If you are reluctant to take your vacation time during the pandemic, you aren’t alone.  Many people are nervous about traveling – and in some cases, travel options may be limited. For many, a vacation just isn’t a vacation without travel.  According to a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. office workers conducted by staffing firm Robert Half, 28% anticipate taking fewer days off in the summer months compared to last year, because of COVID-19, and 37% will save their vacation time for later in the year, hopefully to travel. See more about the study at the link or at the infographic below.

Why you should take vacation time even if you can’t travel

During the pandemic, self-care is especially important to your overall mental health and general wellbeing. Even if you are working from home, you can experience stress and burnout if you don’t keep a healthy work-life balance. Breaking the work cycle to relax, replenish, and reset is an important part of that self-care. Plus, many organizations have a “use it or lose it” policy – you don’t want to leave vacation days on the table. See these perspectives on the importance of taking vacations.

  • Traveling may not be safe, but leaving vacation days behind isn’t healthy, either“Millennials equate vacation with travel. But during the pandemic, experts say it’s important to take time off even if you aren’t going anywhere.”
  • Thinking of Skipping Vacation? Don’t!“Several studies indicate that performance nose-dives when we work for extended periods without a break. In addition, the benefits of taking a vacation are clear: It results in improved productivity, lower stress and better overall mental health. It also spurs greater creativity — for example, Lin-Manuel Miranda conceived of Hamilton while on vacation.” Read more for guidelines to help you reap the benefits of vacation, wherever you go.

Self-care might include detaching and pampering yourself with home spas, sleeping late, catching up on your reading or movie lists, ordering a fancy dinner or two by delivery service, or visiting with family or friends in small, intimate, socially distant outdoor visits. Outdoor activities are great – biking, hiking, gardening, birdwatching, kayaking or canoeing, and even scenic drives. Research and explore biking and hiking trails and public gardens in your area — or if you are in an urban area, explore new neighborhoods on foot.

Other ideas: Learn something – take a course or learn a new language for your next dream trip; improve your work skills to work for a promotion – your EAP has thousands of free online courses for your personal and professional development; take up a new hobby or a relaxing activity like meditation, yoga, or knitting; renovate your home or garden;  travel virtually online – visit faraway places, museums, zoos, aquariums; and volunteer with a charity or a church group.

Whatever you choose to do, keep safety first and foremost in your planning. Here are some tips we’ve posted about Staying safe and healthy while enjoying a coronavirus summer.

Here are more ideas for enjoying vacation days:

Even in non-pandemic times, US employees often don’t use all vacation time earned, which is a shame. See our prior blog posts on the topic:

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