Do you find it hard to leave your business and enjoy a stress-free, relaxing vacation? It’s always hard to walk away from your business, especially if you’re a sole proprietor or running a small business. In this fast-paced, 24/7 digital world, it can feel like career suicide to slip away for a few mojitos on the beach.
Americans, especially, are known for not taking their full allotment of vacation time. Online travel agency Expedia conducted a survey about vacation time. According to their data, the average American earned 18 vacation days and only used 14 of them.
First things first: you deserve a vacation. And more: you need a vacation. Study after study, plus heaps of common sense, show that taking a vacation is good for your health. In fact, if you don’t take vacation or you take very little time off, you can actually increase your risk for heart disease and shorten your life. Stress is the underlying cause for many health problems—and nothing beats stress better than a break from the rat race.
The same Expedia survey also found that 45% of Americans agreed they came back to work feeling rested, rejuvenated, and reconnected to their personal life after vacation. 35% said they returned feeling better about their job and feeling more productive.
I know from my own experience that sometimes when my mind is at rest I have my best ideas—especially when I’m immersed in water. I spontaneously “received” the name of my travel blog, BreatheDreamGo, when I was in the shower, for example.
I recently posted a query on Facebook asking if others had this type of experience, and was inundated with a slew of comments.
“I figured out what to do with my website when I was on vacation in Mexico,” an editor said.
“When away, I never work on a problem. I let the ‘soup cook’ while I relax or hike, not giving the problem a thought—and the answers come clearly. I learned this from reading about how Einstein solved problems. After working for years on the theory of relativity, he left it alone and the solution came to him in a dream,” a spiritual writer and teacher said.
“One of the things I do is sleep on my problems. In other words, I consciously try to plant the problem in my subconscious mind and let it take over. Also, I keep a pen and notepad by my bedside. I have decent success with it,” a business analyst said.
Taking a vacation prevents burnout, too. In this article, clinical psychologist Deborah Mulhern says that people who don’t take enough time to relax may find it harder to relax in the future. “Without time and opportunity to do this, the neural connections that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it actually more difficult to shift into less-stressed modes,” Mulhern said. “What neuroscience is showing is that we require down time in order for our bodies to go through the process of restoration. It is only when we are safe from external stresses that our bodies can relax enough to activate restoration.”
We are just not meant to work all the time. A healthy life is a balanced life that includes time with family and friends, exercise, recreation or hobbies, and time spent in nature. Being in a natural setting, such as hiking in a national park or snorkelling in tropical waters is good for the body, mind, and spirit. If you have limited time off, a nature-based vacation will give you the biggest recharge bang for your buck. Many travel companies nowadays offer cycling, hiking, kayaking and other outdoor adventure based trips, both in North America and around the world.
Intrepid Travel is an Australian-based company with office in North America. They are known for taking small groups on ‘real life adventures.’ Trip themes include exploration, walking, cycling, and wildlife. Destinations include, well, just about everywhere.
Christian Wolters, Vice-president of Sales and Marketing for Intrepid, says “Travel is important for everyone. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of life, and travel is the ultimate way to escape those stresses. It allows you to break free from routine and challenge yourself in new and exciting ways. Imagine yourself trekking through the Himalayas, seeing a gorilla in Rwanda or riding a tuk-tuk through this bustling streets of Mumbai. Travel broadens your horizons and gives you a better appreciation of your life when return.”
If you’re looking for a great trip, as a long-time traveler and writer who knows the industry, I can heartily recommend all of the companies listed below for professionalism, great service and unique, rewarding product offerings.
Kensington Tours Explorers-in-Residence series gives travellers the opportunity to travel with explorers to places like Madagascar, Antarctica, India, Africa, Iceland and China. [Note: I’m one of the Explorers-in-Residence and I’m leading a women-only trip to India in November.]
Peregrine Adventures, a company known for responsible tourism and combining adventure with comfort, offers expeditions and trips by activity, including walking, trekking, mountaineering and wildlife.
If you want to live your childhood dream of going on a National Geographic expedition (and who doesn’t?), you can join one of their active adventure trips and go hiking among local villages in Bhutan or horseback riding with the Berbers of Morocco.
Intrepid Travel is known for taking small groups on ‘real life adventure.’ Trip themes include explorer, walking, cycling, and wildlife.
This award-winning company is an ecotourism pioneer. They take people to some of the world’s most remarkable places, such as a cruise on the Amazon River’s most remote tributaries.
See the Wild is an ecotourism company that offers travellers the opportunity to experience animals in the wild and support conservation efforts.
So, what are you waiting or? Give yourself permission… and go.
Start planning your dream trip. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity, good for the body, mind and spirit. And for business.
About the author: Mariellen Ward is a long-time freelance writer and editor who lives just two blocks away from the FreshBooks office. Along with copyediting and freelance writing, she publishes one of the world’s leading travel blogs about India, BreatheDreamGo.com
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