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Did You Take All of Your Vacation This Year?

Image of vacation in nice location 2015

Only 44% of Americans take vacations in a given year. What’s wrong with the other 56%? Today’s post from The Retirement Manifesto will look at the topic of vacation. In particular, why folks don’t take them, and why they should. For a post on September, the typical “end of vacation” season and the day on which I returned from my “mega” vacation of the year, the topic seems applicable.

Twelve hours ago, I landed from Norway twenty hours after leaving my hotel. This morning, at 6:00 am, I’m sitting at my desk at work, writing this blog. Painful? Yes. Worth it?

You bet. A thousand times over.

Kayak Fjord

Without that pain, I wouldn’t have had the view looking down the beautiful Geirangerfjord from the seat of an ocean kayak, pictured above. Just looking at that picture brings back a flood of wonderful memories I’ve now created with my wife.

Without it, I would have missed this incredible sunrise on the coast of Norway 6 days ago:

Norway Sunrise landscape

Every morning, I woke before sunrise to insure I didn’t miss a single one. During our 8 day cruise, I knew I only had 8 “chances of a lifetime” to view a sunrise over a Norwegian landscape. For 8 straight days, I woke early. If given the opportunity, never miss a single chance to view a sunrise in a new and exotic land.

Make memories happen. Pursue them. Save for them. Book the trip. Live the dream!

But I, apparently, am in the minority.

According to a recent article from Money magazine, 56% of Americans haven’t taken a vacation in the past year. Half say it’s a “time” thing, half say it’s a “money” thing. Both arguments are, to me, weak excuses that lead to a life half lived.

Americans are notoriously weak at putting work aside and living life. My wife and I have intentionally chosen to live life differently. You can, too.

While many cite work pressures as an excuse to forgo their vacations, I’d argue that much of that work pressure is self-induced. For the majority, I seriously doubt if your decision to take your allotted vacation time will result in a demotion, or loss of your job. If it does, you shouldn’t be working there anyway. The pressure, instead, is a personal decision to let your perception of peer pressure be the driving force in how you live your life.

What a shame.

It’s the same for the 50% who cite money as a reason to not take a vacation. Even when I was a new employee, making $24k/year, I carved out enough savings every month to do something within our means. I remember a cabin we rented on an island in the middle of Lake Placid when my daughter was one year old. It was inexpensive (we drove), but the memories still linger today. I remember like yesterday that crystal clear water, and swinging with my daughter in the hammock by the water’s edge.

I try to always take my vacations, and I make it well known to my boss that I plan on doing exactly that. I encourage my employees to do the same. Sure, I check emails and return calls.

BUT:

I didn’t miss a single one of those eight Norwegian sunrises.

I didn’t miss watching my daughter surf on the North Coast of Hawaii after she graduated High School.

I didn’t miss the rocky Nova Scotia coastline on a 25th wedding anniversary trip with my wife.

I didn’t miss the Alaskan glaciers, and still recall the “calving” as a huge chunk of ice fell into the sea while we stood on the deck of a boat and watched.

I didn’t miss looking for the monster in Loch Ness.

In short, I didn’t miss any of those short 7-10 day opportunities to LIVE in a world otherwise consumed with meetings, negotiations, deadlines and reports.

If we work 52 weeks, but haven’t taken the time to enjoy a sunrise, have we really lived?

Stop making excuses.

Work a little less.

Live a little more.

Avoid a life of regret.

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