Make Time to Travel

So being mid December and all, I figured I’d go with the tide and write something of a bit of a New Year’s resolution post. In actuality, I’ve never really been a fan of New Year’s, and especially resolutions. Encouraging start. Maybe from being a perpetual student and now working at a University, I have never quite let go of that idea that my new year starts in late August/early September. There always seemed something kind of strange to me in building up the dead middle of winter as the perfect time to start kicking things off. However, in the working world (espeically in finance), there is a silver lining to be had because with the New Year means for most, a new round of two weeks of vacation!

When I did live in my old cube farm, during the doldrums between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’d make my mental travel resolution bucket list. Full of bravado and empowered by my clean sheet of days off, I’d take trips to Cancun, and Florence, maybe swing by Alaska on the way home, and of course that road trip everyone said we were going to take across the Southwest. Then fast forward a year, my bucket list decidedly empty, I’d visited Long Island and Key West, oops.

According to a study by Mercer, a worldwide management consulting firm, the US ranks towards the bottom in average vacation days allotted per year. If you get two weeks plus the ten ‘national’ holidays off, that brings you up to 20, not bad, unless you scroll up to the Finland, Denmark, Sweden, France, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, South Africa and Japan’s of the world, then there might be a little something to be desired.

BUT, before we go blaming the so called ‘Wall Street Fat Cats’ for our cultural demolition of vacation, let’s cut to the real numbers shall we. Only 57% of Americans use all of their allotted vacation days.

And here come the excuses….

Those Corporate Bastards
As someone who in my past life as a corporate accountant would wrestle a crocodile to the death for vacation days, this is amazing to me. But, I get it, a lot of it is culture. I worked at an unnamed Hedge Fund in New York City, and the mere thought of asking my manager for days off would send me into a cold sweat. We were made to feel guilty and un-loyal at the thought of taking a day off. And when we did, you could still expect a call from the office asking something. But they were still MY days, I was entitled to them, I did have places to go and people to see!

Moths in the Wallet
Let’s face it, vacations can be expensive, or, if you actually take a second to use that glob banging around up there in your skull, they can be pretty reasonable, or shock, even cheap. Planning and creativity are not a lost art. I know this might be a common theme with me, but as a former reforming left brain-er, it’s really not that hard.

My Friends Suck
Little harsh, don’t you think? I read a quote once, and to steal it and paraphrase it, ‘traveling is like religion, some people are especially dedicated while others just don’t get it.’ We all have friends that don’t like to travel, and yea it really can suck sometimes, but not every experience has to be shared.

Here comes the resolution part…..
Let’s forget resolution and call it a challenge, I like challenges because I like to win, so let’s think of this as a test against ourselves. Take all your vacation days and use them, do whatever the hell you want, do not answer the phone, or check your work email, vacation unplugged. Then, take it a step further, pick one of those places you’ve always wanted to go, doesn’t have to be anywhere crazy, and if it is, even better, and plan a trip there in 2011. Work towards this, and it can be accomplished, take the first steps towards your travel freedom!

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