Travel Musings: Work/Life Balance

Thoughts on the state of travel in America, and how it could be shifting thanks to Millennials.

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I just want to make a quick observation: Americans don’t travel enough.

Now, before you jump all over me and say that’s a very generic statement, too overarching and all encompassing, I will say that this trend may be changing for the better – thanks to Millennials like me.

Walking the Black Sand Beach in Vik, Iceland

I read a Slate article last week saying that Americans are still leaving a lot of vacation days on the table. Even though Americans enjoy vacation, they’re not taking it, and they really should be. It’s good for their health and it improves their performance. Knowing that, it would be smart for upper management to encourage vacations.

Many directors and VPs claim they want employees to take vacation, but somehow that message isn’t resonating. Perhaps it’s because they don’t practice what they preach, answering emails while traveling, staying in contact with coworkers, not really switching off when they leave the office.

The other reason could be that they aren’t actually preaching. They don’t encourage vacations, and when you say you’re taking time off, they almost cringe at it. That might just be my experience, but I guarantee there are plenty of other people who can relate.

View over Dubrovnik

I have no fear that traveling will hurt my career, and I believe strongly in the importance of taking time off. In fact, I wrote an article about it for Wanderful, telling people it is possible to travel with a full time job. I work hard at my job, and I deserve time away to relax and recharge. Taking a vacation does not mean I’m lazy or don’t have the same commitment level as others. It means I care about my well being enough to give myself a break. After all, what good am I to my company if I’m burned out, stressed, tired and unenthusiastic? Travel inspires you, boosts creativity, and gives you a new perspective. What employer wouldn’t want that in an employee?

I’m not alone in my thinking. The U.S. Travel Association released their October 2016 U.S. Travel Outlook report last week highlighting some trends in the industry. One of those trends talked about Millennials and how they are concerned with work/life balance, and will actively seek out jobs that give them flexibility. According to the report, a new poll conducted by, revealed that travel is nearly as essential a work motivator as food and shelter for Millennials.In fact, 70% of Millennials identified the desire to travel as a primary reason to work, second only to paying for basic necessities (88%).

The poll also revealed that young workers said they would take pay cuts – some as high as 20% – in exchange for more flexibility at work. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they left a job because it did not provide enough flexibility.

Gazing out at the ocean in Puerto Vallarta

Clearly, Millennials value travel so much, that it’s one of the main reasons they have a job at all. And that work/life balance is so essential that many are willing to make less money in order to have it. It’s a fact that Millennials are experiential consumers, and they place higher value on an experience than a product. I still purchase clothes and various knick knacks for myself, but travel is something I will always invest in, and I make sure I save money for. If it’s between a nice pair of shoes and a trip, I’m taking the trip!

Still, Millennials have to make money in order to travel, and therefore a job is inevitable. Even though we are dependent on that paycheck, it looks like there could soon be a shift in the amount of vacation time Americans take. Since travel is so important to our generation, we’re more willing to take all the vacation time we’re allowed. The stats may not change right away, but it’s nice to know that more people understand the importance of travel and taking time away from your job.

Hopefully, when the next U.S. Travel Association Project Time Off report comes out, we’ll start seeing some more positive numbers associated with vacation time.

1 comments on “Travel Musings: Work/Life Balance”

  1. Good for you! I am somewhere between Millennial and Gen Y, and I’ve always made it a point to travel. I won’t work for a company that will interfere with my lifestyle, and I take as much time off as I want so long as I don’t interfere with the business. This typically ends up being about one week each quarter with 2 weeks solid in the summer time. I shocked the older generations by not following the status quo and I hope that more people do the same.

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