I didn’t travel too much as a child. Summer vacations were spent in Ohio visiting family and we didn’t venture fall from that plan. Despite this, I had a deep interest in exploring new places. I vividly remember my grandpa telling me where he was stationed and traveled to during World War II. I knew I wanted to visit Europe.
So I saved my pennies, working at a dry cleaners and then as a nanny so that I could pay for a trip to London and Paris after graduating from high school. Sure, there were a few hiccups but the trip was a success and I knew I wanted -- no, needed -- to travel more. Studying abroad my junior year of college gave me that opportunity to see a little bit more of the world. As did my subsequent time in Germany and England during grad school.
But that exploration came to a screeching halt when I formally entered the workforce. Gone were the weekend getaways in foreign countries. I finally had an income, but not the PTO or even the willingness to actual take a break from work.
Willingness might not be the right word for it. Sure, I wanted to travel, but I didn’t feel like I could take the time off. It would be disruptive to my bosses (I’ve always worked in small offices) and what would they do without me? Those thoughts and fears ran through me every time I even thought about taking a few days for myself.
And now I feel foolish about it.
I don’t think I have ever had a boss say no to a PTO request. They might have asked me what is going on with the legislative calendar, or if other people are taking time off during the same period, but never have they flat out rejected my request for time off. It feels ridiculous that I have even wasted time and energy convincing myself that it wasn’t a good time to ask, or that the office would crumble without me.
Because here is the thing: it won’t.
If you do the work, get your job done, then that is all that matters. You deserve to use those vacation days. You’ve earned them. Literally. They are yours to enjoy, to do with as you wish. To spend all day in bed watching the Real Housewives of wherever (don’t judge), hiking Half-Dome (probably not for me, but to each their own), or crossing the globe.
I try to think back to why I had this complex, and frankly I come up empty handed. But what’s more, is that I have never had a boss that was afraid to take time off of work, to flex their schedule as needed. They have the confidence and ability to do so. They unplug, so why shouldn’t I?
Besides, not taking time off can be detrimental to both you and your workplace. It can lead to burnout, shortened tempers, and resentment with work. Finding a balance is key.
Do don’t feel guilty. Don’t give yourself permission to make excuses. Sure, I understand saving time for a bigger trip, but still use some of it here and there for three day weekends, or just a mental health day, something to keep you restored, and happy at work and at home.
This is something I now live by. It’s isn’t always easy, and often I need to remind myself that is is OK to take time off, to make that request. And I am always grateful for it. To have that time to rejuvenate, to break up the daily grind that is being an adult.
So make travel a priority as an adult. You won’t regret it.