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Happy Memorial Day Weekend: The Importance of Vacation

by Lux Joseph 23. May 2014

AAA is estimating that approximately 36.1 million Americans were travel more than 50 miles this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. According to their reports, this is up approximately 1.5% from last year. It is unique to see that eight in ten travelers will be driving as their preferred method of travel. At CME, we primarily transport patients via commercial airline, but we have also transported patients by rail, car, and boat. This upcoming weekend will also be a busy weekend for Commercial Medical Escorts. Typically there is a trend that follows the medical repatriation industry. As more individuals are traveling, there will be a higher number of potential medical escorts for our team to assist in. If you have the weekend off, it is a perfect opportunity to take a short vacation even if it is what some people describe as a “stay vacation” in which you stay where you are, but do things you normally wouldn’t be able to do.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans put in more working hours during an average year than workers in Britain, France, Sweden, and Germany. As a country, we also have less parental leave and the least number of paid holidays and vacation—in some sectors it's as low as 10 vacation days per year. Meanwhile, the average European enjoys at least four weeks of paid vacation per year.

America lags far behind Europe in time off the job. It’s no secret. Americans, almost as a rule, are overworked and under-vacationed. According to the Census Bureau, we're a nation of workaholics. Statistics show that 28 percent of workers 16 and older work more than 40 hours a week, and 8 percent work 60 or more hours a week. It is reported that Americans receive an average of 14 days off per year. Compare that with standards in these other wealthy industrialized nations, as reported by Expedia.com’s Vacation Deprivation Report.

  • British workers get a minimum of 24 days vacation time.
  • In Germany, the minimum is 27 days.
  • In Canada, the minimum is 19 days.
  • In France, workers get 39 days of vacation time, and the typical workweek is only 35 hours.

So if you do have the free time, take a vacation and enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend. The travel 2014 forecast from AAA is the second highest travel since 2000. People are traveling more and more as the economic factors become more favorable for families. During the economic recession most travel that was being done was by business and corporations like Commercial Medical Escorts, but as things are slowly improving travel is once again becoming a popular choice especially for vacations.

For the six years that the Vacation Deprivation survey has been conducted, the United States stands alone as the country with the worst vacationing habits. In 2006 workers in the United States left an extra day of vacation on the table—4 days in 2006 versus 3 days in 2005—despite an increase in average vacation days received—14 days in 2006 versus 12 days in 2005. (www.vacationdeprivation.com/)

The United States is one of the few wealthy countries in the world that does not have laws governing the minimum amount of time granted to workers each year. Even in Korea and Japan, countries noted for intense work schedules, workers are allowed to take twice as much vacation time as their American counterparts.

In almost all surveys, American workers complain of feeling overworked, stressed and anxious about their lives. Clearly, most Americans have a bad case of vacation deprivation and the problem is getting worse.

There are many historical, cultural, financial and technological reasons for this pattern. We could debate endlessly about how we got to this point and what the long-term implications are for individual workers and for our nation.

Without getting into that much detail, I simply want to point out that too much work without adequate down time causes high levels of stress, which, in turn, negatively impacts our quality of life.

Beyond quality of life issues, there are health implications to being overworked. Numerous medical studies show a disturbing correlation between overwork and stress-related diseases, even early mortality.

So if you have this weekend free, enjoy it. Knowing the importance of time off is the easy part. The hard part is acting on that knowledge. Some tips to maximize that vacation are:

  •  Mini-breaks, mini price. Talk to your travel agent about special 3- and 4-night offers being made by hotels in many major cities. Some tour operators offer airfare, hotel and theater packages for a long weekend in the city. Cruise lines, too, are offering short cruises to meet America’s new interest in short vacations. Your travel counselor can help you find the vacation that’s right for you and your budget.
  • Add-ons. Try adding on a day or two to a business trip to take in the sights. If possible, have your spouse or family join you. Your travel agent can help find you and your family the best deals, map out points of interest and take the hassle out of planning.
  • No phone, no TV. Consider visiting a “wireless” resort that features an electronics-free environment—no in-room phone, no TV, no Internet connection. Your travel agent can help you find the right resort for you, whether you want to leave all electronic gadgets behind or find a resort where you can still check in once a week from the business center.
  • Leave it behind. Leave your laptop, business cell phone and PDA at home. To lessen the temptation of checking in every hour or fretting over how the office is falling apart without you, put a game plan into place before you leave. Decide what tasks take priority in your absence, who will take care of these and other jobs while you’re away, and leave a set of instructions and client contact information.
  • Stick to a work schedule. For some, getting completely away from cell phones and laptops is impossible, or may even cause concerns about what will be waiting for them at the office upon return. For those people, I recommend scheduling a time of not more than an hour every day to check in with the office and take care of work issues. It’s up to you to establish your own boundaries, and taking a real break from work should not be viewed as a crime or paint you as a less-than-productive member of your company. In fact, coming back rested and refreshed can increase your productivity at the office and make you more receptive to new ideas and approaches to problem-solving.
  • Pay attention to your stress level. If you are feeling unusually fatigued, tense, or irritable or experiencing neck or lower back pain, it might be time to use a few of those vacation days to re-charge your battery. Listen to your body; it could be the best signal that you need a break.

From the entire team at Commercial Medical Escorts we wish you a safe and happy holiday. Enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend. If you are traveling remember to be safe! 


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