9 Steps to Maximize the Benefits of Your Vacation

Work demands and lack of time and money keep many people from vacationing. Americans are taking less vacation than ever before which truly benefits no one. Furthermore, those who do take vacation are notorious for taking a “work-vacation”.

Whether you travel or stay home for your “work-vacation” is irrelevant, as the problem lies in the fact that you’re still working. That is not a vacation. By definition a vacation is a period of recreation where ones time is spent away from school and work, especially time spent away from home or in travel.

Utilize these 9 tips to increase and prolong the benefits of vacation…

Take the vacation

Although experts report that taking vacation is good for the employee and employer, many workers feel that they have too much work to do and furthermore fear how others, particularly managers & supervisors, will perceive the fact they’re taking time off. They worry about job security.

The U.S. and Canada get minimal paid vacation days and work many more hours compared to the citizens in other countries. In Europe, and particularly in numerous latin countries, including Spain, it’s not unusual to be done with work by mid-day or to take a 3-4 long hour siesta (break from work) after lunch before resuming work.

Sweden has switched to the 6-hour work day in order to increase productivity and create happier workers. They implemented this new trend years ago and it’s increasing in popularity. A 4-day work week has become the rule, rather than the exception, in the Netherlands.

With respect to vacation time, Americans average a mere 10 days of paid vacation compared to the 20-30 days that Europeans get. Furthermore, America’s one of the few countries that does not mandate, by law, any number of vacation days for its employees. Considering this disparity, Americans would be wise to not only take their vacation days, but to learn to maximize them!

Ditch the “work vacation”

A work-vacation is an oxymoron. If you want to work away from the office be sure to call that “working from home”. There is no “work” in a vacation. Do everyone a favor and utilize your vacation days engaged in the 3 R’s: recreation and rest = rejuvenation.

Don’t check email & maximize auto-responders

To fully reap the benefits of vacationing, do not engage in work activities, no matter how tempting—especially, no checking emails! Your brain finds it nearly impossible to jump back in forth from work to vacation mode and you’ll end up being ineffective in both.

If you have to “check in” implement ground rules and timeframes that will allow you to maximize your time off. Preferably, utilize an email auto-responder and then allow it to do the work.

Extend your “out of office” email autoresponder 1-2 days beyond your return to allow for a slower integration. This will avoid plunging yourself right back into the abyss of busyness and overwhelm that you needed deliverance from in the first place. Returning to your typical heavy workload demands coupled with the backlog of work created by your absence if one sure fire way to diminish the benefits of your vacation quickly. Don’t fall prey—it’s not worth it!


It’s important to actually go somewhere if at all possible. You can merely drive to a desired location just 20 minutes to a couple of hours from your home. Rent a cabin or go camping—anything that gets you into a new environment and away from your daily routine and distractions.

Be Active

Don’t just lay around—be active. It’s important to move your body and get out of your habitual routine. Engage in recreational activities that are fun and inspiring. A Canadian study revealed that active leisure pursuits (like golf or even travel) produce greater benefits such as reducing stress, depression, etc. than passive ones.

Engage in new & different activities

In order to decompress fully, your vacation needs to look quite different than your daily life. Besides abstaining from work, make sure the majority of your activities are different than those of your daily life.

Stay within budget

A vacation doesn’t need to be expensive to offer benefits. In fact, a vacation who’s price tag creates uneasiness should be abandoned. The point of a vacation is to take a break from overload and stress. Do not create further distress by traveling beyond your means. Of course stretching your budget on an occasion or two may be worth it, but don’t make this a habit.

Planning a few super affordable vacations may allow you to vacation with more frequency which overall will create the most benefit. Consistency is the key to maximizing ones efforts in many pursuits and that motto holds true here too.

Honor Relationships

When you travel as a couple, you may feel the urge to discuss relationship issues. If it’s at all possible—save it! If you’re set on discussing an issue or you unexpectedly find yourself staring it straight in the face—it’s okay to work with it— within constraints. Utilizing this opportunity can be wise if done with awareness that a vacation is meant to be free of daily pressure and issues.

Work consciously to evolve the topic at hand as compassionately and swiftly as possible. If more time is necessary, it’s most effective to schedule out a time (on the spot) to find completion. Do not let the issue sabotage your vacation and its many benefits.

The temptation to vision or problem-solve

Taking a few dedicated minutes to ponder, discuss, or do visioning exercises around a current priority, problem, or goal while on vacation can prove quite effective. To assure it doesn’t undermine your vacation, it’s recommended that it be the only work-like activities that you engage in—and that it’s scheduled within a limited timeframe.

Take heed here as it’s too easy to find yourself enmeshed in “work-mode” activity before you know it. We’re wired that way. Do not be deceived here. Set contraints before you start—and keep to them. Schedule out any further sessions needed. Also be clear with your travel companions with respect to integrating such practices into your vacation.

Clarity can arise from merely setting an intention, so strongly consider taking the effortless approach of pure vacation and allow the passive benefits to emerge.

All this goodness starts with the first step mentioned above: take the vacation!! So, get to planning and know that maximizing your vacation is a profound way to maximize you—and all your future efforts!


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