Four Ways to Give Yourself a Break... Without Breaking the Bank

It's time to take a break...

According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, only 48% of Americans use up their vacation days. Some people feel taking time off could hurt their chances of future promotions. Some feel guilty about adding to their co-workers' loads.

Research shows that folks in the U.S. work longer hours than Australia, the U.K., Germany, Sweden, Belgium, and France.  We clock in around 1,750 hours of work per year...

And according to a workplace-stress study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 40% of workers in the U.S. find their jobs either "very" or "extremely" stressful. And 1 in 4 workers reported that work was their No. 1 stressor in life.

Even retirees should take vacations... Folks in retirement worry about plenty of things, like finances, health, divorce, or spousal death.

If you're one of the millions of people who probably can't remember when you last took a vacation, it's time to treat yourself.

Science agrees.

In 2018, a small Austrian study looked at the benefits of vacations among a group of 40 middle-management employees. Researchers found that taking a short vacation – lasting just four days – decreased participants' perceptions of stress and strain and increased feelings of general well-being. Most of the benefits appeared to last up to 45 days after the vacation.

Another study from the State University of New York followed middle-aged men who had a high risk for heart disease over a nine-year period. Researchers found that the men who took more frequent vacations reduced their risk of early death from all causes by 29%.

Right now, we're headed into one of the best months to take a break.

In September, schools have reopened, so families with school-age kids aren't traveling. This means fewer people are crowding popular destinations. And now that we're between summer holidays and the winter holiday season, things are also much less expensive...

If you don't have a trip planned for next month, it's time to start planning.

Travel Deals for Your Next Trip

If you're ready to get away, don't let it empty your wallet. Instead, try some of my best discount travel tips so that you can enjoy some well-earned time away without breaking the bank...

1. Check your credit card for deals and discounts. Credit-card companies often offer incentives for using their lending. For example, Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa cards earn points for every dollar that you charge to the card. You can turn those points into flights and arrive at your destination for just a few dollars paid out in taxes and fees. One of my researchers once took a day trip from Baltimore to Chicago and paid just $11 round trip by using her Southwest credit-card miles.

So give your credit-card details a review and see if you have any opportunities to save. If not for travel or lodging accommodations, maybe you'll uncover some useful discounts on gas or dining options.

2. Book on smaller airlines and at smaller airports. An airline called Play began offering low-cost flights to Europe from Dulles International Airport this year. Right now, I can travel round trip to Copenhagen from Dulles for $351 from September 4 to 13. I could go to London and back for $435, or Paris for $516. Not bad.

Some other budget airline names include Breeze Airways and Avelo. Just keep in mind that budget airlines aren't always reliable. Because of their largely limited service, delays or cancellations could seriously disrupt your travel plans.

Also consider smaller airports. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation released a report in June that said smaller airports near big cities tend to have the best ticket prices. But don't stray too far from the city – isolated rural airports often jack up their prices.

3. Stay in an Airbnb instead of a hotel or resort. You will save a ton of money by staying in someone else's privately rented space instead of a big resort or hotel. This is especially true if you're traveling in another country.

Peruse the Airbnb and Vrbo websites to find the perfect place to stay – for much less. For instance, I found this amazing place for two in Barbados for just $47 per night. That's less than I spent on dinner last night...

4. Take advantage of everything free. Traveling on a budget doesn't mean missing out on incredible experiences. You can find free admission into museums, parks, local exhibitions, and more. For example, if you want to visit the Louvre in Paris, admission is free on the first Friday of the month (except in July and August) after 6 p.m. Do your homework and see what sorts of freebies you can find.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
August 29, 2023