Don’t fall into the typical New Year’s trap and resolve to eat healthier and exercise more regularly (been there, haven’t done that, right?). Instead, get something far more valuable out of 2013:
Commit to planning at least two great vacations this year.
Live longer. Turns out taking two vacations a year can actually prolong your life. According to the Framingham Heart Study, women who take vacations once every six years, or less often, were almost eight times more likely to suffer heart attacks or die of cardiac causes during the 20-year study, compared to those who vacationed at least twice a year—even after risks like diabetes and smoking were taken into account.
Likewise, a study of 1,500 women published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal found that those who take vacations once every two years were more likely to become tense, depressed or tired than those who get away twice a year or more.
Added marital bonus: The less you vacation, the lower your marital satisfaction is likely to be. We can’t imagine why.
Easy does it. Ironically, it seems that we Americans have forgotten how to take it easy. This year workers will leave an average of 9.2 vacation days unused. Worse yet, this number is up from 6.2 days wasted in 2011. No doubt, job security is one reason people are afraid to take what’s coming to them. Yet as we all know—and plenty of research supports—when you’re overworked, productivity declines.
Automobile pioneer Henry Ford recognized this decades ago, which is why back in 1926 his company became one of the first in America to reduce the workweek from six to five days. He predicted that giving his employees more leisure time would increase factory efficiency and decrease employee burnout—and he was right.
Fresh take. Health benefits aside, a vacation—or two—is a great way to bust out of old routines. There are programs where you can learn how to do everything from make wine, mediate, excavate a archaeological site or even indulge your inner rock star. “The majority of our customers are beginners who want to learn a new skill they can take home with them,” says Tamar Lowell, CEO of Access Trips (http://www.accesstrips.com/sports), a San Francisco based travel company that offers lessons in a variety of disciplines including, surfing, biking, and cooking.
Their most popular trip is currently a culinary tour of Morocco, a mouth-watering nine-day cooking tour that includes stops in Casablanca and Marrakech, as well less renowned but fascinating destinations, including a small fishing town and a tiny Berber village in the High Atlas mountains.
Here’s to being healthy, wealthy, and well-traveled.