Thursday, June 05, 2008

Recession Fears Threaten Workers' Vacation Plans

Here is another article on vacations just posted today by the same man who wrote the artilce I posted immediately before this one. He offers some updated info, and good suggestions for ensuring that you do get that well-deserved break!

Recession Fears Threaten Workers' Vacation Plans

Experts Offer 10 Ways to Take a Necessary Break

Tom Musbach, Yahoo! HotJobs

The slowdown in the U.S. economy is threatening a necessity for workers: vacations.

According to the annual Yahoo! HotJobs vacation survey, 51% of respondents said they plan to skip taking a vacation this year, opting to save money instead.

Not a Frivolous Matter

"Vacations are usually the first thing to go when people feel job or economic pressure," says Joe Robinson, a trainer in work-life balance and author of "Work to Live." He continues, "We're programmed to believe that free time is worthless, a frill to shove aside, but vacations are as important as watching your cholesterol or getting exercise."

Skipping a vacation can also be bad for your employer.

Milo and Thuy Sindell, founders of Hit the Ground Running and authors of "Job Spa," say, "You are not helpful to the company and your coworkers when you are not operating at full capacity. Vacations help you to get rejuvenated to come back to work at full capacity."

Make It Work With Less

For those tempted to skip vacation this year due to financial worries, experts recommend the following tips:

  • Remind yourself: Vacation is not a luxury. "You owe it to yourself, your family, and your company to take care of yourself by stepping out of the office for at least a few days at a time," says Liz Bywater, president of the Bywater Consulting Group, which helps improve organizational performance.
  • Put aside some funds each week. "Even $50 a week [or less] can add up and make your trip happen," says Robinson.
  • Plan leisure activities near home. "Stay at home and read, garden, hike, jog, bike, or whatever you like to do but never have enough time for during the weekends," say the Sindells. "Or be a tourist in your own city."
  • Try home-swapping. You can swap with someone you know in another city, or use an online service, such as or even (Vacation Rentals by Owner). "It can have the look and feel of a vacation at a much more affordable housing cost than paying for hotel or resort lodging," says Michael Haubrich, president of Financial Service Group and an expert in financial planning for career issues.
  • Keep the itinerary simple. Travel columnist Donald D. Groff recommends selecting a destination within 200 miles (a three-hour drive) from your home. If you're traveling by plane, fly nonstop whenever possible. "The sooner you get to your destination, the sooner your relaxation begins," Groff says.

Stress-Busting Strategies

The economic downturn is also adding to workers' stress levels. Nearly a third of the respondents (31%) are worried by how the economy is affecting their workplaces, and 34% said they feel pressure to improve their performance for fear of being laid off.

With 55% of respondents admitted to being "burned out" by work, stress and fatigue add another threat to vacations. Experts say you can prevent the threat in the following ways:

  • Start small. "Start with an afternoon off to do something you really enjoy, even if it's just a walk at the beach or a visit to a farmer's market," says Beth A. Levin, author of "Making a Richer, More Fulfilling Life a Reality."
  • If planning is a burden, don't. "Instead of planning a vacation, just take time off to be at home and figure it out each day as you go," the Sindells suggest.
  • Enlist back-up support. Ask a trusted coworker to back you up while you're away and offer to return the favor, Bywater suggests. "It's much easier to relax when you know someone's got you covered."
  • Choose according to what you need. You may need a peaceful retreat from stress, or you may benefit from something more active and exciting. "Avoid the kind of vacation that will leave you even more exhausted than before," she adds.
  • Give yourself a deadline. "Stop thinking about it and just do it," says Bywater. "Think of it as 'doctor's orders.'"


Geraldine said...

Another excellent post M! A vacation is often and to many people just another stress-filled, jam-packed schedule to follow. NOT. We need one badly that I know. A real vacation. You've made me realize even more reasons why.

Michelle said...

Wow....I recall several vacations just like that....hurry up and get there, hurry up and have a good time, and hurry up to get home - usually at the last possible moment so we were tired and needing a vacation to rest up after the vacation! lol

Some people thrive on that, but not us. We finally learned to scale back and really take it easy.

You're right in that a vacation should never be the cause of stress! If it is, you know you need a different kind of vacation! :)

Addie said...

Hi Michelle! I just stumbled across your blog on when I was hunting for inspiration on a project on ways to combat college stress relief. Your blog is definitely an inspiration on stress matters, and I was particularly intrigued with this post. Sometimes I wish I lived in Europe where the work week is shorter and there's more leisure time at hand. Of course, that's difficult these days when everyone is strapped for money. That's why I appreciated the stress-busting strategies. Doing something small for relaxation every day really makes a difference!

Michelle said...

Hi Addie,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

I agree, Americans would be a lot less stressed if we followed the European model of shorter work weeks and a more relaxed lifestyle.

Yes, even five minutes a day of meditation can make a surprisingly big difference in overall health and wellness. As they say, every little bit helps!

I like your blog, too....good luck with it!