9 Reasons You Really Need a Vacation

See recent posts by Kelsey Blodget

It's all too easy to make excuses not to plan a trip -- it's too hard to be away from the office, it's difficult to coordinate with the kids, the cost is too high. But workaholics of the world, take note: There are also costs associated with not taking a vacation. According to science and stuff. So stop being a martyr and take some time off, already! For those of you who need help rationalizing the decision, we compiled the top nine reasons why you really need to get away now. 

1. A Yearly Vacation Can Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack by 50 Percent.

That’s right — taking time off is not only fun, it can actually make you live longer. The U.S. Travel Association compiled findings from scientific studies over the last couple of decades to show the myriad health benefits of travel, including the significant impact on heart health. 

Need inspiration on where to go? Check out our 10 most popular hotels

2. You're Not Using All of Your Vacation Days.

A different report released by the U.S. Travel Association in September 2014 and prepared by Oxford Economics showed that U.S. workers are taking fewer vacation days than at any point in the last four decades. By sacrificing Paid Time Off days, you are basically agreeing to work for free. According to the study, the 169 million days of forfeited PTO equates to $52.4 billion in lost benefits. So stop undervaluing your time. 

3. Vacations May Lead to a Decrease in Dementia.

According to Dr. Paul Nussbaum, President of The Brain Health Center, travel improves brain health. “When we travel, we plop our brain down into an environment and it’s a bit complicated for us, and the brain,” he says. “When your brain is confronted or stimulated by something new or complex, the brain cells kind of rejoice with that.” He explains that the dendritic cells in our brain are sort of like branches on a tree, and traveling can increase cellular connections and lead to more branches. “You want your brain to look like a jungle. If you or I had to go into a jungle and make a path, it would take a long time. Think about Alzheimer’s. If our brain is set up to look like a jungle, the better chance we have to fight the disease off. We can delay the onset,” he says. 

4. You Exercise More on Vacation.

That’s right — most people are more active on vacation than they are at work sitting in front of a desk (shocker, right?). “Physical exercise has been shown to increase a bit when we’re on vacation, whether it be from walking the beach or using the gym that’s in the hotel,” Dr. Nussbaum says. “Physical activity is incredibly important for the brain. Every time the heart beats 25 percent of your blood goes to your brain, so the more heart beats, the better it is for your brain.”

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5. It's Good for the Economy.

If Americans used all of their PTO days, the economic impact could include an additional $160 billion in
total business sales, $52 billion in additional income
earned, and 1.2 million additional jobs in the U.S. economy, according to a study on paid time off in the U.S. by Oxford Economics. Hear that? Using all of your vacation days helps America’s economic engine. By booking that flight to Hawaii, you’re proving your patriotism. 

6. You'll Be More Productive at Work When You Get Back.

The evidence is clear — people who take vacations are far more productive when they return to work. A vacation can increase performance by 80 percent, and reaction times of employees upon return may go up 40 percent, according to a study by Alertness Solutions cited on worktolive.info

7. Vacations Reduce Stress.

The U.S. Travel Association compilation on the personal benefits of travel showed that blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of epinephrine — a stress hormone — go down on even a short vacation of only one or two days. “Typically travel, especially when travel is involved with pleasure, can reduce stress, because it removes us from surroundings that are a bit more conditioned to stress in our lives and it helps us escape,” Dr. Nussbaum says. Not surprisingly, stress is really bad for your health, and is linked to a ton of different diseases. It also may worsen existing conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, peptic ulcer disease, and cardiac disease. 

Need a quick stress reducer at your desk? Check out these 17 Photos You Won’t Believe Are Real (But Are). 

8. Travel Provides New Perspective.

People who go on vacation are “able to be introspective, reflect, set some new goals…those are all really good things for the brain,” according to Dr. Nussbaum. Exposure to different cultures also helps, as “things that are culturally sophisticated are shown to be good for the brain, be it art or dance.” Additionally, a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that people who spent time abroad are better problem solvers, more creative, and more innovative at work. 

9. It Will Spice Up Your Relationship.

According to the U.S. Travel Association research compilation, 42 percent of travelers feel more romantic on vacation and 31 percent admit to making love more often while on a trip. So if you’re hoping to spice things up on the home front, a romantic getaway may be just the ticket. Need inspiration? Check out our top hotel picks for romance

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