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Why Science Says You Should Stop Hoarding Your Leave And Travel

Make 2016 the year of no leave days left.

As much as we all love a good few weeks off work, actually taking that leap and applying for leave can be tricky. Research shows that employees from all around Australia have built up a collective 123.5 million days of leave that’s yet to be claimed; an average of 22 days for men and 18 for women, just sitting there gathering dust.

Workers constantly make excuses to not use their leave: there’s always some big project coming up, a performance review on the horizon or a shuffling of positions – life just gets in the way, and before you know it you’ve accrued weeks and weeks of holiday but have made no solid plans to actually use it. But taking time off, and particularly using it to travel, can be one of the biggest favours you do for both yourself and your career – and there’s #science behind this too.

So sneakily attach this article in an email to your boss along with your annual leave application, book yourself the trip you’ve been wanting to for ages, and travel your heart out. And for goodness’ sakes, turn off those work emails while you’re gone.


#1 It makes you work better

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Yeah, seriously. Mental fatigue is just the same as physical fatigue, and there’s nothing that says ‘burnout’ like a year nonstop of sitting at your desk staring at a screen. Your brain needs a break, and a change of scenery for a couple of weeks will do wonders to refresh you and bring back all of that wide-eyed enthusiasm that may have been waning at work. You’re exposing yourself to different climates, cultures and food, doing activities that wouldn’t be part of your normal routine and probably doing a lot more reflecting than normal – who knows what genius ideas you could come up with on holiday.


#2 It will make you happier

No matter how much you love your job and how much satisfaction you derive from it, doing something day in, day out can make you pretty complacent about your situation. Taking just a little while off your routine to do some travel and spend your days differently will totally renew that positive attitude once you’re back, and soften the 6am alarm clock groans. Spending your money on travel, too, is scientifically proven to make you happier than  buying new things ever will. It’s something you’ll remember forever, and you’ll pick up new life experiences and skills that don’t involve binge-watching Broad City on your new TV.


#3 Working all the time could be making you unhealthy

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It makes sense: constantly being subjected to stressful situations, pressure from bosses and that modern feeling of needing to be contactable even outside work hours does not exactly a healthy human make. Travelling – and we mean really removing yourself from your everyday work environment – is conducive to heart health, psychological resilience and moderated levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which essentially makes your brain more responsive, skilled and sociable. What’s not to love?


#4 You’ll learn something!

Even if you’re a walking disaster (like this writer), and sometimes your holiday plans go slightly awry, travel is an incredibly valuable learning experience and goes a long way into make you into a more wholesome and grounded person. Whether you miss the only flight into Iceland for a week, accidentally order some questionable parts of an animal in Cambodia or your hire car breaks down in the middle of the Himalayas, you’ll have some killer stories to share around around the water cooler when you get back – and some life lessons that you won’t forget in a hurry.


#5 Time off to travel isn’t a luxury

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It really is a necessity. If money’s tight, or you can’t get a month off at a time, that’s no worries. Go to an Australian state you’ve never visited! Go camping even just a few hours from home! Take a leisurely driving holiday along the coast! The opportunities are quite literally endless even if a full-blown five-star European adventure isn’t really a possibility; all you need to refresh you and change your perspective is time out of the humdrum of the day-to-day. Seriously though, don’t look at your work emails. Just don’t.

RELATED: 10 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE TO TRAVEL


#6 It’ll help you live longer

I mean, surely your boss doesn’t want you to just drop dead, do they? Brain health and resilience, and lower levels of mental distress, are increased by travelling – particularly getting back into nature. If that’s not encouragement enough to book a trip ASAP we just don’t know what is.


#7 If not now, then when?

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I mean, if you’re saving up every precious last day for one big planned trip then that’s brilliant, but if your reason for hoarding holiday time is just “I’ll go somewhere…one day…” then there’s no time like the present, my friend. What are you waiting for? It’s a tricky leap to take, but one that you certainly won’t regret – so pop in that leave form, pick a place (hey – here are 95 good suggestions if you just can’t think of your dream destination) and book that ticket. The world is quite literally your oyster.

Go on, take that leave. You’ll be thankful in the long run. Start planning your next adventure with Qantas.