When was the last time you took a real vacation? Is vacation even part of your vocabulary? Here, we explore the sorry state of vacation in U.S. society, and the impacts our persistent lack of away-time is having on our health, happiness, and professional effectiveness. Listen, and get inspired to make your next vacation a more gratifying, rewarding, delightful departure from the daily grind.

This week, on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Vacation — the benefits that regular breaks from work can have for our health, happiness, and sanity, and the reality that most of us aren’t getting nearly enough of them.

We look at statistics suggesting many U.S. adults aren’t getting any paid vacation time, and many more aren’t making full use of the vacation time they have.

We explore some of the reasons for that, as well the real costs to our health, wellbeing, and productivity.

We also consider some strategies for making the most of the vacations you do take, and for navigating around some common vacation mistakes.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you begin making space and time for more satisfying vacations in your own life.    

“Vacation” Episode Highlights

  • How our prevailing culture undervalues vacation (and leisure in general) — at our peril
  • Important facts and insights from the “Take Back Your Time” movement, supporting the benefits of vacation
  • How socioeconomic status and societal pressures prevent people from taking the vacations they need
  • How our consumption-centric priorities tend to work against our taking time off
  • The “let loose” and “see everything” effects that can cause you to come home from your vacation feeling anything but restored
  • The unanticipated challenges of unplugging from daily life, including unfamiliar time for reflection, and the potentially uncomfortable feelings that can result from leisure
  • Fear of being penalized for taking vacation, and counsel on getting around that
  • Finding the potential value in mixing vacation with certain kinds of focused projects or “work”
  • Pilar and Dallas talk about how they mix vacation and avocation
  • Leveraging your vacation as a change of pace from your daily life — whether slowing your rhythms or increasing novelty and variety
  • The balance of “letting loose” vs. sticking to a healthy routine while on vacation
  • The value of tuning in to your intuition when designing your vacation

Micro-experiment: Take a single day in the relatively near future, and schedule it as a vacation day (even if you have to take a “sick” day to do it). Plan this day the way you would an actual vacation — scheduling pleasurable experiences and destinations — and observe the thoughts and feelings that come up. Notice whether you have an appetite to create more space for vacation time in your life, and what kinds of activities would feel most gratifying.

Macro-experiment: Find a window in the next 12 months to take a full week (at minimum) off from work. Make that vacation or stay-cation a sacred commitment to yourself, and notice any pressures you feel to sacrifice that time, or any temptations you feel to fritter it away.

Focus on 3 to 5 words that describe the characteristics and qualities of your everyday life that you desire a reprieve from. In thinking about your next vacation, strive to design an experience of a contrasting pace and character, focusing on 3 to 5 words that describe your desired state.

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