The world is more connected than ever, and that means we’re always available.
For a lot of us, this reachability also links us to our jobs outside of the office. (Hey, we’ve all been pinged by those urgent late-night work emails.) The good news is that today’s workplace is getting more flexible—depending on the job, it’s possible to work anytime from anywhere. We’re not limited to regular working hours and static in-office desks.
Studies show that workplace flexibility leads to higher levels of job satisfaction and reduces burnout because it puts employees more in control of where and when they work. But that doesn’t mean employees feel like they have the bandwidth to schedule time off. In fact, American workers are particularly notorious for leaving unused vacation time on the table at the end of the year.
According to a recent study from Project: Time Off, a national movement that aims to transform American attitudes about taking time off from work, 55% of American workers surveyed left vacation days unused in 2015. That translates to about 658 million collective vacation days sacrificed—the biggest number Project: Time Off has ever reported.
So why don’t Americans embrace all this hard-earned, company-paid down time?
The same study revealed that among the top reasons Americans ditch dreams of vacation—like heavy work load and no out-of-office job coverage—is that they feel like they can’t afford it. About 30% of respondents said they don’t have the extra cash to spend.
If taking time off to travel feels financially out of reach, there are ways to plan affordable vacations. Just design a smart money-saving strategy before hitting the road with a few simple, game-changing tips.
- Open a savings account dedicated to vacation funds. Vacations don’t have to break the bank, but setting as much money aside as possible beforehand provides broader options for destinations. The easiest way to commit to save more money is to drill down to the details of your upcoming trip. Decide the location, length of stay, cost for lodging, gas, airfare, food, etc., and figure out the total cost. Set up an account specifically for a vacation fund and earmark a realistic amount of money each paycheck to drop into savings.
- Take advantage of helpful trip-planning tools. Flying blind in a new city can be a waste of time and money. The more you know about your vacation destination, the better. Luckily, there are plenty of useful apps that are designed to help you travel like a pro. Tools like Wanderu—which searches hundreds of bus and train companies to narrow down the best travel deals—and Google Trips—which makes it easy to organize and plan itineraries—can alleviate unforeseen expenses and keep your budget on track.
- Keep your money safe and secure while wandering. It only takes one stealthily successful pickpocket to ruin your trip and knock your budget off course. Be keenly aware of your surroundings and keep close track of credit cards and cash. Slim down your wallet to just the essentials before your trip—identification, credit cards, and enough cash to get by should be enough. Credit cards offer better security against fraud than debit cards—they’re not linked to checking or savings accounts—so consider using credit exclusively for purchases when traveling. It’s also a good idea to notify banking and credit institutions about upcoming travel dates to avoid unnecessary account freezes.
Smart financial planning and sticking to a budget are easier than you think. With the right strategy, smart money management can become part of your monthly routine. Check out more of Comenity’s financial resources.