How To Take More Time Off To Travel, Let Me Count the Ways…

Everybody takes a vacation at least once in a while, but how come you can’t break away from work and life to travel more often?

Take More Time Off to Travel

I don’t have to remind you about the physical, emotional, and refreshing rewards of using your paid vacation days for travel. When you feel burned out at work, the desire to visit a relaxing or sunny place to unwind and recover is strong. Due to the nature of work-life balance (or imbalance, critically so in the United States), we often get into the habit of taking annual vacation without questioning the motives.

Before you free yourself from the burden of work and life to travel more, first stop to think about your reason for wanting to travel more often. What does taking more vacations mean to you?

> Does it rejuvenate you?
> Does it lead to happiness?
> Does it create everlasting memories?
> How does it enrich your soul?
> How does it let you spend time with those closest to you?
> Where in the world do you envision yourself visiting? 

What types of experiences can you only have by breaking away from the endless cycle of work and home life to travel?

This wake-up call is designed to convince you to treat travel as an equal player in your work-life balance. Instead of putting travel in a box that you open up only once or twice a year, make travel, enrichment, and adventure an essential part of your world.

Work-Life-Vacation Balance

Work-Life Balance Question Travel

Where does Travel fit into Work-Life Balance?

Everyone has heard of “work-life balance” but why are there only two categories? Is everything outside of “work” simply “life” and nothing more? Why blend home and family responsibilities with travel opportunities?

Finding ways to work less is one way to benefit from greater balance. However if leisure time is an essential element of your life, you must separate life and vacation to have the ultimate balance.

Let’s redefine vacation as something beyond your yearly paid vacation days and holidays. Vacation is a mindset. It is what you are doing when you are not working and not taking care of personal, home, and family responsibilities.

Vacation can involve travel near or far for just a few hours to a few days, weeks, or more. Vacation time is also leisure time spent with family and friends as well as personal time engaged in energetic and enriching activities. When you get to decide what to do with your free time, you are “on vacation.”

What is Travel, Vacation, Holiday, and Time Off Balance?

The meaning of travel goes beyond the typical week of paid vacation and certainly does not require you to drive long distances or fly to a distant land. Here are some examples of travel that can happen close to home and without taking any of your limited vacation days:

  • Spending a few hours at a local festival or market
  • Taking the train or bus to the nearest big city for sightseeing
  • Driving to a regional, state, or national park for a hike
  • Going on a mapped walking tour in your own home town
  • Taking art, cooking, music or even improv comedy classes
  • Booking a B&B for a relaxing weekend in the countryside
  • Getting together with friends for an unlikely excursion
  • Taking your whole family or just part of it to a place of amusement
  • Participating in a sports tournament or traveling to the away team
  • Using your skills to volunteer in your community to do good

The list can go on and on, but the point is to show you that the purpose of “vacation” goes beyond our cultural norms. Taking time off from work AND life means getting away from both types of tasks, demands, and responsibilities.

When you feel like you are on vacation, you are! Allow your mind and body to feel the benefits.

Balance Work and Life for Travel

Work-Life Balance ScalesStriving to achieve the dated notion of work-life balance leaves what I feel is the most exciting part – vacation! That is why I invented a new way to think about, measure, and optimize it. Let’s call it “Work-Life-Vacation Balance and put travel (or any form of vacation) on equal footing by separating it from traditional work/life balance goals.

Dictionary: Work-Life Balance for Travelers

Work-Life Balance (obsolete)

noun The amount of time dedicated to work as compared with the amount of time an individual is engaged in home, family, and life activities. Usually associated with reducing overwork to achieve a desired ratio.

verb Optimizing the time spent at work versus life in order to achieve an ideal fit based on the needs of work, family, and personal fulfillment.

Work-Life-Vacation Balance (aha!)

noun The amount of time spent at work versus life versus vacation (e.g. traveling); the measurement of the goal to free up time from work and life for travel.

verb Maximizing opportunities for leisure time by reducing the amount of time allocated to work and life so that travel wishes can be fulfilled.

Making Time for Travel

The studies about “vacation deprivation”, the lack of mandatory paid time off laws in the U.S., and the statistics that show that Americans take so few vacation days paint a grim picture. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Now you are ready to take the next step by embracing the concept of work-life-vacation balance. Make it a goal to not just balance work and life, but to treat vacation and travel time as equally (if not more) important to your total well-being.

Where Does Work, Life, and Travel Fit?

First stop and consider your own measure of work-life-travel balance. Here is a short list of where different activities fit into the equation.

Working Hours
Evening Activities
Commuting to Work
Long Lunch Breaks
Being On Call
Day Trips
Bringing Work Home
Holiday Events
Looking for a New Job
Hours of Enrichment
Thinking About Work
Weekend Getaways
Employment Training
City Breaks
Planned Vacations
Retirement Planning
Career Breaks
Business Trips
Chores & Errands
Once in a Lifetime Trips

Take More Time Off to TRAVEL road sign

Vacation Inspiration For Your Time Off

Here is a bit of inspiration for the endless ways in which you can “travel” during your vacation time off from work and life.

One Day
Week or More
Nature Hike
B&B Stay
Beach Holiday
Local Festival
World Travel
Museum Exhibit
Big City Exploration
Cruising Vacation
Walking Tour
Music Festival
Adventure Tour
Creative Classes
Spa Getaway
Scenic Drive
Family Reunion
Mountain Trekking
Wining and Dining
Adventure Sports
Bus and Train Travel
Charitable Causes
Historic Attractions
Living Abroad

Steps to Improve Your Vacation Balance

Are you ready to maximize your time off from work and from life to travel more? Here is your official project plan. Divide your time off from work and life into buckets based on size. Travel can take the forms of micro vacations, small trips, and major vacations.

Micro Vacations (a few hours to 1 full day of travel)

  1. Make a list of all the travel and enrichment activities that you find enjoyable.
  2. Collect all your individual ideas in a spreadsheet or EverNote for prioritizing and tracking.
  3. Research your micro vacations online so you can take notes so they are in the ready to go stage.
  4. Every time you find a few hours or an entire day free, pick an item from the list to go on a micro vacation.
  5. Add notes to your list since many micro vacations are repeatable (e.g. taking a different themed walking tour of a neighborhood).

Small/Weekend Vacations (2-4 day trips)

  1. Write down your goal for how many small trips you wish to take in the next 6 or 12 months.
  2. Create a separate document for every trip idea, organized into one or more folders for easy perusal.
  3. Block your calendar to hold the required number of vacation, weekend days, and holidays required of each trip.
  4. Starting planning the next 2 trips right now and always have at least 2 future small vacations in the planning stages at all times.
  5. Ensure that you use and never lose a paid vacation day at work by taking more long weekend trips.

Major Vacations (1 week or more)

  1. Verify how many paid vacation days you can take during the calendar year.
  2. Track how many days you have used and have left in a live document.
  3. Look ahead 3-6+ months in your calendar to schedule available vacation weeks.
  4. Get your travel time approved by your manager or HR representative as needed.
  5. Maintain a bucket list of all the destinations you wish to visit someday along with once-in-a-lifetime world travel opportunities.
  6. Continue to research and plan your future trips, regardless of whether you can take them this year or in future years.
  7. Make it a habit to read travel guidebooks and magazines, learn languages, study history, follow part-time travel bloggers, and prepare for future travel opportunities.

Take A Stand For Work-Life-Vacation Balance

Work-Life-Vacation BalanceAre you ready to join the movement to make vacation time part of your work-life balance? Sign up for the newsletter to learn the best ways to take more time off to travel.

VacationCounts is on Facebook and VacationCounts is on Google+  (Twitter too!) so you can join the community and participate in the discussion.

Whatever your age, relationship, family situation, or career stage, Work-Life-Vacation Balance is the pathway to happy, productive, and vacation-full living. Make the commitment to travel more this year and every year.

Further Reading on Work-Life Balance for Travel

Use the comments box below to share your own time-off and work-life balance challenges today. Do you consider time off from work to be an opportunity to travel? Do you take all your vacation days each year? What are your goals for work-life-vacation balance and how do you plan to achieve them? Let us know!

  • Love this post – it’s so important to make the most of every day of annual leave by planning what you’ll do on a weekly and monthly basis. Too many of us live to work and miss out on so many opportunities to live a deeper and fulfilled life. Life passes fast and you have to grab onto it!

    • I’m so glad that for appreciated this post. Life is full of so many opportunities for fun and enriching activities. I strongly believe that by embracing time off, planning ahead, and taking more vacations, we can all be happier and healthier in both life and work. Thanks for commenting!

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