Last week was National Plan for Vacation Day, so bust out your calendar and start thumbing through those travel guides. You don’t want to let those precious vacation days go to waste just because you got too busy before you organized some much deserved R and R.
For example, 54 percent of Americans left 662 million vacation days unused in 2016. That’s roughly 1.8 million years of time not spent sipping margaritas or visiting grandma. I never expected the travel host I used to watch on TV after school would be scolding me for not taking enough vacation (Passport to Europe with Samantha anyone?), but here we are—and she’s right.
Why is planning your vacation early important? For starters, the more notice you can give work, the less stressed you’ll be about actually using your alloted days. Studies, like this one out of the Netherlands, suggest people find their vacations more enjoyable and more restorative when the time off itself isn’t causing them any stress.
Planning early will also save you a ton of money in the long run. Between hotels, event venues, and flights, the earlier you can get things organized, the better for your wallet. Airbnb is even taking strides to appeal to you reluctant planners out there.
Recently, they’ve started allowing guests to play less up front when booking, making the service feel a bit more like a hotel. The site lets guests book a place ahead of time without with minimal headaches if their plans fall through at the last minute, and helps keep hosts from losing out on advance bookings from “cash flow-sensitive guests.”
So, now’s the time folks. Pick a destination (it can be home), make a goal for your time off (it can simply be to relax), give yourself ample time to let your time off sink in (eight days or so should do it), and give yourself an extra day buffer just in case (worst case scenario you have an extra day to just chill and get ready for your return to work).
This article first appeared on LifeHacker.com