Editor’s Note: I wrote this article for The Huffington Post, where it first appeared on March 24, 2016. I wrote this in response to the shaming and guilt so many people suffer through when it comes to using their much earned vacation days. A “vacation” day doesn’t need to constitute a tropical trip around the world or a 3-week vacation, rather a vacation day can be used to spend a day with your kids at home, take a long weekend by the lake, or just have your own staycation. Vacations have been proven to have beneficial effects not only on the mental and physical health of the employee, but vacations improve morale and spirit in the office. It sounds like a win-win for both parties!
It seems absolutely bonkers to me that we are the country with the least amount of paid time off in the Western world. Citizens from the UK, Nordic Countries, and some South American countries flourish in the workplace AND they take their vacation, too. I think we can do it America, what do you say? Now go forth, my vacationers. You’re safe here!
“You’re taking another vacation?” “Didn’t you just go somewhere?” If you’ve ever been asked any of these questions or returned home from a holiday and been flippantly told, “must be nice,” then you have been a victim of Vacation Shaming, a horrible disease that is infiltrating the offices of America.
My fellow Americans, let’s put a stop to this preposterous act. We are one of the hardest working nations in the world, having even coined the phrase, “The American Dream” over the rewards from our hard earned labors. As the nation with the least amount of vacation days in the world, no wonder so many of us are victims of burn out. Where did our work/life balance go? America is the only nation that is not legally required to give employees any days off! Is that how you define the American dream?
In June of 2015 I chose to take a year away from The States to travel around the world. After traveling around the world for 9 months, I’ve met people from various countries taking time off doing the exact same thing as me. To foreigners, what I’m doing is accepted. To foreigners, taking a grown up gap year is encouraged. To Americans, it seems crazy. As I’ve discussed vacation time with people from around the world, I’ve found that while our dear America has one of the best work ethics, we have one of the weakest work/life balances.
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My wife and I are planning a 1/2 gap year this September and every time we tell people about it we get two reactions; Either they are super excited for us or they dont get why we would do such a thing and what about our jobs. We definitely get more of the latter reaction. I believe a trip like this will give us a new, fresh outlook on life and give us the restart we need. I love reading stories like yours. Helps me believe that we are doing the right thing and that everything will be alright.
We had a similar response from most people. Some would say “must be nice” like someone gave the trip to us. It takes dedication and work to achieve your dream. You’re making the right decision with taking this trip. Just ask yourself, in 25 years, will you want to say “I talked about taking an around the world trip” or “I traveled around the world when I was so old.” Best of luck with your travels. Let us know how they go!