How-to-Utilize-Vacation-Time

Is It Better to Take One Big Vacation or Multiple Smaller Trips? How to Utilize Your Vacation Time to Best Meet Your Needs

Quality or quantity. It’s an age-old question with an ever-changing answer. But when we’re talking about vacations, it can leave many with limited vacation time stumped. Go all in on one big vacation, or try to spread out your time off as much as possible? Does it even matter? Does whether or not you take a vacation affect you in the long run? And if it does, how often should you take a vacation to benefit from any effects?

For the little kid in us obsessed with family trips or the forever wanderer, the answer is probably once a month, if not all the time. But, for the realistic adult with bills and a job, that might be a little hard to pull off. So what’s the honest answer? Let’s break down just how often you should take a vacation and some of the benefits taking a break can bring you.

Table of Contents

How Often Should You Take a Vacation? 

shot of hat, glasses, beach bag, and sandals on the sand

The truth is that a one-size-fits-all answer doesn’t exist here. Your goals and available vacation time will affect how often you can and should take a vacation. However, most studies agree that at least two vacations a year can do wonders for your mental and physical health. 

Two vacations a year might seem like a lot to some and not enough to others, but that’s truly the minimum number of vacations we’re talking about here. One U.K. survey found that you need a day off at least every 62 days to avoid feelings of anxiety, aggression, and physical illness.

And while you likely can—and must, due to work—go more than two months without a vacation, it’s essential to remember what a respite does for your health. Taking at least one vacation a year could lower your risk of death from cardiovascular disease and help you live longer. Who needs the fountain of youth?! As long as you focus on spending your time off wisely, you can enjoy the perks of vacationing no matter how much—or how little—time off you have.

Taking Multiple Vacations vs. One Long Vacation

woman packing suitcase for vacation

Despite extensive studies proving that vacations benefit not just employees but employers too, most employees have very few vacation days at their disposal. And exactly how many vacation days you have off is key.

More days mean more freedom. But with limited time off comes the decision of how to best utilize your vacation time. Do you take multiple short trips throughout the year or plan one long vacation with all your time off? 

Science says one of these is better, but each has pros and cons, which you can make work for your schedule.

Multiple Vacations Throughout the Year

The results are in, and science says more is the way to go. More frequent trips allow you to take regular breaks from work.

Research shows that the ideal length of time for a vacation is between eight and eleven days, with eight days being the true sweet spot. Per research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, it takes most people a few days to settle in and shrug off their worries before the joy and relaxation kick in around day two. Following that, the average traveler’s health and wellness peaks on the eighth day of vacation. 

That’s perfect for those longing to sneak out early on a Friday and enjoy a weeklong escape from work. 

Pros

Science says shorter vacations are the way to go for increased mental health. But science aside, you’ll find some clear reasons why several vacations are easier on just about everything, except maybe your wallet.

Time Away Gets Easier. Shorter trips make it easier to request time off work and take your kids out of school. An employer isn’t likely to approve three weeks off of work any more than a school is likely to be pleased about their students missing three straight weeks of classes. In addition, breaking up your trips into shorter getaways allows you to utilize weekends more effectively and increase the number of vacations you take throughout the year. 

woman in white hat looking at the ocean on vacation

More Time to Relax. Instead of looking forward to one vacation in the far-off future, you can break up the monotony and stress of work and life with multiple breaks. Escaping from the daily grind provides stress relief and boosts your mental health. Having more of that throughout the year is a definite bonus.

Variety in Your Vacations. Maybe you have obligations to fulfill with your time off or multiple destinations on your bucket list. Instead of trying to fit everything you want to do in one long vacation—and stressing yourself out—you can narrow the scope of each trip. For example, you can spend one vacation visiting family and another visiting a foreign country. Breaking up your vacation time gives you more time to appreciate and enjoy each trip.

Reap the Rewards More Often. Time away has various benefits, including improved mental health and physical well-being. These benefits are experienced each time you go away on vacation. As a result, the more often you go on vacation, the more often you can enjoy the positive effects of your time away.

Cons

Arguably, vacationing throughout the year unveils numerous pros that make the idea even more appealing than it would first seem. But before we get carried away on a flurry of flights around the globe, time for a reality check. The biggest downside to more vacations is the price tag, primarily for said flights mentioned earlier. Therefore, more vacations require more money and maybe finding creative ways to expand your annual vacation budget.

One Long Vacation 

Shorter breaks are all well and good, but longer trips aren’t without their share of perks. Science may have abandoned long getaways, but that doesn’t mean you have to cancel your travel plans just yet. 

Pros

Despite research firmly putting its hat in the corner of shorter vacations, there are times when a longer trip just makes sense. And when that’s the case, don’t let science dissuade you from spending your vacation time how you want.

wedding arch with decorations and sea view

Special Occasions. Destination weddings, epic honeymoons, and trips to foreign countries—special celebrations and events can quickly rack up the miles on your next flight and the cost. If you’re trying to celebrate a loved one or cross off a bucket list destination, you may need more than a long week to make your time off worth it. Instead of spending all your time in the air, extending your trip may help you get the most out of your vacation. 

More Time to Soak It All In. Spending a week in a new city, country, or continent doesn’t give you enough time to explore everything you want to experience. On the other hand, two weeks or more gives you ample time to explore the area, experience the local culture, and relax all in one trip. 

Easier on the Kids (and Yourself). With more time off, you don’t have to worry about cramming every second of your free time with something to do. Instead, you can travel and explore your destination at a relaxed pace without driving your kids up a wall or stressing out trying to fit three weeks’ worth of fun into one week.

Cons

Of course, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. After all, science says shorter breaks are better for a reason. When you combine all your vacation time into one long vacation, you don’t have time off to look forward to throughout the rest of the year. 

Considering that anticipating your future travel can positively affect your mood, that’s a big deal. 

Additionally, you can only enjoy the benefits of taking a vacation once per year instead of throughout, leaving the gate open for stress to pile up.

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Taking Regular Vacations

As you consider whether or not to take your next trip in the near future and whether to take several or go out with one spectacular bang, you’ll want to know what you’re getting out of your vacation experience. Knowing everything a vacation does for your mental health, outlook, and relationships could make all the difference.

1. Time Away Boosts Mental Health

happy woman on the beach turned toward the sun

Who of us hasn’t dreamed of escaping our stress and anxiety by simply running away? Without question, travel is a positive escape that allows you to do just that: take a break from your worries to relax and recover from the constant stresses in your daily life. And that time away isn’t just convenient; it’s essential. Travel is a quick—and might we add a very effective way—to give your mental health a boost. Don’t worry; your life will still be waiting when you get back.

2. Vacations Lead to Better Physical Health 

Vacationing doesn’t affect your mental health only. After all, it’s not just your brain that needs a timeout now and again. The human body isn’t meant to go 24/7 without a break. 

And yes, while you get time to relax and sleep during a regular work week, it’s not the same as completely unplugging from work and stresses to enjoy some uninterrupted R&R. 

Unchecked stress contributes to countless physical ailments, from minor annoyances like headaches and sleep problems to life-threatening issues like heart disease. Vacation time can help you gain more quality sleep and even lower the risk of heart disease. If stress is the sword-wielding villain wearing away at your health, then vacations are the shield, protecting your body from the worst of the damage. 

So, the next time you think of leaving your paid time by the wayside, don’t.

3. Spending Time Together Strengthens Family Relationships

children playing with bubbles

Abandoned vacation days and silent nights spent ignoring family for work plague workers throughout the country. Even if you spend plenty of time in the presence of your family, it’s critical to set aside quality time with your loved ones. 

Research shows that family leisure time improves communication and family functioning between kids and their parents. And if you think that only applies to familial bonds, think again; leisure time positively influences couples’ happiness and friendship satisfaction.

Travel facilitates all this and more, allowing families to escape work, school, and daily stresses to spend time together doing things they love. On top of improving communication and happiness, travel can also boost the mental health and emotional well-being of everyone in your family!

4. Vacations Expand Your Social Awareness

hispanic girl in colorful dress performing traditional dance

“Walk a mile in my shoes.” It’s a saying that’s been around for generations. To understand others, you must understand where they come from, their history, their stories, and what makes them unique. Things you won’t be able to find sitting at home or taking a cruise with a two-hour stop on a Caribbean island.

Immersive travel experiences during vacation can expand your social awareness. Joining engaging tours, supporting local businesses, and living among local people offer ways to help preserve indigenous cultures, learn new perspectives, and make meaningful connections. Travel allows you to look at the world differently, leading to new understandings and more nuanced perspectives.

5. Taking Time Away from Work Makes You a Better Employee 

female colleagues looking at digital screen

You wouldn’t think a vacation from work would make you better at work, maybe because most companies stress productivity over everything and make you feel awful for taking even a single sick day. 

But the joke is on them because the research proves that people who take vacations from work are more productive than their colleagues who don’t. On top of that, they’re even more likely to receive a promotion

So, the next time you convince yourself to stick it out when the work becomes torture, here’s your friendly reminder to take a vacation. That rest might be just what you need to ace that upcoming project.

6. Vacations Fight Burnout

If you feel stressed out, cynical about your job, and all-around fatigued, traveling may be just the thing you need to break out of your rut.

Burnout is an equal opportunity offender that can strike down the best of us. Chronic stress caused by your job, academics, and even relationships can leave you feeling worn out and struggling to keep your head above water. 

Taking time away to refocus on yourself and the things you love can be your greatest buffer against burnout. Vacations simultaneously give you respite from your daily stressors while offering time to destress, renew your mind, and find joy.

7. Time Away Helps You Live Happier

young woman holding balloons and running through a field

Is it any surprise that vacations make us happier? From the planning stages to the novel things we experience and the warm glow we’re left with after the fact, time off and frequent travel elevates our happiness. We get to anticipate the things we’ll do, dive headfirst into new experiences and then carry those memories with us for a lifetime. 

If ever there was a single argument for why you should take vacations more often, it’s this: vacations make you happier. And in life, is there anything more important than that?

Take Vacation Days to the Max with Next Vacay

vacation scene of empty lounge chairs on a beach

To get the most out of your vacation time, you may have to do some impressive contortions—figuratively, of course—around weekends, holidays, and whenever else you have free time to make your days off count. But, that can quickly get expensive, with holiday costs, weekend price jumps, and more. That’s where Next Vacay comes in.

Off-season, peak season, whatever the occasion or holiday, Next Vacay has your back with the best cheap and even nonstop flights around the globe. Instead of searching the web for the perfect combination of affordability, flexibility, and convenience, our team of deal hunters does it all for you to deliver the best deals on the market. So, kick back and start relaxing before your vacation even begins with Next Vacay.

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