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Americans have a complicated relationship with vacation. As a nation that prides itself on its industrious nature, the U.S. is notorious for taking less time off and having longer workdays than other countries. MADAMENOIRE produced an entire piece on the alarming statistics proving that our work-life balance is way off in this country. So, it’s no wonder that the U.S. Travel Association reports that Americans leave over 700 million vacation days unused each year.

There are many reasons people don’t vacation days, from fear their employers will resent them to the irrational fear that their office will see they can “do without them” and let them go. However, there’s also this simple reason: not everyone can afford to go on a trip. Plus, sometimes there just aren’t enough vacation days to travel as far as one would like. But that’s no reason to throw those days away. And with Gallup reporting that Black professionals take less vacations than other groups, it’s really time to re-assess those R&R behaviors. Here are ways to use your vacation days, even if you can’t travel.

 

Stay At A Hotel In Town

Girlfriends relaxing at the mountains resort

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You could take a staycation at your home, but you know what will happen. You’ll wind up tending to house tasks. You’ll clean, open mail, fix a squeaky door hinge. You won’t relax. There are probably a number of gorgeous hotels in your very town that you’ve always been curious about – what are the rooms like? The pool? The hotel? Book a staycation at a hotel in town to truly get away from the distractions of your home. If you have kids, have a babysitter step in so you and your partner or a friend can get away and enjoy the hotel.

 

Get A Pool Day Pass

Girls sitting on poolside and talking

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Even if you don’t stay at a hotel, you can still enjoy a great pool for the day. Apps like Swimply and Peerspace let you rent outdoor spaces at private residences, so you can enjoy an awesome pool day without paying for the full accommodation. Don’t forget that some hotels open up their pool to the public for a small fee or let you buy a monthly pass to access their pool.

 

Spend The Day At A Spa

Woman enjoys a facial massage

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Treat yourself to a full day at a spa – not just one treatment and you’re out. Get there early. Sit in the relaxation room, sipping water with fruit in it. Enjoy the Jacuzzi. Grab lunch at the spa café. Enjoy a treatment (or two). Kick back in the Jacuzzi. Indulge in a sauna session. Bring a friend, or go solo if you want the solitude.

 

Spend Time With Friends

Nothing beats coffee and a great catch up session

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If you have friends who are stay-at-home moms or work odd hours, you’ve probably struggled to find the time to see them. Use your vacation days to spend quality time with the friends with whom you’ve been dying to catch up. Do a little tour around town to see everyone, or host an all-day social at your house where people can pop in and out on their schedule.

 

Take A Day Trip

Side view of multiracial group of excited young women enjoying a car ride in a convertible car on a sunset

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Take a day trip to a nearby town that piqued your interest. If you live within driving distance to a major tourist area, go for a day. Visit a nearby national park or another natural landmark where you can hike, boat or just enjoy being outdoors. Spend the day wine tasting at your local wine country.

 

Be A Tourist In Your Town

Afro woman enjoying vacations in Zakynthos Greece and using smart phone

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Your town might be a place to which people travel from all over the country or world to visit. To you, it’s just where you live, but if there are some great sightseeing gems, maybe it’s time to finally check them out. Join a tour, or buy a local sightseeing book and be your own tour guide. Visit museums. Go to a show. Stop by local national landmarks. Eat at the best restaurant in town. Experience the best that your town has to offer.

 

Finish Personal Projects

African American sisters painting walls at their new home

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While working on personal projects might not be relaxing in the moment, it creates more peace of mind later. If you have a long list of life admin tasks that need your attention, you can use your vacation days to finally get to those. Whether it’s finally going through old clothes and choosing items to donate, organizing the garage or painting a room, finishing a personal project can free up mental real estate – and that’s something you’ll thank yourself for later.

 

Make Extra Money

Beautiful Young Black Woman Working at Laptop at Dining Table

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This is another way of using a vacation day that will pay off later. If you have a side hustle that you hope to grow, use your vacation days to work on it. Maybe you’ve been slowly chipping away at starting a small online business, but your day job leaves you little time to do so. Take some vacation days and fully dedicate them to making progress on your dreams. This is a gift to future you.

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