For years, I deluded myself into believing that I was an indispensable cog in the wheel. I worked long hours, as if quantity as much as quality would help me get ahead. Friends charitably referred to me as Type B+. So when I learned recently that many Americans lose hard-earned paid time off (PTO) each year because they don’t get away from the office, I felt empathy (and I saw my younger self).

In some circles, work-induced exhaustion has become almost a de facto status symbol. For this group, it can feel pretty great to believe you’re indispensable to your colleagues.

But let’s be honest. Sitting on a beach chair in the sun, a book and a drink nearby — now that feels truly great.

Earlier this year, Oxford Economics, a global forecasting and analytics firm, released a report that looked at data from nearly 1,000 U.S. employees. It found that while three in four American workers earn time off, 40 percent leave some of that time unused — on average, just over three days per employee. The grand total makes me wince: 429 million unused vacation days in 2013.

Don’t become part of that statistic.

Just think of the places those people could have gone. Better yet, think of the places you could go. Given all the benefits that vacations bring — including downtime that recharges our brains (and maybe even makes us better employees) — I suggest you plan a summer vacation now.

And should you have a day or two that might go unused, I wish you could send it my way. I’m in danger of gobbling up my PTO before the end-of-year holidays roll around.

I may still have Type A tendencies, but I’m also firmly Type V — “V” for “vacation.”


Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.