I don’t know about you, but I could use a vacation.
After just finishing my stint filling in for one of my editors who was on maternity leave, I’m feeling more overwhelmed than ever. Don’t get me wrong, I loved what I was doing and the routine of going back into an office after nearly seven years of working from home, but just because I was back in a “normal job”—albeit, temporarily—doesn’t mean all my other work came to a grinding halt during that period. I continued to balance a full freelance load aside from my gig at Nashville Lifestyles where I was both writing and editing, cover multiple events each night for PEOPLE and other magazines, travel on weekends for other assignments, work on projects with Travel Mindset, and occasionally steal away to see my husband and puppy (though not nearly enough). That’s all on top of tending to our fixer-upper house (more updates on that very soon!), having a steady stream of visitors (I’m currently preparing to welcome our fourth group of guests for the month of September alone), and a whole other host of side jobs and tasks. To sum it up in a single word, I’m exhausted.
Which is why next week’s jaunt to California is much needed. While technically we’ll be there for a wedding in Orange County (yes, another one!), SVV and I are flying out early for 36 hours of doing nothing but chilling beachside in Santa Monica. I know we’re both looking forward to a solid day of not opening our computers, ignoring our inboxes and just taking an actual vacation, something we don’t do nearly enough—and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I bet you don’t either.
It was while I was living in Denmark where my Scandinavian friends had a minimum of six mandated weeks of vacation that I realized how backward we, as Americans, have this whole work-life balance. It seems like a no-brainer, right? A rested human is a more productive human. And yet, the U.S. Travel Association found that 429 million vacation days were left on the table last year. That number is mind-boggling.
MasterCard has launched a #OneMoreDay campaign encouraging Americans to start taking these hard-earned days that are rightfully theirs. As someone who may have location flexibility, my constant connectivity means I am always just an email click away from being contacted by my editors: for an assignment, to rewrite a piece, to conduct an interview with a tight turnaround. On our most recent trip to Europe, I spent many a day in port at a café working on such projects, but no more. Going forward, I vow to use my vacation days for what they’re actually meant for: to unwind, relax, recharge.
That means, if you see me posting anything from California next week that doesn’t involve a beach, you have my permission to publicly reprimand me.
And if you tell MasterCard where’d you’d go using the hashtag #OneMoreDaySweeps on Twitter or Instagram, you might just win your own trip of a lifetime anywhere in the world.
That said, you don’t have to jet off to China or Europe or even the Caribbean to take advantage of time off. There are plenty of ways to use those vacation days within our own country, many of which can be planned on a whim.
Can manage a full week away? Our national parks are brimming with opportunities to explore. Plan a similar road trip to the one we took a few years back through Utah’s Canyonlands and Arches National Park. If you’re more of a city slicker, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos would make for an excellent weeklong getaway.