Why you should care
Because it’s time to enjoy what America’s highways have to offer.
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Think taking all your vacation days makes a bad impression? Think again. According to recent research, while more than half of American workers don’t make use of all of their paid time off, it’s the people who do take vacations who are more likely to bag a promotion, a bonus or a raise.
Guilt around escaping the desk for some well-deserved leave is something of an epidemic in America. Last month, the U.S Travel Association’s report, Project: Time Off, found 52 percent of the 4,349 employees surveyed had ended 2017 without using all their vacation allowance. Last year, Glassdoor.com polled more than 2,000 adults about their earned vacation time. The job site found that two out of three respondents didn’t use all their days, while one in 11 didn’t take any at all.
According to the Project: Time Off report, however, employees who didn’t take vacations were more likely to suffer dips in productivity and energy. The study found that taking advantage of paid leave helped workers regain focus and be more creative, which made them better employees.
Of course, company culture can influence how comfortable people feel taking vacations. But look to the world’s top corporations and, typically, you’ll see excellent paid leave policies — which just goes to prove how important time off is for productivity. Take JPMorgan Chase, for example, where staff can get four weeks vacation, as well as three personal days, six sick days and nine company holidays. In fact, last year the company named June Global Well-Being Month, during which they focused on building a culture of health and well-being with speaker series and activities for its 240,000 employees across the globe. The month focused on helping employees learn how to achieve well-being across three key areas — physical health, balance and emotional well-being and finances.
“When we use the term ‘well-being’ we’re talking about a holistic view of your overall quality of life – how you feel and function and thrive,” says Lilly Wyttenbach, Global Wellness Manager at JPMorgan Chase. “Your well-being is the vibrancy of your physical health, the balance you achieve in your emotional well-being, family and social lives and the security of your finances.”
One of the best — and more budget-savvy — ways to recharge the batteries? How about an all-American road trip? Cruising through our incredible landscapes is sure to get you feeling inspired. Plus, as the national average price for a gallon hovers around $4.11, traveling 400 miles for less than $100 compares pretty favorably with a plane ticket. (And there’s only yourself to blame if you lose your luggage.) Not sure which road trip’s for you? Let us guide you.
For outdoorsy types: Arizona and Utah
The audacious drama of the American landscape can inspire childlike wonderment, perhaps never more so than in the rust-red rockscapes of Arizona and Utah, where canyons, arches, rock fins and swirling sandstone appear as if from another planet. It’s enough to inspire even the most iPhone-obsessed teen. Of course, there’s the Grand Canyon, but don’t miss the other supercool Arizona canyon: Antelope, a must for Instagrammers eager to experiment with their filters. Then on to Utah, where you’ve got the “mighty five” national parks to choose from — we’d recommend the lot, and don’t miss a spot of stargazing with the night-sky programs at Bryce Canyon.
Drive time: The farthest Utah national park from the Grand Canyon is Canyonlands, at around 295 miles away by car.
For early adopters: The Pacific Northwest
Are you a hopelessly stereotypical millennial? By which we mean, you’re all about the zeitgeist — making most of your life decisions via apps, knowing the growth elevation of your coffee order and thinking black truffle is a sensible ice cream flavor. Then get thee to the Pacific Northwest. Start in Seattle, home of Amazon, where you can explore the Bezos Center for Innovation — an exhibit chronicling the city’s creative history — as well as the Microsoft Visitor Center, a temple to the annals of the PC. Serious nerds will get a kick out of the RE-PC Computer Museum, where a display of old machines traces the path to modern technology (what else would you expect from a museum buried in a store selling recycled computer parts?).
Next, head south to Portland, where up-to-the-minute food and drink trends abound: With more than 80 local breweries, 60 local coffee roasters and 700 food carts, you’re not stuck for options. It’s impossible not to get giddy about offerings like the espresso-infused marshmallows that top the mochas at Water Avenue Coffee Company, the celestial beers at Ecliptic Brewing, or the pear and blue cheese ice cream at Salt & Straw. Could you be more 2018?
Drive time: It’s 173 miles between Seattle and Portland, so there’s plenty of time to stop off at Tacoma (don’t miss Dale Chihuly’s trippy glass sculptures) and Olympia (a hot spot for riot grrrl fans).
For laid-back cats: Georgia and South Carolina Low Country
As mellow as the Southern drawl itself, the coastal stretch between Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, makes for an idyllic adventure. The seaside drive is dotted with fresh oyster shacks, romantic antebellum mansions and cinematic Southern Gothic cemeteries. Be sure to stop off at Folly Beach in Charleston County for surfing and dolphin-spotting, while Beaufort serves up picture-perfect Civil War–era homes among tidal marshes. And let’s not forget the chance to get your chops ’round some proper Southern barbecue: Wiley’s Championship BBQ in Savannah is a local institution.
Drive time: With just 100 miles to cover, you can make your holiday mantra “slow and low.”
For the high-minded: New England
Longing for a cerebral idyll of arts, theater and nice picnics? A drive through the leafy Berkshires in Massachusetts will provide plenty of brain food. This gentle-pretty region of forested hills and placid lakes is stuffed with contemporary art museums and galleries, not to mention Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. (Stop by cheesemonger Rubiner’s to get supplies for a picnic on the elegant Tanglewood lawn.) While you’re at it, take some of the cute country roads up to Williamstown, a pastoral college community packed with art museums (the Clark Art Institute is a gem) and renowned for its annual, summerlong theater festival, held on the campus of Williams College.
Drive time: There are only about 35 miles between Tanglewood and Williamstown, but the Berkshires are around 170 miles from both New York City and Boston, so your East Coast fling can include a city break or two too.
This story has been updated since it was first published on June 15, 2017.