The U.S. is one of the most overworked developed nations in the world.
Of the 38 countries that comprise the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the U.S. is the only country without statutory minimum days of annual leave from work and no mandated parental leave, according to Zippia.com.
Also, the average American worker works 1,791 hours per year, compared to the OECD average of 1,715.8.
If you find yourself overworked, stressed, or burnt out, it may be time for a vacation. But the last thing you want is to go on a vacation and not be able to enjoy it because you’re still thinking about work.
So if you want to ensure you really enjoy your next vacation, follow these tips:
- Plan many smaller vacations over one big one
Planning one big vacation can be overwhelming in and of itself. And you may find that a long vacation is too long and end up bored.
To avoid this, try planning several smaller vacations throughout the year instead. This can help break up your work year and provide needed time to recharge. Many smaller vacations are better than one big one.
- Look ahead with anticipation
Believe it or not, half the enjoyment of a vacation comes from the anticipation leading up to it. That’s because your body and mind are filled with positive emotions from the thought of where you’ll be and what you’ll do when vacation time rolls around. So look ahead with anticipation.
- Set realistic expectations
While anticipation is important, setting realistic expectations for your vacation is also important. Unrealistic expectations inevitably lead to disappointment.
This means being flexible about your vacation schedule. Don’t overbook yourself with things to see. Leave yourself plenty of wiggle room and downtime to be spontaneous.
Create a loose itinerary that distinguishes between must-see and nice-to-see places. Then each morning while you’re on vacation, you can decide what to tackle that day.
- Use vacation to start new healthy habits
Instead of using your vacation as an excuse to do nothing, why not use it to start a new healthy habit? You could take up yoga, cooking, meditation, physical exercise, or another wellness practice. These can not only benefit your body while you’re on vacation but they can turn into long-term habits that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
- Choose experiences over things
While there may be many physical things you like to buy, experiences bring longer-term satisfaction. They can turn into cherished memories that last forever for you and your family.
So try going on a challenging hike, driving to a remote town, or jumping into a unique body of water. Do something memorable and novel that you’ll remember for years to come.
That said, be safe. Creating memories doesn’t require being reckless or getting hurt. If you drive somewhere, follow traffic laws and drive defensively.
Of course, some accidents are unavoidable. If you end up in one, consult a reputable car accident attorney. They can help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure you get the compensation you deserve, so you don’t make a bad situation worse.
Truly enjoying your vacation requires unplugging from the internet. Even if you don’t go offline for the entire vacation, set aside time to be without your phone, social media, and work. Set up an out-of-office notice so people know not to contact you.
If you’re constantly thinking about and stressing over work, it’s hard to be fully present in the moment. So clear your mind and remember to keep your work-life balance in check.
The bottom line
Ultimately, the key to enjoying your vacation is to be intentional about taking a break from work. Relax. Work will still be there when you get back. This is the time to disconnect and spend quality time alone or with those you love.