This was the year. The moment you had been saving for. This was the year you were finally going to go on that big trip; to see Europe’s art history, maybe surfing in Australia, or perhaps going on a safari in Africa. These are some of the destinations Canadians were daydreaming about in February. Then, in what felt like a minute, countries shut their borders and that big vacation you were looking forward to came to a screeching halt.

If this happened to you, you weren’t alone. Many Canadians’ vacation plans have either come to an end or drastically changed. But just because you can’t take the elaborate trip you planned, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take vacation days for a little rest and relaxation.

Blake Linklater, Freedom 55 Financial shares why taking time off is important.

     1. Avoid burning out

While it may seem like a novelty to work from home in your pajamas every day, this dramatic change is still a big shock to your system. This makes it especially important to make sure you give yourself a break to breathe and avoid a total burn out. It may feel weird taking time off with nowhere to go, but experts are saying time to rest is more important than ever1. Everyone – even those who love their jobs – need to separate themselves from it to recharge and recover.

     2. Health benefits of taking time off

Taking time off improves your mental and physical well-being and will also increase your job satisfaction and productivity. People who take vacations have lower stress which can contribute to high-blood pressure and heart disease. Experts found that constant exposure to the stress hormone increases anxiety and depression2. And if you’re worried about what your boss might say, tell them that experts have found that workers who take time off are often more focused and productive3.

     3. Even though you’re home – you’re working

Many people report feeling like they aren’t working just because they’re home. In fact, you’re probably working more with the added stressors of isolation, childcare and change. On top of this, you’re probably forgetting to take breaks, lunches or even powering down at your normal quitting time. It’s all too convenient to keep working away. Many experts report employees’ productivity rates going up substantially, so don’t cut yourself short4. Don’t forget to set boundaries for yourself and know when to take breaks and when to end your day.

     4. Benefits to a vacation at home

It’s super disappointing that the big trip didn’t work out, but there is a financial bonus. Consider putting some money back into your savings account and using the rest for a local vacation. You save a lot of money when you don’t have to pay for flights, rental cars or cash conversions. Going somewhere closer to home may give you the opportunity to meal prep rather than eat out which leads to even bigger savings. You’ll also be putting money back into your own community, which is crucial in helping businesses that may be heavily impacted by the pandemic. With all the money you saved, you might even be able to go all out on your vacation when the borders do finally open.

     5. How to use your vacation

There are lots of different ways to use your vacation locally and Canada has a lot to offer. Here are some ideas to keep you busy close to home while taking proper safety precautions:

  • Visit your local farmer’s market
  • Volunteer
  • Go for a hike
  • Check out your local watering hole
  • Take an art class
  • Take an exercise class
  • Go camping
  • Visit museums
  • Visit a winery
  • Host a cooking night with friends
  • Take a spa day
  • Go kayaking or canoeing
  • Go to the drive in

     6. Avoid hoarding your vacation

All too often we reserve our vacation days. With rumblings that the border will be closed until 2021, the day you are waiting for may not come before the end of the year. Your vacation is a part of your compensation package and your work policy may also prevent you from carrying vacation over. Be sure you read up on your vacation policy – you may have to use it or lose it.

If you’re trying to figure out what to do with your leftover vacation savings a financial security advisor can help.