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Burned Out? The Simple Act of Planning for Vacation Can Boost Your Spirits

By Roger Dow

Jan 25, 2022

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The next time someone says, “I'll set up a Zoom,” picture a hike in Arizona instead.

Photo by JCA Imags/Shutterstock

The next time someone says, “I'll set up a Zoom,” picture a hike in Arizona instead.

Think of National Plan for Vacation Day as an antidote to stress and anxiety.

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Burned out? You’re not the only one.

The trend is pervasive across the American workforce. Google searches on how to cure burnout reportedly rose 5,000 percent in the past year. Some major U.S. companies such as LinkedIn and Hootsuite briefly halted operations in 2021 to help workers deal with burnout. Countless websites have advice on how to help readers manage their work-related stress.

There is a way to help alleviate this crushing exhaustion: Plan a vacation.

Make a plan to take a break

National Plan for Vacation Day (NPVD), the annual moment on the calendar that invites Americans to plan their time off for the year at the start of the year, takes place today, January 25. This year, NPVD is shining a light on the extreme levels of burnout troubling U.S. workers and how vacation planning can help lift a weary outlook.

NPVD is an intentional step to slow down, unplug, and carve out vacation time in our busy schedules. More than two-thirds of American workers feel at least moderately burned out, and 60 percent of remote workers find it more difficult to unplug from work.

PTO is a top employee benefit

This data is troubling when one considers that the ability to take a vacation is a major factor in Americans’ job satisfaction—and could be the difference between a happy employee and another burned-out member of the Great Resignation.

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A survey from Destination Analysts, a tourism market research firm, shows that paid time off is the second most important employee benefit an employer could offer after health insurance benefits. Of workers who changed jobs or industries in the past year, having paid time off was important to 77 percent—emphasizing the importance of the ability to take time off. Additionally, nearly 70 percent of full-time employees agree that their ability to take vacations is an important factor in keeping them in the workforce.

Further, new data from Destination Analysts affirms that more than three-quarters of American travelers are in a “ready to travel” state of mind, eager to plan a trip and excited to plan a vacation in the next six months.

Barriers to taking a vacation and stemming the burnout

So, what’s stopping us from jumping on a plane and chasing away the burnout blues?

First, health concerns continue to be a top barrier to travel, although Omicron has begun to recede in parts of the United States. Other work-related barriers—such as heavy workloads and staffing shortages—are also some of the top reasons preventing Americans from using their time off. 

We are seeing it across every sector of the workforce. The stressors of balancing work and life have felt like a crushing weight on so many Americans. We are working harder than ever, and many frontline workers haven’t had a break in almost two years. While I wish it were different, the reality is that not everyone has the means or ability to take a vacation at the moment.

Planning makes us happier

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But there is something we can all do right now to battle burnout: Plan for a vacation. Make a plan for a change of scenery, to reconnect with family and friends, and to prioritize your health and well-being.

Research shows that the simple act of planning a trip can help to alleviate some of the burnout. Nearly three-quarters of planners reported being extremely or very happy anticipating and planning vacations for the coming year versus just four in 10 of non-planners.

At my organization, the U.S. Travel Association, I continue to encourage all of my colleagues to use their hard-earned time off. Nothing makes me happier than seeing an “Out of Office” message and knowing they are taking time to recharge and connect with family or friends.

Though challenges persist, let’s take an intentional step on NPVD and make time to plan for better days. The past two years have been extraordinarily challenging—let’s make a plan to give ourselves a break and encourage our teams to do the same.

Join the U.S. travel industry on January 25 and plan your time off for the year—and don’t forget to share your plans with the hashtag #PlanForVacation.

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

>> Next: Where to Go in 2022

>> For more inspiration: 40 Socially Distanced Trip Ideas

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