Plan For Vacation Month

Americans who plan out their vacation are happier and take more time off. Fill your calendar with your bucket list, not your to-do list on National Plan for Vacation Day.

January 26 is National Plan For Vacation Day so we are asking departments/units to schedule time in a January staff meeting where everyone on the team takes out a calendar together and plans their time off for the year.

With COVID, it is even more important this year to make some plans for travel.  Not only does this planning allow us to manage the workplace implications on our units and teams, it also encourages us to do dream and plan....which is half the fun and gives us something positive to focus on and look forward to during this trying time.  Research from positive psychology suggests that planning a future trip is a great strategy for beating the holiday and COVID blues.

The Importance of Vacation

In a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)  talent managers and human resource professionals overwhelmingly agree that fully utilizing vacation leave drives higher employee performance and productivity, boosts organizational morale, contributes to employee wellness and results in higher employee retention. 


  • 65% of Americans say they either hear nothing, negative, or mixed messages about vacation.
  • 80% report that they would be more likely to use more of their paid time off if their bosses encouraged them to do so. 

Health Benefits

  • An annual holiday can cut the risk of heart attack in men by 30% and in women by 50%.
  • Women who don’t take vacations are twice as likely to be depressed as those who do.
  • Neuroscience indicates that we require downtime in order for our bodies and minds to go through the process of restoration, only when we are safe from external stresses that our bodies can relax enough to activate restoration.  
  • The neural connections that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become stronger while on vacation, teaching our bodies to shift into less-stressed modes.

Increased Productivity and Creativity

  • The human brain thrives on novelty. Routines tend to result in boredom which hinders creativity and mindfulness, and is therefore counterproductive. Hamilton, Uber, Starbucks, Dropbox and Instagram were all imagined during or immediately after a vacation.
  • Detaching yourself from your familiar environment can help you get a new perspective and boosts creative problem solving.
  • Studies that look at employee performance ratings support that the more vacation hours employees take, the higher their performance rating scores.

Tips to Optimize the Benefits of Vacation and Travel

  1. Being in nature boosts your immune function. Those who spend time around trees and plants have lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rates, higher concentrations of disease fighting white blood cells and lower blood pressure. 
  2. Remaining plugged-in significantly diminishes the benefits of vacation. Find a coworker to entrust as a work emergency contact—a text contact perhaps (so you don’t have to go on email) so you know that chaos is not breaking loose in your absence, and everything else can wait or should be dealt with by others.
  3. Plan your vacation well in advance — you will be more likely to save money, actually take the trip, and relish the joy of planning and anticipation. Additionally you can plan around busy times, plan for delegation of responsibilities, and share your vacation dreams with your coworkers.


Supervisor/Team Vacation Toolkit

  • Read "The High Price of Silence: Analyzing the Business Implications of an Under-Vacationed Workforce"
  • Schedule a meeting, preferably on Plan For Vacation Day January 26
  • Review the UC policy for Absence from Work, vacation starts on page 12
  • Let your staff know at least a week ahead of time and encourage them to:
    • Check how much vacation time they have on UC Path.
    • Examine busy work times and avoid planned leave during this time.
    • Check school and work calendars of vacation partners.
    • Look into specific places they want to visit and determine the best time of year to visit. A good place to start is this New York Times Travel Kit, "How to Find Yourself Someplace Else". 
  • Make a "Dream Board"  (a dry erase board where people can write/draw their travel/vacation dreams (see an example in the toolkit below)
  • Depending on your team size, either collect requests ahead of time or have your meeting with a big calendar and make a strategic plan together.
  • Scheduling will likely not be made on one day — readdress as necessary.

This activity is a tangible and proactive way to manage your upcoming year and signal to your employees that their well-being is important to you. Supervisors and managers are encouraged to have a mindset that each member of your staff will be absent up to four weeks (generally) a year using their earned vacation and sick time. Making this reality part of your strategic plan will ensure coverage, increase efficiency and demonstrate that the well-being of your staff is important to you.

"If your business can't survive your vacation, you've got a bigger problem."  Jim Moffatt, CEO, Deloitte Consulting