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Majority of Americans Say They “Desperately” Need a Vacation

By Roger Dow

Jan 25, 2021

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We dare to dream of California road trips and lazy days on San Diego's Terry Pine beach.

Photo by Janson George / Shutterstock

We dare to dream of California road trips and lazy days on San Diego's Terry Pine beach.

To mark National Plan for Vacation Day, give yourself permission to dream in 2021.

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Let’s make a plan.

Let’s plan to do things we didn’t all get to do last year. Let’s plan to travel, enjoy a change of pace and scenery, find new experiences around our great country, and reunite with family and friends.

National Plan for Vacation Day (NPVD) is January 26—the day set aside each year to encourage Americans to plan their hard-earned time off at the start of the year for the remainder of the year. It’s an intentional step to slow down, unplug from work for a bit, and carve out vacation time in your busy schedules. Studies show that planners have an advantage over nonplanners, using more days to travel on average per year—but 28 percent of American households still don’t take the time to plan their vacations.

NPVD has another meaning this year: It’s a day to give yourself permission to dream.

NPVD is joining forces with the Let’s Go There initiative—a broad movement to encourage Americans to plan, and even book, future vacations, or to simply keep their travel flame lit and think about where future getaways will take you. 

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I get it, some of you probably aren’t thinking about vacation right now. We are still very much in the middle of this very difficult pandemic and many are not yet ready or able to take a trip. But consider the challenges of the past year, and it won’t be too surprising that 63 percent of respondents to a recent survey said that they “desperately” need a vacation. So, the travel industry is encouraging Americans to do what is safe and productive: simply plan a vacation (or take things a step further and book one!).

See for yourself: Pick a destination, browse accommodations, bookmark an interesting restaurant and research the destination’s top sites. Then, pull out your calendar and block off some days. Come on—you can’t tell me that doesn’t bring a smile to your face.

No matter where you choose, you’re going to feel that spark of happiness start to burn.

Further, I cannot stress enough that a vacation doesn’t have to be a complicated or distant adventure. Plan an overnight trip to a nearby town you’ve always wanted to explore or a casual weekend getaway. No matter where you choose, you’re going to feel that spark of happiness start to burn. In fact, a staggering 97 percent of survey respondents said that simply having a trip planned—any kind of trip—makes them happier.

Survey data also shows that 84 percent of Americans are excited to plan a vacation in the next six months, indicating an impending surge in travel demand once conditions improve. Savvy vacation planners who are able to book trips now should seriously considering doing so. With many great travel offers to be had, and with many companies offering flexible booking policies, it would be wise to make some plans today—before demand picks up.

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Of course, whether you’re planning a trip for the near future or sometime later in the year, continue to adhere to experts’ health and safety guidance: Wear a mask, wash hands frequently, practice physical distancing when possible and stay home if feeling sick, and get a COVID vaccine as soon as it’s available to you.

Times are tough right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look forward to better days. Give yourself permission to feel the joy and excitement of making some concrete plans to use your time off to travel this yearand tell us where you’re dreaming of with the hashtag #PlanForVacation.

For more travel inspiration, check out Let’s Go There’s Look Book.

Roger Dow is president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. 

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