Don't Succumb to Vacation Starvation

Summer gets me thinking of lazy days at the beach or backyard, sipping rosé, and just hanging out. Thinking, but not necessarily doing.

Why do so many of us feel like we're cheating if we enjoy the slower pace of summer? If we take the time to actually unplug from the office and recharge our batteries. After all, it should be the ideal time for kicking back since there's no big holiday pressure, no giant meals to prepare, no gifts to wrap.

According to the latest Expedia Vacation Deprivation study (they've done this for 15 years now), on average American workers are given 15 days of paid vacation but take only 11. That means that collectively we're leaving 500 million unused vacation days on the company table. That's one big vacation, right?

And yet, despite what you may have heard, we're not the most vacation deprived nation in the world. South Korea wins that dubious title with 15 days offered but only 6 taken. The top two reasons South Koreans say they habitually forgo vacation time are guilt (67%) and lack of support from the boss (59%).

So how do we prepare for a guilt-free vacation?

Plan early and clue everyone in. Let your bosses, assistants, co-workers and clients know your itinerary.

Decide how reachable you want to be. Again, manage others' expectations by letting them know when, where and how often they can contact you.

Unplug from appliances and plug into people and places. Resist the urge to constantly check your iPhone or voicemail - especially if you're vacationing with kids. Definitely take some pix but don't view the entire trip through the lens of some device. Let go of the constant "screen suck" and embrace the novelty of doing nothing. You'll come back renewed, refreshed and better equipped to handle the hassles of the job.

Btw, this photo was taken by my right-hand associate Rachel Kane, who spent two weeks in Italy last month. I'm going to book my next trip now!