I recently read that Americans allowed 658 million paid vacation days to go unused in 2015. Are you kidding me? What a waste! But I know many driven, entrepreneurial-minded men and women operate with the assumption that vacation days themselves aren’t productive; there's too much to do and simply not enough hours in the week. However, there is so much good to be done - and purpose to be found - around the world if we use our vacation days for good. Stay with me here.
It is proven that taking a walk or a coffee break boosts creativity and makes us happier and more productive employees. Getting out of our routine and traveling gives us a clearer understanding of the world around us and challenges us to adapt, making us better coworkers. Traveling with purpose helps us to see the potential in the lives of others, perhaps spurring ideas on how to use your vacation days and careers for good.
On a recent trip to Cambodia, the fertile ground for entrepreneurship really struck me. There are so many market opportunities. Can business owners be more effective business people with a little extra education? Can local businesses learn how to work together instead of creating so much competition? One thing tourists are asked not to do is to buy souvenirs or give money to children. They have access to a free education, and the government specifically requests that tourists not give money to children who should be in school. I never would have thought of that. So rather than unintentionally encouraging children to drop out of school, I purchased locally made souvenirs at a reasonable price supporting local small businesses.
Whether you’re traveling domestically or abroad, do a quick search for benevolent programs at your destination and ask yourself a few questions:
- What can I learn from what local small businesses are doing right?
- How can I be a responsible traveler here - buying local, supporting green efforts like recycling, buying from local business owners instead of children, etc.?
- What is a fair market price for souvenirs in this country, state, or city?
- What opportunities is the local market missing, and can I start something back home to help fill the gap and make an impact?
- What can I do to encourage good practices with my travel buddies?
- How can I be helpful?
So, if utilizing those paid vacation days can make you more efficient, more adaptable, and help the global economy, why not take advantage of them? What if your vacation helps you to figure out how to infuse your career with meaning? Traveling with purpose is the best kind of travel. How will you use your vacation days for good this year?
Do you know any other modern day professionals that would find this blog series useful? If so, please feel free to share this, and have them sign up here.
Huge thanks to our guest blogger
Whitney O’Halek is a professional travel blogger with a passion for things she’s never seen and places she’s never been. Her and her husband live 10 minutes from Dulles International Airport, and she uses her blog, Quick Whit Travel, to inspire people to travel in real life.