Project Time Off: It’s Your Vacation Time. Use It. Every Minute of It.

Can you picture yourself here? Maury River - Goshen Pass, Virginia.
Can you picture yourself here? Maury River - Goshen Pass, Virginia.
Can you picture yourself here? Maury River – Goshen Pass, Virginia.

We’ve become a “nation of work martyrs,” said Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon and the U.S. Travel National Chair during the U.S. Travel Association‘s press conference at IPW in Orlando this past June.

What’s a work martyr? They’re that person who says they can’t use their paid time off (PTO) because the office will go to hell in a hand basket while they’re away.

Thankfully, I am NOT a work martyr and use every last minute of PTO because as much as I work hard, I play harder. As for WMs, unfortunately, they’re in good company. In 2013, the American PTO Graveyard welcomed 169 million lost PTO days, meaning, Americans had that much in vacation time and *poof* it was gone.

It wasn’t rolled into the next year. It wasn’t given to a fellow employee needing it. It wasn’t cashed it. Those PTO days just vanished which cost the U.S. economy $160 billion in spending that could have supported 1.2 million jobs.

Through a study commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, research indicates an employee’s productivity is up when they use their time off. Plus, it helps stimulate the economy because chances are, that person (you?) is spending money.

The USTA has launched Project Time Off, a research driven initiative to prove the personal, professional, social and economic benefits of people taking their vacation time to the American economy. Roger Dow, President & CEO of USTA, is walking the talk and leading by example. He has developed an incentive program to reward USTA employees for using all their vacation time.

Although some organizations have a “take vacation when you need it” policy, Dow and Davidson said when more businesses encourage staff to use their vacation time, others will soon follow. It’s an attempt to shift American culture in realizing PTO is essential to day-to-day life. Time off can strengthen family connections and is important for good mental and physical health.

Yeah, I know, it’s scary leaving the office knowing what fires you’ll be returning to (or the thousands of emails). If you’ve been delaying taking your vacation, um, why? There’s a whole, big beautiful world waiting to be discovered.

Here’s something to ponder. Looking back to five years ago, what happy occasions do you remember? Were they made in or out of the office?

Years from now when you’re reflecting back on life are you going to fondly remember those days spent in the office or those days when you were away from the office on vacation doing something you wanted to do? Whether it be kayaking through mangrove tunnels, digging for diamonds in Arkansas, or music-hopping through Nashville. But if that isn’t your cup of tea and you want to experience something you never have before, why not book into the Hotel Near SAP Center and make a short journey to watch the San Jose Sharks in ice hockey action instead.
I’m sure you’d much rather create memories outside the office. Think of it as a way to recharge your batteries.

Now go one, take that Work Martyr suit and swap it for a swimsuit. Just be sure to slather on the sunscreen.



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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