It’s not uncommon for people to set unrealistic expectations when making New Year’s resolutions, which likely contributes to most of them failing. Over 90 percent of them do, according to research by the University of Scranton.
So this year, why not focus on improving just one area: your travels, and making sure you travel well.
“Vacation is essential to our well being,” said Penny Zenker, a business strategy and life coach. “In order to be creative, think strategically and create balance in our lives we need to disconnect from our day to day activities.”
With this in mind, here are three ways to get the most out of your travels in 2019.
Take more time off
It’s important to remember that vacation days are typically part of one’s compensation but the onus is on you to take them. (The GfK-Oxford Economics study found that 52 percent of American workers had unused vacation days by the end of 2017, which equates to 705 million unused days for the year.)
“The employer agreed to the terms of vacation, which is usually its duration, not its timing, at hiring,” said Holly Weeks, a communication consultant and professor at the Harvard Kennedy School. “Timing is generally not part of the agreement and is left to the preference and discretion of the employee, with accommodation of the employer as a courtesy.”
There are things you can do to make it a smoother process for everyone involved.
Plan early so you can give as much advance notice as possible, being mindful of when your company or team’s busy times of the year are. Also, consider a vacation-planning lunch or shared calendar with your colleagues to avoid potential timing conflicts.
When you make the request with your boss, treat it with the same amount of respect as any other important workplace issue.
“I would not apologize for my decision,” Ms. Weeks said. “I would honor it as important and valuable, the same way I would honor a business decision I made after thoughtful consideration.”
Ease up on the to-do lists
“I find one of the biggest killers of fun while traveling is forcing yourself to adhere to a strict daily schedule,” said Kayla Matthews, a productivity and technology expert.
Unfortunately, trips don’t plan themselves (unless you hire a travel planner). But you can strike a middle ground of having solid logistics while still leaving room for spontaneity.
“Checklists definitely help for the major components: flights, hotels, car rental, tickets or reservations. As for organizational techniques, I’d say that different people have different comfort levels with plans and schedules,” said Laura Vanderkam, time management expert and author of “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done.”
For the trip itself, Ms. Vanderkam suggests planning one anchor activity for each day of the trip, especially if you’re traveling with a group. “People who like plans and schedules will probably be fine if they know they’ve got one cool thing planned for the day — the rest of the day can go as it will. People who like to be spontaneous can take comfort that there’s only one thing on the schedule,” Ms. Vanderkam said.
Stress less about packing
Do you insist on never checking a bag? Maybe it’s time to let this one go and cut some stress.
“Yes, getting gate checked is a small hassle, but your luggage is usually taken by hand and put into the front of the hold, which means it’s often the first bag to come out when the plane is unloaded,” Kit Dillon, an editor at Wirecutter, The New York Times company that reviews products, said. “It really doesn’t add that much time to your trip, unless you need to make a connection.”
If you’re ready to take this leap, treat yourself to a new checked luggage bag. For most travelers, Mr. Dillon recommends Travelpro’s Elite 25-Inch Expandable Spinner Suiter. It can comfortably hold two weeks’ worth of clothes, is sleek and durable, and comes with a lifetime warranty.
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