It Pays to Take Vacations

A recent report found that about 40 percent of American workers don’t use all of their paid vacation days and allow them to expire.

Why? Perhaps it's because we are creatures of habit and don’t want to break away from our daily routine. Or is it because some of us really enjoy our work so much that we can’t bear to miss a thing?

I fall somewhere in the middle. I enjoy my work, and when I’m on a project it's hard to pull me away. However, every year I book a trip to a place I have never been to so I can refresh my mind and reawaken my senses to new environments and experiences.

I feel new surroundings and getting out of my routine make me appreciate life more.

Exploring the East
Recently, I took a trip to explore parts of China, starting off in Shanghai and visiting key sites – many on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage – in Zhejiang, Anhui, Shanxi and Sichuan Province.

Every night, I and the 13 friends and family I traveled with were in a different hotel and a different city. I was in awe to see buildings and statues created thousands of years ago, yet still in very good condition. While I wasn’t particularly interested in visiting the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project, its history was impressive. Built well over 2,000 years ago, this system served not only as flood prevention, but also helped with irrigation and shipping goods along the Minjiang and Yangtze rivers.

No Limits on Real World Experiences
Of the more than 30 places I visited, the Hanging Temple really stood out, figuratively and literally. The  temple was built into the side of a cliff 1,500 years ago and perches 246 feet, or nearly 23 stories, above the ground.  All I kept thinking as I slowly and carefully moved along (and sometimes squeezed through) the narrow pathways was, how were they able to build this place so many years ago? I felt lucky to have explored this architectural wonder, as our tour guide mentioned that there were plans to limit tourists’ access to it, and eventually close it.

My walk to the top of Mount Emei to get to Jinding, or the Gold Summit, was breathtaking and memorable. At 10,167 feet, it is the highest of the four sacred Buddhist Mountains in China. As we made our way to the top, a light sprinkle of rain and fog surrounded us. Were we actually in the clouds? In any event, moments after we made it to the top, the air cleared, the sun came out, and we could see everything before us.

I am proud to work for a company with a culture that enables me to explore a small part of what this world has to offer. Sometimes I forget that it’s important for our health and our ability to function at work to balance our life … everything in moderation.