According to advocacy group Project: Time Off, more than half of American workers leave unused vacation days on their company’s board room table. Meanwhile, the research shows that by planning ahead, more families will actually take much-need vacations and thus reap a multitude of personal and professional benefits.
Here are five ideas to consider:
Make planning a priority.
Whether you begin by tossing up a tent in the backyard or strategizing to experience a safari in Africa, there is no time like the present to begin planning a family vacation. As children and grandchildren get older, their schedules become more complicated by their own commitments making it more difficult than ever to plan time together. With dates on the calendar, you’ll feel less stress at work, knowing you’ve provided the boss and coworkers with plenty of notice about your plans.
According to Project: Time Off , 75 percent of those who plan ahead were more likely to take a full week or more of vacation in a single stretch. By crafting a strategy in advance you’ll have your pick of departures, the best cabins on a cruise ship and more options in popular resort areas. While you are at it, scan the year ahead and be the first to claim vacation days around existing holidays and school breaks, creating a longer stretch for relaxation and enjoyment. Knowing good times are on the horizon, you’ll have the added benefit of anticipating the getaway.
Taking time to create a thoughtful bucket list can make it easier to plan for meaningful vacations, those that are a deliberate reflection of your values, hopes and dreams. So before you begin listing desired destinations, ask yourself what aspects of the world - geographically, spiritually and culturally - you want to share with your children, grandchildren and perhaps other friends and family members. As your ideas take shape, know your list will evolve over the years. Therefore, think about which destinations you hope to visit while your children are in the nest and which might best be saved for later. And, when it comes time to involve the children in creating the bucket list, remember that kids don’t know what they don’t know. Certain theme parks and resorts will likely be on their radar screens. But they may not be aware of the glories of Yellowstone or Yosemite or the historical significance of Gettysburg or Montpelier.
Celebrate milestone events.
Geographic spread, busy careers and school and sports schedules make it more difficult than ever to spend time together. Therefore, planning ahead to celebrate birthdays, graduations and anniversaries can be an important touchstone and meaningful part of a family’s legacy. With plenty of advance notice, you’ll increase the odds that more family members will be able to take part in the fun. Ask your clan to save a date and then get to work creating a gathering that will be a lasting memory for all.
Reap the benefits.
In-depth research indicates that Americans who take time to plan their vacation time in the year ahead are happier than their come-what-may counterparts. Planners are happier with their health and well-being, their financial picture, their personal relationships and even their overall mood, according to the research. Further, an overwhelming majority of American workers report that time off helps them relax and recharge, and offers the opportunity to pursue personal interests Nearly two-thirds of employees say their concentration and productivity at work improves with time off. Business leaders echo this sentiment. Of those surveyed, 91 percent believe employees return from vacation recharged and renewed—and ready to work more effectively.
Ready to make a plan? Find out how we can help or check in with our FamilyTravel.com Vacation Planner!
Take advantage of National Plan For Vacation Day. For more information: www.ProjectTimeOff.
It’s easy to allow financial stress, busy schedules and a hectic lifestyle to get in the way of putting dates on the calendar.
Here are seven reasons to flag a family vacation as a top priority:
No one is getting any younger.
Not you, the grandparents, or your children. Family life is hectic and it can be difficult to carve out time to even plan a vacation, let alone takeone. Yet, before you know it, the kids will be otherwise engaged with school or team responsibilities, summer jobs and college internships. That means the opportunities to get away as a family will diminish even further. So, get planning!
It’s only money.
Sure, budgets are tight. We’re all trying to save more. But a hefty bank account is no substitute for a memory bank brimming with great visuals of your kids running on the beach, hiking in the mountains or climbing in the saddle for the first time. Allocate the dollars you can. Then be on the lookout for deals, promotions or creative low-cost options.
Keep it in the family.
Those busy work and school schedules often mean we seldom see family members about whom we care deeply. Add the geographic spread that is common in most clans and get togethers can be rare. Make this the summer you reconnect with grandparents, that favorite uncle or your long lost cousins. Share stories. Trade photos. Extend the limbs on your family tree.
A visit to a national, state or regional park can provide a bonanza of historical and natural insight and experience. Take to the trails, the streams or the hillside and enjoy nature’s bounty. Camping along the way provides a low cost opportunity to learn outdoor skills and tell tales around the camp fire.
Make it a photo opp.
We tend to remember those moments and events that we capture on film or on a digital memory card. Be deliberate about gathering the kids, friends and relatives together to snap a photo or a few moments of video. Be sure to capture those candid moments too. Then, share and enjoy!
Write it down.
Whether you keep a journal or notes with your photos, scribble a few sentences about your planning process and the trips you take. In time, memory seems to fade the details like dialogue, what people wore, jokes and stories told or memories shared. Save the individual strands of the experience. You’ll be glad you did.
Make a plan together.
Gather your family and get their input on your travel plans. Seek volunteers for researching possible destinations or low cost opportunities. Consider house trades, villa rentals, last minute getaways or just a weekend in a neighboring city. When the time comes, share packing and last minute detail responsibilities. In the end, it is the shared experience that creates the lasting memories and strengthens the bond.
A little rain..... A cancelled flight...... Lost luggage.
In our family, when things don’t go according to “plan”, we say, “it will make for a better story later”.
Still, sometimes we welcome a little inspiration.
A gentle reminder of why we travel and how fortunate we are to see so much of the world.
These travel quotes, old and new, provide all that and more:
1. “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” - Lao Tzu
2. “He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” - Moorish proverb
3. "Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled." — Mohammed
4."Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller
5.“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot
6.“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux
7. “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson
8.“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener
9.“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
10.“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
11.“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe” - Anatole France
12. “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca
13. “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon
14. “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling
15. “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton
16. It is not down in any map; true places never are. - Herman Melville
17. To get away from one's working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one's self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change. - Charles Horton Cooley
18.“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” – G.K. Chesterton
19. “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
20. “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
21. “Experience, travel - these are as education in themselves” - Euripides
22. “We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” - John Hope Franklin
23. “You lose sight of things... and when you travel, everything balances out.” - Daranna Gidel
24. “I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro
25. “Make voyages! Attempt them... there's nothing else.” – Tennesee Williams
26.“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” -Francis Bacon, Sr.
27. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
28. “My travels led me to where I am today. Sometimes these steps have felt painful, difficult, but led me to greater happiness and opportunities.” – Diana Ross
29. “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc
30. “Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking” – Antonio Machado
31. “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin
32. “Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it.” – Eudora Welty
33. “I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc
34. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
― Albert Einstein
35. “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
36. “Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” – Lawrence Durrell
37. “Travel can also be the spirit of adventure somewhat tamed, for those who desire to do something they are a bit afraid of.” – Ella Maillart
38. You may not find a path, but you will find a way. -- Tom Wolfe
39. "Travel penetrates your consciousness, but not in a rational way." -- Milton Glaser
40. “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
41. "Traveling is almost like talking with men of other centuries." -- René Descartes
42. "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." -- Henry Miller
43. "Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings." -- Hodding Carter
44. "We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." -- Jawaharal Nehru
45. All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
46. "The journey is my home." — Muriel Rukeyser
47. "To travel is to possess the world." – Burton Holmes
48. “Keep things on your trip in perspective, and you'll be amazed at the perspective you gain on things back home while you're away...One's little world is put into perspective by the bigger world out there.” – Gail Rubin Bereny
49. “One of the gladdest moments of human life, me thinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of routine, the cloak of many cares and the slavery of home, man feels once more happy.” – Sir Richard Burton
50. “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Scott Cameron
51. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
52. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Do you have a favorite inspirational travel quote?
Photo: Copyright Lynn O'Rourke Hayes. The Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii.