boss to see them as a work martyr and a culture where 54% of Americans left unused vacation time on the table last year.
We get it. As Tara Cappel, owner of For the Love of Travel—a group trip company for millennials, young professionals, creatives, and entrepreneurs—says, “There is a lot of pressure in the U.S. workplace to work hard, and that is often translated as working more hours. In places like New York, working 60-hour weeks and never taking your vacation is almost like a badge of honor, which is so backward. Ultimately, we’ve developed a culture of workaholism that makes people feel guilty for taking time off.”
It may be even trickier for women. “I think it’s more difficult for women to just pick up and travel because we are more hesitant to go solo. Luckily, wellness is becoming the new face of luxury, and since taking time to reset is such an important part of wellness, I think we will see more and more Americans prioritizing taking their vacation,” Cappel says.
If you’re looking for more motivation to set up your out-of-office email, read on for three reasons you need to use your hard-earned vacation days.
1. Taking Time Off Has Proven Health Benefits
How’s this for a sobering study: According to information gathered from the Framingham Heart Study, a landmark study that spanned over the course of 20 years, women who vacationed only every six years or less were nearly eight times more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack compared to women who traveled at least twice a year.
And while this may sound a bit obvious, travel is a known stress-reliever. Expedia’s 2012 study found that 89% of travelers could let go of stress after only a day or two of their trip.
2. Looking forward to vacation boosts mental health.
Studies show that the anticipation of having a holiday to look forward to boosts well-being, and Cappel agrees. “Having something to look forward to makes you happier and more resilient despite whatever is going on in your day-to-day.” Work stresses just seem smaller when you’re daydreaming about oceanside margaritas, right?
3. Travel pushes you out of your comfort zone and opens up your mind.
“Big or small, just getting out of your comfort zone is beneficial in so many ways,” Cappel says. Studies agree. As The Atlantic reported, “Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit, meaning they’re also sensitive to change: New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”
If taking the plunge solo seems daunting, consider a group getaway. “Once you’re comfortable with the idea of travel, I think joining a group trip is a great way to travel. It allows you to explore individually but with a built-in social experience and safety net,” Cappel says. Plus, you might even meet your next roommate or love interest—both of which have happened on past For the Love of Travel trips, Cappel says.
Have you experienced any of the health benefits of travel firsthand? Let us know about your experience in our Facebook group.