October 19, 2016 6:10 pm
Updated: October 20, 2016 1:43 pm

4 tips for vacation-deprived Canadians to maximize time off work

A new Expedia.ca survey shows more than half of Canadians think they’re lacking vacations. Expedia.ca’s annual vacation deprivation survey shared some insight in the 2016 working world through the perspective of employees. Global's Zahra Premji reports.

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Over half of Canadians consider themselves to be “vacation-deprived,” a new travel report reveals.

An Expedia Canada (a.k.a. Expedia.ca) survey released Wednesday found 62 per cent of 1,006 respondents feel they deserve more vacation days — 11.5, to be exact — than their average 17.3 days.

(Side note: Who are these 38 per cent seemingly satisfied with the time off they get? Who doesn’t want more vacation time?)

Regardless of how much vacation time you get, the study suggests you could use some help making the most of it.

“I think the biggest problem … is it’s hard to get away,” said Ontario-based stress and resiliency specialist Beverly Beuermann-King.

“People are having to do much more with fewer people in the office.”

WATCH: Making the most of your 2016 vacation days


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Overcoming vacation barriers

Millennials (those aged 18-34) appear to have the most difficulty in this department. They rarely take all their vacation days, according to the survey, because they’re too busy at work.

Experts say it’s important for those over-worked employees to remember: time off is important for both mental and physical well-being. Vacation time can relieve stress, reduce anxiety and even lower blood pressure.

The other biggest barrier is affording a vacation.

Some “progressive workplaces wellness programs” offer vacation savings plans to help with that, Beuermann-King explained.

They may allow you to bank one day of pay each week. Then after a certain amount of time, you could use the accrued hours and pay for a sabbatical.

Other workplaces, according to Beuermann-King, offer “volunteer programs where they can go off and work for Habitat for Humanity for a couple weeks and it doesn’t cut into their vacation.”

For the rest of us, tacking on a couple days to a long weekend is one way to enjoy a five-day getaway without breaking the bank (or depleting your vacation bank).

The upside of several short vacations throughout the year is you always have something to look forward to.

READ MORE: Are unlimited holidays the key to work-life balance?

Here are four tips for Canadian vacationers to maximize vacation time:

1. Plan ahead

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, says planning your trip in advance can help reduce stress.

It also gives you time to anticipate the getaway, which experts claim can sometimes bring as much excitement as the trip itself.

Planning ahead is essential if you have to coordinate your travel plans with your partner’s work schedule — or if you’re going to a place where Internet may not be as readily available.

You don’t want to be searching for restaurant reviews or “things to do” on an Internet cafe’s painfully slow connection.

2. Choose the right vacation

Plan the right vacation for your personality.

“If you’re looking for relaxation time, don’t plan a vacation where you go from activity to activity because you’re not going to come back feeling relaxed or rejuvenated,” Beuermann-King said.

“If you’re taking family members, you have to consider the activity and energy level of people so you don’t burn them out.

“Especially if you have children, going from activity to activity is pretty much a recipe for chaos…make sure you plan some down-time for them.”

The same could be said for grandparents.

An all-inclusive beach vacation might be perfect for people who have to make a lot of decisions in their everyday lives because it’ll give them the opportunity to just sit back and relax.

Those looking for a bit more adventure might get away with a last-minute deal that lets them go with the flow.

3. Unplug as much as possible

Over one-third of travellers post to social media while on vacation (up from 28 per cent in 2015), the survey showed.

Millennials are the demographic most likely to check their work messages while on vacation.

They’re also likely part of the 20 per cent who admitted they’d go so far as to “risk their personal safety” to get that perfect “look how much fun I’m having” shot for social media.

YOLO.

WATCH: Social media dominates Canadians’ vacations

Beuermann-King realizes leaving your devices at home may not be realistic for everyone. She recommends limiting your usage.

“Look at doing it at the beginning or end of the day so you can enjoy the moment and don’t feel pressure to post in real-time,” she suggested.

That will help you connect with whoever you’re with on the trip.

And think about why you’re posting. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to using photos as a way to hold onto the moment, Beuermann-King said.

But if you’re doing it to make your friends at home jealous, then you have a problem.

4. Ease in and out of your vacation

Travel can be tiring.

As tempting as it might be to save those vacation days, Beuermann-King says those red-eye departures on a Thursday and late returns on Sunday night may not be such a good idea. You’ll likely be exhausted come Monday morning.

She advises giving yourself at least an evening of buffer time before and after your flight to rest up and get organized — “especially if you have connections or are travelling with kids.”

And when setting up your out-of-office reply, give yourself an extra day to respond to emails.

It might help fight the temptation to constantly check-in while on vacation, and may keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the piled-up messages upon your return.

“If it’s planned properly, you should come back to your workplace feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, re-energized and be better at problem-solving.

“So it’s a benefit for your work-life balance, but also the company’s bottom line.”

WATCH: More vacation-planning tips

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