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How To Get the Most Out of Your Summer with Your Vacation Days

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

guide on how to use vacation days to get the most out of your summer

Tired? Stressed? Irritable?

If you need a sign that it’s time for a summer vacation from work, this is it.

We all know the importance of taking time away for ourselves or with our families. But how can you make the most of your well-deserved vacation?

Learn how to use vacation days to end your summer with a bang — so you can return to work rested, focused, and ready to take on the world.

Table of Contents

Why Is It Important To Take a Vacation?

A study in 2019 by the U.S. Travel Association found that 768 million vacation days went unused in the previous year, and 55 percent of workers reported they didn’t take all of their paid time off.

However, taking vacations from work can help:

  • Prevent burnout

  • Lower stress

  • Lower the risk of heart disease

  • Improve mental health

  • Improve focus and creativity at work

  • Improve home and social life

  • Improve physical health

This is why it’s important to use your vacation days. Making taking a regular vacation a habit from the beginning of your career is crucial both for your health and success down the line.

Prevent Burnout

We’ve all been there. Doing the same job day in and day out. It can become boring and stressful.

Burnout in the workplace can take a toll and lead to:

  • Physical exhaustion

  • Emotional exhaustion; and

  • Depression

So what’s a solution to burnout?

There are many personal benefits of taking a break, as highlighted by Harvard researchers who have found that employees need to use vacation days to recharge. They can then return to work with a rejuvenated perspective and renewed motivation. It’s a win-win.

So the solution to workplace burnout is — vacations! And according to the experts, your vacation should last long enough for you to truly distance yourself from your normal work life.

Boost Creativity

When we take time off, we can improve our capacity to learn. A vacation is a great time to challenge the brain.

Have you ever had your “best idea yet” in the shower, while on a walk, or maybe while relaxing ocean-side? Our greatest “aha” moments usually come when our minds are relaxed.

Employees who take vacations feel more relaxed and can provide fresh perspectives — leading to increased creativity. And the longer vacations we can take, the more time we have to relax and unwind, which can help reduce stress and improve our mood. This relaxation can lead to improved creativity.

According to this study:

“Positive experiences associated with vacationing, like pleasure derived from activities or relaxation, may broaden people’s thought and action repertoires and build personal resources like creativity, skills, and social support.”

It’s also been shown that taking a break from performing routine tasks at work and engaging in new and different experiences can improve cognitive flexibility, which is the ability to switch between different tasks and think creatively.

Cognitive flexibility can improve:

  • Creativity

  • Innovation

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Decision-making

  • Adaptability to change; and

  • Teamwork

Encourage Physical and Mental Health

Taking vacations from work is crucial for maintaining positive mental health in the workplace and promoting long-term well-being. Taking time away from your job can have physical and mental health benefits.

People who take vacations may have:

  • Less risk of heart disease

  • Lower stress

  • More motivation to achieve goals; and

  • A better outlook on life

Using your vacation days can allow your body and mind to heal in ways that they couldn't if you were still under the stress and pressure of work.

One study compared women living in central Wisconsin who took vacations twice or more per year with women who took vacations only once every two years. It found that those who vacationed less often were 92 percent more likely to have depression. It also found that women who took vacations only once every six years were 97 percent more likely to have depression.

Other research found that even a short vacation (four to five days) positively affected participants’ health and wellness after they returned home. This was especially true for participants who were more relaxed and detached from work, enjoyed vacation activities, and spent quality time with loved ones.

How To Maximize Your Vacation Days With Sorbet

Sorbet allows you to pay for your vacation with your vacation days.

They allow you to advance your unusable days — the days you wouldn’t use anyway or don't have time to take — and turn them into money now, allowing you to pay for a vacation.

For example, you get 15 paid vacation days per year but only need to use 10 days. You don’t plan on using the remaining five days. With Sorbet, you can take those five days, advance them, and use the money to pay for or upgrade your vacation.

The extra cash from your PTO can help you:

  • Take a fancier vacation

  • Upgrade your flight to business class

  • Stay at a five-star hotel

  • Visit the destination of your dreams

  • Or whatever you need to truly get away

Head over here for more information on how PTO cash advance works.

5 Things To Do on Your Time Off To Really Recharge

When you go through the trouble of asking for paid time off, you want to make it count.

Besides a vacation away, there are countless options that can help you break away from the stress of work.

#1: Go on a Getaway

Ready to fully get away from work — to recharge and enjoy a vacation?

Consider these steps for planning a stress-free vacation:

  1. Choose where you’ll go.

  2. Decide if you’ll fully unplug. There’s no right or wrong answer; just consider which is best for you.

  3. Try to plan your PTO in advance.

  4. Delegate tasks at work before you leave so you can leave work at work.

  5. Use an “out of office” autoresponder.

  6. Leave your workspace clean. You’ll want to return to a clean environment.

  7. Upgrade your vacation by advancing your unused PTO with Sorbet.

#2: Tackle Those Errands

Do you have a running list of things that have to get done? You just haven’t had time to get to “all the things.”

Using PTO to catch up on life may be a great way for you to take much-needed time away from work and catch up on things. Run your errands, file your taxes, have family portraits done, meal prep, or whatever is on your list to do.

Tackle the items on your to-do list first. This will give you the peace of mind to fully relax for the rest of your time off.

#3: Enjoy a Staycation

A staycation might just be what you need to clear your mind, rest, and rejuvenate before returning to work.

A staycation can look like this:

  • Doing nothing

  • Catching up on sleep

  • Reading

  • Binging a new series

  • Camping

  • Swapping homes with a friend

  • Using a meal kit delivery service for a week

  • Visiting a local winery

  • Exploring local parks or hiking

  • Being a tourist in your own town

  • Going to a local museum or theme park; or

  • Whatever you’d like it to be — there are no rules

#4: Spend a Day at the Spa

Treat yourself to some pampering.

After a long week, our bodies and minds are drained. This is your time to unwind and relax — to treat yourself to a few moments of relaxation. A day at the spa can help to melt away all the hard work and challenges you face week after week.

A day at the spa can help you:

  • De-stress

  • Sleep better

  • Release serotonin and dopamine

  • Relieve headaches

  • Have fewer aches and pains

  • Have better confidence

#5: Step up That Side Hustle

Using PTO may be the perfect time to begin or ramp up a side hustle to bring in extra cash. Side hustling can allow you to earn that little bit of extra money that can help you achieve your financial goals faster — whether it's paying off student loans, saving for retirement, or saving for a grand adventure.

Some popular ideas for side hustles are:

  • Bake and sell dog treats

  • Proofreader

  • Flea market flipping

  • Selling on Amazon

  • Delivering for Amazon

  • Grocery shopping or delivery

  • Blogging

  • Ridesharing

  • Taking online surveys

  • Creating/crafting things to sell

  • Helping people move

  • Listing your house or a room to rent

What Happens When You Don’t Use Your Vacation Days?

It can be difficult to step away from work to use your PTO.

Have you used one or more of these excuses:

  • My co-workers can’t survive without me.

  • I would have too much work to return to.

  • I have guilt for taking off.

  • Taking a vacation would make me more stressed.

Working too much with little to no paid days off can lead to burnout, affecting your mental and physical health. And if your PTO doesn’t roll over, you lose it. If you quit without using your PTO, you may not ever see it, as your employer can take away your earned PTO.

Here’s a big reason to use your PTO: If you don’t use it, you're essentially paying your employer.

So unless you’re big on donating money to your company, take the PTO. However, you don’t have to use every day as time away from work. Yes, you need to get away.

But are there extra days that you’d just be giving away? If so, advance them! This is where Sorbet comes in.

Sorbet Helps You Leverage Your Unused Vacation Days So You Can Have the Best Summer EVER!

Ready to see for yourself how to use vacation days to fund your vacation?

Sorbet helps you "unlock" money you've earned through PTO. Take the PTO that you’ll never use, and turn it into cash now with Sorbet (in just 1-5 business days).

You may have extra cash available, so use it to enhance your work/life balance. Treat yourself, get ahead of work burnout, spend more quality time with family, and make more memories without having to dip into your paycheck.

Getting started with a Sorbet PTO Cash Advance is easy. Find out what your PTO is worth in just a few clicks. Applying is easy and risk-free, with no credit check and no commitment. You’ll get your money within one to five business days. Don't lose your hard-earned PTO — apply today!

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