The studies are in: You need to vacation more

Breaking the cycle of vacation deprivation

If you’re not reading this on vacation, you’re not alone. It turns out Americans are wasting paid time off left and right. According to the 2016 Expedia Vacation Deprivation Report, Americans as a whole left a whopping 375 million vacation days unused. We’re leaving PTO behind as we charge full steam ahead into the next fiscal year. We assume no one else can do our jobs and we don’t want to return to a mountain of work. But here’s the thing: We’re not doing ourselves any favors.

So why take a vacation? Harvard Business Review pointed out, in countries where people have (and take) more vacation time than in the U.S., employees report an increase in productivity, speed, and ability to focus.

Could it be that if you take a vacation and have less time to waste, you’ll actually get more done? Plus, dare we say, when you return from the beach with a glow and plenty of sleep, you’re reinvigorated.

Travel experiences over stuff

But wait, you say, “I’d rather save my money for a big-ticket item like a car.” Sounds like a two-for-one, right? You impress your boss by working more than anyone and can show up to the office in a shiny new ride. The Journal of Positive Psychology published a study in 2011 that should change your mind, however.

Viewfinder Tip: Worried about taking too much time at once? Take a Friday or Monday off to extend a weekend getaway.

In reality, people often choose a material good over a fun experience because of the perceived value. Also, spenders wind up realizing that buying something new only brings a fleeting sense of gratification, and an experience would have had greater long-term benefits.

In other words: sure, that new wrist watch looks great and will give you a boost for a week or so, but the glow will fade. If you spend your hard-earned cash on a vacation, the anticipation of the trip and storytelling afterward extend the good feelings for a long time. It’s simple, the reason why vacations are important is because they give you that extra oomph you’ve been lacking.

Another study, this one from Cornell University, confirms this as well. The researchers there collected data for a few decades about what really makes us happy. It turns out treating ourselves to new experiences is at the top of the list. And what better way to experience new things than by booking yourself a vacation?

Fixing your vacation deprivation

Even a short-term getaway can yield long-term benefits. A quick jaunt to Chicago or Myrtle Beach, and you’ll be telling people about the top of the Willis Tower or Broadway at the Beach for months. You could even just cruise over to the other side of town and book a hotel for a weekend romp. But whatever you do, forget about playing hooky!


Avoid hoarding your PTO like a kitten stuffing toy mice under the bed. The promise of using them later might be alluring, but you will be happier if you cash them in now. From your concentration to your physical well-being, taking time off from work pays dividends. It’s just science.

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This is the guest author of the Expedia Viewfinder blog. Here you’ll find travel tips, in-destination features, the latest on new products from Expedia and more – all from an eclectic group of travel industry insiders and influencers. Are you an avid traveler with something to share? If so, we’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in being a guest author send us an email at viewfinder@expedia.com and tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you’re interested in writing about. If we think there’s a good fit, we’ll reply back with more information. Thank you and safe travels!

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