It comes to no surprise to me that Americans are leading the way with the fewest days of mandated time off. Unlike every other developed nation in the world, the U.S. has no mandated number of days off for employees. About one-fourth of American workers get no paid vacation at all. Those whose employers offer it receives an average of about 10 days a year, and 54% of American workers didn’t even use the days off they earned, according to Project Time Off. Unlike places like Austria, France or the United Kingdom that earn up to 28 mandated days off which is not including public holidays which can add another 10 to 13 days off.
So what is going on here? Why do we take fewer vacations? Is it our workaholic mentality? Is it because most people are coming out of college with so much debt, working jobs that barely cover their living expenses and put food on the table? Is it because for some reason we are made to feel like traveling is a luxury? Is it because it is a choice for employers to give their employees time off, making it more of a “bonus?”
Whatever the reason is, I do believe this needs to change for everyone’s sake. Traveling should not just be for the people who can afford it or have the luxury to take time off. It should and can be reachable for everyone. It is essential for our core as human beings to learn about new cultures, understand different ways of living and religions, and educate ourselves about the world around us. Not only for these reasons but it has been scientifically proven that it has benefits on our mental and physical health. Here are a few reasons as a culture we should be taking travel a bit more seriously.
It has been found that travel is beneficial for your mental well being. It is essential that we have time to reset our minds, put down our electronics and check out for a while. All the research has shown that those who don’t take time off are more prone to getting sick, feeling depressed and are less productive. There is a sentiment that is rampant in American culture that we “can’t leave work” for one reason or another. But the reality is that shit is not going to fall apart if you check out of work for a bit, put your phone down, and give yourself a much needed mental break. Not only will you feel better, but you will feel more energized for life and that work we all believe is so important.
Lowers your Risk of Heart Attacks
A nine-year study found that men who did not take a vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack. Those who regularly took time off were 21 percent less likely to die of such an attack. The reason they believe is that, those who did take time off are typically more active instead of sitting in an office chair all day. There is also the fact that when we lower our stress the body is able to recover more readily and heal itself from the various ailments and things that happen to us all.
Lowers Your Chances of Depression
As humans we went from being nomadic, moving all over the world, to sitting in one place most of our life. A study has shown those who vacation once in about 2 years are twice as likely to suffer from depression than those who vacation at least 2 times a year. Vacation does not mean having to go abroad either, it can be taking a long weekend and driving somewhere or flying domestically. Either way it is important to make time for it.
Transformational Experiences Are Worth Investing In Over Material Wealth
We don’t need science or even this blog to tell us this fact: travel enriches our lives more than any material thing. Science has shown that when we invest in memories, growth, and transformation that it stays with us and produces a better outcome than material things ever could. Yes it is important to have all of our basic needs met, food on the table, a roof over our heads and a job to pay the bills, but are we willing to give up some of the other luxuries to invest in ourselves? When we do this not only are we choosing to create a life that will help us be healthier physically, mentally and spiritually, but we are also helping create a world where we are more tolerant, caring and open to each other. Travel is far more important than most of us even realize and as a culture we should be investing it in a lot more. So next time you think you can’t step away for that “vacation,” try and remember it’s not just a vacation, it is so much more.