America—You Need A Vacation

Resolutions2 (pic)As I wrote about last year, I find it a lot easier to come up with resolutions for other people than for myself.  Last year, I had a few resolutions for employers.  I’m not sure they were all kept – I’m still waiting for my treadmill desk – so this year I thought I’d change course and focus on a few resolutions for employees.

American employees receive much less vacation time than workers in other advanced economies.  In a recent study comparing the US with 16 other European countries as well as Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, the US was the only country that didn’t require any paid vacation time. France led the way with 30 mandated paid vacation days, while most other countries required at least 20. 

But what’s worse, even when American employees do get paid vacation time, we don’t use it all!  In 2013, stressed-out American workers were entitled to an average of 14 paid vacation days, but used only 10 of them.

So here’s a resolution for workers in 2014: use those vacation days! You earned them.  And in case you’re in need of ideas, here are a few ideas on how to spend them.

5. Learn a little about labor history.  Visit the famous Labor History Mural right here at Augusta’s Maine State Museum Or travel a little farther afield and take a labor history tour in Chicago, where you’ll visit the scene of the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886.

4. Take a “volunteer vacation.” Volunteer your time to help fellow workers in need.  Make a difference during your vacation, whether it’s helping build affordable housing right in your neighborhood through Habitat for Humanity, or teaching English in Tanzania through Global Volunteers.

3. Be daring. For the most adventurous vacationer, rock climbing or skydiving just aren’t thrilling enough. Daring vacationers can now climb into something called the “Cage of Death,” an underwater tank in Australia that lets you confront giant saltwater crocodiles. Or bike “Death Road,” an extreme rocky route through the Bolivian jungle.  Or take a trip into suborbital space with Space Adventures, where you can take leave of earth and experience zero-gravity.

2. Take a staycation. Sometimes the best vacation involves no travel at all. Stay in your pj’s all day, curl up with a good book, catch up on episodes of Mad Men and Breaking Bad, watch your favorite movie for the 50th time, or just take a good long nap in the middle of the day.

1. Go “super luxury,” not just luxury. For the most discriminating traveler, resorts in Thailand now offer super-luxury getaways. A stay at Soneva Kiri, on a remote island off Thailand, offers private airplane service, gourmet food, a superlux spa and outdoor cinema, and – my personal favorite – always-open bars for both chocolate and ice cream.  Of course this vacation is out of reach for almost all of us, but we can always dream – and make our own sundaes at home. Now that is a sweet idea.

From everyone at McTeague Higbee, have a happy – and restful – New Years!

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