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Escape this Winter: The Case for Taking a Vacation

Hannah Howard

We are a nation of people in serious need of some time off. According to a poll by the U.S. Travel Association and GfK, a market research firm, about 40% of Americans don’t take our full paid vacation time. There are a million reasons not to take a vacation. Work is piling up as you read this. You can’t possibly leave your coworkers to pick up your slack. Your puppy has been sick. And a trip comes with a price tag, often a substantial one.

As Paul Tsongas famously wrote, “Nobody on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.”

Forget all the reasons why you shouldn’t travel, just for a moment. Now, take a leap of faith: you don’t just deserve a vacation, you need one. Time off and away recharges your spirit and your brain. It stops you from burning out and makes you happier and more inspired. When you return to your life, it will look better and you will feel better. Plus, fun is a pretty basic human right.

Here’s why a vacay will do you wonders this weekend. Or skip reading this and go book a ticket!

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Vacation is Great for your Health

A State University of New York at Oswego study found that men who go on vacation every year reduce their overall risk of death by 20 percent. And according to the National Academy of Sciences, annual vacations may reduce the risk of heart attack by 30 percent in men and 50 percent in women. Get the beach chairs and feel the sand between your toes: your body will thank you.

Nobody on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.

Time Off Is Good for Business

Exhaustion, impatience, stress, illness—this list is not of attributes essential to success. Burnout is real. Set up your email auto-reply and take some deep, delicious breaths. Your colleagues/bosses will survive without you, even if it doesn’t feel like it. And when you come home, they’ll have missed you and appreciate that you are back to work your magic. Plus, the “best ideas people ever get are when they’re away from work,” says Robert Kriegel, author of How to Succeed in Business Without Working So Damn Hard.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Afraid you’ll miss out what’s going on at home? A study by found that 53 percent of people report feeling closer to their family upon return from their trip. When you take a break from the contours and routines of your daily life, you’ll foster appreciation for how great that life really is. Going away is great, but coming home to your comfy bed (and that puppy!) is priceless.

Spark Something Great

Vacations are bastions of potential inspiration. New flavors, smells, and vistas spark creativity. Many artists and entrepreneurs report lighting bolts of incredible ideas while vacationing, or come back with new perspective or awakened passion. Bask in your surroundings, and trust that something will move you.

Life Is Short

Now is the time to live the life you love. Fun isn’t a perk of life, it’s a necessity. You’re not a robot. You deserve joy and adventure. Your body needs rest to thrive, so does your mind and heart. Consider this permission.

Hannah Howard, journalist, copywriter, marketing strategist and food expert, has written for The New York Times, AMEX OPEN forum, Serious Eats, Grubstreet, refinery29, and